Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics
JLA: Incarnations #7Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 28, 2001
Cover date: February 2002
Writer: John Ostrander
Penciller: Val Semeiks
Inker: Prentis Rollins
Part 7 of 7 - "Inspiration"
Reviewed by: Michael Bailey (Earth1Superman@aol.com)
In the New York offices of Meta Magazine Tully Reed has just finished telling Mac that he is selling the magazine. Tully feels that since Roz died his heart just isn't into the super-hero set anymore. Mac agrees but takes issue with the fact that Tully is selling out to Lex Luthor, who hates the caped set. Before the argument can continue Mac gets word through his headset that the weather is going crazy. Tully doesn't see how the weather forecast would affect them, but Mac tells him that it isn't just local and that the entire planet seems in revolt.
In the Monitor Womb of the JLA Watchtower Batman watches the scenes of chaos and tells Oracle that he should be down in Gotham. Oracle informs him that he is best serving the League by staying in the Monitor Womb and trying to figure out who is behind the simultaneous natural disasters. From Brasilia J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter concurs adding that he thought that Jason Woodrue, Poison Ivy or even Swamp Thing may be behind it but his mental probes indicate that they're not. Batman adds that Ivy is currently in Arkham and even still it doesn't explain the earthquakes so it probably isn't one of the JLA's usual foes.
From Atlantis Aquaman informs the group that something is indeed controlling the Earth. The fish hear his commands but they aren't able to respond. From Italy Superman notifies the League that the lava he had diverted has changed course and is attacking him. In the North Atlantic Green Lantern radios that the water seems to be coming to life as well right before he is knocked back by a huge wave. In San Francisco Plastic Man barely hangs on as earthquakes rattle the city. Just as the Golden Gate Bridge begins to fall to pieces Superman arrives and assists Plastic Man who is grateful.
Meanwhile Batman has left the Monitor Womb to investigate Poison Ivy at Arkham Asylum. The Dark Knight finds Ivy who is distraught that her connection with plant life has been cut off. Batman theorizes that since those who can tap into the planet for their powers have been unable to use those abilities that the foe they face is the planet itself. From Russia Wonder Woman, who is busy fighting a pack of wolves, explains that Gaea is the name that they give to the soul of the Earth, which leads a winded Flash to ask why the planet is so ticked off. Aquaman replies that since the surface dwellers have pillaged and polluted the Earth it makes since that the Earth would revolt.
Aquaman goes on to say that if he can catch a breather he might be able to use his telepathic link with the sea creatures and find out who is behind the attacks. Green Lantern shows up and encases him in a bubble, which gives him the moment he needs and J'onn assists by boosting his telepathic abilities. Aquaman opens his mind and immediately is hit by feedback. When he regains composure he informs the group that the beings behind the attacks are the Appellaxians, a warrior race that transfer their essences to "battle forms" to conquer other planets, races and dimensions. It was the original Appellaxian invasion that caused the League to form in the first place. Aquaman adds that they were rookies when they first handled them and that the League has improved since then.
Batman returns to the Monitor Womb telling them that the Appellaxians have improved as well. Their leader has taken the planet as his battle form and other have arrived and are animating non-sentient objects to use as theirs. He also tells them that they need to find out how they're doing this and how they can bring the battle to them.
In New York City Mac tries to get Tully to come back inside by telling that they have reporters who cover events like this. Tully responds by saying that the Statue of Liberty coming alive and wading ashore is something he would not miss. Lady Liberty swats at the buildings on the shore causing destruction to rain down on the city. Tully watches as a woman who looks like Rose being covered in debris. He rushes to the woman's side screaming not again.
Above New York Wonder Woman arrives and uses her lasso to command the being controlling Lady Liberty to tell her how they are able to animate ordinary objects. Liberty explains that there are machines in their citadel that enhance their abilities. When Wonder Woman asks where the spirit of Gaea is Liberty replies she has been dispossessed by their ruler Orkus and forced to wander the planet homeless and unaware of who or what she is. Wonder Woman then asks how do they restore her but a bolt of lightning strikes her and allows the Appellaxian to escape.
Wonder Woman recovers and heads to shore. Batman contacts her to see if she is okay. Diana responds that she is but she feels that they are going to have to take the battle to the Appellaxians. Batman informs her that he has already contacted the Sentinels of Magic since Doctor Fate and other magic users had opened a dimensional tunnel the first time they fought them.
Meanwhile Tully realizes that the woman isn't Roz and apologizes to her that he couldn't save her either. The woman revives and asks what happened. Tully replies that she was hit by falling debris and helps the woman to her feet. When he asks her who she is the woman says she can't remember, which makes sense to Tully considering what she had been through. He then promises her that he isn't going to let anything happen to her.
Above Washington, D.C. Superman is busy putting the statue from the Lincoln Memorial in orbit so it can't hurt anyone else when Batman radios that the Sentinels of Magic have opened a doorway. Superman assumes that there is a problem and J'onn tells him that there is. The doorway they had opened last time was one-way and that there is a chance that they might not be coming back. Since Superman is acting chairman J'onn wants to know what he wants to do. Without blinking Superman says that they will do what they have to and orders everyone to meet at the Watchtower.
Meanwhile an animated garbage truck tries to kill Tully and the woman he's protecting. Tully asks her why a truck would want her dead, but the woman is clueless as to the reason. She tells him to leave and save himself but he refuses to do that. Tully explains that he watched his girl die and despite the fact that this woman was not she he was going to see this through.
On the moon the collected forces of the JLA and Sentinels of Magic are assembled in the meeting room. Black Canary informs Superman that the JSA stands ready to spearhead the metahuman defense of Earth until they return. Superman asks what happens if they don't return to which the Atom responds that the form a new incarnation of the League. Superman then briefs the group that the plan is to go to the Appellaxians dimension, the destroy the machines that allow them to animate objects, engage them to draw their essences back and close the rift. With that Doctor Fate and the other Sentinels open the portal and the League goes through it.
When they reach the Appellaxians home dimension a member of that race immediately confronts them. The League prepares for battle but the Appellaxian greets them warmly and introduces himself as Arjax. Superman asks him why the Appellaxians are attacking Earth and after a brief burst of anger Arjax explains that for over a millennia their culture has been a warrior one that conquered their entire galaxy before moving on to other dimensions and since they won all of they battle they had never questioned what they did. After the Appellaxians were defeated by the Justice League and even more humiliating their lives were spared and sent home.
The impact of this on the Appellaxian's society was monumental. Many of them began to question all they held dear. Some questioned what made the League stronger and the answer they came up with was this concept of justice. However their ruler, Orkus, and others felt that if they could go back and defeat the League the old ways would be vindicated. Batman tells Arjax that Orkus may succeed and that if they can find his natural body they may be able to stop him. Arjax reveals that they no longer have natural bodies. The Appellaxians had abandoned them long ago in favor for different forms that they switch between. They had eliminated illness and banished death but there were no more new Appellaxians and only 7,000 remain.
Superman theorizes that there are machines and if they could destroy those machines the Earth would have a chance. Arjax leads them to the Citadel that serves as the center of their government from where Orkus rules. Superman orders Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Plastic Man to join him in engaging the Appellaxians out front to serve as a distraction so the others can slip inside. He then instructs the Flash to scout ahead and Let Batman know what he finds while J'onn keeps them all connected telepathically.
While Superman and company fight the Appellaxians outside Flash leads the Leaguers on the inside to where he thinks the nerve center is. J'onn becomes transparent, passes through the door and discovers that the Flash is correct. The Appellaxians, with the exception of Orkus, awaken and attack. Outside Plastic Man assumes that the approaching Appellaxians are reinforcements for the machines they had defeated, but it is revealed that the reinforcements are led by Arjax to help the League. Leaving Arjax and his people to battle the evil Appellaxians the League burst into the Citadel to help J'onn.
On Earth Tully and his friend fall to the ground as powerful earthquakes rock the city. The woman Tully has been helping reveals herself to be the vessel of Gaea. Gaea reveals that the woman had died and she entered her body to hide and regroup from Orkus' attack. Orkus had seduced her with her bitterness towards humanity and it's treatment of the environment. Tully's compassion proved that humanity was worth saving. Before leaving she tells Tully that his efforts may have saved the day and Tully can't help but feel different as he looks on to the woman's body.
As the League battles Orkus' men one of them tells the League that Orkus still possesses the Earth and if they don't surrender he will tear the planet apart. The League looks to Superman for guidance and the Man of Steel decides that Orkus would destroy the Earth in any case and destroys the Appellaxian that had threatened them. Superman flies at the battle form and destroys it as Batman finds the control panel.
Orkus' form suddenly comes to life and screams that he doesn't know how to they managed to reawaken the Earth spirit but he will find a way back. Superman orders that they destroy the control panel but Arjax stops him saying that they should use the controls to get themselves back home. As the Justice League escape, Arjax attacks Orkus.
After getting back to Earth Superman tells the League that they have to get back to help Arjax but the portal closes. Wonder Woman asks Superman whether he thinks Arjax or Orkus won. Superman replies that he doesn't know but they will deal with them the next time they meet as friend or foe.
In New York Gaea tells Tully, who is still with the body of the woman that died, that it is over and that they have won. She thanks him for helping her when she needed it. Tully explains that helping people when they need it is something he learned from the League. He did it because it was right regardless of reward. Gaea then tells Tully that while she cannot bring the woman back to life she can leave a bit of herself behind. The woman comes to life and hugs Tully, thanking him.
For one day and night it is quiet with no emergencies for the League to deal with. This cannot last. From the Watchtower the League watches and waits until they are needed again.
Story - 5: John Ostrander once again shows his sense of history by ending the series at the beginning. By taking the current League back to the enemies that formed the team in the first place it ends the series on a very satisfying note.
The story was solid and had great pacing. It had an epic scope that fit the stature of the current League. When you have the big guns all on one team you really need a threat that justifies using them. If the ever was a primer for a Justice League story this would be it. From the threat of world destruction to the self-less actions of the League this one had it all. The scene where Superman assembles the League, the Sentinels of Magic, the Atom and Black Canary on the Watchtower was fantastic. There was a plan for every contingency. When Superman asked what would happen if they didn't come back the Atom replied that they would immediately form another incarnation of the League. This is what the JLA is all about. Not only were they willing to lay down their lives for the good of the Earth but they also wanted to make sure that there were others who would take their places. Fantastic.
The twist on the Appellaxians was another nice touch. Since there hasn't been all that much done with them it was good to see that Ostrander wanted to develop them further. I like the concept of a group of the warriors having second thoughts about their lifestyle. Arjax may have been a little clichéd as far as his character but it worked out nicely. Despite the two dimensional nature of Arjax Ostrander managed to infuse a bit of life into him.
I did have a few problems with the story. While it was good to see Tully again and it was also good that his character having a fitting wrap-up his angle of the story troubled me. While I am all for mixing the metaphysical with super-heroes for the most part the Gaea aspect of the story was not to my liking. This is a personal thing. I am not saying that they shouldn't be mixed. A creator has the right to write about whatever he or she wants to. For my money, though, I don't like the infusion of the personification of the Earth spirit being at the crux of a story such as this. Yes the League has faced stranger, but I really didn't care for it.
Similarly, there was something very creepy about having Gaea put a bit of herself into the body of the woman as a reward for Tully's help. It felt like Gaea was saying, "Thanks for the help. Here's a woman as a reward." Also this cheapens the death of Roz. While she got very little screen time Roz was an important character as far as Tully was concerned. Her death was responsible for Tully wanting to sell his magazine and give up his real passion, which was covering the metahuman beat, to of all people Lex Luthor. By giving him a reward for his heroism, which the League hardly ever gets, it goes against what the League represents.
But maybe that's just me.
Some may take exception to Superman's actions in this issue. He seems a little cold blooded towards the end by making the decision to destroy the Appellaxians despite the fact that the Earth was in danger. I rather liked this approach. The situation warranted it in my opinion. They were in a no-win situation and the JLA's return to Earth was not insured, at least on their end. Superman's decision was the right one and really brought out the leadership qualities of the character.
In any case I was very happy with this series and would look forward to a follow-up. Another INCARNATIONS in the future would not be a bad thing. Ostrander continues to prove that he is adept at characterization and handling characters as they appeared in different time periods. While the series had a few fits and starts, especially with the multiple story issues, I think it had a solid voice all the way through. I'm kind of sad to see it end.
Art - 4: Val and Prentis delivered a solid issue. While I still have a problem with Val's figure work his backgrounds and power cannot be denied. The sheer amount of destruction packed into this issue was incredible and they really nailed the epic quality that the story was going for.
I especially liked the scenes on Appellax (which if said too fast sounds a lot like "apple jacks"). Val really shines with the science fiction angles. Arjax was masterfully designed and the battle sequences with the various battle forms were very well done. It had an almost anime feel to it.
Overall the art complimented the story. The scenes with Gaea had a nice fantasy feel to it. There were some amusing points as well such as the sequence where the garbage truck was chasing Tully and the woman who was inhabited by Gaea. Things like this made the art really stand out and if there is another INCARNATIONS I would like to see Val and Prentis return.
Cover Art - 5: This was a really nice cover. Finally Superman gets the cover and he looks great. The historic nature of the cover would satisfy the fan boy but it was interesting enough to make someone want to pick the comic up if they weren't all that familiar with the League. This wasn't the best cover of the series, but it did rank up there with the best.
Mild Mannered Reviews
2002Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.
- Joker: Last Laugh #6
-  Superman #176
-  Adventures of Superman #598
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #120
-  Action Comics #785
- Superman Adventures #63
- JLA #60
- Justice League Adventures #1
- JLA/Haven: Arrival
- Superman/Tarzan: Sons of the Jungle #1
- JLA: Gatekeeper #2
- Superman & Batman: Generations II #4
- Superman #177
- Adventures of Superman #599
- Superman: The Man of Steel #121
- Action Comics #786
- Superman Adventures #64
- JLA #61
- Justice League Adventures #2
- Just Imagine Stan Lee with Jerry Ordway Creating the JLA
- JLA: Gatekeeper #3
- JLA: Incarnations #7
- Adventures of Superman #600
- Superman #178
- Superman: The Man of Steel #122
- Action Comics #787
- Superman Adventures #65
- JLA #62
- Justice League Adventures #3
- Superman/Tarzan: Sons of the Jungle #2
- Superman #179
- Adventures of Superman #601
- Superman: The Man of Steel #123
- Action Comics #788
- Superman Adventures #66 [Final Issue]
- JLA #63
- Justice League Adventures #4
- JLA: Shogun of Steel
- Superman #180
- Adventures of Superman #602
- Superman: The Man of Steel #124
- Action Comics #789
- JLA #64
- Justice League Adventures #5
- Superman #181
- Adventures of Superman #603
- Superman: The Man of Steel #125
- Action Comics #790
- JLA #65
- Superman/Savage Dragon: Chicago
- Justice League Adventures #6
- Superman #182
- Adventures of Superman #604
- Superman: The Man of Steel #126
- Action Comics #791
- JLA #66
- DC1st: Superman/Lobo #1
- DC1st: Flash/Superman #1
- Justice League Adventures #7
- Superman/Aliens II: Godwar #1
- Superman/Tarzan: Sons of the Jungle #3
- Superman #183
- Adventures of Superman #605
- Superman: The Man of Steel #127
- Action Comics #792
- JLA #67
- Justice League Adventures #8
- JLA: Destiny #1
- Superman #184
- Adventures of Superman #606
- Superman: The Man of Steel #128
- Action Comics #793
- JLA #68
- Justice League Adventures #9
- JLA: Destiny #2
- Superman #185
- Adventures of Superman #607
- Superman: The Man of Steel #129
- Action Comics #794
- JLA #69
- JLA #70
- Justice League Adventures #10
- Superman/Aliens II: Godwar #2
- JLA: Destiny #3
- JLA: The Island of Dr Moreau
- Superman #186
- Adventures of Superman #608
- Superman: The Man of Steel #130
- Action Comics #795
- JLA #71
- JLA #72
- Justice League Adventures #11
- JLA: Destiny #4
- Planetary/JLA: Terra Occulta
- JLA/Haven: Anathema
- Superman #187
- Adventures of Superman #609
- Superman: The Man of Steel #131
- Action Comics #796
- JLA #73
- JLA #74
- Justice League Adventures #12
- Smallville: The Comic
- Superman/Aliens II: Godwar #3
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Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2002.