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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA: Classified #6

JLA: Classified #6

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 20, 2005

Cover date: June 2005

Writter: Keith Griffen & J.M. DeMatteis
Penciller: Kevin Maguire
Inker: Joe Rubinstein

"I Can't Believe it's Not The Justice League" - Part 3: Hell... Hell... The Gangs All Here!

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

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At the Super Buddies store front headquarters Power Girl explains how Booster Gold accidentally sent himself and the Blue Beetle to Hell using a mystic artifact that belonged to Dr. Fate. Maxwell Lord doesn't know if he believes in God, so he doesn't know if he should believe in Hell. Power Girl explains that he shouldn't think of it in religious terms but more as another dimension. Sue Dibny asks if Power Girl just leaves mystic artifacts lying around where any moron can find them. Power Girl points out that the artifact was in Dr. Fate's quarters, which leads Max to believe that it is lucky that they are still alive.

Max asks why Dr. Fate didn't stop Booster from taking the artifact. L-Ron is quick to suggest that logic would dictate that Fate wasn't there. This leads to a debate with Sue over L-Ron's television habits and whether or not L-Ron has a soul. Max puts a stop to the discussion and wonders how Booster got the artifact to work. Power Girl explains that the artifact is kind of like a wish stone. L-Ron suggests that it is like the short story "The Monkey's Paw", which leads to another debate, this time on whether or not L-Ron reads or not.

Guy Gardner arrives just in time to explain the theme behind "The Monkey's Paw." Power Girl is shocked to see him and wonders how he is there since she heard he was dead or mutated or something. Guy tells her that he got better and makes a lascivious offer for her to give him a test drive.

As Max tries to get the group back on track the phone rings and Sue answers it. L-Ron explains a confused Guy Gardner that two members of the Super Buddies are trapped in the bowels of Hell. Sue corrects him by telling the group that five members have been blipped to Hell. The person on the other end of the phone is Bea, who is calling from her cell phone informs the group that not only are Blue Beetle and Booster Gold in Hell, but Bea, Ralph Dibny and Mary Marvel as well. The group argues the point before Power Girl finally takes the phone away from Max and tells Bea that they will have them out of Hell in a jiffy.

On the other end of the phone Bea wants something more concrete from Power Girl than jiffy as Mary wonders aloud what she is doing there since she is a good girl. Booster finally, after prodding from the Blue Beetle admits to the group that he was the one who accidentally sent them to Hell, which enrages Bea. She flames in anger and melts her cell phone, which cuts their only contact with the real world.

Suddenly a rhyming voice calls out from behind and the group turns to find that the Demon known as Etrigan is watching them. Etrigan explains that they arrival was not as easy as they thought, but since they are young and hardy he is sure that now that the franchise request has gone through they will need a certain amount of illegals to help serve burgers and fries. Mary steps forwards and shouts out Shazam, but nothing happens. She turns to Bea for answers, but Bea's only response is to play things as they come. She asks Ralph for his overcoat to cover her now naked body after her fiery rage burned her previous outfit.

Etrigan believes the heroes when they say they are there through no fault of their own, but informs them that it doesn't matter. They are in Hell and that is all that matters. Mary and the group talk about fighting back but Etrigan points above them to a legion of demons, all armed and at the ready. Ralph admits to how hopeless the situation has become.

Back at the Super Buddies store front Power Girl attempts to bring her friends back, but to no avail. Guy insists that he can bring them back if she gives him a chance and the two argue the point. Power Girl finally threatens physical harm if he doesn't back off, but Gardner isn't intimidated. Finally Power Girl gives him the artifact. Guy tells the group that they are going to thank him in the end and after saying the word Shazam he and Power Girl disappear.

Once in Hell Guy gloats about his success to an annoyed Power Girl. Guy taunts her causing Power Girl to attack. Guy fights back with a powerful blast from his ring and warns her not to touch him again. The two agree to begin searching for their friends and talk about the fact that it was the ring that allowed Guy to take him and Power Girl to Hell. As they search Power Girl asks why he is helping to find Bea and the rest of the team. Guy tells her that deep down he cares about them, but soon admits that he is really doing it so that Maxwell Lord will owe him one. The two bicker some more before Guy senses that they have incoming. As a flock of demons approaches Power Girl gets in one more dig at Guy's expense.

Elsewhere Etrigan delivers Bea and the others into the hands of the demons Maul and Garc. He warns the heroes that they should be on their best behavior, not that they have any choice in the matter. Garc orders Mary and Bea to the front and after Mary protests Bea tells her to play along for the moment. After they are taken away Garc warns the others that should they try to escape Mary and Bea will suffer for it. He adds that soon the fires of Hell will melt away their illusion of will and soon they will be one of the others in infernal catatonia.

Garc leads them to their assignments and explains that Booster and Beetle is to work the grills and that they will cook and cook until the end of time. The problem, he points out, is that the customers have not ordered in almost a century, so they also need to take care of the waste. He tells them that they will work in shifts; cooking and consuming, consuming and cooking. Beetle asks why they keep cooking if no one has ordered. Garc replies that they pride themselves on the freshness of product, so they must keep cooking. Beetle believes this to be disgusting and Garc agrees, which is why it is Hell.

Bea and Mary are delivered to their station and told to get to work. Mary is extremely polite to her demonic customers, which confuses Bea. Bea points out that eventually they are going to end up like the rest of the undead they are serving, but Mary has faith that they are going to get out of their predicament. Bea asks her if she really believes that and Mary replies that she does with all of her heart. Bea begins to tell her that is she believes that than she can't argue the point but her voice trails off. Mary asks what the matter is and Bea tells her that standing in line is her old, deceased friend Ice.

5Story - 5: How about that for a shocking last page, eh? I guess I should have seen it coming, but I didn't. This is why Giffen and DeMatteis should be considered one of the best writing teams in comics.

I will admit that when this arc started I was a little worried. As big of a fan of the DeMatteis and Giffen era it seemed like the story-arc was getting muddled in one scene of two people bantering back and forth after another. It's not that I dislike such things. It's just I thought they were over doing it a bit. With this issue Giffen and DeMatteis found their balance back and the dialogue was funny and entertaining.

L-Ron continues to be one of my favorite characters. Actually, with the way they are presented all of the characters at one point or another become my favorite, but L-Ron has a special place in my fanboy heart. The interplay with him and Sue and also him and Max makes for some of the better comedy bits and give the book the light hearted feel that made the original run so much fun to read.

Bringing Power Girl into the mix was a great idea. I have always been a big fan of Karen and think that she is the perfect foil for Guy Gardner. A lot of writers have little idea what to do with her and there was the tendency for writers to pigeon-hole her into the ultimate feminist role, but here all of her animosity is warranted, especially towards Guy, who, as much as I love him, pretty much deserves it. The line, "September 14th," and the follow up, "That day you'll get out of the hospital I'll put you in if you don't back off and let us think," was perfect, for me at least.

Guy, as ever, is fantastic. The fact that he got the yellow ring back works within the context of the story. Of course, a lot of what is happening in this story has no bearing on what is happening in the DCU, but that doesn't really matter. Guy regaining his ring (either one, really) brings the story back to its roots and allows him to be the ultimate touch guy again. His blowing Karen back with the ring showed that this was the old Guy. Of course, as much of a hard ass as Guy is he does care for his friends, even if he tries to play it off as wanting to have Max owe him one.

The cell phone bit played like a dream. As one who has had problems in the past with not being able to get a signal even if I stood under a tower.

Mary Marvel's presence in the series proves that she was a great choice to play the innocent role left vacant by Tora (or Ice if you prefer). While I don't totally agree that she would be as wide-eyed as she has sometimes been presented I think Giffen and DeMatteis have managed to make her a solid character. You had to feel bad for her when she stepped forward and tried to change in front of Etrigan. The look on her face clearly showed that things hadn't gone to plan and she didn't know what to do. I did appreciate the balance she provides to Bea's character, which is another hold over from the Ice character. The exchange between her and Bea at the end of the issue was one of the highlights of the issue for me.

5Art - 5: Kevin Maguire and Joe Rubinstein are a fantastic art team. They may not be flashy and they may not be the "hot" thing, but they get the job done and in terms of showing emotion on the face of the characters there are very few who can do it as well.

Highlights from this issue include:

Page one: The two panels in the middle of the page where Karen tells Max that she cannot, in fact, just call Dr. Fate was a fun little gag.

Page two: The layout on this page was fantastic and really showed how the art and dialogue can come together. I loved the exchange between L-Ron and Sue happening to the side.

Page six: More talking head stuff, but it's great to see the expressions on the character's faces as they work through the dialogue.

Page eight: Poor Mary. I enjoyed how Maguire and Rubinstein showed the realization that things weren't going as she planned.

Page twelve: The little panel of Guy's eye pretty much said everything about the character on this page.

Page fourteen: This was a fantastic splash page. This is one of the great things about Maguire and Rubinstein's art. They can go for pages with very little action and then unload all at once.

Page twenty-two: If I am not mistaken the people surrounding Ice are the creative team. The guy with the arrow in his head is definitely Mike Carlin and I am pretty sure that the man with the knives in his back is Keith Giffen. I can't name the others at this point.

The art is the other half of what makes this arc work so well. If you want to see more of it I suggest checking out the early JUSTICE LEAGUE run from 1987.

5Cover Art - 5: My wife doesn't read many comics. In fact, the only one she does pick up on a regular basis is FABLES, but she puts up with my obsession. It was in the vows.

So I was very surprised at her reaction to the cover. She thought it was really funny. She had no idea what was going on, but she thought the image of Beetle and Booster in aprons serving a hoard demons was amusing. She even laughed, which surprised the heck out of me.

This, to me, proves that this was a great cover. Not only was the artwork solid, especially the demons, but if it can grab the attention of a non-comic reader than it has to do well on the Grab Me Meter.

So, this cover gets the coveted 10 out of 10 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.

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