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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA #120

JLA #120

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 12, 2005

Cover date: Early December 2005

Writer: Bob Harras
Penciller: Tom Derenick
Inker: Dan Green
Cover: Daniel Acuna

"Requiem for a League"

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

Click to enlarge

As the "Infinite Crisis" is about to begin - literally in moments - some bad guy has escaped from Arkham Asylum in Gotham City and his attending physicians somehow don't think he's escaped because he left behind a dummy.

At the entrance to the Justice League's Secret Sanctuary, the heroes say a spiritual good-bye to the League. Present for the big blow-out are Aquaman, Batman, Big Barda, Black Canary, Captain Marvel, Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Green Lantern John Stewart, Manitou Dawn, Mr. Miracle, Plastic Man, and Zauriel.

The bad vibes in the air disturb Dawn - she closes her eyes, then opens them and she's with the Martian Manhunter in some spiritual plane. J'onn says he will reveal himself in time when he can help, which seems to indicate that he didn't die when the Watchtower blew up last issue. J'onn warns Dawn that a being of great power has awakened.

Without J'onn's abilities keeping this power in check (which he tells Dawn he's been doing for years), this threat could be much bigger than it seems.

Before she finds out who J'onn is talking about, Green Arrow unwittingly pulls her back into the here-and-now.

Aquaman and Dawn, as representatives of the League's elemental beliefs, lead the ceremony honoring the Justice League. Everybody participates except Batman who simply stands by and watches.

Meanwhile, the bad guy who escaped from Arkham (Dr. Destiny perhaps?) hides out in the sewers. He has the ability to control minds and he can't stop hearing thoughts so he ducks into the sewers where there are no active minds. He freaks out when he hears the thoughts of a sewer worker. He leaps out to attack the surprised innocent.

Back at the Secret Sanctuary, Dawn reveals that the level of distrust has caused the ceremony to fail. Green Arrow chides Batman for being the cause of the remaining animosity. The heroes all snipe at each other.

Green Arrow accuses Batman of being the one responsible for blowing up the Watchtower. All the other heroes momentarily consider whether this could be the case and Batman naturally denies it.

Batman tries to leave and Hal Jordan stops him with a ring construct. John Stewart apologizes to Batman for everyone thinking he could've blown up the Watchtower. Batman tells him not to be sorry - that he's heading to the Watchtower site to find out who actually blew it up and that, when he does find out, they may all talk then.

Dawn tells John Stewart about her "visit" with J'onn and he asks her to let him know if J'onn contacts her again. They hug goodbye. All the heroes go their separate ways.

In the sewers, the bad guy Arkham escapee goes off with a large robotic-looking humanoid with glowing red eyes, leaving behind the murdered sewer worker and a message scrawled in blood: "The JLA Made Me Do It!"

3Story - 3: Say, where'd the continuation to that big cliffhanger from last issue go? "Infinite Crisis"? Didn't we have one of those 20 years ago?

Without spoiling anything, anyone who gave up on comics 20 years ago because their favorite character, CENSORED BY THE SPOILER GODS, disappeared forever might think about looking into this new "Infinite Crisis". If you have a weak heart, you might want to be near a cardiologist or the Spectre when you read the first issue's last page. But I digress (with apologies to the guys who are reviewing "Infinite Crisis" for the Superman Homepage)...

On the subject of the comic I'm supposed to be reviewing, I'm disappointed in the decision to exclude Superman from the pomp and circumstance of this cameo-fest. First, he'd have been the only hero with the balls to call Batman on the real reason he was there, which was the same reason the rest of them were there. Batman loves rituals and ceremonies. How else do you explain the cave, the car, the plane, the boat, the helicopter, the submarine, and the kid in pixie boots swearing allegiance by a sole lit candle?

Superman wouldn't make the mistake that GA makes and assume Batman's there to ensure they cover the casket on the League. Even without his x-ray vision, Superman would see the truth. Batman needs the Justice League - if only to exercise what he believes to be his moral superiority.

Second, Superman would have been there simply to provide an example to the others. Superman is the guy who's always aware that others are looking to him for inspiration and example. Given his parting statements last issue that he'd be there when J'onn reorganized the League, there's no reason to think he wouldn't have shown up for this League's epilogue and perhaps the next League's prologue. (Then again, not to spoil anything, see "Infinite Crisis #1" for where Superman's at while this funeral goes on - and for where Batman heads off to at this issue's end).

This cameo-fest reminds me of the Marv Wolfman tales of the New Teen Titans from the 80's where the gang would go camping to get in touch with their emotions. Perhaps this is why the heroes seem to be acting like petulant teenagers.

5Art - 5: The art on a title like JLA that has a rotating creative crew should be consistent. An overly abstract style would be jarring after the realism of the previous arc (nor would it have fit a story like this). Derenick proves up to the challenge of a cameo-fest like this and he adds his own interesting strokes, like the black border around Captain Marvel's lightning insignia and Batman's unshaven face.

Just on that first page where all the heroes are standing outside the cave, there's so much going on. Flash can't stand still. Black Canary looks a little uncomfortable as a woman should who's dressed like that in broad daylight and not asking anybody for money. Plastic Man looks like he's stretching even when he's not. And the Secret Sanctuary entrance actually looks like a real cave. Plus there's the fact that Derenick's Aquaman looks just like a grown-up version of the guy playing the sea boy on next week's "Smallville".

Though I'm not familiar with Derenick's previous works, I plan to remember him now.

5Cover Art - 5: The Justice League is dead; long live the Justice League.

The cover pretty aptly sums up the story inside. I like the choice of background color; I love the contrast of the explosion of colorful heroes against the dull tan sand and rock.

Captain Marvel looks like a tough Fred McMurray. The "My Three Sons" actor was among the Big Red Cheese's inspirations as comic lore goes so good for the artist.

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