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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA #88

JLA #88

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 8, 2003

Cover date: Early December 2003

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

"Trial By Fire" (Part 5)

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

The JLA work with feverish intensity to save their loved ones and stop hundreds of nuclear missiles launched from all over the world. Fernus waits patiently atop the Statue of Liberty, along side his frightened bride Aubrey, waiting for the chaos to crescendo.

Meanwhile in Chicago Batman has decided to leave Plastic Man in his hypnotic haze and remain ignorant of his life as a super hero. Plastic Man's son, who remembers everything, can't understand why Batman would simply give up. He explains it's because he doesn't want to leave the child an orphan should his father die.

At Stone Henge; Major Disaster, The Atom and Manitou make contact with J'onn J'onzz's mind trapped in a dreamwalk. Fernus is slowly but surely destroying everything in J'onn's mind and replacing it with himself. Before Atom can postulate a solution Fernus' dreamwalk projection arrives.

Luke, Plastic Man's son, can't stand to see his father ignore his heroic duties. The young boy knows the world's safety should come first. He persuades his father to remember and to be a hero again with the help of a joke.

In Japan Batman arrives to aide the JLA with his high tech jet plane but is quickly swatted out of the sky. The Dark Knight plummets towards the earth and certain death. Suddenly a very familiar elastic hand reaches out to save him. Plastic Man has arrived.

Plastic Man and Fernus go toe to toe in a battle royal of gigantic shape shifting proportions. Batman explains that because of Plastic Man's biological make up his mind is invulnerable to psychic attack. And while Fernus can shape shift, his manipulations are restricted by his own lack of imagination, a problem Plastic Man has never had.

In a desperate attempt to regain the edge in the fight he reveals that he's kept one missile already in the air hidden from the JLA. Plastic Man sounds the alarm and Superman zooms into action. He finds the missile and chases it down with all his speed but he's too late. The missile impacts and a nuclear explosion desiccates a city...

To be continued...

3Story - 3: The whole story has really come together and all the bits and pieces fit into their places. Those first few mysteries woven into the narrative have come full circle and grand revelations have come to light. The pay off was great and I'm enjoying the arc over all...

However, the little things still bother me. Chief among those little things is how easily Plastic Man regains his faculties. There's no signs of rustiness of struggle on his part once he arrives in Japan to take down Fernus. And even though I really enjoyed the father/son dynamic that allows Plastic Man to come back; I don't really think Batman would be so willing to ditch his master plan and let the world go to hell so Plastic Man can play house.

3Art - 3: Mahnke's art appears to be a bit sloppy this issue and I'm afraid the very flat coloring doesn't do much to help the situation. The splash page where Plastic Man returns triumphantly to save Batman is smeared with blue and yellows that make the objects in the back ground indecipherable from one another. But the pacing and the panel lay outs remain dynamic enough to warrant a three.

4Cover Art - 4: The central focus of the cover being Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman fighting the three versions of J'onn J'onzz is fantastic. The Martian totem is a really wonderful idea and design that completely illustrates the character's fractured psyche. The background still sucks.

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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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