Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA/JSA: Virtue & Vice

JLA/JSA: Virtue & Vice

Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 4, 2002

Cover date: February 2003

Written by: David S. Goyer & Geoff Johns
Pencils by: Carlos Pacheco
Inks by: Jesus Merino

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

The JLA and JSA have gotten together for their first annual Thanksgiving celebration aboard the JLA Watch Tower on the moon. A sudden attack on President Luthor in Tanzania cuts the festivities short. The JLA and JSA show up on the scene just in time to save Luthor from the Apokolips native Doctor Bedlam. Although Doctor Bedlam is quickly taken care of his army of animates is still prepared to wreak havoc from a series of freshly burrowed tunnels under the African complex.

Green Lantern, Doctor Fate, Captain Marvel, Batman, Mr. Terrific, Plastic Man, and Power girl head into the tunnels to subdue the animates. While down there they encounter an unseen, mysterious force...

Back at the JSA headquarters in Manhattan both teams assemble to try and deduce the reasoning behind Bedlam's unprovoked failed attack. Without warning League members start turning on one another and Martian Manhunter's psychic abilities betray him and render him incapacitated. Green Lantern has become a jealous brat, Doctor Fate is consumed by his own laziness, Captain Marvel gluttonously absorbs the lightning powers from Black Adam, Batman's anger forces him to betray his oldest friends, Mr. Terrific's pride does him no better, Plastic Man lets his criminal greed take over, and Power girl is seduced by her own lust.

Before the rest of the league knows what's happened several of them have been injured and knocked out of the fight. Superman, Wonder Woman, Star Spangled Kid, and Sentinel are banished to a mystical tower by Dr. Fate. Both Flashes, Wild Cat, Atom, and Hawk Man are condemned to limbo. And the "possessed" league members escape into the world unchecked to spread their sinful diseases.

Doctor Midnight, who was not on call for the African incident and the subsequent battle at JSA HQ, arrives at the infirmary to discover several of his comrades in serious condition. Back up soon arrives with Black Canary, Green Arrow, Sand, Zatanna, Hour Man. and Firestorm. No sooner do these reserve League members return to action then another crisis arises when the Rock of Eternity, the mystic wizard Shazam's home, appears over Mount Rushmore. Military super hero Captain Atom is immediately on the scene with military air support. But a strange encounter with a shadowy figure seemingly disintegrates the atomic hero.

Black Canary order Fire Storm, Zatanna, Sand, and Hour Man to investigate the happenings at the Rock of Eternity. Meanwhile she plans to head out to the White House with Green Arrow and Dr. Midnight to Have a talk with President Luthor.

Back in Dr. Fate's tower a near powerless Superman helps devise a plan to disarm the magical protector of the tower, Typhon, and his army. An impressive display of acrobatics coupled with the combined might of his teammates and Superman topples the monster. Sentinel uses the power of the green flame to transport himself, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Kid "back to their friends" by using knowledge of the mystic realm which he's siphoned from Typhon. The four heroes arrive in limbo where they find their friends locked in endless combat with a fire demon. No matter how hard they fight, how fast they strike, or how many times they day, they are forced to constantly battle for their souls.

In President Luthor's office he is greeted by the possessed Leaguers. He gives them his blessing before they return out into the world at large and continue to spread their influence over an increasingly insane population.

Zatanna and her team enter the Rock of Eternity to find Shazam has been trapped in stone and the statues, which act as prisons for the seven deadly sins, have been replaced by images of their wayward teammates. The mastermind behind such magical feats is none other then the Intangible Johnny Sorrow!

Black Canary, Dr. Midnight, and Green Arrow sneak into the White house after knocking out all the guards with Canary's high pitched sonic scream. When they arrive in the Oval Office they find that Luthor was unaffected by the sonic scream. In fact he's not Luthor at all but Despero, conqueror of worlds, in possession of Luthor's body. In classic Villain fashion Despero reveals his master plan: It would seem that while Despero was trapped on the astral plain with no coporial form to return to he encounter Johnny Sorrow. Johnny Sorrow who can easily transport across such dimensions forged a pact with the Alien despot so that he may get revenge on the JSA. They quickly set their plan into motion and abducted Dr. Bedlam and forced him to help them in getting close enough to Luthor that Despero could jump from Bedlam to the leader of the free world. Meanwhile, Johnny Sorrow would release the seven deadly sins upon the leaguers most easily possessed. The rift that such treachery would cause would knock the JSA and JLA out of the game long enough for Despero to conquer the world.

Thinking fast Green Arrow uses a smoke arrow as a diversion for him and his teammates to escape. White House security guards, under Despero's control, give chase.

Trapped in Limbo, the Atom comes up with a plan for escape. In the flashes can accelerate the fire demon's aging processes he should implode into a black hole. With Sentinel's power they should be able to pilot through the black hole and return to Earth. Although it's a risky plan the heroes get to work and their gamble soon pays off. The dimensionally displaced heroes return home to find their world over run by citizen possessed by at least one deadly sin.

All of our heroes, villains, and The Rock Of Eternity converge over Washington, DC. The massive Malay begins as heroes turn against heroes. Dr. Midnight helps Batman fight his possession and regain control. Using Wonder Woman's Lasso Green Arrow ties up Captain Marvel and forces him to reveal the name of his wizard Shazam. When Captain Marvel speaks the word Shazam he returns to his human form and the demon is expunged from him. This results in Shazam's own freedom. Who in turn uses his magics to recapture all of the seven deadly sins. With the JLA and JSA back up to full strength they move in to take down Despero and Johnny Sorrow. Although the battle is fierce Green Lantern and Sentinel manage to capture Johnny Sorrow in his tangible state (which only occurs when he isn't wearing his mask). To prevent anyone from suffering the soul devastating horrors that come from gazing into Johnny Sorrow's face, Green Lantern creates a mask of his own for the villain.

When Despero is sufficiently knocked off balance Green Lantern reveals Sorrow's face to the alien. The mystic shock sends Despero's essence back to the astral plain and frees Luthor. Luthor is so grateful that he promises the JLA or JSA anything they need....

Just a week later the JLA and JSA reconvene at the JSA's new Manhattan head quarters courtesy of President Luthor. The Day is saved.

4Story - 4: This was a really great event. It had all the classic things that make mega-team crossovers cool. There was a great villian team-up, and threats of world domination, not to mention all of the danger that befalls people under the influence of the seven deadly sins. The solution to the crisis isn't contrived, but instead it follows the logic of the story. Many times in hyped-up cross-overs the conclusion will go over the top in an effort to justify the event.

Despite such huge action packed sequences showing up every few pages the book never goes so far as to forget the importance of character interaction among such a massive cast. Green Arrow's hesitance over letting Dr. Midnight touch Black Canary, or Star Spangled Kid's intimidation in the face of the JLA, and Atom's morbid facination with his own death. No matter how big the story got we never forget that the men and women behind these masks are regular people with regular personalities. They're handled very well and never once end up as petty plot devices.

In all stories this big, and in comic in general, a certain level of "suspension of disbeliefe" is nessessary for the story to work. Unfortunetly there are several moment in the story where even the buffer my suspension provides was hit hard. For instance the covert assualt on the White House by Black Canary should be a last ditch effort but it would appear to be her first instinct. Also while it is neat to have the President become possessed by an other worldly body snatcher it goes a long way to make Luthor look inferior and less threatening then he is usually percieved. Luthor has been dealing with meta-humans for at least ten years in the DCU, shouldn't he have had some anti-body-jacking contingency?

Nit picking aside the story was more then entertaining and definetly deserving to be the first official crossover of the JLA and the New JSA.

5Art - 5: I'll be staring at every panel in this book for years to come. Carlos Pacheco creates such a dense and deatailed world that I can't halp but be totally captivated. Carlos makes it so that every pose of every character in every panel looks cool. Not matter what's going on or who is doing what, the action always fits the sequence and it always looks cool. Don't belive me? Check out the spread of all JLA and JSA members rushing into battle. Every character looks formidable and intense. Another neat sticking point for Carlos' work are the hands he draws. I know I may be going over board here, but I may never get the chance to say it other wise. Carlos contorts and manuevers hands and arms in such away that his characters always appear to be in constant motion even if they're just standing in the same spot over a dozen panels. All of his heroes and villian gesture when they speak, and they leap of the page at you when they're in action.

3Cover Art - 3: Eh. Everyone looks cool and all of the characters are well represented. However, this cover hardly jumps off the rack and slaps you in the face as a "must-have". And belive me, for 25 bucks this thing should be jump kicking you in the teeth and dragging you to the register.

Oh well, the interior more then makes up for it.

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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