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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League Elite #8

Justice League Elite #8

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 2, 2005

Cover date: April 2005

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

"The Aftermath: Part Four"

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Vera wakes up in an ornate bedroom staring at a baby doll while a voice compliments the doll and tells her that it beats a potato with a face painted on it. Vera tells the voice that the room she is in isn't hers. The voice agrees but says that it could have if their father wasn't dead and their mother wasn't so daft. The voice apologizes for stepping in like this, which was ahead of his own timetable, but the fact that she, was about to spill her guts forced his hand. The voice believes the Elite has a lot of work to do, adding that it's hard to keep cover if she keeps beating herself up over a dead despot.

Vera insists that what is going on is not happening and demands to know where her missing arms are. The voice ignores her and instead briefs her on what happened after he took over. The Flash was rather upset over the revelation that one of the Elite killed the President of Changsha, but knew when to hold his tongue about the matter. Then Coldcast arrived and explained Aftermath's desire to obtain the Whorlogog. While Vera tries to escape what she refers to as a massive psychotic break the voice explains that the Whorlogog is a real map of the universe. The Flash didn't buy it at first because he knew that Metron has taken the Whorlogog to the end of time, but the sand that was gathered from the junkies that had become addicted to Aftermath's drug is actually from the end of time.

Suddenly the room Vera is in begins to break apart and reveals the giant face of Manchester Black, who believes that he could do a lot with a map of the universe, far more than he could with the keys to her head.

Back on Earth Manitou, Green Arrow, Major Disaster and Menagerie prepare to jump through the portal that will lead them to their teammates. Disaster is eager to get started, but Manitou warns that leaving through the same door would be a bad omen. Disaster jumps anyway, as does Menagerie who realizes that Disaster is drunk. Green Arrow starts to leap through the portal, but is hit by a powerful blast of energy.

At the same time Al-Sheik loses contact with his team from their headquarters. He takes out his cell phone and calls the Prime Minister of England and requests that the body of the President of Changsha be exhumed and brought to the lab in London. He also reluctantly asks for the Prime Minister to sponsor global arrest warrants.

Meanwhile, from his space craft Aftermath explains that the two pillars of the universe are chaos and irony, which is the only way to justify how junkie gutter trash would be the key to unlocking all there is. From the crowd watching Aftermath the Flash reminds the possessed Vera that the instant they are through the portal he will unhook the junkies while the rest of the team slams Aftermath. Aftermath continues his ranting and asks who will follow him into legend. Chris, Coldcast's brother, is excited at the prospect and screams his approval.

Outside the ship Manitou holds on to Green Arrow and demands that he climb before another bolt of energy strikes him dead. From Aftermath's ship Disaster and Menagerie are shocked that Manitou was able to catch Arrow. Manitou gets Green Arrow on to the ship where Green Arrow thanks him for saving him. Manitou chooses this moment to tell Arrow that he knows about Green Arrow and his wife.

Back at Aftermath's gathering Coldcast asks his brother no to go. Chris is dismissive, but Coldcast warns him that something is going to happen as Aftermath leads the ship through the portal created by the addicts. The assembled group is in awe of what they see and only Flash recognizes it as the Source Wall.

Chris appears to be unaffected and reminds Coldcast that he always promised to protect him. Chris shoots Coldcast and begins to cry out to Aftermath that they have traitors in their midst. The Flash knocks the gun out of Chris' hand and calls him a stupid punk before asking him what he did.

Aftermath is furious at the interruption and starts to rant that this can't be happening now because they are bumming his high. As he knocks the Flash back he orders his men to kill Coldcast's crew.

Manchester Black realizes that things are going bad and allows Vera control of her body again. She is dazed at first but Wolfwood helps, though he adds that he isn't going to make a habit of it. Moments later Major Disaster and the rest of the cavalry appear with Disaster damaging the God Door. Menagerie asks Vera to give them direction as Kasumi reminds Wolfwood that they do not kill, which amuses him. Vera finds Coldcast, who tries to tell her something. Taking control, Vera orders Kasumi, Arrow and Menagerie to work with Wolfwood on crowd control. She also orders someone to medicate Coldcast and tells Disaster to short out Aftermath's armor while the rest of the team helps her to cripple Aftermath.

Aftermath heads deep into his ship with Chris in tow. He informs Chris that the boy has just received a promotion, which may not be a good thing since Chris was the one who brought the Justice League to his party. As Aftermath runs he drops several spherical objects behind him. Disaster gives chase with Manitou and attempts to short out Aftermath's armor, but his power fails. He asks Manitou for help, but Manitou is distracted. In the distance he sees the Black Racer, which he recognizes as an entity that appears at the end of one's life, sometimes with a boon for the worthy. Manitou knows what the spherical objects are and is given a moment of choice. Despite the fact that he believes he is not worthy Manitou accepts the Racer's boon.

As the spherical device detonates Manitou shouts Inukchuk and grows in size, taking the brunt of the explosion caused by Aftermath's spheres.

Back on Earth, Dawn, Manitou's wife, senses her husband's death.

Aftermath and Chris continue running through the ship. Chris is convinced that the Elite are coming, but Aftermath explains that the Anti-Light devices he left behind wiped them from existence. He doesn't believe it matters anyway since the Whorlogog appears before him. At first Aftermath is excited, but then a hand reaches out of the portal and grabs him.

Vera and Flash continue to chase after Chris and Aftermath. They hear a scream and reach where Chris and Aftermath had stopped to find a woman holding the remains of Aftermath whom she had just ripped in half. Vera tells Flash to run, but Flash tells her he can't. She pleads with him to run since Manchester is coming back. The Flash pleads with Vera, but Manchester takes control and joins the woman who had come from the Whorlogog. Manchester doesn't know who the woman is, but likes her style and tells her that they should shag the world until it cries. The Flash runs forward screaming in protest as a massive explosion causes everything to go white.

4Story - 4: Upon first reading this issue I was very disappointed. I thought that with the great set-up over the past three issues that the pacing and ending of this issue were very disappointing. The great thing about reviewing this book (or any other book) is because I have to write a synopsis of the story. When I do this I really have to read the comic closely and start to see some of the more subtle nuances of the story and sometimes my whole opinion will change because everything is finally clear in my mind and all of my questions are answered.

(I do the same thing with films, by the way. Sometimes I will hate a movie, but if I watch it two or three more times I start to see things I had missed and, at times, I end up loving the film.)

That is what happened with this issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE ELITE. I was prepared to write a scathing review, pointing out how Joe Kelly really dropped the ball and that a great story arc was coming to a very bad end. Then I wrote the synopsis and saw things that I had missed and realized that while this issue had a problem or two it led the story towards the conclusion that had to happen.

(This, in the end, is the real problem I have with reviewing comic books. Sometimes I want the story to go in a different direction and become disappointed when it doesn't. Then I remember that the writer has a direction he or she wants to go in and they have to write what their heart or whatever dictates. On the whole I really don't have a problem with this line of thinking. Unless it is Chuck Austen or whatever is happening over in SUPERMAN. Then I take issue with it.)

Let's tackle the few problems this issue had first. I thought the pacing at the beginning of this issue was terrible. I hate to say it, but I was really disappointed that the payoff to the build-up of last issue was explained in a series of flashbacks. While the psychotic break scenario was interesting I felt that coming back right where we left off would have been more dramatic.

My other problem comes from the fact that Joe Kelly made me like a concept that I had previously hated, which is the return of Manchester Black. All through my reviews of the past four issues I had mentioned that I thought the return of Manchester Black was a bad idea, mostly because I saw it coming from a mile away. The concept had no impact with me and I thought that having Vera, a character that had been developed nicely, becoming possessed by Manchester hurt her viability. It didn't help that I hated Manchester Black as a character, but that is, surprisingly, beside the point. I thought that bringing the character into this would hurt the concept of the series.

I don't know if I am right or wrong about this quite yet, but I can say that Kelly managed to make the character's return not only entertaining, but interesting as well. I'm not so sure that having Manchester Black act as the behind the scenes bad guy for this series is such a good idea and I am disappointed at what it might do to Vera, whom, as mentioned, I have grown to like, but the story has entered some interesting territory, so I am going to hold my final opinion until the end.

Manitou's sacrifice wasn't much of a surprise but still had some impact. Of course we don't know if he is officially dead yet, but taking that explosion right in the face certainly points towards that. Kelly paced Manitou's scenes well, especially with the little fake that led us to believe that he had attacked Green Arrow from behind. The two panels where he confronted Arrow about his affair with Manitou's wife were good little moments as well. Manitou has been a character that I have been on the fence about since he was introduced, but the fact that Joe Kelly was willing to update Apache Chief was enough for me to give him a chance. Now that he may be dead I am actually kind of disappointed because I wanted to see more of him, though I could do without the trash talking spirit walks.

While some may believe that it is cliched, I really liked the panels where Dawn sensed her husband's death. It was a great moment because it took the cosmic and took it down to Earth, both literally and figuratively.

I was totally taken off guard when Chris shot Coldcast. It's nice to be surprised by something in a comic. It reminds me that I am not the jaded fanboy that I sometimes think I have become. It makes sense for the character to have done so. Chris and Nathan were two totally different people with different outlooks. Nathan saw his past as a mistake to atone for. At least that is how he has been presented to us. It was always a given that he would, in some way, betray his brother, but through it all Nathan did everything he could to keep his brother alive, even at the end. Chris was different. Chris never got out of the neighborhood, it seems, and was trying to make his mark the only way he knew how. It doesn't justify his actions, but it does explain them.

So I should have seen Chris' action coming, but I didn't. There was too much else going on with the Whorlogog and Vera having her breakdown. It was a fantastic moment and, as silly as it may sound, I really hope Coldcast pulls through because I have grown very fond of the character.

I also want more Wolfwood. Here is another character I hated at first but he is a true Joe Kelly character and could make for some entertaining reading.

As much as I hate to admit I like this series. It took a few issues, which happens from time to time, but I am finally coming around. It is almost a shame that this is a maxi-series, because I am curious to see where Joe Kelly would take the series. I realize this is contrary to my previous statements, but the book has gotten a lot better. It has its weaknesses, but the story and character have improved greatly and while I had previously thought that the concept was flawed I have come to the conclusion that it has a great place in the DC pantheon as another version of what the super-hero team could be.

Man, I hate it when I have to admit that I was wrong.

Oh well, onto the artwork.

4Art - 4: Like the writing the art of this series has grown on me. I believe I mentioned that I didn't care much for Doug Mahnke's artwork when he was on JLA. The team of Mahnke and Tom Nguyen has provided some great visuals and compliments the story nicely.

This issue reinforced this. While I dislike the pacing of the opening scene I have to admit the visuals made up for it. It is difficult to pull this kind of mood off on the comic page, but Mahnke and Nguyen provided that right amount of creepiness, from the decor of the room to the armless Vera that made the sequence work. The baby doll was just freaky. The end of the sequence, though, was a bit weak, but maybe that is just me.

The cosmic scenes in this issue were fantastic. The Source Wall, in particular, was a great panel and I loved the detail that they put into it. I appreciated the fact that they didn't fall back on aping Kirby when it comes to the Fourth World. While the woman at the end of the book had definite Kirby vibes it still managed to look like something Mahnke and Nguyen would draw. I loved their version of the Black Racer. As much as people may hate me for saying this I always thought that the Black Racer was a weak looking character. I mean the man was on skis. Their Black racer was kind of creepy looking and had an aura of uneasiness around him.

The only area where this issue was weak as far as the artwork was the level of detail that kept going in and out. In the scene where the cavalry had broken though the portal there was a lot of detail and the scene looked good. Manitou, in particular, looked great. Then, a few pages later, they have a panel with a wide shot of Aftermath and he looks pretty bad. This could be me being a tad picky, but it stood out.

All in all the art in this book is getting better and better. I think that it definitely adds to the enjoyment of the story.

4Cover Art - 4: This was definitely an eye catching cover. I enjoyed the perspective and it gave a hint at to what was going to happen inside. The armless Vera stood out, which I am guessing was the point and once again Green Arrow looks solid.

This cover gets a nine out of ten 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.

January 2005

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