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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League Elite #7

Justice League Elite #7

Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 5, 2005

Cover date: March 2005

Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Tom Nguyen

"The Aftermath: Part Three"

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey



Manitou uses the Eye of Eighteen Pupils and discovers that Green Arrow and his wife are having an affair. He watches as the Eye reveals that sometime in the near past Oliver and Dawn are sitting on a hill outside of the complex. Ollie asks why they are doing what they are doing and Dawn smiles and replies that if he has forgotten she can remind him. Ollie apologizes, saying that he broke the First Commandment, which is ask no questions and tell no lies except to her husband. Dawn asks if he has done this before and Ollie explains that he has but should be old enough to know better. He asks her if she has ever cheated on her husband before and she tells him no.

This leads Ollie to ask why she is doing it now. Dawn explains that talk will change what they have. In his silence Ollie agrees and she begins to explain that back in the past that she and Manitou came from Dawn was something of a pariah in her tribe. When she was thirteen the women of the tribe called her Goat because when she was pushed she fought back; kicking, biting and spitting if she had to. She was unwanted, which was fine with her. When she turned thirteen she grew breasts, which drew attention from the men of the tribe, particularly the War Chief of the tribe named Big Father. Big Father bought her from her family, which was the custom of the tribe and the first night he tries to "lie" with her she didn't want to. Ollie tells her she doesn't have to continue, but Dawn does so anyway telling him that the Goat kicks and bites and that she bit, which is as good an answer as she can give. Ollie tells her it makes sense and that since she is a goat and he is an ass it is a match made in heaven.

As the image fades Manitou reminds himself that not all betrayals begin with murder but all end with death. Suddenly Major Disaster and Green Arrow come in and tell him that there is trouble. Manitou screams that he is working and cannot be disturbed. Green Arrow explains that the away team is gone, like out of this world gone and they need Manitou to find them. They all stand there for a moment before Disaster tells him that they need to hurry since none of them are getting any younger and Green Arrow already has one foot in the grave. Manitou removes his war ax off from its place on the wall and tells them that they all have one foot in the grave and that they should get to work.

On Aftermath's ship Mr. Wolfwood examines Miss Morphine for Aftermath to verify their authenticity. Coldcast asks if she is okay and she tells him that everything is fine. The disguised Flash takes his team supersonic so they can't hear them talking and offers to take the disguised Vera Black away. Kasumi informs the group that based on Wolfwood's body language they should wait.

Aftermath asks the assembly if anyone else is feeling the pressure, which leads Aftermath's representatives to accuse Chris, Coldcast's brother, of bringing narcs in. Chris demands respect, but is grabbed by Aftermath that the fact that he allows Chris to breathe is respect enough.

Wolfwood declares the crew clean. Aftermath tells Chris that he admires his dedication to his people and that they have his attention. Chris thanks him and Aftermath walks away, spilling his drink and announcing that that now they work. Wolfwood tips his hat to Miss Morphine and quietly admits that he knows who the group is.

Back on Earth the rest of the Elite try to locate their team. None of their sensors can detect them. Dawn comes in and asks what is happening. Al-Sheikh replies that it is just work and that her husband is fine. She begins to say that she can see that, but tells him to forget it and that she will be in the lodge if Manitou needs her. Al-Sheikh tells her she can stay, which surprises her. Al-Sheikh explains that those of mere flesh and blood should stick together and that he trusts her.

Back on Aftermath's ship the Flash wants to nab Wolfwood and put the whole thing to rest. Kasumi once again tells him to be patient and that they must stay undercover, which doesn't sit well with Flash who wants to put things right from what happened in Changsha. Aftermath informs his guests that they should look upon his great work because one day it could all be theirs. All they have to do is kill him, which is what he did to take the Aftermath before him and what that Aftermath did to the one before him. Chris jokes that they will get right on it, but for the present him and his brother will focus on Chicago. Coldcast informs Chris that Aftermath has bigger plans and that this isn't about pushin H or even Chicago.

Aftermath admits that the drugs have been a convenient means to an end. To reach this ultimate end he will need an army. He reveals that human beings are remarkable in their untapped potential. One out of every two hundred thousand who try Super H becomes a portal to an unreachable place where Aftermath can obtain glowing, sand like substance. Coldcast announces that they didn't sign up for this. Aftermath agrees, but goes on to say that they proved their value against the JSA so he is promoting them.

Miss Morphine asks what is on the other side of the portal. Aftermath's eyes go wide as he replies that everything is on the other side and once he has all of that nothing will remain but the Aftermath. He also cautions Coldcast to fall in step with his brother he wants to survive before leaving. Wolfwood asks Miss Morphine if she wants to talk and the two leave as well.

Meanwhile, in Manitou and Dawn's lodge Dawn smiles and tells her husband that he is staring at her. He tells her that she is grinding wrong and that if she grinds to the left she will call dark spirits. Dawn smiles and says that he doesn't need such a poor excuse to touch her. Manitou becomes quiet and Dawn asks if there is anything he wants to say to her. He suddenly grabs her and tells her that she is the strongest woman he has ever known and that he is sorry that she did not win the life she deserved. He walks out of the room and tells the waiting Major Disaster that it is time to go. Disaster agrees and after Manitou walks away he takes a swing if alcohol.

Back on Aftermath's ship Wolfwood chides Vera Black for telling a lie. Vera reverts to her true appearance, forms a weapon with her hand and threatens him. Wolfwood goes on, reminding her that she told someone that he killed the President of Changsha. He admits to killing a bunch of people, but not him. Vera demands to know why he didn't blow her team's cover and what kind of game he is playing. Wolfwood replies that it used to be a game for him but he has changed. Vera wants to know what he wants. He explains that that he wants her help getting to the bad men on his list as an act of penance for the bad things he has done. As a show of faith he offers to tell her who really killed the President of Changsha. Suddenly Flash and Kasumi come out of the shadows and are in shock at what Wolfwood revealed.

At the house that serves as the portal to Aftermath's ship there is a knock at the door. One of the alien's gets up to answer it and when the alien looks through the peep hole he is greeted with an explosion and the door blows open. Green Arrow walks in and takes down the other aliens. He tells Manitou to make with the mojo to find the team. He puts a hand on Manitou's shoulder, but Manitou brushes it off violently and yells at Green Arrow to not touch him.

Meanwhile, at a bar on Aftermath's ship Coldcast excuses himself so he can find the rest of his team. Chris says that they need to talk. Coldcast agrees and listens as his brother complains that since they came up in the current situation he's been playing big dog and pushing Chris aside. Chris wants to know how they are playing the situation and if Coldcast has his brother's back. After thinking for a moment to a time when they were younger Coldcast informs his brother that he has his back like always. Aftermath approaches them and tells them that the hour is at hand and he needs his generals are needed for a briefing because the prize is in reach. Chris asks if there is any chance that he will finally tell them what the prize is. Aftermath agrees that the time is right and reveals that what they are looking for is the whorlogog.

Meanwhile Flash is incensed at Wolfwood's revelation. Vera tells him to calm down, but starts to feel ill. Wolfwood also tells Flash that they should talk about this, but Flash screams that he isn't talking to Wolfwood. He turns back to Vera and threatens to bring the JLA down on them if she doesn't tell him what's going on. Vera tries to reason with him, but she stutters a bit before coming lucid. She starts acting strange, asks for a cigarette and tells them that after she can get one she can discuss the matter like men.

4Story - 4: Okay, I will get the truly personal feelings out of the way first. There have been many instances in the past few years of rape in the comics that I read. The instances have ranged from a story arc in BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS a few years ago to the recent IDENTITY CRISIS. It's not just the rape of a woman either. An issue of the FLASH from the past year showed the attempted rape of a young Mirror Master. Rape is nothing new to comics, but it certainly has grown in use over the past four years.

JUSTICE LEAGUE ELITE #7 had not one but two instances where it was implied that a character had either been raped or was almost raped. The first was with Dawn and the second with Coldcast and Chris' mother. The second example was more jarring because it implied that the rapists were suggesting that Coldcast and his brother join them in their act, which is almost unacceptable.

Now I realize that rape is something that happens in the real world. I also realize that comics are an art form that must allow the free expression of the ideas the writer and artists have. I cannot say that rape should not be shown in comic books because I believe that freedom of speech is absolute and I will defend to the death Joe Kelly's or any other writer or artist's right to say and draw whatever they want to.

But that doesn't mean I have to like it. That is my right as a reader and as the owner of this comic.

It is disgusting and I hate it. It almost made me hate this issue, but the rational side of me knows that Joe Kelly, as intimated, has the right to take the story in whatever direction he wants to and Mike Carlin, as editor, must have approved the sequences. The same rational side also tells me that the scenes, no matter how reprehensible I think they are, were accurate to the characters involved and to try to candy coat the situation would not fit into the overall tone of the book. This is a gritty book and not in a bad way. It is showing a darker side to super-heroes and over the past two issues has done a pretty good job doing so. Despite a shaky start I think Joe Kelly has turned this book into a great read. So to say that bad things happen in the world and then ignore rape is pretty irresponsible.

Again, though, it doesn't mean I have to like it.

So ends the pseudo-preachy portion of this review. Thanks for listening.

Joe Kelly really impressed me with this issue. I didn't like how the series started, but as it goes on I like it more and more. The writing and characterization have improved by leaps and bounds and the current story arc has been a fantastic read. I think Joe Kelly has found the right tone and style for the book and while I will not be clichd enough to say that the book is realistic it definitely has more of a real world feel to it than most super-hero comics. The black ops aspect now feels right.

As with the art the highlight of this issue was the relationship between Ollie, Dawn and Manitou. In the previous issues it was shown that Dawn is not at all happy with her marriage and Green Arrow, ever the scoundrel, told her she should do something about it. Apparently that meant she should sleep with him, but I guess with Ollie's history that makes sense. The first scene with the two of them felt real, like I knew these characters and what they were going through. After reading the last issue I thought it would cool if the two hooked up. Now that they have I feel uncomfortable, like two good friends are doing something wrong and I've been put in the middle of it.

It was Manitou's reactions to the affair that made this issue really sing for me. You can see the anger and hurt and anguish he is feeling. From the scene where he grabs Dawn (where you can see the desperation in his eyes) to the scene where Green Arrow touches him (and Manitou flips out) you this man is going through a lot. The one thing that has me nervous is his repeating what the funky looking spirit told him two issues back. Obviously someone is going to die and I feel kind of bad that I am looking forward to seeing who it is.

The relationship between Coldcast and his brother deepened this issue and while I didn't like the scene it was interesting to see how Coldcast's mother lost her sight. It was disturbing, but also fascinating, kind of like a train wreck or auto accident. The overlaying of the promise his mother swore him to was a great touch and showed the conflict that Coldcast is having with himself. Chris came off as more of a three-dimensional character this issue as well, especially when he stepped up to his brother and spoke his peace.

Then there was the mention of the whorlogog. Now if I was a truly great reviewer I would go back and do all of my fact checking before going further, but this review is late as it is and I really don't have the time. If memory (that most soothing of liars) serves the whorlogog was something that Metron of the New Gods gave to the android Hourman, which allowed him to manipulate time and space. If this is the case (and any and all can e-mail and correct me) and Aftermath is looking for it then things could turn bad real fast. Suddenly a story that started out as a battle against an alien drug ring has turned into a battle against an alien mastermind who wants control of device that could make him omnipotent.

Now this is what comic books are all about.

The shift with Wolfwood was unexpected. I admit I didn't care for him at first, but Kelly made him an almost likable character here. I don't completely trust him, but I like him just the same. His admitted desire to make amends for his past will prove interesting and the fact that he knows who the killer on the team is has me intrigued.

I also thought the scene where Major Disaster hits the bottle was great. I am interested in seeing how this is going to play out.

The one and only problem I had with the issue is that it seems that I was right. If I am correct then Manchester Black has taken control of Vera Black's mind. Either that or Vera has just gone freaking crazy. If either is true, than it is possible that Vera may very well be the killer on the team, even though she wouldn't be technically the one who killed the dignitary or her fault that she killed him depending on whether or not it is a possession or her being a nut bar. Either way I think it is kind of a cheap way out of explaining who the killer is.

Other than that this was a fantastic issue. I can't believe I am writing this but I am really looking forward to the next issue.

4Art - 4: I don't know if Doug and Tom's art has grown on me or that their style has changed over the past six issues but I was very impressed with the art this issue. It seemed to have a slicker style than the previous issues and I really liked it.

The strength of this issue was Doug and Tom's ability to covey a lot of emotion with a single expression. This was especially the case with Manitou and Dawn. There is a lot going on in between these two characters. You can see both the bliss and sadness Dawn is feeling because of her affair with Ollie. Her smile is positively glowing in certain panels, but you can also see the sadness she feels about her past and the affair in others. Manitou's anger and the feelings of betrayal are evident as well in addition to his sadness over the affair. The scene in their lodge was amazing and went through the gamut of emotions and for me this was the highlight of the issue.

There are also some startling panels in this issue. The flashback scenes were pretty jarring. Both Dawn's attempted rape as well as the flashback with Chris and Coldcast was well done despite the fact that I disagree with their place in the comic. I may not have liked them, but they were some good pieces of art and gave me the feelings I am certain the artists were trying to give me.

I also liked the quiet moment at the beginning with Ollie and Dawn. It was a sweet little sequence despite how wrong the situation is. You could see Dawn's happiness and Ollie's concern on the character's faces, which is hard to pull off. The layout of the scene was well done. Doug and Tom knew how to "control the camera" and lead the audience where they wanted to go.

The final highlight of the issue was the final page. You could see the absolute evil on Vera's face after she made the transformation from Vera to Manchester. It was subtle, but there.

Despite my previous feelings I loved the art in this issue. It was cleaner than the last six issues and had more heart as well. I hope the next five issues are this good.

5Cover Art - 5: I really liked this cover. Actually I think this is the best cover of the series. The composition and layout are fantastic, especially with the back-to-back set-up with Green Arrow and Miss Morphine. It also reflected the story inside the comic as well, which is nice. Green Arrow looks fantastic in his black outfit and I liked the detail on the gun on Miss Morphine's arm. All in all this issue had a really great cover. Doug and Tom did a nice job.

This cover receives a 9 on the newly patented, 2005 Edition of the Grab Me Meter.


Mild Mannered Reviews

2005

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

January 2005

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