Publisher – DC Comics
Writer/Artist – Shiori Teshirogi
Translation – Sheldon Drzka
Adaptation – Stuart Moore
Letterer – Deron Bennett
A Japanese boy's quest to find his missing parents in America leads to encounters with people like...The Joker and Superman? Batman and the Justice League Vol. 1 is a new take on old characters that aims to be friendly for those unfamiliar with DC Comics lore. While there are some things that make this standout from other tales in DC's catalog, there is not enough to make it a captivating read.
What ultimately hurts the writing is that it feels too familiar. Long-time fans of DC Comics will be familiar some of the characters and situations inside. Touching upon elements that made popular franchises is not necessarily bad, but doing that requires something special in the execution. Unfortunately, the plot plays out in an emotionally safe fashion. Even when the story goes into unfamiliar territory, characters fail to connect on a deep level.
That is not to say the writing is terrible. The way the story unfolds lends itself to choices that might not have. been made by those extremely familiar with DC Comics. Despite the faults in the writing, there is something interesting about how, when, and why certain characters show up within the plot. Another thing that helps is the pacing. The action moves along at a nice rate without spending too long to dwell on
Shiori Teshirogi's art stumbles at times in her handling of the action. There is not enough clarity in some of the more chaotic scenes. Teshirogi still has her moments, though. Scenes visually flow fine, when the violence is kept to a minimum. Where she really shines is in some of the design choices during those scenes. Visuals such as Lex Luthor's brain wrapped up like as a present as he brags about himself, and the way Teshirogi briefly shows the full Justice League roster carry some much needed personality.
Deron Bennett does not do anything extraordinary with the lettering, but what is present is good. Word Balloons and captions are not only clear, but also feel appropriate in the context of the manga. Sound effects are in Japanese, but there is a translation of what each sound effect means nearby. It is handled in a way that balances the need to preserve the spirit of the original manga, while providing clarity to readers who cannot understand the original sound effects.
Ultimately, Batman and the Justice League Vol. 1 is a safe read. Despite parts of it being unique, the whole lacks a certain spark. Those desperate for a different approach to DC's characters might want to give this a look. Still, there are better choices out there for those looking to read about these characters.