When Justice League 3000 (JL3K) was announced back in June, I was ecstatic! Not only were we getting a book from the wonder team of Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire, but it was also going to be a Justice League book. Fans of the KG-JMD-KM team know the trio first worked together on the Justice League in 1988, so to hear they were re-uniting on a Justice League book was extra-special. Visions of ‘Bwa-ha-ha-ha!’ and ‘One Punch!’ immediately came to mind. When Justice League debuted in 1988, for various reasons, the KG-JMD-KM team were unable to use icons like Superman, Wonder Woman, and Flash (they also had to “settle” for Guy Gardner as Green Lantern). So finally, JL3K was going to be their chance to focus on some versions of the “Big 5”: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Flash.
Excitement for many fans dimmed for this book in August when it was announced that Kevin Maguire was off the book and he was being replaced by Howard Porter. The book was also pushed back from its original launch date of October to December. This past Wednesday, issue #1 hit shelves. To say it was disappointing would be unfair to disappointments. The characters playing the parts of the Justice League are nothing like the Justice League we have come to know. Superman is an arrogant ass, Wonder Woman is a bloodthirsty maniac, Batman is more condescending than normal, Green Lantern doesn’t have a power ring, and Flash’s powers are just off; threatening to kill him. This is all explained away by the fact that the cloning process is incomplete and that there is fragmentary information about 21st Century.
Having been teased by the potential of Kevin Maguire on this book, the art by Howard Porter is a disappointment. Porter, who drew the Justice League during Grant Morrison’s run, had contributed the character designs when the book was announced. The art seems rushed and unfinished in places.
Sadly, reading this book alongside the current Forever Evil tie-in issues of Justice League and Justice League of America, I quickly realized what the ‘hook’ of this book was. We were not looking at the clones of the Big 5 from the Justice League, instead we have clones of the Crime Syndicate of America: Ultraman, Superwoman, Owlman, Johnny Quick, and Power Ring. This even gibes with a quote from Giffen talking about the ‘twist’ they had planned: “And when we do explain it to you, one thing is going to jump out and go, ‘Oh no! Not that again!'”
At the time of the JL3K announcement, Giffen said “If there was a poster for this book, it would be: ‘Justice League 3000, Giffen, DeMatteis, Maguire: YES, it’s exactly what you think it is.'” DeMatteis added, “These are big, cosmic adventure stories, after all. But there will be ample servings of ‘bwah-ha-ha’ with the adventure.” Yes, Maguire was replaced by Porter, but the first issue of this book was not anywhere in the league (pun intended) of the Justice League/JLI/JLA run from the ’80s.