Comic writer Geoff Johns has an uncanny knack for taking over entire universes. He now commands the helm of the DC universe, which has shrunken by about fifty dimensions in the last few years, but which still comes with great responsibility. But he can see the forest for the trees. If his recent introduction of Simon Baz as the most recent earth Lantern in the monthly series Green Lantern didn't convince you of that fact, then his re-introduction of lesser known here Vibe in Justice League of America's Vibe #1 ought to bring the point home.
Vibe's origin brings many current political issues to the forefront. He is from Detroit, which is the only large city in America to do so poorly that the state has to take over the city government with an emergency manager. This is also the site of a catastrophic event, the invasion of Darkseid from another dimension, a terrifying moment in the DC universe that affects its characters in much the same way that September 11 affected us. The new DC universe, at its inception, has lost its innocense, as has Cisco Ramon, the boy who will one day be called Vibe. An inter-dimensional port claims the life of his older brother. The same act of violence gives Cisco a strange power that keeps him from being detected by cameras. In this first issue, we immediately understand who Cisco Ramon is, what motivates him, and we have a sense of what his future holds in store.
Not even Marvel's Brian Michael Bendis is capable of delivering something this emotional in his first issue. Johns has the advantage of having written the entire backdrop upon which Vibe's story plays out, but that doesn't necessarily make this kind of work easy. Any of the recently canceled DC titles could have fit into the events of the Darkseid invasion and delivered stories that touch the readers who read them, and yet many did not. But Johns is not just serious. It wouldn't feel as real without his brand of comedy. For example, when Cisco is asked to join a team that prevents further incursions from Darkseid and their beasts, he rightly notes the irony that the government wishes to make a border policeman out of a Latino.
In the end, I am skeptical about this series, but only for one reason. Johns has committed himself to the Justice League, and we know this because he has left Green Lantern behind in order to develop stories just like these. But will Johns continue to write Vibe after the first few arcs? Certainly, if the title is taken over by Tomasi, or another writer who works well with Johns, that could be really fun, but ultimately I want Johns to develop this character for more than just a year. I will stick with Justice League of America's Vibe for at least as long as Geoff Johns writes it. May that window last forever.