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Justice League of America #39 [Review]

Reunion

Writer: James Robinson
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inks: Rob Hunter
Colors: Pete Pantazis
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Bagley, Hunter & Pantazis
Assoc. Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics

I’m not familiar with the “Detroit League,” and don’t really have much interest in it offhand. However–as with many of the other Blackest Night tie-ins–that doesn’t really hamper the story in this issue all that much. Certainly there are some subtleties that are lost on me for lacking background knowledge of certain characters. But at its heart, ultimately, this is still a good, solid story involving a character with “history” rising to cause grief with those still living.

While Red Tornado, Zatanna, Dr. Light and crew arrive on the sattelite to see what happened, they’re confronted by Vibe (of the Detroit League), Zatarra (Zatanna’s father) and Dr. Light (the guy who raped Sue Dibny, and got his mind mucked with for his trouble, ultimately leading to Identity Crisis and whatnot). The individual confrontations are fairly interesting, though the most disturbing is the meeting of the Drs. Light, and what has befallen Firestorm’s girlfriend. Though it got incredibly annoying trying to read the backwards-speak of Zatanna and Zatarra and I was taken out of the story entirely by the thought, I had a good chuckle when I realized their battle had all but come down to a “yo mamma” spitting contest, their magic given power by what they said: “Disregard what she said!” “No, disregard what HE said!” “No, disregard what SHE said!”

It seems obvious that Robinson knows these characters well, and has a good handle on them–whatever my feelings of the various “eras” of the JLA and such, he crafts an engaging story. Particularly with Zatara, it’s obvious that his fullest potential as a Black Lantern can’t be allowed to be reached and that he’s–like Psycho Pirate–perhaps one of the greatest weapons in the Black Lanterns’ arsenal.

The art is also quite good, and though I’m not yet all that used to Bagley’s art in the DCU, I like it already–and somehow, it reminds me just a bit of Dan Jurgens’ work, which is certainly a plus in my book.

This issue’s by no means an essential part to the core Blackest Night saga…but it’s still a solid read and well worth getting if you’re interested in the Drs. Light or the Detroit League, or just seeing Robinson/Bagley’s take on ’em.

This feels like a very stand-alone sort of story within the title, where it could almost be Blackest Night: Justice League of America #1 rather than #39 of the ongoing series. Though buying the issues for the tie-in to Blackest Night, I’m not convinced there’s enough here to truly, properly “sell” one on the title itself. But as this is only the first of a two-part story, there’s no telling what the next chapter may do.

Recommended.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7.5/10

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Justice League of America #29 [Review]

Star Struck!

Guest Writer: Len Wein
Penciller: Chris Cross
Inkers: Rob Stull w/Chris Cross
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover: Ed Benes & Hi-Fi
Publisher: DC Comics

Breaking from the storyline introducing Milestone characters to the DCU, this Faces of Evil issue focuses on Starbreaker.

…Who is a character I don’t think I’d ever heard of before seeing this issue at the store this week.

The character narrates his history to the reader, recounting how he first came to fight the JLA and then to make his way to Earth for revenge. After the JLA has defeated him, he finds himself in company of another villain whose name I do recognize.

The art for this issue is a solid mix of “classic” and “contemporary”–it pulls off the appearance of a contemporary comic, while also hinting at a silver age visual style for the characters (and page layout). It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Chris Cross’s work (I remember enjoying his work on the Genis-Vell Captain Marvel series from Marvel a few years back), and I’m glad to say that it does not disappoint me here at all.

The story on the other hand does not work for me. I appreciate the writer’s background, but did not feel this the place to showcase his work. There is a VERY silver-age feel to the story that does not serve in its favor (unlike the origin for Libra in the Final Crisis Secret Files). To be honest, it took me two attempts to get through this issue–I got a few pages in the first time and set this aside where it waited until I’d read all my other new comics for the week, and then finished this off on principle.

I’ve seen nothing obvious stating how long an arc is in this title, but was expecting at least one more chapter of the Milestone arc–strike #1 against this. That this was a guest-written gig–basically a one-shot, I presume–this should have been Faces of Evil: Starbreaker as a standalone instead of an issue of Justice Leaue of America…strike #2 against this.

If you’re interested in a one-off tale with a silver-age feel about this apparently “classic” villain, this issue will probably be very much to your liking. If you’re checking the title out JUST for the Milestone characters, they’re not in this issue at all so you could skip this without missing any of that stuff.

Story: 3/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 5.5/10

Justice League of America #28 [Review]

Welcome to Sundown Town Chapter 2: Shadow and Act

Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Penciller: Jose Luis
Inks: JP Mayer
Color: Pete Pantazis
Letters: Travis Lanham
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover: Ed Benes w/Hi-Fi
Publisher: DC Comics

I wasn’t gonna pick this up. I was gonna content myself with waiting for a collected volume, or just waiting for the Milestone characters to pop up in other books. But curiosity got the better of me, and so I picked this up after all.

There’s not much of a plot here–the bulk of the issue is a lengthy fight scene between the League and the Shadow Cabinet. However, toward the end of the issue theres a slight bit of a twist that both bucks cliche and yet manages to play right in familiar old cliche none the less.

I find myself much more interested in finding out more about the Milestone characters than I am about the Justice League, and so am possibly more disappointed in this issue than I should be. I would gladly (and with enthusiasm) picked up a mini-series re-introducing these characters that guest-starred members of the Justice League; as it is, the Milestone characters don’t get enough focus-time in this issue (though they get far more than in the previous one). I’m also quite interested in the Icon/Superman interaction(s).

The art here–while not Benes–is quite good, and similar enough to Benes’ work that I thought nothing of the art until I looked at the credits, and realized that sure enough, this wasn’t Benes. I was particularly impressed with the final page–which also has me sufficiently hooked as to pick up the next issue more than likely.

All in all, not a bad issue. Worth getting if you want to see the Milestone characters that are appearing in this arc.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 8/10

Justice League of America #27 [Review]

Be Careful What You Wish For…

Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Penciller: Ed Benes
Inkers: Ed Benes, Rob Hunter, Norm Rapmund & Drew Geraci
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover: Benes w/Hi-Fi
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue shows the Shadow Cabinet in action, attempting to do their thing without bringing down the wrath of the Justice League…unfortunately for them, their acting with (the female) Dr. Light doesn’t go smoothly, and the Justice League is pulled into things. Meanwhile, other interactions are going on between certain characters, apparently moving their stories forward; particularly an awkward moment between Red Arrow and Hawkgirl, as well as Black Canary confronting the “Big Three” about their upper-level clique compared to the rest of the League.

I really can’t complain about the art. Benes has a certain style that really works for me, with plenty of detail and not too much in the way of being ‘stylistic’–the visuals are straight-forward and clear, easy to follow and nice to look at (though there’s a bit of gratuitousness I could definitey do without). Visually, this is a high-quality book.

I’m fairly mixed on the story. It’s been a couple years since I’ve read an issue of this title, so I’m understanably outta the loop–there are things going on here that either pass me by or just come outta the blue, I’m sure, given my not being “up” on the book. I really don’t get a sense who any of these Shadow Cabinet characters are, though. I know that this is apparently their introduction into the DCU and that the Milestone characters are being integrated as if they’ve always been present–all that meta-textual stuff I’m clear on. I just don’t feel that in-story there was much of anything to give a good sense of the characters’ individuality; for all I’d otherwise know, they’re generic charcters made up to throw some conflict at the Justice League. At the same time, this is an issue that’s gotta focus on the title characters–the existing members of the Justice League involved in the ongoing story arcs; we’re also introduced to the members (I count seven) of the Shadow Cabinet…making for a huge cast of characters.

I bought this issue for the Milestone characters. I remember picking up some of the Milestone books back in the day, particularly the Worlds Collide crossover with the Superman books at the time (I don’t recall if they crossed with other DC books or not). My expectations are probably higher than could really be reasonably delivered by a standard-sized single issue; I was excited, though, to learn this past summer that the Milestone characters would be returning, integrated as part of the DCU, and have looked forward to this since.

Not having followed this title, I can’t speak to the issue in context of the overarching ongoing stuff; but I was definitely left underwhelmed having picked this up to see the Milestone characters interacting with the DC characters–looks like that’ll come next issue, with this more as a bit of setup.

Worthwhile if you’re following the title, but if you’re picking this up for the Milestone stuff, it looks like you’d be better off waiting til issue 28 to really see the characters interact.

Story: 6/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7/10

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