Review: Batman and the Justice League Vol. 1

When the Joker and Lex Luthor team up to harness and control an ancient reality changing force of energy, it’s up to Batman, the Justice League and Rui Aramiya, a young boy from Japan in search of his parents, to stop them and save the day.

Hot on the heels of the Anime Batman Ninja, Batman is no stranger to the manga treatment. Having been manga-nized twice, first in Kia Asamiya’s Batman: Child of Dreams and a short story Batman: The Third Mask in issue #4 of Batman: Black & White by Katsuhiro Otomo, but this new collection is being serialized first in the Japanese anthology Red and is by Shiori Teshirogi, best known for her work on Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas.

If you’ve never read a manga interpretation of a western comic, the style takes a bit of getting use to when looking at it with traditional superhero sensibility lenses. Don’t be confused by the title, much like Bruce Timm’s Batman cartoon, this book makes Batman the lynchpin of the series/universe, with the exception of Superman, we barely see the League and when we do it’s with someone referencing them. Like most manga, it’s filled with a ton of introspective character panels and for a brooder like Batman, it works well.

With elements of post-Crisis DC and the New 52, undies on the inside and references to Jason Todd’s death, the story has that cosmic high stakes feel that we come to expect from most JLA runs. The art is top notch, the anatomy is a bit wonky, Superman’s head is a touch too small for his body, but the action is tight, engaging and energetic, and Teshirogi’s Joker is what a Joker should be, a stylized nightmare skeleton come to life.

The advance digital copy I reviewed from DC was a weird manga hybrid, the book read left-to-right, but the panels read right-to-left like most manga, not sure what the final product will be like. Either way this first collection is a solid fusion of the two genres, worth the read. Batman and the Justice League Vol. 1 is out now at your local comic shop and book stores on October 23rd.

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