Dear Justice League
Script by Michael Northrop
Art by Gustavo Duarte
DC Zoom, 2019
New from DC Comics, the home of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, is a middle grade graphic novel written by Michael Northrop with artwork by Gustavo Duarte: Dear Justice League tells a very different kind of story about DC’s marquee superhero team. During a typically busy interlude involving an invasion of rapidly-multiplying bug-aliens, the League members try to catch up on the many, many emails they get from fans. This League’s lineup consists of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Aquaman, the Flash, Cyborg, the teenage Kendra Saunders Hawkgirl, and Simon Baz as Green Lantern, and each responds to an out-of-left-field question.
A little boy starting at a new school asks Batman if he was ever an insecure newcomer; a little girl asks Wonder Woman if she has any advice on turning 11; Hawgirl is asked if she eats small mammals like actual hawks do; an emailer wonders if Aquaman smells like fish, and so on. A young girl named Shalene writes to Simon Baz trying to be gentle:
Fashion is important to me. When people want to know what’s in style at my school, they just check to see what I’m wearing. Now I have a fashion question for you:
Do you ever get tired of wearing green and black all the time?
Don’t get me wrong. Black is a classic, and green is ... interesting. It’s just that I’d die if I couldn’t mix things up once in a while!
The graphic novel starts off with a typically grandiose description of Superman:
He is the Man of Steel, an all-powerful being from a far-off planet. When he’s not disguised as mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, he is a hero, a legend, the very embodiment of all that is good in the world. He can bend metal, crush diamonds, shoot lasers from his eyes, see through walls, and fly at the speed of light. He is, all in all, a paragon of perfection ...
... and then asks: or is he? The correspondent wants to know if Superman ever makes mistakes, and Duarte’s limber, often very funny artwork perfectly illuminates the Man of Steel’s feet of clay (it involves texting while flying). Northrop’s writing exactly matches the upbeat humor of his collaborator’s visuals; the book will very likely delight even crusty old die-hard Justice League fans, and it will provide younger readers with some welcome reassurance that everybody makes mistakes now and then - and that heroes admit it and try to do better.
They’ll also have confirmation of something they’ve always suspected: Alfred the butler does indeed cut the crusts off Batman’s sandwiches. Many a middle grader will relate.
—Steve Donoghue is a founding editor of Open Letters Monthly. His book criticism has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, The Historical Novel Society, and The American Conservative. He writes regularly for The National, The Washington Post, The Vineyard Gazette, and The Christian Science Monitor. His website is http://www.stevedonoghue.com.