I was largely a New 52 boycott but I wasn’t so far removed to not develop an appreciation for Francis Manapul’s work. If you can get past the opening credits pages and not be a fan of Mr. Manapul you are in effect dead to me. Honestly though this was a bad-ass opening! My hopes are this book will replace the depression the current Justice League title has plummeted me into.
What better way to capture the hope and optimism promised in Rebirth than to bring the Trinity together and develop their relationship. Of course this means an epic, potential world ending battle against obscure Dr. Manhattan looking space giants or better yet Alien-esque face hugging bugs . . . oh yeah that’s the other team up book. Nope, we are gonna have . . .
The opener is short on action but not on substance. The story opens with narration provided by Lois and we see Jon dropping seeds on his return home to the farm. This holds some importance and I have a theory for later. I like hearing Lois explain the nature of Clark’s parental concern as it has been molded by his own father’s similar strategy of building walls. The arrival of Bruce and Diana in civilian garb sparks Jon to use his x-ray vision only to scorch Bruce in the process. This was both comic relief and one of only two down points for this book. While I liked the gag, the interaction between Clark and Bruce following seemed off. While at dinner the direct reference to Detective Comics #241 and Bruce in a Rainbow suit was cool. I am not the continuity police by any means but I struggled to wrap my head around whether or not the pre-Flashpoint Superman would indeed know this information. Suffice to say, Bruce claims to have no knowledge of this event and I stopped wondering and moved on in the book. Bruce and Clark argue/discuss raising children and Diana and Lois begin bonding as Diana explains she has buried her feelings for Superman with the New-52 Superman’s death. Wonder Woman’s dialogue about “The Lies” story arc puts this story squarely into Rebirth and was deftly done, even if Diana never mentions Cheetah or Barbara by name.
The story concludes with the trio contemplating their reunions significance and what the future holds for them. Now my theory for the seeds and subsequent creeping plant life. As we see Clark’s vision of his father in the barn near the books end my mind went straight to Mongul and the Black Mercy. The Black Mercy is a plant that creates a dream of a person’s perfect life by tapping into the pleasure centers of a person’s brain. They are harvested by Mongul, and have been seen to be used on multiple DC characters and even Mongul himself. I got a Justice League Unlimited “For the Man Who Has Everything” vibe immediately, based on Superman Annual #11 story of the same name. I could be completely off base on this but this is where the story took me.
Overall, I think Mr. Manapul has far exceeded what we have been given in the Rebirth of Justice League and favored character development over pure spectacle. I am more than a little excited to see where this title takes us. The Trinity theme was all over in this book between the homage to older issues and Rebirth issues so this is a solid and defendable opener and is my Justice League book until the main JL book improves.
Written by: Francis Manapul
Art by: Francis Manapul and Steve Wands