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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA #80

JLA #80

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 30, 2003

Cover date: June 2003

Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Duncan Rouleau
Inker: Aaron Sowd

"The White Rage" - Part 1

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

Some where in the heartland Shepherd, a large super strong metahuman, watches the children of his congregation play just outside his window. He receives a mysterious phone call from an unknown man who issues him a series of short instructions and then hangs up on him. Later when the welfare department shows up to check on the kids Shepherd is uncharacteristically uncooperative with the social worker. He orders her to leave and when she refuses he destroys her car.

Meanwhile across the country in the lonesome and desolate Wayne Manor, Bruce waits nervously as the gorgeous princess of the Amazons arrives for their first date.

In the JLA Watchtower Superman intorduces the new members of the team to world leaders and reporters alike.

The DEO and ATF have mobilized outside Shepherd's compound now with guns drawn just waiting for an excuse to pull the trigger. Flash shows up almost by accident and tries to be the voice of reason in a mad situation. Sheperd agrees to speak with the scarlette speedster. Flash signals for back up from the rest of the JLA and they soon arrive on the Earth to lend a hand. Shepherd and his wife explain that their operation is legal and they pay taxes and teach a state required curriculum to all of their super powered children. They don't wish to let humans into the school because they've started to cause a disease spread through the school's children.

Meanwhile in the lare of a firey villian Jonn Jonz seeks the help of Scorch in his quest ot overcome his weakness: His uncontrollable attraction to fire.

In the Batcave Bruce receives his standard stitching up from a long night of crime fighting as Diana looks on. It turns out they never got to have their date, Bruce chickened out and instead rushed out to patrol the streets and bring down some second rate criminal that Robin or Batgirl could have handled. Diana says she understands and she'd like a second shot at dinner and hopes next time he won't stand her up.

Back at the compound things have only gotten worse. A jumpy DEO agent has set of a fire fight that is putting the lives of children in danger. The JLA mobilize and try to keep both the agents and the students from fighting. The last thing they need is an all out war. Superman is taking care of the students, Flash and Major Disaster are taking care of the soldiers, and Faith is going to deal with the copters...but something goes horribly wrong and Faith's purple energy explodes p into the sky uprooting the compound and everything around it...

To Be Continued...

3Story - 3: I enjoyed the story quite a bit we covered a lot of ground in an otherwise small issue. Although the premise behind the action was interesting and fun I especially enjoyed the short scenes between Bruce and Diana. A lot of times we'll see Batman portrayed as just this dark brooding man with no real personality. By putting him in a position here where he's not sure of his feelings and maybe a little scared of them, we get a unique view of a larger then life hero.

While I liked the action and the idea behind the story Kelly's pacing is a little off here. He keeps cutting back and forth to scenes that are already in play. Sometimes this works sometimes it doesn't. For example all of the Batman stuff works great when we walk into the middle of it, but its confusing when we just jump right into a fire fight and a character we've never met before has been shot.

Also, and this is a kind of cheap shot on my part and I apologize in advance, but all the metahumans at the compound are kind of bland. There's a real sense of been there/done that with this characters. I only mention it because just two months ago in Action Comics, Kelly came up with a number of really cool and creepy super humans in the first part of his harvest story. I think this issue could have benefited from that same level of creepiness.

Pacing aside it was a good issue with some intriguing elements that I can't wait to see resolved.

5Art - 5: Duncan is a great artist. I feel bad cause a lot of people categorize his work under this broad "manga" label and it's clearly much more then that. He has a real great technique that looks almost like modern Ditko work. Like if Ditko was drawing Spiderman today then this is how it would look. He has a great rendering of all the JLAers and he does a good job bringing real life elements into the fray. I especially enjoy his Superman, Jon Stewart and Martian Manhunter. I just read recently in Wizard that Duncan would be doing a few fill in issues over this summer and that's just fine by me. Although I love Mahnke's work too there's always room for a little variety especially when it's of this high caliber.

4Cover Art - 4: It's a great metaphorical representation of what's going on in the book and it has a background. What more could I ask for? Oh it's drawn well too. Doesn't that just beat all?

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

January 2003

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