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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA: Classified #1

JLA: Classified #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 3, 2004

Cover date: January 2005

Writter: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Ed McGuiness
Inker: Dexter Vines

"Island of the Mighty..."

John-Paul Zito Reviewed by: John-Paul Zito

JLA: Classified #1 High above an African country, torn apart by war, floats the super human island city of Superbia. The JLA have gone missing and this unexplained insurrection must be dealt with. Enter the Superbian residents: The International Ultra Marine Corps.

Lead by Warkmaker One and joined by several new members since they were last seen, The Knight and Squire, Jack-O'-Lantern and Goraiko, the Ultra Marines make short work of a militia of jet pack wearing Super Apes. They arrive at the Presidential Suite at the center of the city to find the ring leader of this attack, Gorilla Grodd, poised for battle. Grodd has already eaten or killed all of his hostages and is in no mood or position to bargin. He attempts to fight his way out of this mess but is taken down by a microwave gun gadget care of the Knight.

Meanwhile, Warmaker One and Pulse 8 discover a cube shaped universe in an adjacent room to the Presidential suite. As they investigate it Grodd uses his mental powers to screw with Goaiko's powers and force him to emit an EM pulse which wipes out all operational electronics within miles... That includes the floating city of Superbia. Without power Superbia comes crashing down to Earth. Simultaneously the cude universe absorbs Pulse 8 against his will. To make matters worse Grodd gets the drop on Warmaker and breaks him almost in two.

On the other side of the world a special phone call comes in for Batman. It's Squire, the Knight's sidekick, she's managed to escape the crashing Superbia and is now being pursued by Grodd's militia. Knowing that time is of the essence Batman breaks out his sci-fi hardware and rushes to her rescue in his flying saucer.

Arriving in Africa just a few moments later, Batman snatches Squire out of an aerial dog fight and brings her aboard his flying saucer. Then with the flick of his glove he opens a boom tube and facilitates their escape to Pluto where upon landing at a remote JLA emergency base Batman explains the dilemma. The JLA have gone missing within a cubed universe similar to the one that absorbed Pulse 8. If Batman and Squire are to have any hope of defeating Grodd and his new team of hijacked heroes they must find the JLA. In the mean time however Batman has a plan to stall Grodd and it involves a great number of Superman Robots...

To Be Continued...

5Story - 5: What's the matter? Don't remember the international Ultra Marine Corps? Can't exactly recall all the minutia of their origin story or where they've been for the last few years? It doesn't matter, Grant Morrison made sure of that. What you have here is a perfect example of continuity without constraint. When we last left the Ultra Marine Corps they had built Superbia and decided to dedicate themselves to international rescue and swore they'd never be used again for evil as they had been by their previous commander General Waid Elling.

But if you didn't know that it doesn't matter. What you know instinctively from that first page is that the Ultra Marine Corps are the first to respond to civil unrest within an African country and the JLA are no where to be found. What follows is action coming at you a mile a minute with quick, clean and entertaining character introductions. If your not going to bother with decompression this is the way to do it. When I began this issue I had no idea who The Knight, Squire or Jack-O'-Lantern were, but by the end I was familiar with each of them and the dynamic in which they lived thanks to clever and unforced dialogue.

Batman's role in this issue allows me to address a personal nagging I've kept quiet about for a while because it was irrelevant. Batman doesn't really fit into most JLA stories, he doesn't really fit into the super hero model either. I've always seen the Dark Knight as a detective at best or an urban terrorist who wages a war on crime at his worst. Which is why I've enjoyed his portrayal in Identity Crisis so much. The only time I've ever really been able to accept Batman in the JLA is under the writing direction of Grant Morrison. He's positioned the caped crusader as the ultimate planner/gadget guy and that's his unique niche in the JLA; one which Jeph Loeb has used to great effect in the Superman/Batman book.

Grodd is more brutal here than he's been of late, and I enjoyed that. I know sometimes the violence can be dubbed excessive, like why do we need to know Grodd ate the hostages as opposed to just having killed them or why have them killed at all; but the simple answer is because it makes him a scarier villain. In stories this action packed and fast paced there has to be clear distinctions between the black hats and white hats so we know just who to boo and who to cheer. After all that's a real part of the fun when it comes to reading comic books, waiting for the Dick Dastardly's to get their comeuppance.

5Art - 5: We all like McGuiness's style. Of course we do, everyone enjoys his kinetic storytelling and larger than life heroes. What's often over looked because of those flashier things is his keen sense of character design. Check out the detail in Grodd's airborne ape legion, Jack's pointed toe boots or the deadly serious expressions on the faces of the Superman Robots (a plot device that could easily cross the line from cool to corny).

4Cover Art - 4: Cool drawing of the Justice League, good to see Aquaman back among their ranks. The large block print over the image, which I'd normally be peeved about, actually works for me here. I don't know if anyone else had the same experience as me but just after I read the phrase on the cover "Where is the Justice League?" I peeled back the cover and the previous phrase seemed to lead right into the story. The cover set up the rest of the issue for me. A point deduction because I think the "Classified" subtitle should be more prominent to distinguish it from the core JLA title.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2005

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