The colors of Justice League #1

The New 52 is DC’s attempt to refresh its readership by restarting all of their titles at once in a new version of the shared DC universe. Justice League #1 – released this week – is the first book in the new line.

The book starts off five years before what will be the current timeline. Batman runs into the Green Lantern for the first time, and together, after defeating an alien menace in Gotham City, they travel together to investigate the appearance of Superman in Metropolis. There is also a brief scene introducing the character who will become Cyborg.

The first thing to note is that the character designs are superb, though if you’ve been following the releases over the last few weeks you might already know that. The redesigned costumes are more texturally interesting and fashionably styled – whether they will still seem that way in a few years, is another matter.

The character’s personalities have all been revamped as well, and it’s all certainly very clear right from the start.

Batman is more rebellious and has a darker sense of humor, Green Lantern is arrogant to a fault, and Superman has still the classic confidence, but also strikes as a bit morose – though we only get to see him for one panel.

The dialog is quick and to the point, and very little of it is wasted. With each word, the character’s new depth is being drawn out. For example, when Batman and Green Lantern arrive at where the ring tells them Superman is, Batman tried to warn Lantern of possible danger. Green Lantern lays it out after placing Batman in a green box. “Here’s the plan: Green Lantern goes in there and restrains Superman for questioning. Batman waits here. … I can handle this.”

The action is all clear and easy to follow at every point. Gone seems to be the propensity to confuse action scenes with too many lines. There was never a moment when I had to stop to try to figure out what was going on.

I enjoyed the book immensely, but it has a serious flaw: the price. Normally, I don’t make the price of something part of my review, but here it’s hard to not let the price play a factor in my potential recommendation of the book.

The book is $4, which is to continue to be the normal price for future issues ($3 for the minor lines), which means that a reader is getting their sequential art for about $16 per hour, depending on individual reading speeds. I’ll continue to read the issues to review them for you – and I promise this it’s the only time I’ll comment on the exorbitant price – but no matter how good the books are, I think DC is going to have a lot of trouble finding loyal new readers at this price point.

Justice League #1 is available now at many Comicbook stores or online.