Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are beacons of truth, justice, and hope… aren’t they?

JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS #1 serves as an introduction to the stars of the DC Comics home video JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS. This is an alternate universe where Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman definitely protect the planet, but on their terms, their way. Superman is arrogant, Batman is a vampire, and Wonder Woman is sexual. They will inevitably join forces against someone who believes they’ve found a way to perfect human beings, but first, we have to know who they are.

It is very difficult to read JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS #1 and not see it as some cynical cash-grab from DC Comics to promote the home video. In fact, this issue isn’t even the first comic book published as a tie in! Each hero–Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman–have each had individual comics published digitally in the weeks leading up to the release of JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS on home video.

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The first issue employs a nameless, omniscient narrator to set the scene, then describe the planet’s first reactions to each hero. It serves a basic function of providing the given circumstances and introducing us to the protagonists, but it doesn’t work very hard to do more than that. It’s hard to feel any urgency, as a reader, from the writer, when you know that if you’re reading this comic book, you’re probably going to watch the movie anyway (I’ve seen it already–and the Machinima shorts).

Thony Silas is given the unenviable position of following Bruce Timm’s character designs, in addition to walking the tight rope of using his own artistic voice while not straying too far from the designs that will feature in the movie this comic is trying to sell. Silas is clearly a capable artist, but the issue’s art is obviously caught in limbo.

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To the issue’s credit, it creates a compelling juxtaposition between narration loosely tied to the on-page action. The heroes only speak to each other in the last few pages, and it’s only two of them. It works well to set up the mystique of these characters, even if they aren’t as likable as usual. The obvious differences are that Batman is a vampire (and if you’ve read the digital comics or seen the movie you know it’s not Bruce Wayne), and that Superman was raised in Latin America and is a huge jerk. Wonder Woman is not Diana Prince, but someone else, as well (I’ll leave for you to learn who by seeing the movie because it’s a great moment where Bruce Timm and Jack Kirby creatively shake hands). Beyond that, she has red hair and is hyper-sexualized.

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If you’ve seen the web shorts, read the webcomics, even seen the movie, you know that Wonder Woman’s standout trait is that she’s a sexual being. In a world in which Superman and Batman are actively not their usual selves, are negative versions of themselves, Wonder Woman’s dominant alternate trait is that she’s sexual? What kind of message does it send that a sexual woman belongs in an alternate, darker universe?

All-in-all JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS #1 (of 9!) does little more than give you more of what you’ve already seen. If you’re a completist, pick it up. If not, ignore it.

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