Several months ago, when DC Comics cancelled Legion of Super-Heroes, its long-running series set in the 31st century, I told myself that the title wouldn’t stay inactive for long. I might not like the newest version of the group, but there would be a comic called Legion of Super-Heroes back at the Local Comic Shop soon.
Turns out I was half right.
The Powers That Be at DC replace the Legion with a comic called Justice league 3000. But I was definitely underwhelmed by the first issue.
Although JLA3000 is set in the 31st century, just as the Legion of Super-Heroes was, the strongest connection with the Legion is with the two writers, Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis. Giffen was artist and co-plotter of LoSH during the period of its highest popularity. DeMatteis has written scripts for both the Legion comic and the animated series. The similarities between the two series, however, pretty much end there.
In this 31st century, Earth is part of the Commonwealth, not the United Planets. The Commonwealth has been invaded by an alien hive-mind called the Convert. To fight this invasion, the futuristic version of the Cadmus Project has created what appear to be clones of five of the members of the original Justice League: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern.
The Cadmus Project, for the record, was introduced into the 20th century DC universe by Comics Legend Jack Kirby. The fact that Cadmus is now a power in its own right, not a secret government project, is probably the one idea in this story I actually like.
This new version of the Justice League was apparently masterminded by three scientists: a pair of twins named Teri and Terry (no kidding) and a young woman named Ariel. The latter has defected from Cadmus and is now working against the project and the Justice League for reasons that are not yet clear.
Then again, maybe they are. The members of this Justice League bicker and fight amongst themselves like they’re trying out for a revival of Big Brother or The Real World. It’s enough to cause any self-respecting scientist to pack his/her bags. Giffen and DeMatteis brought the same approach to the original Justice League for a time in 1990s. These comics have their fans, but, frankly, I was never one of them.
At this point, Teri and Terry believe that the differences between their Justice League and the original are due to the fact they’re genetic samples and historic records that have been corrupted by an event called the Great Disaster. For the record, the Great Disaster was a term coined by Comics Legend Jack Kirby (Maybe I should come up with a macro that allows me to type “Comics Legend Jack Kirby” with one keystroke.) He introduced it in Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth, a comic he did for DC in the 1970s, and it was eventually incorporated into the timeline of the DC universe as a whole. This is the first time I’ve seen it mentioned, however, since the DC universe was rebooted as the New 52, roughly two years ago.
You could make a good case that the Justice League was over-exposed, even before Justice League 3000 was launched, but what makes this series particularly odd—to me, anyway—is that there is already one Justice League series set in the future.
A team usually referred to as Justice League Beyond was introduced on the Batman Beyond animated series and is now one of the features in the Batman Beyond Universe comic. This team is close enough to the present that it includes some members of the original League, as well as some variants. I think DC would be better served if it concentrated on one version of the league or the other.
Howard Porter’s art is good ,but, it’s almost swamped at some points by all the expository copy in the first issue.
But let me make this as clear as I can: I know I’m talking about only one issue here. I’m not saying Justice League 3000 is dead on arrival. If you liked Giffen and DeMatteis’ other collaborations, you should probably check this out. But if you’re looking for the return of the Legion of Super-Heroes…well, this isn’t it.