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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA/JSA: Secret Files & Origins #1

JLA/JSA: Secret Files & Origins #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 27, 2002

Cover date: January 2003

John-Paul Zito Reviewed by: John-Paul Zito (

1Cover Art - 1: Not that it isn't an amazingly drawn cover. Not that it isn't one of the best renditions of DC super heroes ever. Not that it isn't drawn by my favorite penciler ever. Simply because we've seen this cover a million times already in promotional form for "Virtue and Vice". It no longer packs the same punch as it did four months ago when I saw it for the first time. The powers that be at DC should have given us something new and unseen from Pacheco to wet the appetite.

"The Day Before"

Written by: David Goyer & Geff Johns
Pencils by: Stephen Sadowski
Inks by: Andrew Pepoy

In Fawcett City the young Billy Batson is summoned away to the magical cave and lair of the great wizard Shazam. The old wizard is concerned, he senses impending doom.

Meanwhile in Gotham City Batman escorts Mr. Terrific into the bat cave so they can talk a little tech shop. But Mr. Terrific gets a little off base when he mentions that Batman is a very angry and intense man that has clearly experienced much pain. Mr. Terrific is looking for a shoulder to lean on and he's hopping Batman can provide him with that support.

In Keystone City the Flashes, Hour Man and Plastic Man enjoy an afternoon at the hockey rink courtesy of the city. However, Plastic Man's childish antics disrupt everyone's good time. A "flash forward" vision from Hour Man really ruins the outing when he reveals the final score for the game they're still watching.

Back at the JSA mansion Atom explores the inner workings of Sentinel to reveal that the former Green Lantern is now completely composed of green fire. This power makes him nearly invulnerable and the most powerful person on the planet. His findings are backed up by a second opinion from Dr. Midnight. Green Lantern doesn't buy into the explanation. Is it possible he's just jealous?

Wonder Woman, Power Girl, and the Star Spangled Kid look on as Superman tangles with Bizzaro. The Kid steers the conversation to the adolescent concern of cute boys and prompts Power Girl to reveal her attraction for the Man of Steel. Everyone has a good laugh when she realizes Superman was behind her the whole time.

Doctor Fate researches in an endless library somewhere in his mystic tower. The world's most powerful magician becomes distracted and lazy as he grows more aware of the daunting task before him. Just then Zatanna interrupts looking for an exit, before Fate can show her the way out they are both disturbed by a cold shiver up their spins. An eerie warning of things to come.

Back at Shazam's mystic cavern the young Billy Batson (Now in his Captain Marvel persona) flies off to warn the JLA and the JSA of the old wizard's concern. No sooner does Earth's mightiest mortal depart than stone statues representing the seven deadly sins spring to life and attack Shazam.

To Be Continued in Virtue and Vice...

4Story - 4: It's a good story that leads into Virtue and Vice quite well. It manages to set the reader up with some less heroic aspects to DC's premier heroes. Green Lantern's penchant for jealousy, Batman's anger, and Dr. Fate's sloth. While regular readers of JLA or JSA are more familiar with these character traits the story serves to indoctrinate that novice into the basic plot behind "Virtue and Vice". Although I'm not too sure how many casual readers will shell out the 30 dollars for the JLA/JSA crossover.

4Art - 4: The story is mostly conversations and the artist does a great job at keeping it interesting. A good bit of the story is relying on the facial expressions and body language of these two dimensional drawings, and they complete their end of the equation perfectly. There were an excessive amount of worms-eye-view shots. The only place I felt they were warranted were in the scenes with Wonder Woman, Power Girl, and The Kid. Since they were all floating around at different heights you got a real sense of floating. But when it's used at excess it losses it's dramatic power.

"Home Again"

Written by: Rick Veitch
Pencils by: Dietrich Smith
Inks by: Sean Parsons

Tempest's child looks on and reveals to us what he sees through his confused infant eyes as Atlantis struggles to survive without her true King, Aquaman. Finally Tempest decides it's time to seek out the king and return him to his throne, only he will be able to save Atlantis from itself.

4Story - 4: Though it's only a simple follow up to the cataclysmic events of "Obsidian Age" we learn a great deal about the sad state of Atlantis and the devastating effect it has on Tempest and his family in these few pages. The most interesting part of the story is the narrative through the infant's eyes. While the reader isn't fully understanding of the ways of the Atlantean culture neither is the baby which makes the narrative simple and prevents it from getting weighed down with continuity semantics.

4Art - 4: The art is very angular and clean but once again the point of interests is how it is shown completely from the baby's perspective. So much so that his little hands and feet are always in frame stretched out before him.

"Storm Chasers"

Written by: Jim Beard
Pencils by: Clement Suave
Inks by: Serge LaPointe

A flash flood in Ohio prompts the response of Red Tornado, golden age Flash, and Superman. Superman and Flash have both come in hopes to recruit Red Tornado for the JLA or the JSA respectively. But Red Tornado declines and explains that his tutoring of junior heroes in Young Justice comes first.

4Story - 4: I always like the recruitment drive stories. I love to see character motivations for joining or not joining a team. It was also nice to see how seamlessly Red Tornado's origin was incorporated into his conversation with Flash and Superman. It seemed like genuine reminiscing as opposed to useless exposition.

3Art - 3: Despite a few oddly askew angles the overall pace of the story is done nicely. What got to me was that the flood waters appear to only be three or four feet high. You'd think that with the limited resources of pen and paper the flood could have reached a dramatic roof top level.

"The Ghost of Stagg Manor"

Written by: Rich Hedden
Pencils/Inks by: Phill Winslade

Stagg is haunted by the ghost of his son-in-law, Metamorpho, who begs the evil old industrialist to open the doors to some secret vault but the old man refuses to listen. Then one night at dinner Stagg, his daughter, and his grandson are assaulted by a gang of home invaders that demand to be taken to the secrete vault. Stagg takes them below the house and opens the vault just as Metamorpho's ghost zips by them all and enters the healing light of some glowing orb. Miraculously he's restored to a living state. He then proceeds to defeat the home invaders and save his family. Metamorpho happily reunites with his family as Stagg simmers with anger that his failure of a son-in-law has returned.

1Story - 1: This is ridiculous. Metamorpho died a hero's death way back in JLA #1, it's the only thing I can even really remember about Metamorpho. But to bring him back to life in such a lame five page story is an insult to anyone whoever enjoyed the character. How did those home invaders know about Stagg's vault? How did they get passed the mansion security? How did that glowing orb bring Metamorpho back to life? When Metamorpho died how come he didn't really die, what kept his ghost trapped on earth? A sloppy story punctuated buy a cheesy silver age feel.

2Art - 2: The art appears muddled and blotchy. Metamorpho is a guy who can morph into any element or compound but all he does is transform his arms into hammers. Maybe that's a complaint for the writer but it just seems like a waste.


Written by: Dan Curtis Johnson
Pencils by: Kelly Yates
Inks by: Mick Gray

Director of the DEO, Mr Bones, decides to test a bet made by Agent Chase. Chase tells her secretary to look up the case file on Ultra-Humanite. The secretary relays the information to a field agent in the presence of Green Lantern and Wonder Woman who in turn tell Superman. Superman tells Oracle while Green Lantern informs Sentinel. A Pair of DEO agents listening in on the GL/Sentinel conversation call it in. Mr. Terrific intercepts the radio signal and warns Sentinel who busts in on the agents who then call for back up. From the Watch Tower Superman informs Green Lantern of the DEO back up headed for Sentinel. Green Lantern along with Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Mr. Terrific, and Wild Cat only to have Mr. Bones show up and rip them a new one over their rash behavior.

Mr. Bones returns to the DEO head quarters and continues with the ripping as he lays into his own agents for such blatant communication leaks. This time is was just a test, but what about when it's a real situation? Sometimes it's best that the muscle headed heroes don't know what's going on for their own good.

5Story - 5: The story displays an "Us against them" mentality but all the while shows these guys (JLA/JSA and the DEO) work on the same side. It's interesting to see the bright shinny super heroes go up against the black ops stylings of the DEO all because of a simple bet.

4Art - 4: Although there are a few panels where the heroes look like pencil necked weaklings, for the most part the art story packs a fun little punch. Green Lantern and Sentinel are done the best over all, their energy trails are used to great effect. I was disappointed with the interiors of the DEO, I imagine the place looks more like a "Men in Black" HQ.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2003

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