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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA #121

JLA #121

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 26, 2005

Cover date: Late December 2005

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

"Call to Arms"

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

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A construction foreman gets on a city bus. He's wearing an explosive with a timer. BOOM. The bus explodes. The bad guy telepath secretly compelled the construction foreman in order to quiet the noises of people's minds. As his hench-robot looks on, the bad guy is quickly assaulted by the thoughts of everyone else in the city and he screams for it to stop.

Meanwhile, Manitou Dawn has resumed her walk on the spiritual plane. She's attempting to track down J'onn. Instead, she's contacted by the spirit of her deceased husband who warns her that, if she's not careful, she'll mourn again at the hands of the bad guy that J'onn warned her about last issue.

In the Secret Sanctuary, Green Arrow is blowing off steam by firing exploding arrows into the cave walls. Someone comes up behind him and he fires off an arrow - it's Black Canary who performs a gymnastic flip to avoid the arrow, then uses her Canary Cry to dislodge a stalactite. She and Green Arrow fight and flirt. They're interrupted by Dawn and Canary realizes something's not right between Dawn and Green Arrow. GA admits he had a relationship with Dawn while her husband, Raven, was alive. Dinah chides Ollie for taking advantage of a vulnerable, time-displaced, teammate's widow.

Ollie and John Stewart check on Aquaman who has used his abilities to recreate the League's entire database. Aquaman discusses establishing a covert alliance of heroes to stand in opposition to Batman and other heroes who may end up agreeing with him. Green Arrow suggests that, if Batman's truly watching their every move, they should recruit Nightwing.

The bad guy drinks to forget. He blames the JLA for imprisoning him in a fractal maze that forced his telepathic abilities to grow beyond his control. The robot suggests that killing silences the minds. The bad guy responds that any spilled blood is on the JLA's hands.

In Bludhaven, Nightwing battles Brutale to rescue a damsel in distress. Nightwing lunges at Brutale and they both fall over the ledge of a tall building. John Stewart catches them in an energy bubble.

Meanwhile, at a corporate meeting for a whiskey distributor, the bad guy reaches out and kills everyone in the room.

Nightwing turns down the offer proffered by GA, Stewart, and Aquaman.

Black Canary interrupts Dawn as she consults her mystical stones. Dinah wants to discuss Ollie. Dawn responds that they betrayed Raven (and Canary too) and that they're paying the price; the stones have told her that she will kill Green Arrow.

Finally, in the Batcave, Nightwing checks in with Batman. He tells his former mentor that the League members contacted him as Batman thought they would and that he refused to participate in their mind games. Batman thanks Dick as he works on the case of the dead employees of the Whiskey company.

2Story - 2: For those of you who don't know, the villain of this story is the Key.

It'd be easy for the villain's identity to elude you. Last issue I thought the failure to identify the villain by name was part of the mystery of the storyline. This issue it becomes clear that the real mystery may be how writer Harras got this gig.

I didn't realize at first that the hench-robot was one of the Key's infamous Key Men. And I initially guessed the bad guy - who for two issues hasn't been referred to by name - was probably Dr. Destiny. The only place that the villain is actually identified as the Key is in "Previews". To me, this omission detracts and distracts significantly from the story.

Ensuring that a story is audience-friendly is the editor's responsibility. This book has two editors - Associate Editor Michael Siglain and Editor Mike Carlin - and, incredulously, neither identified this huge hole in the story's accessibility. Shame, shame - that's one shame for each of you.

Not to harp on continuity, but I'm a bit confused by Nightwing's appearance in costume both here and in the first issue of "Infinite Crisis". Over in the "Nightwing" title, he's given up the blue suit for a blood-red suit that looks like Dick Grayson's Robin suit from the 1997 franchise killer, "Batman & Robin". I suppose it's conceivable that events in "Nightwing" predate what's going on here, but, in a world once again with multiple Luthors, Supermen, and Superboys, it does seem like the "Crisis" Nightwing is a totally different guy than the "Nightwing" Nightwing. Can anyone say Earth-2 Robin?

Oh and one more thing: Less Dawn, More Superman.

4Art - 4: I'm still impressed with Derenick's art - it's the high-point in this otherwise "bla" comic. John Stewart and Aquaman are particularly regal.

Unfortunately, Derenick seems a little soft on women. The last three panels on the second-to-last page of the story highlight this problem for me. Manitou Dawn looks like three completely different women in each of these panels. And, maybe it's the lighting, but Black Canary goes from pretty to ugly to pretty to ugly all over this issue.

3Cover Art - 3: Too dark. Makes me put too much emphasis on the seemingly out of place orange in the Black Canary's costume.

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

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