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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA/Spectre: Soul War #1

JLA/Spectre: Soul War #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 22, 2003

Cover date: March 2003

Writter: J.M DeMatteis
Penciller by: Darryl Banks
Inker: Paul Neary

"Soul War" (Part 1 of 2)

Reviewed by: Adam Dechanel (

O.K before we begin, I am rejoining the roll call of reviewers a veteran from a past team line up and thus I'd appreciate any feedback...

The story begins on a television show called "The Afterlife Chronicles" with presenter Rachel DeCarlo explaining how she became a psychic medium. The live feed of the show is interrupted by a mysterious presence... the TRANS. The ghostly presence possesses the body of Rachel and announces that the Trans race has arrived... Hal Jordan, the Spectre, begins a commentary on the members of the Justice League, explaining his past links and relationships with each of them. Meanwhile each League member is battling a giant creature laying waste to the cities of the world. Hal interrupts the battles merging with each of the heroes and inexplicably the creatures are defeated... with ease...

Hal travels through space and time to learn about the Trans and when next we see him he has teleported himself and the entire league to the Moon. Batman is instantly confrontational and suspicious of the Spectre. After an initial debate Hal explains that these creatures are still popping up all over the world and slivers of himself are fighting them off but that they must discover a solution extremely fast.

Each has a course of action they suggest. Wonder and Batman suggest they amalgamate their minds. Arthur, Green Lantern and Superman want to pound the creatures to dust. The Spectre and Manhunter are suspicious of how the Trans were so easily defeated agreeing they missed something. Rightly so... this mysterious race that has no home planet or history but had just appeared out of no where is destroying the planet. Batman takes charge. As always he has a plan.

The Trans meanwhile have gathered six psychics and where before they had channelled themselves through them, this time they possess them physically. There is work to be done...

The League decides to follow Wonder Woman and Batman's plan: to amalgamate. The catch is, Bruce wants control the body. When they arrive in Tokyo he utilises all of their skills to defeat an army of the creatures. He fights valiantly and almost defeats them. A screaming child distracts the dark knight and as he suffers a flashback from his own past the Trans take the opportunity to strike a potentially fatal blow. Barely recovering the "League-Man" teleports himself and the Trans to the Moon. Instantly the Trans fall but for the first time, they gain a second wind and also amalgamate into "Evil-League-Man."

J'onn battles for control of the body arguing that combat is not the way to fight this menace. With Batman in control the Trans were killing them. J'onn takes control and suddenly the Trans vanish in a swirl of smoke.

J'onn explains that they were wrong with their initial suspicions. The Trans weren't an invading horde they were psychic manifestations from the human race itself! When the Trans struck "League-Man" J'onn was able to discover many of their secrets. The Trans were using human's psychic abilities to take control of the planet. When the League had confronted them with the supercharged energy of the Spectre the Trans weren't able to compete with the human races love for good.

The League decides to confront the Trans but before they can take action Hal looses consciousness. Manhunter tries to probe the Spectre psychically but unwittingly releases a 'shadow' of a Trans that had been hiding in Hal's mind. With Aquaman's help they are able to destroy the Trans manifestation and set about planning the defeat of this mysterious race. Soon recovered, Hal orders Flash and Superman to build a huge machine and then gathers the league in the boardroom.

Once they had arrived Hal teleports the heroic team into his psyche. He explains that during their conflicts he had been able to grab a 'memory' of the Trans history. To learn the races secrets he had teleported them there to find out what they could. They are only there a short time before the Trans attack and easily take control of the leagues bodies. Spectre is weakened and almost gives in but Batman's quick wit provokes Hal's innermost guilt and shame pushing him to react. With newfound strength he teleports the team back into the real world.

If that was just the past 'memory' of the Trans what would it be like fighting the real thing? The fight hadn't succeeded on a physical level but would it be better to take the battlefield to consciousness itself?

Hal reveals the purpose of his machine... to transport the souls of the league to IMAGINAL SPACE where they can fight the Trans on their home ground. Batman and the others are apprehensive, Hal has had a chequered past after all. Hal's recent actions win them over his past mistakes and the team agree to the plan only if Kyle is put in charge of the team.

The snag? Their bodies must be dead before they can enter Imaginal space. Each member climbs into the machine which will incubate their bodies while they are 'dead' and prepare for the battle ahead.

Steadying his nerves Hal Jordan turns to his former comrades and KILLS THEM.


3Story - 3: The story was hard to take in. Fantastic characterisations but it was hard for me to follow as no one person had the limelight for more than two sentences. The storyline had potential but was equally hit and miss, potentially is was great, undertaken it was a bit confusing to break down. All the talk of imaginal space and consciousness I honestly did lose my way a few times... The "League-man" was both cool and cringeworthy... not sure if I liked him! The scripts hook has me eagerly waiting for the conclusion though!

4Art - 4: The art was good. The penciller, Darryl Banks went to town with the designs for the Spectre-merged characters and they looked cool. The artwork was clear and every panel was dynamic. I loved it. What I didn't like were the designs for the Trans, they just looked like exiles from Ghostbusters... NOT cool. The inking was where the 1 point dropped... at times it was heavy... even blotchy and at other times it seemed hastily done. The glossy pages were nice though and the art and coloring shone through...

4Cover Art - 4: The cover is very a good one. It is composed well and very striking. It also shows the league and the Spectre in peril- a good thing to grab a potential reader, myswelf included as I am not a fan of either title featuring these heroes. It is pencilled, inked and colored extremely well. I also liked the fact it was a softcover. Why didn't I give it a 5? The JLA/Spectre logos... I just felt they were put in as an afterthought...

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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