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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League of America #34

Justice League of America #34

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 24, 2009

Cover date: August 2009

"Welcome to Sundown Town" - Conclusion: "The Dharma Initiative"

Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Penciller: Adrian Syrf with Eddy Barrows
Inker: Don Ho, Ruy Jose, Dan Green, Jack Purcell and Mark Propst

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

The League continues their battle with Starbreaker and the team is shocked when the villain grows to a monstrous size. Zatanna throws everything she has at the cosmic vampire and only manages to stun him. Meanwhile the Shadow Thief cuts Dr. Light from behind as John tries to contact her. Firestorm wakes up and tells John that he is going to kill the Shadow Thief when he sees him. Hardware talks him down and Firestorm comes on to the scene where the Thief has Dr. Light in a ball made of shadow. Dr. Light breaks free and she makes short work of the Shadow Thief.

The team reunites outside and as Starbreaker breaks free from the ground Firestorm and Dr. Light attack. The rest of the League joins the battle but Starbreaker takes them all down even in his weakened state. Paladin shoots Starbreaker with a bullet made of Lutetium and a gun that is effectively a rail gun. Zatanna heals Dharma, who suggests they take special care in disposing of Starbreaker's corpse.

Later Dharma meets with Icon who then contacts Superman so they can both hear Dharma's "confession". During the "Final Crisis" the death of a god ripped the fabric of space time, which released forces that destroyed where Icon and the others resided. Not long before the end Dharma tapped the source of an unfathomable power called The Rift. Superman remembers something about Icon being from another universe and that he teamed up with Icon and others to beat Rift and restore both universes. This doesn't make sense to Superman since he and Icon have known each other for years. Dharma continues his explanation by telling Superman that he tapped into Rift's power to merge the two universes in addition to altering the memories and histories of both but only enough to smooth out any inconsistencies. Currently Dharma holds the merger together with Rift's power and his own will but after foreseeing Starbreaker's attack and realizing he didn't have the power to deal with both the merger and the vampire he set in motion the events that led them to where they currently were. He leaves the final decision whether or not to keep both realities together to Icon, who agrees, as does Superman and the three form a pact to keep the merger a secret in addition to keeping the world safe while Dharma keeps it all together.

4Story - 4: This one is going to be tough to write. It really is. I was a genuine fan of Dwayne's run on this book and the events surrounding his departure/firing make it a bitter pill to swallow. I'll be honest. I'm a bit upset about the whole affair. Well, maybe upset isn't strong enough. Annoyed. Mad might be better as well. I mean I understand the concept that if you say things the boss doesn't like that you take the chance of getting fired but at the same time it just sucks on a number of levels.

What makes it even harder is that story wise and dialogue wise this was a very good issue and a satisfying conclusion to the "Welcome to Sundown Town" story arc. It was kind of a bumpy ride along the way but as far as wrapping up an extended story and explaining how the Dakota heroes came to the DCU proper I was a very happy reader.

I will admit that the fight with Starbreaker was kind of weak as was the final battle that Dr. Light had with Shadow Thief. Granted I thought both were the McGuffins of the story. I felt that the ultimate goal of the arc was finding away to get the Milestone characters into the DCU, but I could be wrong on that. At the end of the day I felt that the fights, particularly the one with Starbreaker could have had more of an oomph to them. Having said, or I guess written, all of that I was very happy with the dialogue for these scenes. Dwayne always had a keen ear for how his characters should sound and the dialogue was amusing without going overboard with it.

I did like the twists and turns he took with the story. The Firestorm/Hardware conversation was particularly good and wasn't the typical, "Heroes don't kill," monologues that you see in a lot of mainstream super-hero books. Hardware gave a good argument and I think it was a defining moment for Firestorm as a young/inexperienced hero. Paladin's execution of Starbreaker was a bit of a shock. The explanation of how he was able to do it worked as well and I dug the fact that McDuffie used am imaginary character as a plot device. That was just neat. At least to me.

More than anything I liked the explanation of how the Milestone and DC universes merged. It was clever and more than that it used a previously established connection between the two to do it. I was and still am a big fan of the "Worlds Collide" event from 1994, so to use Rift made me very happy. I'm usually a soft touch when it comes to explaining such things as ret cons and universal mergers (I had no issues with Superboy's punching fits, for example) but this one worked a lot better than most.

Wow. "Worlds Collide" was published in 1994. That was the year I graduated high school. That was 15 years ago.

I suddenly feel old. Or at least older.

And thus ends another era of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. McDuffie is gone, Len Wein is writing some stop gap issues and then James Robinson is on the title. Don't get me wrong. I am looking forward to what both men bring to this series. Wein has written a number of good JLA stories in the past and I like Robinson's style. I'm just going to miss Dwayne. He never seemed to get the chance he deserved. Maybe some day in the future he'll get another crack at the title. Until then I do have his run on this book and the JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED box sets.

Bye, Dwayne. You will be missed.

3Art - 3: I wasn't exactly thrilled with the art in this issue. I think it was the mixing of artists that did it. While two people on pencils doesn't usually make a bad mix the four different inkers adds credence to the term, "two many cooks spoil the pot." I don't know if the art was running late on this issue that necessitated so many artists working on it but the result left something to be desired. Overall it wasn't terrible mind you. I just thought some of the finer details got lost.

3Cover Art - 3: This is kind of an ugly cover. The art itself was fine it's just I don't really care for the overwhelming pink color scheme. It kind of hurts the eyes. Between that and the weak detail I thought this was one of the weaker covers to grace this series.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

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