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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA: Scary Monsters #4

JLA: Scary Monsters #4 [of 6]

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 18, 2003

Cover date: August 2003

Writter: Chris Claremont
Penciller: Josh Hood
Inker: Sean Parsons

"Super Freaks"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (

The story opens with the JLA facing off against the forest creatures.

Superman feels like he can't get a good grasp on the menace, and he's almost glad. Caught unawares, he's lifted into the air, but Wonder Woman saves him.

Martian Manhunter deduces that the monsters are magic and tells Lantern to focus fire on the monsters.

Flash throws rocks at them at nearly the speed of sound, making them heat into white hot missiles. The creatures recoil.

Manhunter is stabbed by the beasts.

Batman comes to his rescue, hitting the arm that stabbed Manhunter with a phosphorous charge. The monsters concentrate on Batman, but Kishawna arrives to save the day, hitting them with a shotgun. The heroes demand that she leave, being a civilian, but she refuses, until Martian Manhunter needs to be taken to the infirmary.

Batman and Superman wax as to whether the creatures will take over the injured leaguers, Manhunter, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Superman notes that the beast come through a dimensional gateway and adapt.

Green Lantern offers to take the civilians to town, but Batman and Superman point out that the point is moot. If they can't stop the monsters, the civilians would not be safe anywhere else. Green Lantern tells Batman to have faith, but the order stands.

In the library Superman reads almost all of the books at super-speed.

Wonder Woman gets up and leaves, upset about the state of her body. The hotel manager appears, and tells her she will be all right. He then tells himself (and the readers) that he actually hopes for his demise. He is one of the monsters, apparently.

Batman tells Superman he has faith, after all, he puts on the mask every night.

They determine that the aliens exist in an absolute zero environment and when they come to Earth, they adapt at super-speed.

The gate opens again, and the JLA attack. Green Lantern and Jade cut off an arm of a monster, and Wonder Woman shows with a water balloon arrow. Superman superheats the water and creates what Flash calls Lee-Kirby science, a localized microscopic supernova. The beasts disappear. Batman notes, however, that they will return, and adapted.

Plastic Man entertains the children among the civilians.

The hotel manager speaks with some of the adults, and the adults reassure him that the JLA will succeed.

Manhunter is in bad shape. Kishawna enters his mind, and they go to his Martian homeworld. They visit a volcano four times the size of Everest, and J'onn tells of an enemy encountered there called Winter. Manhunter and Kishawna start to freeze, and the hotel director stands before their vulnerable real bodies, noting that they will die if they die in their minds.

Wonder Woman puts on clothes, noting that looking more human will help her be more human. Superman calls Lois and tells her that he will be home soon. Batman tells the team to start finding ways to make fire.

The hotel manager continues to try and kill Manhunter and Kishawna.

Kishawna realizes that she is both African and Indian, and hears drums that make her spirit form take on a new light. She vanquishes Manhunter's injuries and melts the ice that is encasing them.

The two awaken, and they kiss.

The hotel manager opens up a gate into the beyond that contains ever more of the alien creatures.

5Story - 5: I continue to be impressed with this story. It's strange...this story, on the outset, and with regards, seems quite corny, to be honest. Scary Monsters? Hooey. Heroes in a resort? Crum. But when you start reading it, when you start getting into it, and when Claremont's writing style and attention to detail starts kicking you in the head, it's just plain fun.

Attention to detail is an important part there. Superman calls Lois. Flash has a role. How's that for something? Wonder Woman knows that she's changing. Most series forget little things like that. Batman is in command. That's in character. Plastic Man is still comic relief even when everyone else is dying. The physics...he could have easily said, hey, Superman blows up some napalm. Instead, he referenced Lee and Kirby and came up with something creative. Maybe it's implausible, hey, but at least he EXPLAINS it, unlike most comics lately, where the powers are undefined, the rationale missing, and character practically non-existent in favor of devices which string the reader along. This story is taking its time and doing things right.

I expected, to be frank, this series to suck. A lot. Like JLA Destiny, which I thought would suck. Both turned out to be pleasant little surprises. And the real tragedy? I never would have read them had I not had reviews for them, and now I am infinitely glad I have. See, the industry is all for selling a hero, but not for making a hero. And this is the making of a hero team here, these people are experiencing something that has ramifications of character (but see if other creators recognize it...think we'll see Kishawna again, even though she is an interesting character?).

I see only good things for this series. Sure, it rips the mind-body death from the Matrix a bit this issue, sure, the aliens are the Borg plus magic, but heck, it's just fun and well written! Check out the pacing. And the beginning says it all for my plot rating's end:

This is the Justice League. They number among the world's finest heroes


This is their story. Here on the mountain heights overlooking Black Spirit Lake.before the walls of the frontier lodge built over a hundred years ago by industrialist Abel Carmody.they make what may well be their last stand.

Listen to that. Is that good writing? Heck yes.

And to think, I thought the first half of the first issue was boring. In retrospect, it makes total sense. That's why it's so hard to review first issues of longer series, and why reviewers so often are too harsh too soon.

5Art - 5: Look at the first three pages. That's all I have to say. This art continues to impress, and I'm apt to put Hood on a JLA dream team with Claremont. Why are we seeing and reading this as a special and not as the regular JLA book? This is fantastic stuff.

I've said it before, but the Superman and Batman Hood does is just fantastic. Great work.

5Cover Art - 5: I thought the cover was a bit odd at first, but after I looked at it for a while, I started moving along with the characters. Check it out, you'll see what I mean. Watch it, and you suddenly feel like you're starting to charge, and that Wonder Woman is lofting the first volley of a really huge assault. Maybe I'm reading a little too much into it, but that's how I felt, anyway.

The scene even happened, it actually happened, in the book! Minus J'onn, but heck, at least the effort is made. And look at that Wonder Woman focal point which is so succinct as to make you not notice it, and yet so powerful it brings an angle of dynamic to the whole thing. Superb. I'm loving these books.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2003

February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003

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