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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League Elite #12

Justice League Elite #12

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 8, 2005

Cover date: August 2005

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

"Eve of Destruction" - Finale

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge



Manchester Black disintegrates Batman and is surprised that no one tried to stop him. The Flash, in his Elite gear, stands with the rest of the team and the very much alive Batman, informs Manchester that he should have expected a last second save. Batgirl, in her Kasumi gear, apologizes to Batman for defying his orders to stay out of the situation. Batman, in his own way, tells her that he understands and asks if they have a plan. Batgirl asks if "don't blow it" counts as a plan.

In the mind of Vera Black, Manitou continues to fight against the Manchester Black portion of her personality. Despite having suffered a major attack Manitou informs Black that he is not the master of this place. Manchester scoffs at this and Vera apologizes for being too weak. Manitou uses the Eye of Eighteen Pupils to make her see the truth of what lives inside of her.

From a control center a four star General orders Al-Sheikh to use a satellite to kill Vera. Al-Sheikh still believes in Vera and cannot bring himself to kill her. He does something to sabotage the satellite, which infuriates the General. The General orders him to be taken away.

Back in London the Eye of Eighteen Pupils opens within Manchester and the Elite uses this as their opportunity to attack. Inside the tortured mind of Vera, Black Manitou continues telling her that she can be fixed in the hopes that Vera can fight past the darkness in her soul. Outside the Elite throws everything they have against Whorlogog, but still cannot break through her shield. Green Arrow points out that he thought the Whorlogog would dissipate once Vera blacked out. Dawn replies that she did too as she cradles Vera in her arms.

The Whorlogog changes form and begins to kill everyone in her path. Dawn realizes that the Whorlogog is locked into the dying part of Vera's mind and they must make sure Vera is safe until she can regain control.

Still feeling the effects of Manchester Black, Superman launches into the airclaiming that it will never happen again. Batman tries to stop him but the Man of Steel takes off too fast. Batgirl asks where Superman is going. Batman replies that Superman is going to the sun before explaining that Superman was tricked into thinking he had killed thousands, which was his greatest fear. Superman will be back in less than a minute with the power to destroy Black forever.

Inside Manchester rants that they can't be saved since he and Vera were, collectively, a monster. Vera fights back, explains to him that she may have stumbled but that doesn't mean she has to break. She tells him that she doesn't want him as a part of her anymore and that she has work to do.

Outside Dawn hands Manitou's medicine stick to Green Arrow and tells him to throw it at the Whorlogog. At first he argues the point, but with the Flash's help he throws the stick and strikes the Whorlogog, severing its connection with Vera. The group realizes that everything depends on Vera waking up and reasserting control.

Suddenly, Superman reappears and heads directly for Vera. Batman asks Coldcast if he can stop Superman and despite the fact he has nothing left in reserve he realizes he has to try something.

Vera wakes up and as Superman barrels towards her she regains control of the Whorlogog. Vera orders the Whorlogog to save everyone, living or dead, except for the Elite and the Whorlogog herself. The Whorlogog complies and everything is put back as it was. The Justice League is credited for saving the day, though Green Arrow was quick to point out that there were some important people who played a role in the event and that the League knows the whole story.

In Costa Rica, Vera confronts Menagerie, who has been hiding out in the island paradise. Vera asks why she had Coldcast kill President Bhat and Menagerie reveals that she wanted revenge for her sister's mental state as a result of her being a part of Manchester's Elite. As Menagerie has her insect "bambinos" begin to crawl all over Vera the rest of the Elite show up and they take her into custody.

Sometime later Green Arrow watches Menagerie as she begs to be reunited with her insects. The League had constructed a special cell to keep her and the insect separated without killing Menagerie. Superman promises Vera that they will take care of Menagerie. He also passes on a message from Booker, who asked for a few months before he got any visitors in capes. Before she leaves Superman asks her if it was all worth it. She reveals that they learned that some people are good, some people are bad and the rest do what they can with what they have. Before leaving she winks and asks him who said the experiment was over.

Later, Vera dressed in a chauffeur's uniform, waits outside of Pennington Army Prison in Montana for Al-Sheikh to be released from custody. Al-Sheikh emerges from the prison and the two depart. Vera asks where he wants to go and gives him the choice between a luxurious hotel room complete with foie gras, bubble bath and a mini-bar or a little out of the way place downtown that has a few friends and some ideas. Al-Sheikh admits that he despises foie gras and super heroes. Vera assures him that they don't have any of those, just some good people.

5Story - 5: Overall this was a strong finish to a series that started at the bottom of my reading pile. All of the plot lines were tied up nicely and except for a few bumps I think things ended well.

My concerns that Vera would be a weaker character with the whole split personality thing were laid to rest. While I think the resolution was a bit clichéd, it worked dramatically, which is what's really important with this type of story. It's basic creative writing to have your character grow and change as a story progresses. Vera was the one who made the biggest strides and I think that at the end of the day (or the story) she changed for the better. The scene in the Watchtower really solidified the character and between that and the sequence where she picks up Al-Sheikh made me "fall" for the character all over again.

I would have liked to have seen more done with Coldcast and Batgirl, but I guess there wasn't room. Surprisingly the ending didn't feel cramped and played out pretty much as it should. Menagerie's fate was fitting and I think that Kelly did a fantastic job in playing out the mystery of who the killer was. Dawn's attitude was spot on and I liked how Manitou was used throughout the issue.

My only real problem with the story was Kelly's use of Superman. I'm sure on some level it makes sense, but why go through a decent storyline to prove that, no matter what, Superman wouldn't kill again just to have him go crazy here?

Which leads to the question did Kelly accomplish what he set out to do?

To be honest I have no idea. I can't, at this moment, recall any interviews where he laid out his intentions. It seems to me, as a reader, he wanted to play with the concept of what a super-hero group could be if it played by a different set of rules. The "grand experiment" as Vera called it, never really had a chance to play out as it should thanks to Menagerie, but it did have merit. As readers we learned that Joe Kelly can craft a fantastic team book that really stood out among the rest of the team books published today. He put together a fun little group with disparate personalities, threw in some soap opera staples, a little political intrigue and a good murder mystery and we got a great twelve issue maxi-series.

What's amazing is that with the current climate in the DC Universe this book plays like a dream. While it seems separated from the sub-plots that are running through most of DC's books it fits, in an odd way. I almost expected to see Black Adam at some point, but after some thought I realized that it would have really hurt the book. Kelly was in his own little world and any intrusion would have had a negative effect on the story.

The final words on the last page were, "End Phase One." I can only hope that this means that Kelly will be given a chance to do another series with these characters. I'm not sure it should be associated with the Justice League next time, but if it causes more attention to be paid to the book so be it. I'm a little bummed that this story is over. I really despised it at first, but with Kelly's humor and the characters he either created or used I became a fan and want some more.

Hopefully, within the next year or so I will be sitting at this laptop and writing the review for the first issue of Phase Two of the Elite. I don't know if it will fit into the world that DC is crafting, but I'd like to think that having a book like this on the shelf would help to create a feeling of diversity.

Oh well, one can only hope.

5Art - 5: Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen really went out with a bang this issue. From start to finish they pulled off the action and character the story required. Some highlights include:

Page six: A wonderful page. The composition was eye catching and more was said with the art than Kelly could have with words.

Page ten: A really trippy page, but fun nonetheless.

Page fifteen: Iconic League shot. I always dig these.

Pages sixteen, seventeen, eighteen and nineteen: This was a fantastic little scene and I loved the Elite group shot on page nineteen.

Page twenty one: Another good League shot, though not all the League was present. I thought that Batgirl's presence made for a nice panel.

As with the writing, this series made me appreciate Mahnke and Nguyen's artwork. Their worked improved over every issue and I believe that the series wouldn't have played as well as it did without their art.

I can only hope that if another series does come out that Doug and Tom will come back. It just wouldn't be the same without them.

4Cover Art - 4: Before I get into the cover I wanted to talk about the new DC logo.

I like it.

Yeah, I know you were probably expecting more than that, but that's pretty much how I feel about it. It was a smart move on DC's part. A new logo and a more aggressive marketing campaign could end up hurting the comics, but somehow I don't think that will be the case. If DC is stepping up to the plate and trying to do what Marvel did with their logo then so be it. It's a nice logo. Some may complain that changing the bullet is sacrilege, but I have evolved into a more forward thinking fanboy, so it's aces in my book.

As for the cover itself, I liked it. Vera and Manchester fighting looked good and I liked Superman holding the League back in the background. The writing on the cover, "The End of Justice League Elite" was very old school in tying the final issue into the logo.

This was a good cover. It gets an eight out of ten on the 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.

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