I suppose if I’d never read an old Justice League story, I’d be fine with this. The closest I can come to explaining my feeling is this; this collection reads like a decent cartoon. It is “inspired” by the real Justice League. The roles are there, the power sets, and some of the characterization. But the costumes, the 90’s attitude, and the laughably named villain are all way-too New 52.
Steve Trevor gets a lot of time in this one, and Geoff Johns does a nice job fleshing him out. Trevor is the type of character Johns used to excel in writing back in his Flash days; the normal friend or co-workers that kept Wally West tethered. (Of course, with Trevor leading the JLA soon, I don’t think he stays grounded too long.)
This thing almost works. When Green Arrow shows up, he’s clearly different than his historical self, but this version has the important character elements that made Ollie Queen interesting. Cyborg fits in surprisingly well on the League, taking Martian Manhunter's place but actually bringing in a nice level of humanity.
Johns is getting more comfortable with the new continuity, making more references to GL’s time in space and the Batman/Superman team-up that we now know is happening. Batman is the most consistent in his characterization; this could basically be Batman from the old days. Superman sounds close, but not quite right. Flash? Honestly, he could be about any character. If I’m not sold on boring Barry by this point, I don’t expect I ever will be.
The villain, Graves, has an interesting backstory, especially with his interactions with the “cast out deities” that help him get his powers. His abilities aren’t physical enough to lead to any really strong conflicts, but that’s OK sometimes. Some comics just need to have the heroes repeatedly fall to their knees due to crippling emotional pain. I did enjoy the League’s internal battle, just because it gave us some “normal” fighting.
Jim Lee is quite talented. Surprising no one, he handles the new costumes and designs better than anyone else in the New 52. It makes sense, he designed most of them. His Wonder Woman and Aquaman are especially impressive. Both heroes are imposing and look like alpha heroes. I’d say Flash is the weakest of his characters, and Cyborg is a big too bulky for me. I prefer the sleek George Perez look. Graves’ design is insane. He looks like another alien monster, but I guess he just wore an ice-mask and armor. Lee certainly has his favorite types of villains.
It’s worth noting that Carlos D’Anda does a nice job with the Green Arrow fill-in issue. GA doesn’t look anything like I normally picture, but he does look like a neat hero.
This comic is fine for fans of the new 52, or for people who don’t realize how good old Justice League comics were. So on its own, this comic is perfectly fine. But compared against even decent runs of the past, this collection is still EVIL.