Cover date: September 2004
Writer: Matthew Manning
Penciller: Tim Levins
Inker: Robin Riggs
"Dissapearing (sic) Act"
Reviewed by: Michael O'Connor
Superman, Flash, and Hawkgirl want to know why Batman's junior partner has snuck into the Watchtower, and Robin, after some initial hesitation, tells them: Batman is missing and J'onn J'onnz just attacked a book store owner for the man's family heirloom, a shard of an old talisman. Something strange is definitely going on, and Robin needs the Justice League's help in figuring it out.
But before the group can come up with an organized plan, they hear news of a rogue Green Lantern, robbing an electronics store employee of a talisman similar to the one J'onn J'onnz swiped. When the League arrives to confront their friend, they realize that there's something distinctly different about Mr. Stewart, like, for instance, he's actually Clayface!
The villain takes out the League without much trouble and escapes, leaving Flash, Superman, Hawkgirl, and Robin with only one option for furthering the investigation - a visit to the Slabside Island Penitentiary. While there, they confirm Clayface's escape from the facility and Robin's investigative skills lead him to Clayface's cell, where he discovers a false brick and, behind it, a concealed book of magic spells.
Though confused by what Clayface would want with a book of spells, Robin isn't given much time to ponder the mystery. News of a third pendant robbery, this time by Wonder Woman, sets the League into motion.
Of course, it's not Wonder Woman; it's Clayface and, again, the super villain clocks out with the knickknack before the League can get in a solid hit. After Clayface's escape, Robin suggests that the League return to the Slabside Penitentiary, where he believes they'll find the master planner behind the whole operation: Felix Faust.
Robin's hunch pays off. Faust is indeed controlling Clayface to obtain the pieces of a talisman that, when combined, give him supreme power. Faust and Clayface hold off the League, but before the evil sorcerer can chant his incantation, a batarang smashes the talisman into even more shards.
Faust is just about to obliterate Robin for dismantling his plan when Robin recites his own incantation, freeing Faust's control over another subject: a prisoner that is, in fact, an undercover Batman.
The Dark Knight springs on an unsuspecting Faust and wraps up the case with a well-placed punch.
Story - 4: Given this title's recent track record (one bomb after another), it's nice to have an above-average effort with a solid enough story, great characterizations, a tidy little mystery, and good super villain presence. While there are a number of plot holes or inconsistencies in the story (1 - Isn't Faust dead? 2 - Where the heck are the real Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and J'onn J'onnz? 3 - Why would Clayface disguise himself as a Justice League member? It only draws more attention to him!), it is, for whatever reason, forgivable. The 'Adventures' comics have rarely aspired to reaching the quality and depth of the animated series they're based on; often, the best that we can expect is a fun story that cuts slightly against the grain - and that's what this story ultimately accomplishes. It's engaging and amusing, and in a comics world that now embraces darker, more adult themes and long, convoluted storytelling, there's something to be said for what a good issue of JL Adventur
es (like this one) promises - a nice read.
Art - 4: Tim Levins really steps up in this issue. Great layouts show that Levins had some fun with the assignment, especially the page where Robin's unraveling the mystery in the foreground while the League faces off against Clayface in the background. Levins also masterfully captures both Robin's admiration and sheepishness around the League, by portraying the JL members as towering giants to Robin's limited size and experience. Capable, quality inking by Riggs is definitely a bonus.
Cover Art - 2: UGH! Where do I start? Green Lantern's face looking like a hideously contorted mask? The non-existent background? The misleading image? (Robin doesn't fight the Justice League!) No matter which way you cut it, this is just a bad cover all around. I know the artist of these works on the show, but his covers for this book have been, for the most part, pretty hideous.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2004.