This is a very specific form of comic, one that only exists in the superhero genre and, even then, primarily at Marvel and DC. It is a comic that establishes a story told in many parts with many purposes. That leaves it with a laundry list of tasks, including the introduction of characters, presentation of an inciting incident, and construction of notable villain(s). It's an odd form of storytelling that can easily tip into the realm of infomercial, which is why so many of these issues are priced far less than their page count should indicate. This is the rubric required to see how impressive elements of Justice League: No Justice #1 are, and why they instill a great deal of optimism in what comes next.
The logic laid out in this first issue for constructing teams of wildly different characters, many with conflicting personalities and motives, is the most superhero reasoning in the world. It also functions by embracing that idea. The world of DC Comics is not our own, and it possesses its own reasons, including a breakdown of four primal forces that seem driven by their essential "cool factor." It is the child of the Metal event and does a far better job of cherishing the weird and doing things for their own sake. While it's possible to challenge the formation of teams in this comic, to do so would be to work on a very different set of assumptions than the comic itself lays out. Things work because that's how things work in superhero comics; this is a necessary understanding.
That comprehension helps with a lot of issues, but the enormous number of characters and backstory are still a boulder at the bottom of a hill. There's a clear decision to dispatch with these issues at the start rather than risk spreading them across the entire miniseries and upcoming iterations of Justice League comics. It's a bite the bullet mentality that serves the story well. The core villains are laid out in a single spread that serves as a Rosetta Stone for everything else that is put into place. Much of the remaining pages help reveal everyone who is present before the adventure really begins. Questions remain, but they're the questions that can drive future adventures and mystery. There is no need to dig deeper into exposition in a second issue and that serves as yet another lesson learned from Metal, which stumbled in providing the opposite approach.
Manapul makes this infodump function much better than it might have otherwise. The exposition splash pages are beautifully constructed, and specifically balanced to work with the fold of the comic. Narrative captions are not so dense as to cover the lush illustrations that make them work. Every new page turn invites readers to explore what "No Justice" will be about rather than overwhelming them. The early pages of adventure serve as a promise to what the future holds as well. Manapul's comedic timing is impeccable and he offers plenty of great moments of his own making with allusions to the past subtly placed (like a sideways recreation of Brave and the Bold #28).
Justice League: No Justice #1 is the introduction and explainer for the next phase of DC Comics. It pulls an exorbitant number of characters together and constructs a whole new swath of legend and history, all of which underpins the future series and events that will populate 2018. What makes it notable is that it does all of this in a truly entertaining fashion. Jokes land. Characters look great. The legends are enormous. It all works together about as well as anyone could expect, and the individual pieces promise an even greater story now that the place setting has been accomplished. It's a good reason to start here, and a better reason to see what happens next week.
Published by DC Comics
On May 9, 2018
Art by Francis Manapul
Colors by Hi-Fi