Justice League Infinity #1 is a unique beast: a comic book adaptation of a cartoon adaptation of a comic book. Such a concept would generally induce doubt in me given how frequently such adaptations are of poor quality, as well as due to my general distaste for watching a snake digest its own tale. With that said, I signed up to review this book for a reason: the cartoon version is my definitive iteration of the team, eclipsing the comics they sprung from. As such, the prospect of seeing these beloved takes on the Leaguers again was an exciting one. Does Infinity make good on that excitement and manage to achieve success, bizarre origins and all?
Because this series marks a return to an already familiar world with a distinct aesthetic, the art was always going to be a major make-or-break point. Fortunately, it’s the former. Ethen Beavers does a stunningly good job recreating the feel of the old cartoons while adapting it to the comic page in a way that’s pleasing to look at. The characters all have perfect DCAU anatomy and facial expressions, from Superman’s sheer bulk to Granny Goodness’s scowls. Even the characters’ poses in action feel true to the cartoon, and some of the replicated details are downright uncanny: perhaps none more so than Beavers’ rendering of Martian Manhunter’s natural, non-costumed form. There is the occasional slightly off-model character here and there, but by and large Beavers’ line-work is nearly flawless.
Colorist Nick Filardi’s work also contributes heavily to the book’s success. His work is spot-on with regards to replicating the shading style of the cartoon, as seen in any panel featuring Amazo in particular. The way that light plays off of characters’ costumes is consistent and logical, and the choices of hues are perfect as well. The most fun pages to look at in the issue are of Amazo flying through the Kirby Krackling cosmos, complete with bright greens, oranges, pinks, and blues.
Writing-wise, J.M. DeMatteis and James Tucker also deliver solid work. Martian Manhunter serves as the issue’s narrator and it’s a smart choice. As both the heart of the team as well as an alien still exploring the world, he is uniquely a part of the story yet separate from it, creating emotional tension. His voice is effectively replicated here, as are those of most of his teammates. On the down side, there is some dialogue throughout that veers considerably into “Character narrates out loud what would actually just be thoughts inside their head” territory. It’s not terrible, but it is stilted and hinders the otherwise mostly strong writing. Some of the humor could also land better, as could the action.
The latter is the aspect of the cartoon that Infinity least successfully imitates. Without the voice acting and excellent music to accompany them, it’s that much more important for the fight scenes to shine in choreography and innovation. Instead, it’s in these scenes that the characters feel the most flat and lack meaningful interactions with their surroundings.
On the whole, Justice League Infinity #1 is a fun comic that does a great job replicating the aesthetics of the classic cartoon it’s based on. The line-art and coloration absolutely scream DCAU, and the smart choice to introduce us to the story through Martian Manhunter’s narration immediately sets up a solid emotional undercurrent for the story. The action could use more pizzazz however, and the dialogue in the middle goes up and down a bit in terms of feeling natural or not. Nonetheless, this is a promising series debut.
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