I am averse to stories about heroes creating contingency plans to take out other heroes. Alan Moore asked, "Who watches the Watchmen?" way back in 1986, and every few years since then we get a new book or arc that tries to answer that question. In this case, it's the new Justice League (of America!), created as a "just in case" measure should Superman just go buck wild one day and start burning humans to death with his heat vision eyes.
The fundamental problem of stories like this is that the heroes are never loose-cannon characters. Nobody expects the Flash to just snap, suddenly committing high-speed crimes, or for Batman to start killing off street thugs. Because of that, there is next-to-no dramatic tension in this concept. Not only that, we're too accustomed to the outcome when it does happen. Either the main team will disobey a government order and the secondary team will be sent after them, only to discover that they agree with the primary team, or the main team will find out that the secondary team was created to police them, and paranoia and fisticuffs result, until everyone realizes it was all a big misunderstanding. It's tired.
I'm conflicted about this first issue of Justice League of America, beyond its central premise, and that's due to it being a first issue in which nothing happens except a book-length conversation between Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor. There is no Justice League of America in Justice League of America; just a handful of moments in which various character dossiers are tossed onto a table and discussed at length. Writer Geoff Johns has a really good handle on the dialogue and characterization, but I soured on the first issue the more that I thought about it. Here's a book in which nothing happens except for the set-up of a premise I dislike, spinning off from a comic I personally found to be one of the worst of the New 52 (Justice League).
On the surface though, it's very nice. The banter between Waller and Trevor is snappy and informative, and David Finch is trying something slightly different here as an artist, with work that's less busy, less cross-hatched, than his other gigs. But is it all a slick diversion for a fundamentally weak first issue or is it that the book is actually good and I'm rebelling against its own basic premise? The fact that I can't answer question this is the reason I'l be back for issue 2.
I have to believe that Vibe #1 (or Justice League of America's Vibe #1, as the indicia properly states) was some sort of post-Aquaman bet come to life. Doesn't it seem like someone called Johns' success with underused at DC Comics into question, then saddled him with the task of applying that Midas touch toward Vibe to really put it to the test? "Betcha can't turn Vibe into a hit," some editor said, while Johns gleefully accepted.
In the old DC, Vibe was a goofy break-dancing inner-city Latino teen with the ability to make things vibrate - a fourth-string character and a third-rate Justice Leaguer. Now, he's been re-invented in the New 52 as a kid who stood too close to a teleporting Boom Tube once and gained the power to see things from other dimensions (and also make things vibrate). He's scooped up by A.R.G.U.S. (the New 52 version of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and offered a key position on their all-new aggro Justice League team.
Pete Woods is an artist I've liked, but the storytelling in Vibe #1 isn't always clear. There's an action sequence involving a pinging Mother Box that I re-read three times in a row trying to put together exactly what was happening there. It was an anomaly for Woods, usually an energetic, reliable presence on a lighter superhero book. The first issue looks good, but something got lost from script to screen, so to speak.
Johns is so dedicated to Vibe that he's promised that the character will be an important centerpiece of some very big, very vague upcoming things. That's a good call, sales-wise. Force people to read this D-list character's book, lest they miss out on the first stages of DC's next Earth-shattering cross-over. Vibe #1 isn't bad-bad; if you have a soft spot for middle-of-the-road superhero teen books, this one is slightly more interesting than DC"s recently canned Blue Beetle, but there's a stink of cynicism to it. It's Johns daring you not to read the next character he's going to totally pull a Midas-touched hat trick on (first Green Lantern, then Aquaman, now Vibe!), and doubling down on that effort by making sure it's tied directly into his next sure-fire, can't-miss, best-selling monthly (Justice League of America #1). Look, I know that all comics chase sales; I just don't like feeling sold to. There's a difference.