Buy Now!

Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA #87

JLA #87

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 24, 2003

Cover date: Late November 2003

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

"Trial By Fire" (Part 4)

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

Martian Manhunter has become Fernus, a creature whose only urge is to cause havoc. He has the JLA pinned down in the Fortress of Solitude, save Batman who escaped by teleportation. Scorch watches her lover tear the heroes apart in preparation for their ultimate deaths and even she is scared. Suddenly Jon Stewart shows up with a power boost and helps everyone escape to the emerald isles but not before he puts the hurt on Fernus.

At Stone Henge Jon reveals that the Oans told him the true origin of the Martian species. Hundreds of thousands of years ago all Martians were like Fernus, sensing the potential for good in the Martian species the Oans intervened and genetically altered the whole race. To insure the new Martians never become a threat to the universe again they imbedded a genetic fear of fire in them. When J'onn overcame his fear of fire on a psychic level he undid the Oan genetic tempering and reverted to Fernus. Worst of all he's primed to reproduce.

Meanwhile in Chicago Batman stumbles into Plastic Man's apartment. Unfortunately for Batman and the rest of the world Plastic Man has no idea who he is.

Over looking a small town in America Fernus instructs Aubrey to burn it all to ash. Conflicted with her new found conscience she refuses. Fernus appears to understand.

In Metropolis Lois Lane finds herself the focus of the whole city's rage. Fernus knows everything about the JLA and he plans to exploit that. Superman rockets off to save his wife.

In Chicago Plastic Man's son reveals that his father had himself hypnotized to forget his super heroic past so he could better focus on being a father. Under normal circumstances this would be honorable, but now it seems the only man with the power to defeat Fernus has forgotten. And so the world may be doomed.

In a field somewhere Fernus and Aubrey witness the launching of several nuclear missiles. Fernus reveals that if Aubrey cannot kill for him he will have to do it himself...

To be continued...

4Story - 4: This is the big reveal issue where all the pieces come together and finally after four issues the whole premise is clear. And it is a fantastic premise. Although I'm a little concerned about the huge baggage being attached to Manhunter's history, it is an interesting set of baggage to be saddled with.

At first I was upset with the lack of emotion exemplified by the JLA as the state of their friend was revealed to them. After I thought about it, however, I can see how the JLA would have to compartmentalize their emotions to get through this. That twist on their actions sets the story apart from other "team-member" betrayals that we've seen before in other books over the years.

I particularly enjoy Plastic Man's important role here. It's always amusing and inspiring with affable characters come through to be the biggest heroes.

4Art - 4: Solid stuff. A number of great splash pages over this arc. Jon Stewart's emerald high tech armor was neat too.

3Cover Art - 3: It's representative of the action inside, but at the same time it's kind of simple. It all blends together in this orange blaze that really masks the shapes and figures.

Other recent reviews:

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

Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.

Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2003.