Buy Now!

Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA: Classified #10

JLA: Classified #10

Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 27, 2005

Cover date: September 2005

Writter: Warren Ellis
Penciller: Butch Guice
Inker: Butch Guice

"New Maps of Hell" - Part One

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

A man stands on the ledge of a LexCorp building recording his final words. Once the man is done he steps off the ledge and violently crashes into an automobile parked on the street below.

The next day Clark Kent and Lois Lane cover the story. They question a dismissive and arrogant detective who informs them that the man's name was Dr. David Leigh and that he worked at the building. Clark points out that this is the third suicide of a LexCorp employee in six weeks. The detective doesn't see a connection and when pressed about the matter he admits that he has a job to do and anything to do with LexCorp gets in the way of doing that job. Lois announces that they are leaving which leads the detective to make a final derogatory remark at their expense.

That night in Gotham City Bruce Wayne sees the Bat Signal and realizes it is time to go to work. On the way down to the Cave he gets in contact with the police, who brief him on the death of the vice president of a defense industry contractor named Spartan Electric. Before the Feds shut the scene down for their own investigation the police had established the cause of death as a shot through the chest with something that incinerated everything it touched. The hole was big enough to put an arm through and whoever did that is still in Gotham. Bruce cuts off the connection and finishes getting dressed into his work clothes.

Back at the Daily Planet Perry White goes on a war path because Lois and Clark have not finished the story he had assigned them that morning. They eventually convince him that they story on the LexCorp employee suicides is a better one and he leaves them alone. Lois convinces Clark to leave the story to her and she spends the next several hours studying her notes and charts.

Meanwhile in Gotham City Batman breaks into the offices of Spartan Industries and after taking down several of the security guards he comes upon a body. After studying the computer files he patches through to the Gotham City Police Department and briefs them on the killer. He confirms that while sloppy the murder was an assassination. The victim was trying to become a whistleblower because Spartan was involved in the development of new weapons of mass destruction.

A world away on Paradise Island Princess Diana greets a delegation of academics that have come to the island for study. She informs them that after their official welcome at the Main Hall they will be transported to the East Island. One of the delegates asks if they can see the East Island. Wonder Woman points it out to the woman and begins to explain that the island houses their university, but is interrupted when a series of explosions rocks the East Island.

4Story - 4: Warren Ellis is one of those writers where you can never be sure what to expect from his work. While I have little or no use for his opinion columns and such, I have to say that the man can write a tight, entertaining story. If you have never read PLANETARY I recommend it whole heartedly.

While this issue was the obligatory introduction-to-the-plot story I have to say that it was a great read. Despite the fact that the cover promised a story that focuses on Batman, the Big Three (as many, including me, like to refer to Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) are all given a good amount of screen time. Given his work on several projects that can only be described as deconstructing the superhero genre, Ellis does a fantastic job of keeping the characters in character and giving us some iconic material to read.

The Lois and Clark section was a lot of fun. I think he went a little too far with the Perry White on a rampage bit, but Ellis nailed Clark Kent. Despite the bit with Lois essentially telling Clark to go away while the "real" reporter did her job (at least that's how I saw it) Clark was a solid, assertive character, especially with the detective at the crime scene. My absolute favorite moment of the book had to be when the detective informed Lois and Clark that it was his job to keep the streets safe and Clark responds with a terse, "The hell it is." Every once in a while it is nice to see Clark get annoyed with those who make ignorant comments at his mild-mannered civilian identity's expense. It was also great to see Lois be somewhat condescending and supportive at the same time.

The Batman section was brief but to the point. You can't get much more Batman than that. I don't particularly like the arrogant, know-it-all Batman who treats those who help him like crud, but if that is how Ellis sees the character I don't have much room to argue. There was little dialogue in the Batman segments, but that makes sense considering that Batman works better when he's the cool, silent type.

The Wonder Woman segment was brief, but entertaining. Ellis seems to be having fun with his dialogue and I enjoyed Diana's introduction of Paradise Island to the academics that came to study there.

What surprised me most about this book is that I really liked it. I must admit that when I first read the concept for this arc I had my doubts. It sounded like it was going to be weird for the sake of being weird, but with an introduction like this I am intrigued. There are three mysteries that need to be explained and I like that type of story. I am looking forward to seeing how all of the sub-plots fit together.

4Art - 4: It's good to see some Butch Guice artwork. After a rough start I enjoyed his work on ACTION COMICS and his BIRDS OR PREY art was great. The page layouts in this issue were eye catching and dynamic, especially the first scene. The suicide had more impact (excuse the pun) because of how Guice designed the scene. His Clark Kent was dead on, as was his Batman and Wonder Woman. The backgrounds were nice and detailed and the action scenes were paced out well.

I honestly have to say that the book would not have been as enjoyable without Guice's artwork. Between the art and the story this arc has the possibility of becoming something really special.

4Cover Art - 4: Well, that certainly is Batman. Despite the fact that the cover lied to a certain extent, the art was nice. Michael Stribling's art definitely presented the Dark Knight in his element. I especially liked the slight glow around Batman's eyes.

I have to wonder, though, if Batman's presence on this cover has anything to do with the fact that BATMAN BEGINS premiered last month. It's not as if DC has never featured Batman prominently on a cover around the time of a successful adaptation.

This cover gets an eight out of ten on the 2005 Edition of the Grab Me Meter.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2005

February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005

Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.

Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2005.