Cover date: August 2003
Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Duncan Rouleau
Inker: Aaron Sowd
"The White Rage" - Part 3
Reviewed by: John-Paul Zito (ZitoMan11@aol.com)
Meanwhile half way around the world Major Disaster and Faith's guilt have lead them into the arms of Black Ops leader Mason. Mason promises to help the JLA clear their names if Faith returns to his shady fold.
And Somewhere in Oregon what's left of the unguilty JLA fights a new breed of hero in the skies. A dark breed. The Axis of Evil. The rag tag team of neo heroes wipe the floors with the JLA leaving them on the ropes.
In Little Falls, not far from the Haven disaster, Superman is led away voluntarily in chains. His guilt compels him. Suddenly Wonder Woman jumps into the prison transport line and mayhem ensues. She wraps Superman in her lasso of truth, and finally Superman wakes up from his sorrowful state. The massacre wasn't his fault. It's all been a lie.
Mason refuses to take Major Disaster with him. He's only here for Faith. But Major Disaster insists. His guilt compels him. Mason must take him in and protect him! Then Faith realizes if Major Disaster is this guilty then Mason must be using Mouth. Mouth is a box with a mouth in the side that can psychically attack anyone and convince them of anything.
Cut to Jon Stewart trapped in a moment of time. All he can see is the explosions, all he can do is protect the children in a green dome of energy. All he can hear is his own guilt. But the children from the haven that he's "protecting" only have a little bit of oxygen left. It's only a matter of time before they die.
The Flash arrives and surprises the Axis of Evil knocking their battle plan off just enough. They're formation is broken and their ranks are spread thin just as the big guns arrive: Superman and Wonder Woman, and they're angry.
Having had revealed the plot for what it was Faith explodes with rage and takes Mason's life in her hands. Despite her seething emotions she chooses to spare his life and let him go with a warning.
Just as the battle is getting underway, and just as Superman is ready to clean house, The Axis of America teleport away to safety. Their plans have been thwarted, and the JLA is victorious.
Later in the Watch Tower, with the psychic spell of Mouth broken, Jon Stewart tends to the children he almost killed trying to protect. The whole of the JLA reconvene and find that they are left with more questions then answers at the end of this adventure.
Meanwhile in Virginia Manhunter has hit a wall. His attempt to overcome his fear of fire and his weakness to the flame is failing. He intends to give up. But his tutor Scorch will have nothing of it. Not until he fulfills his end of the bargain. But he can't. He can't brave the searing pathways of her mind any more then he could a matchstick. They argue. They're heated argument turns to violence. That violence turns into a first kiss.
Story - 3: While the concept itself is great, I felt cheated in the execution. For three issues now I've been gearing up for the Axis/JLA confrontation. And while I got a few panels of second stringers getting their asses handed to them, Superman and the big guns never get in so much as a slap. This was going to be the big showdown. At least that's how I felt it had been built up. And now I find myself disappointed in the out come as a result.
Also I was a little confused as to why Faith would release Mason back into the wilds of Black ops conspiracy. I mean sure she wouldn't kill the guy, that's part of her transformation to becoming a true hero. But at the same time there are plenty of installations that would be capable of containing the evil little man.
I didn't get a real feel for any of the characters in Axis of America. I didn't really get a chance to learn about them or about who they are, in some cases I didn't even catch their names. I'm not sure if the Axis is made up of established characters I'm not familiar with, but at the same time I think more should have been done to make them more real and menacing.
I did enjoy the little story notes though. The introduction of Mouth is neat. I liked Wonder Woman's rescue of Superman, and Mason's devilish way to have Jon Stewart kill the children for him. My particular favorite is Manhunter's kiss with Scorch. Something I'm almost embarrassed to say I didn't see coming because it's such a great story device. All very fun and interesting story bits that added to the whole.
Art - 5: I really enjoy Duncan's stuff, his style is very clean and fun. I hope they give him some monthly work with Superman soon. Check out the panel of Big Blue and Wonder Woman on the bottom of page 14. It's an awesome sight of a hero pushed to outrage. Great work.
Cover Art - 2: Yea it's Axis America looking bad ass, but so what? They aren't doing anything particularly evil. I don't get any sense of danger. This might as well be the next Young Blood number 1 cover. Mahnke's art is cool as always but even that's not enough to save this cover from it's own concept.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2003.