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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League Elite #9

Justice League Elite #9

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 2, 2005

Cover date: May 2005

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


Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Manchester Black uses the power of Eve, the woman who appeared out of the whorlogog, to change history and eliminate Superman from the time line. His attempts fail and Eve explains that she cannot transform what has been since she is part of that whole. She tells him that there are rules and that she has to follow them. Manchester asks where the rules will lead him and Eve responds that they will lead him to the future where what may be will be. Manchester smiles at this thought as the fading image of Superman charging towards him appears.

Meanwhile, the Elite pulls out of its positions on Aftermath's ship as Al-Sheikh performs an autopsy on the body of President Bhat. After an initial examination Al-Sheikh feels he is missing something and argues the point with the artificial intelligence unit that is assisting him. Al-Sheikh orders the unit to disengage its personality center so it won't be distracting with its questions. The unit begins again as Al-Sheikh checks the messages on his voice mail.

Meanwhile, Green Lantern uses his ring to create a containment unit as the Flash puts himself back together again after nearly running himself to death trying to save people from Aftermath's device. Green Lantern wants to know how much longer he will have to maintain the containment unit. Batman replies that he doesn't have a clue and that GL should ask Flash when he's solid again. The Martian Manhunter is more sympathetic and tries to explain why Green Lantern needs to know how long it will take, but Batman remains firm and replies that it will take as long as it takes.

The Manhunter takes his leave to check in on the refugees from Aftermath's ship. Batman tells J'onn that he wants full telepathic and that the Fifth Amendment is temporarily suspended. Green Lantern wonders how many people Flash saved. Batman replies that the Scarlet Speedster saved over a hundred, but they are still losing a few every hour from burn injuries. He goes on, explaining that a week ago the Flash and the rest of the Elite go off the map in Chicago and then today a portal opens and the Flash drags a hundred aliens and junkies into the Watchtower. As concerned as Batman is for Batgirl's safe return he feels his place is on the Watchtower since all of the wolves were let into the chicken coop this time.

Back on Earth Green Arrow goes to comfort Dawn, who is already aware of her husband's death. She asks if Manitou knew of her and Green Arrow's affair. Ollie tells her Manitou did, but he saved Ollie's life anyway. Ollie groans in pain from the injury he sustained when Manitou saved him. He tells her the wound won't heal and just as Dawn asks what cut him Major Disaster lays down Manitou's hatchet. Disaster quotes Manitou when he tells them that the hatchet will not break the skin of a good man. He also lays down Manitou's medicine stick, which Disaster figured Dawn would want. He admits that because he was drunk he couldn't make his powers work so it was Disaster that killed her husband. He starts to walk out of the room, but turns and asks which of them screwed Manitou the worst.

In the world of shadows Batgirl tends to the injured Coldcast. He asks where they are and she replies that they are here, wherever here is since she used the Shadow Thief's belt to aid them in their escape. Batgirl tells him that she is not a killer, even though she had used lethal force of the creatures of the shadow world. She also admits who she is and who she reports to. Coldcast is curious why she is telling him and she suddenly kisses him and tells him that she didn't want him to die thinking she was a killer. Coldcast starts to tell her that they aren't going to die when another creature attacks.

Meanwhile Al-Sheikh is on his private jet when he calls the Watchtower. Plastic Man tries to act as if he has the wrong number, but Al-Sheikh tells him to shut up and get him in touch with someone in authority so they can discuss the Elite. He looks out his window and sees Superman flying alongside the plane. Superman points to the location he wants Al-Sheikh to land.

Green Arrow attempts to make contact with Coldcast, Kasumi, Vera and Menagerie from the Elite's headquarters. The Flash enters the room and places a hand on Green Arrow's shoulder. Ollie tells him that they have to try and locate their comrades no matter what happened. The Flash informs him that he knows about the murder and that he knows that Green Arrow knew about it as well. Arrow tells him he will apologize later and that there are still good people missing, reminding the Flash that they are still a team. The Flash tells him they aren't and probably never were. He also informs Arrow that Vera Black is Manchester Black that everything was a lie and a set-up.

Elsewhere in the facility Major Disaster sits in a warm bath and slices his wrists with a razor blade.

In the shadow world Batgirl launches herself at the creature attacking them and orders Coldcast to shoot it. He tells her he can't since he doesn't have the juice. He suggests using the shadow belt, but Batgirl doesn't know how to activate it. He tells her he may be able to, but asks why she trusts him. She explains that she can read people and knows that he is a good man. Coldcast wishes that were true as the creature goes in for the kill. Suddenly, the belt comes to life and the two find themselves at the Elite's headquarters, where the team received an emergency beacon and pulled them through.

Coldcast jokes about the fact that no one is helping him despite the fact that he is injured, but Batgirl notices that the Justice League is standing before them. Coldcast resigns himself to his fate, which confuses Batgirl. Al-Sheikh informs Coldcast is under arrest for the murder of Don Qua Bhat, President of Changsha. Superman announces that it's over. The Justice League Elite is finished. Batgirl quietly says no as Batman consoles her.

4Story - 4: This issue goes to show you that when Superman tells you to pull over. No matter what type of vehicle you are traveling in you still pull over.

Actually I was very impressed with this month's installment. As much as I disliked the book when it first came out JUSTICE LEAGUE ELITE has turned into a fun little read that really works when Joe Kelly isn't over-doing the wise cracking dialogue. The concept of a deep undercover super-hero team has been explored and I think Kelly has explored it well after a bumpy start.

This was a fantastic follow-up to the "Aftermath" storyline. I admit that I was bit confused at the story structure used in the first few pages. It took a second read to figure out what was really going on and once I did I enjoyed it. It was interesting to find out that one of the main reasons Manchester Black hooked up with Eve was to destroy Superman. The grocery store scene was odd, but I actually laughed at the tank blasting the baby Kal-El as he rested in his ship. These images wrapped around what happened to the Elite made for a somewhat jerky start, but it fit the pacing and storytelling of the rest of the series, so, in its own way, it worked.

I enjoyed the interplay between the Justice Leaguers. It's interesting to see that Kelly incorporated the military background given to Green Lantern on the JUSTICE LEAGUE animated series. It also seems that Kelly prefers the civil-rights-be-damned Batman as opposed to the working-within-the-system Batman, though it is hard to disagree with him since they needed all of the intelligence that they could get.

The scene between Dawn and Green Arrow was quite touching. Major Disaster also played well in this scene. Despite the fact that he blamed himself for Manitou's death he still had to throw a little comment in there about Green Arrow and Dawn sharing in the blame as well. I was really surprised when I opened the page to the scene where he slit his wrists. I am not going to say he killed himself because we don't know if he died as a result of his suicide attempt, but it was a startling scene just the same.

Kelly really had Al-Sheikh solidified as a character with this issue. The balance between the man who can call the Watchtower and demand to speak to someone in authority and the man who has his own code of conduct in regards to his friends and those he works with was striking this time out. The fact that he was the one that placed Coldcast under arrest made perfect sense considering he blames himself for President Bhat's death. If Superman or Batman would have done it the story would not have had the same dramatic weight. It works that one of the Elite took care of their own.

Speaking of Coldcast, wow, I didn't see that coming. I really didn't. I was working under the assumption that Vera, as controlled by Manchester, was the one who had killed Bhat. It seemed logical, but then again that is what red herrings are for. I hope that now that we have had the surprise/shock ending that things are explained next issue. I want to know why Coldcast was the killer.

Despite his apparent guilt the scene between Batgirl and Coldcast was interesting. I don't know if it makes any sense to have Batgirl fall for Coldcast, but at least Kelly is being consistent with his characterization of Batgirl. The use of the shadow belt was nice as well and was a great plot device to explain how they could have escaped.

I also hope we find out the fate of Menagerie as she was the only member of the team unaccounted for.

Also, did anyone else get the feeling that we haven't seen the last of Coldcast's brother?

It was no surprise that Superman announced that the Justice League Elite was finished at the end of this issue. It makes it more dramatic when the team, whoever may be a member at the time, has to reform to deal with Manchester Black and Eve. At least I hope most of the members of the team are in attendance for the finale. It would be kind of disappointing if the series ended with the main Justice League taking care of Manchester and not the Elite. I am fairly sure that won't be the case, though. I have faith in Joe Kelly, which is saying something since I disliked most of his JLA run and had some problems with his handling of Superman.

All in all this was a great end to the "Aftermath" storyline. Joe Kelly managed to wrap up a storyline while setting the stage for another and leaving some juicy story tidbits to entice the reader to check out the finale.

I can't believe I am actually enjoying this series.

5Art - 5: Yeah, that's right. I gave the art a five this issue. I know, I know. Outside of my last two reviews I was pretty harsh on Mahnke and Nguyen's art. Nevertheless I was incredibly impressed with the art work this time out and think that it is the best the series has seen and was much better than Mahnke's art on his JLA run.

The pacing of the first few pages was great. The art was the only thing that clued me in as to what was going on. It took me a second, but I finally noticed the nametag that read CLARK on the first page, which cleared just about everything up.

I was also impressed with the title page. That was a fantastic image and while I may not agree with the overall concept of the Flash getting all messed up like that the execution was well done. The whole sequence on the Watchtower played out well and the use of Plastic Man was funny even though I really don't care for the character.

The scene between Dawn, Green Arrow and Major Disaster was also very nice. The dialogue was great, but it was the expressions on the characters faces that really sold the sequence.

Another highlight was the shadow realm, though a lot of the credit has to go to colorist David Baron. The greenish blues and blacks gave the scene the creepy quality it needed. Mahnke and Nguyen do well with the freaky looking creatures, so this was a chance for them to strut their stuff.

David Baron also deserves a good deal of the credit for the scene with Major Disaster in the bathtub. The stark, near black and white artwork made for a disturbing sequence and I really doubt that the scene would have worked as well without the whitewash treatment.

Two favorite images of mine both involved the Justice League. The panel where Superman tells Al-Sheikh to pull over was great, mostly because Al-Sheikh didn't seem to care, which said volumes for the character. The second image that I loved was the assembled Justice League and Al-Sheikh confronting Batgirl and Coldcast. It was a standard group shot to be sure, but Mahnke and Nguyen made it sing.

So did I have any problems with the art in this issue? Sure. The shot of Superman flying towards Manchester Black wasn't as detailed as the rest of the issue. I also thought that the Flash looked too buff. I've always liked the slim, lithe speedster over a beefy look for the character.

Those two images were more than made up for with my favorite page from the entire issue. It was page three where baby Kal-El was laying in his ship, happy as can be despite the fact that there is a tank aiming it's turret at him. Then it fired.

Now that's comedy.

4Cover Art - 4: This wasn't the most impressive cover. It worked and looked nice, but there was nothing spectacular about it. It fit with the story, though and that does account for something.

This cover gets a seven 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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