Originally published at InfiniteComix.com
One of the most common arguments regarding the differences between Marvel and DC is that the latter’s core heroes are godlike in stature. Superman often draws comparisons to Moses or Jesus. Wonder Woman is literally the God of War. Even Aquaman, still the unfortunate butt of mainstream jokes, is comparable to Poseidon. Despite the parallels frequently drawn, few stories actually tackle this subject matter head-on. Kingdom Come is a cited example, but that story acted more as a commentary on the cynical and “x-treme” path the industry had gone down. Surprisingly, it is Bryan Hitch’s Justice League of America #2 that taps into this storytelling well, raising many questions along the way.
Using a mainstream comic platform to discuss a topic such as this is a brave and bold choice, resulting in both highs and lows. One of those lows is the characterization of Batman. Hitch uses the Dark Knight as an analogue for Hades, god of the Underworld. Whereas Hades wants vengeance and punishment for those that have done wrong regardless of the price, Batman would not outright wish them dead. The two perspectives cannot be reconciled, and Hitch opts to go with the perspective that aligns with his thesis – Superheroes as Gods – rather than what is true to the character.
Aside from the depiction of Batman, Hitch does an admirable job characterizing members of the Justice League. Aquaman remains skeptical of the surface world, which to him includes the Kryptonian god Rao. Superman is trusting of Rao’s apparent benevolence, and uses his stature to build trust between the world’s people and Rao. What remains to be seen is how the events of this issue, which are mostly comprise of Mr. Rao’s World Tour, tie to the events of issue #1. How Hitch connects those two is a mystery unto itself.
Less mysterious is the quality of the art. Though there is not a substantial amount of action, Hitch’s artwork remains grand. Large, widescreen panels dominate the issue, adding to the story’s cinematic feel. Backgrounds are lush with detail, which further fleshes out the world on the page. There are a few instances where Hitch’s facial work is subpar, which is the one a notable flaw in an otherwise great-looking issue.