Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA #51

JLA #51

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 28, 2001

Cover date: April 2001

Writer: Mark Waid
Penciller: Mike S. Miller
Inker: Armando Durruthy
Cover: Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary

"Man and Superman"

Reviewed by: Jason Czernich (

The latest issue of DC's best selling ongoing opens with a little girl wishing everything around her into chocolate in Lake Worth, Florida and then cutting to the JLA Watchtower, on the moon's surface, where the JLA comes face to face with their alter egos. Bruce Wayne is confronted by Batman, Clark Kent by Superman, Wally West by Flash, John Jones by Martian Manhunter, Eel O'Brian by Plastic Man, and Kyle Rayner by Green Lantern. The exceptions to this rule are Wonder Woman and Aquaman since they don't utilize any secret identities.

Next, there is a flashback that continues the scene that had begun to play out at the close of issue #50 that proceeds to illustrate how the Leaguers initially came into contact with their dopplegangers in the Batcave. After that, we flash back into the present where J'onn J'onzz creates a mental link between the Leaguers and their civilian dopplegangers. When they all attempt to use the teleporter to get back to Earth they find that Clark Kent can't teleport down to Earth because the teleporter doesn't recognize him as Kryptonian any longer. Whatever phenomena is happening with the JLA and their alter egos is labeled by Kent as, "a work in progress".

As both versions of the JLA attempt to break the news and seek console from their friends and loved ones, more strange occurrences arise around the globe as more people are getting what they wish for in spades, just like the confection loving girl from page one. The most severe case is a homeless person in Washington D.C.

Cut to: The costumed versions of the JLA all partaking in monitor duty and in turn being monitored by Wonder Woman and Aquaman. The pair, who as noted earlier have been unaffected by the secret identity split, observe Superman turning darker and Batman adding the word "Please" to his vocabulary. Green Lantern spots the trouble in Washington on his monitor and the JLA arrives on the scene of the chaos.

It seems the homeless man's wish was to have humanity notice him and they do as he proceeds to remake the world, starting with Washington D.C., into a shrine to himself. He is ultimately defeated by a combination of Superman, Flash, and Martian Manhunter using their combined powers to scramble some of the homeless man's brain cells.

The epilogue to the main action of the story show's Wally West being late for dinner with his wife, John Jones screaming he's blind, Bruce Wayne starting to live up to his playboy image, and Eel O'Brian contemplating an armored car robbery.

2Story - 2: This is just another JLA story that relies on gimmick and pays poor attention to plot and script. It joins last May's "Silver Age" event and January's "Justice Leagues" as a story that tries to play off the novelty of the concept. Gone is the witty dialogue and character quirks from Morrison's run on the book. All we get for the first six pages of story is people standing around talking at each other and not with each other. There are no funny side quips from Plastic Man, no banter between Flash and his pal Green Lantern, just three or four characters taking all the dialogue and turning it into gratuitous, spoon fed, exposition. Also, Martian Manhunter's main secret identity in John Jones, but he has many more across the globe. Why didn't Waid play around with that? Hmmm? Why didn't Martian Manhunter come face to face with all of his secret identities?
The wishes coming true for the homeless person and others may play into a bigger part of this story arc but it almost seemed thrown into this issue for the sake of action. Haven't I seen this all before? The only sequence that saves the story from being downright unreadable are the last three pages where we get to see the some of the split off alter egos change for the worse. In some cases like Bruce Wayne's they become more like the people they only pretend to be in civilian life. This is more of what I want to see. How about it Mr. Waid?

2Art - 2: This is the same art team from Justice Leagues: Part V: Justice League of Aliens. They did an admirable job on that book but here they simply lose quality. On page four the story flashes back to the Batcave sequence that was started at the end of issue #50. This is done with little or no backgrounds and it is a clear blunder to do this. The Batcave, with all it's technology and trophies is an atmospheric place. All we are given here for scenery is a big metal door and some cross hatches to simulate the texture of rock walls. Where are the stalagmites and the stalactites? Where is the Batmobile that "Batman" drove in? Why no wide overhead shot to establish scene? Where does the flashback clearly end? We can't clearly tell because of the lack of background. Did the flashback end on page five at the bottom or at the top of page six?
On pages sixteen and eighteen the homeless man looks like Aquaman which I found lazy. Couldn't something have been done to make him look different. A wider variety of body types and hair styles all around would also have been appreciated. Maybe all this sloppiness is due to the fact that this is a fill in issue. I hope that Bryan Hitch and Paul Neary return soon. Speaking of them...

4Cover Art - 4: Hitch has a nice use of monolithic images of Batman and Superman on this month's cover and it was very appropriate to have Clark Kent smiling and Bruce Wayne serious. Showing the secret identities on the cover of the big two was a good symbolic method of representing the story concept inside. The remaining six Leaguers were present but they almost seem to be a last minute addition. They don't seem as smoothly drawn as the rest of the cover and they're more brightly colored. I know they're supposed to be far off in the distance but we'd still be able so see details like the red star on Wonder Woman's tiara. All in all, the art on the cover was much better than the art inside the issue.

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

January 2001

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