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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA #118

JLA #118

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 14, 2005

Cover date: November 2005

Writer: Geoff Johns & Allan Heinberg
Penciller: Chris Batista
Inker: Mark Farmer

"Crisis of Conscience" - Part Four

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

Click to enlarge

There's an explosion on the Watchtower. J'onn is heading to Earth with Despero on his tail. J'onn sends a telepathic call for help but Despero is dampening his telepathy.

The battle continues on Earth. Aquaman shows up and joins the fight.

Meanwhile, in Metropolis, Hawkman insists the only option for the subdued Secret Society is another mind-wipe. Superman and Flash are both instinctively against the idea. Hawkman believes Zatanna can simply remove the names of the heroes' identities from the villains' minds.

Hawkman calls for a vote.

Hawkman votes yes in favor of mind-wipe. Green Lantern and Black Canary vote no. Green Arrow and Flash surprisingly decide to vote in favor of a mind-wipe because they are both concerned about their loved ones.

Superman votes no.

The deciding vote is Zatanna's and, rather than cast her vote, she tells the League she refuses to mind-wipe the bad guys again. She believes she abused her powers when she mind-wiped the villains and Batman the first time. She resigns from the League and vanishes.

Meanwhile, in San Diego, Aquaman telepathically compels his shark friends to make Despero bleed. J'onn and Aquaman fight in and out of water. J'onn proposes shutting Despero's mind down using his and Aquaman's combined telepathy.

Zatanna is on Paradise Island talking with Supergirl. Wonder Woman is on the island as well, sorting through her decision to kill Max Lord. Zatanna thinks Batman will never forgive her for wiping ten minutes from his memory. Wonder Woman believes Zee performed the mind-wipes to protect the League. Zee doesn't want to use her powers that way again and Diana says she doesn't want to use her power to kill again but "in the end" they may both have to do so.

The heroes have taken the Secret Society to the Watchtower. They are considering how J'onn would vote and whether he would use his telepathy to erase their secrets from the villains' minds. The heroes enter the communications room and it's destroyed - the result of J'onn's fight with Despero.

Finally, in the Batcave, Batman discusses the League's actions with Catwoman. Aquaman and J'onn break in with Despero. Despero has them under his mental control. And now he has Batman too.

To be continued.

3Story - 3: And then continuity threw up all over the comic.

Continuity matters. I admit it, I'm a continuity cop. I prefer characters who act in character, but more than that, events across time must be consistent. When events across time are consistent, they matter outside the confines of an individual comic book or storyline. Essentially, such events then comprise the past, and the past informs the future.

Without continuity in real life, we'd be born and immediately wander away from our parents. Communities wouldn't matter because the repetition of location would mean nothing. Nobody would have or need friends - or enemies. There'd be no reason to commemorate birthdays, anniversaries, or even deaths. Truth would have no meaning at all. And words would speak louder than actions.

Unlike reality, fiction doesn't require strict continuity to maintain order. But, because real life has its own continuity from moment to moment, one way to make you believe in the reality of fiction is to ensure internal continuity.

In comic books, incongruities pull the reader out of the moment. Clark Kent works at the Daily Planet. It might be distracting if Clark Kent worked at the Daily Planet in one comic book but at the Gotham Globe in another. What if it satisfied some story impulse for Clark Kent to be a doctor rather than a reporter? So long as Superman does super things in living color, shouldn't that be enough? Of course not.

Fiction's continuity is bendable, expandable, and fluid. On TV's M*A*S*H, the Korean War lasted 13 years though the actual conflict lasted from 1950 to 1953. In Sunday newspaper comic strips, days go on for years. For Dick Tracy and Brenda Starr, it's always later the same day.

And a typical comic book can measure anywhere from seconds in a hero's life to millennia. The upcoming touted 52-week jump will take place only over the interval between two issues of "Infinite Crisis" - but will end up dissected over the course of each of 52 real weeks in the aptly titled 52-issue "52".

The downside of slavish adherence to continuity rears its head here. If Superman beat Batman to a pulp and left welts in the shape of Kryptonian fingerprints in poor Brucie's battered body, why does Bats seem none the worse for wear here? It's obviously been only a short time since Diana killed Max Lord and therefore it's only been slightly longer since a beaten Batman was lying still in the JLA Watchtower.

A visit to Paradise Island in current continuity wouldn't be complete without Supergirl - but "Supergirl" writer Jeph Loeb has said the character's continuity would lag behind the "Infinite Crisis" for a period leading into the seminal event. If the events in this issue of "JLA" are truly so close to the beginning of events in "Infinite Crisis" #1, as Geoff Johns recently said in an interview, Supergirl would not still be secluded on Themyscira with the Amazons at this time.

Continuity matters - but this issue demonstrates to this continuity cop that, when it matters too much, it can be as distracting as Hypertime.

4Art - 4: This is as beautifully drawn as last month's issue. Nonetheless, I've lowered the score by one point. Blame Aquaman's continuity.

Aquaman doesn't wear two green gloves anymore - not since he lost a hand to a gaggle of angry piranha. More recently, the missing hand had been replaced by a hard-water hand that responds telepathically to Aquaman's commands. Aquaman wouldn't cover his super-powered morphing hand with a glove during a fight with Despero. Yet in this issue, the sea man has green gloves on both hands. Why Aquaman why?

5Cover Art - 5: Those are some crazy bangs, Zee. Tuc meht.

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