Justice League of America Vol. 1: The Extremists collects issues #1-6 and is written by Steve Orlando. Art is by Ivan Reis

The Story (aka From the Publisher)

It’s a Justice League vs. Suicide Squad spin off. From the wreckage of the deadly clash of the world’s greatest–and the world’s worst–heroes comes a brand new Justice League of America made up of some of the most unlikely heroes to ever join the League!

Steve Orlando and Ivan Reis bring together the Ray, the Atom, Vixen, Killer Frost and more in what is one of the most offbeat and compelling lineup the Justice League of America has ever seen. Featuring epic battles and personal struggles, this is a League like the the world has never seen before!

Second Chances

As the graphic novel begins, Batman is recruiting Killer Frost. Even to Frost, this seems out of the norm. Killer is part of her name for a reason. But Batman insists, that she is needed for the new team of heroes he is building.

“Everyone deserves that chance,” Frost quotes back to Batman, affirming that Batman is giving her a second chance. Whatever killer things happened in Frost’s past, Batman has erased it in her future.

Sounds almost biblical, doesn’t it?

The rebirth of the Justice League begins with second chances. It begins with grace. Here Batman is the forgiving father, calling out to and welcoming with open arms, the prodigal children.

Team of Humans

Batman. Killer Frost. Black Canary. The Atom. The Ray. Lobo. Vixen.

Some are heroes, some are not. Some exist in that gray area of heroism. But, according to Batman, they are now the Justice League of America.

Batman is building a new team. And he is intentional about who receives an invitation. As he says to the newly gathered group:

The world needs heroes they can know, not gods, to inspire them – show them they can be heroes. Each of you is part of that.

Batman wants the people to have heroes who are like them, so the people will be inspired to be heroes too. It is Batman’s own theology of incarnation.

A simple way to think about incarnation is that moment when God put on skin by becoming Jesus. As much as Jesus was fully human, incarnation tells us he was also fully God. It would be easy to think that Jesus is to God what Batman is to Bruce Wayne. But Jesus was not a disguise. Jesus was fully human and fully God.

Even though Batman wears a disguise, his goal is for the JLA to be relatable to humanity. He puts a lot of faith into this new team. He sees the potential that they do not see in themselves. Mainly, that they are capable of fighting for justice despite their own brokenness. Theologically, Batman is asking the JLA to be Christ-like in the world, showing humanity they can be Christ-like too.

Something Bad This Way Comes

It is not long in the story before Earth is invaded by aliens from another Earth. Lord Havok and his army of Extremists come to this planet Earth to keep it safe. All because they failed to keep their Earth safe. They do not want to see Earth fall to the same fate as their world did.

However, their methods of upholding safety removes the free will of the people. Lord Havok is a tyrant. Even so, the governments of the world say that their hands are tied. They cannot do anything legally, causing Ray to exclaim:

I’m sorry — Are we really saying this? “Order?” Havok kills anyone who disagrees. I grew up watching heroes. And heroes find a way. Even if its complicated. Are we just going to let Havok steal a country?

The JLA find a way, thanks to Ray’s standing up and voicing the concern. The way includes empowering the people that Havok has oppressed in his efforts to save them. What the JLA affirm in defeating Havok and his monsters, is that fear is not power.

After the Havok storyline, there is an additional story taking place in Penn City, Ray’s hometown. The big bad of this plot is not unlike Havok in that he has used his mystical powers to save while oppressing the people of Penn City.

Leadership Is . . . . 

Intentional or not, the writers seem to be communicating a clear message in these two plot lines. One that is a social and political commentary.

Leadership that offers salvation through fear and oppression is not real leadership.

The people who are oppressed are the real heroes as they claim their voices and take back their city or country. The heroes stand up like Ray did to voice the concern, and then find a way. The heroes are empowered by superheroes to resist the oppression.

The themes continue. Batman offers himself in place of his teammates. The team has to learn what it means to trust one another. Lobo has a death and resurrection moment with Ray’s help, hopefully alluding to something unexpected from Lobo in coming storylines.

Overall, this is a solid graphic novel with a lot worth pondering.

You can purchase your own copy by clicking on the image below:

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital review copy.