Truth & Justice #1 Review: An Underwhelming, But Admirable Anthology Debut

The strength of the DC universe has, at its core, often been its expansive roster of characters. From world-renowned superheroes to lesser-known vigilantes and villains, the DC umbrella has provided a way for fans to relate to a wide wealth of stories. This sentiment is at the heart of Truth & Justice, a new digital-first anthology series that canvases all corners of the fictional universe with the help of new and emerging creators. Opening the series is a standalone story centered upon Mari McCabe a.k.a. Vixen, which is collected into a physical one-shot this week. Admittedly, Truth & Justice #1 doesn't reinvent the wheel with regards to Vixen, but it's a story that proves to be a serviceable and largely-charming reintroduction to her world.

Truth & Justice #1 sees Mari McCabe pulled away from her day job as a model and television host by the Global Guardians who ask for her help fighting a massive supernatural threat. After a scientist is possessed by an ancient deity, Mari and the Guardians go to great lengths to save him—and potentially save a whole lot more in the process.

To say any more would be a disservice to the issue's narrative—in part because it doesn't expand upon its story nearly as much as it could. From the jump, the issue throws readers into a version of Mari's status quo that is both a smidge inaccessible for entirely new readers, and a bit too pedantic for established fans of her. While that attempt at balance theoretically makes sense in the confines of a one-shot, the issue's narrative would arguably be better if it committed to one extreme or the other, especially when dealing with canon (both in regards to Mari and the Global Guardians) that readers might not have a definite shorthand for.

That having been said, there are a handful of sequences where Geoffrey Thorne's narrative really works, and begins to add something of consequence to Mari's story in the DC universe without being encumbered by some line-wide event or larger story arc. There's something about this approach that feels oddly refreshing, almost like a call back to the days of DC's Bronze Age when random solo books popped up. Even as the plot of Truth & Justice #1 takes a handful of narrative shortcuts—shortcuts that make sense when releasing in weekly digital chapters, but unintentionally feel clunky when read in one sitting—I still found myself satisfied by the ending, and eager to revisit other stories involving Vixen and the Global Guardians.

On an aesthetic level, Truth & Justice has its moments of excellence, but there's definitely some room for improvement. The art—penciled by ChrisCross with inks from Jordi Tarragona—flourishes once the events of the story grow more action-packed, with a kinetic sense of motion to fight sequences. Oddly, it's the smaller-scale moments of the issue that often leave something to be desired, particularly when it comes to facial expressions, body proportions, and costuming. The color work from Wil Quintana doesn't help that cause—it's a great compliment to the action sequences, but in the moments when the issue slows down, characters have a surreal glossiness to them that feels five or ten years out of date. The lettering from Andworld Design definitely gets a handful of major moments to shine—particularly in the issue's third act—but it typically just gets the job done (as good lettering often does).

Truth & Justice #1 might not be the strongest way to establish DC's newest anthology series, but even when it falters, it still serves as a fascinating proof of concept for the series' existence. In and amidst the many reboots, relaunches, and events that have become a part of comics today, the idea of an entirely standalone, largely-accessible comics adventure feels almost revolutionary, especially when combined with a lesser-known character or an unconventional creative team. Admittedly, this Vixen-centric first issue doesn't completely rise to that occasion—its narrative is fun but far clunkier than it needed to be, and its art ventures into the uncanny valley a few too many times. Still, this debut issue shows the potential that a storytelling set-up like Truth & Justice can have.

Published by DC Comics

On February 16, 2021

Written by Geoffrey Thorne

Art by ChrisCross and Jordi Tarragona

Colors by Wil Quintana

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Letters by Andworld Design

Cover by ChrisCross