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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA #85

JLA #85

Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 27, 2003

Cover date: Late October 2003

Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Tom Nguyen

"Trial By Fire" (Part 2)

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

J'onn attempts to stretch his mind as far as he can to contact the Telepath responsible for the forced reform of most of the world's villains. The strain is too much for him and he's forced to return to the comfortable arms of his new found love Aubrey/Scorch.

Meanwhile Firestorm recovers in the Watchtower infirmary trying to figure out what force ambushed him and stole his powers. Manitou's wife reveals to Jon Stewart that she recalls seeing the lingering effects of a spell in Firestorms eyes as they parted ways earlier that day.

Superman and Scorch exchange words over J'onn's new attitude towards the job of a hero. Scorch asks him to leave her home. Superman complies as J'onn rises from his sleep to comfort his girlfriend.

Back on the moon Jon Stewart confronts Manitou and gently accuses him of being responsible for Firestorm's condition. Manitou is surprisingly fine by the finger pointing but refutes the claim nonetheless. When Stewart and Manitou shakes hands to part ways a strange force comes over them and reveals a map to some hidden location in a frigid mountain range. The JLA responds and finds a temple with villains buried half in the walls. And lording over this macabre temple is Vandal Savage.

J'onn and Superman respond to a bunch of KKK members trying to lynch themselves. When the situation has been settled J'onn confesses how alive he feels now that Aubrey has opened his eyes to all the things he was afraid of before.

Back at the temple Savage reveals the skull of a Martian warrior form millennia ago. A creature he fought in his days as a Cro-Magnon. He had kept the skull as a prize but now all this time it may prove the link between the reformed villians, firestorms attack, and J'onn's new attitude.

The JLA return to the watch tower with Savage and the skull in tow. When they arrive they discover a helpless Superman pinned to the conference table, totally helpless. Before the JLA can come to his rescue Manitou warns that it's a trap to draw them into the clutches of an evil entity still present and primed to attack.

To be continued...

3Story - 3: We're getting there. Too many mystery scenes still. Not enough real revelation. And for fans who aren't long term devotees the sudden and varied apperance of Vandal Savage isn't very well explained and can be a little confusing. But I still like the direction of the story and the different layers that are being built. If there's one thing I like about Joe Kelly's approach to the larger then life stories is that they don't have a simple A to B plot line. They tend to keep you guessing. Unfortunately sometimes that's taken to the extreme and proves a little confusing for the less then hard core fans.

On concept alone though I have to admit I'm very intrigued. The pieces are in place for a good story, I'm just not too keen on how the first issue progressed.

4Art - 4: There's not much to be said for Mahnke's art that I haven't said a million times before. There's just an excellent steady pace and some really great composition to his panels.

3Cover Art - 3: I'd rather have seen the Martian skull featured alone, or at least more prominent then the others. Plus the bat skull is just silly looking.

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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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