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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA: Classified #16

JLA: Classified #16

Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 25, 2006

Cover date: March 2006

Writter: Gail Simone
Penciller: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Inker: Klaus Janson

The Hypothetical Woman - Part One: "Never Brought to Mind"

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

At the request of the United Nations the JLA confront a despot named General Tuzik and seek to bring him in to face justice for the atrocities he has committed. Tuzik smugly informs the JLA that his ambassador has brokered a deal for clemency and he is to be taken to a peaceful exile in his choice of eight nations. Begrudgingly the JLA agree and Wonder Woman transports him to his nation of choice and returns to the Watchtower.

Tuzik isn't finished, though, and convinces the leaders of several nations to allow him access to their anti-meta-human contingency plans by preying on their fear that the JLA will come to depose them.

Three months later the JLA investigates the town of Three Sisters, Oregon where the majority of the young people are gathering to form the message "JLA HELP US UNCLEAN." After the Flash is stricken with a mysterious fever the League discovers that most of the young people in the town are also infected with the disease, which turns out to be thousands of microscopic Starros.

Elsewhere General Tuzik monitors the situation and is most pleased with the results. He explains to one of his aides that the event in Oregon is an anticipatory strike and not his grand attack. He comments on the fact that she is quite special. When the aide asks what the mystery woman does the General replies that the woman being kept in his research facility reverses the natural order of the universe and gives birth to gods.

4Story - 4: It is stories like this that make Gail Simone one of my favorite writers in comic books today.

It isn't just the socio-political implications that this story is steeped in. This story could easily be compared to JLA #83 ("American Nightmare") but the differences outweigh the thin similarities. For one, that wonderful Joe Kelly written issue was an extended dream sequence, and for another in that tale the JLA was sent by President Lex Luthor not the United Nations. Gail raises some interesting questions just as Kelly did but at the same time the end result is different. To me Kelly's story was about Superman dealing with some of his inner demons. Gail is using the concept of the JLA taking into custody (or in this case escorting into exile) the ruler of a nation as a springboard to examine how the world would react if the team actually went after a world figure. I can't say for sure if this will be the overall theme of the arc, but it certainly came through in this installment.

Where Gail Simone will always have me is her ability to write the characters as I think they should be written. I realize this comes down to a matter of personal taste and I would never presume that my view of how a character should be treated should be the final word on the subject. My point is that something about the way Gail writes the JLA resonates with me. She seems to have a clear vision of how she wants the members of the League to act and her ability to mix banter, exposition and characterization makes for a fun read. From the simple little exchange between Superman and Batman about the situation getting out of hand to Batman's counting the number of metas who have the ability to mass-induce mind control in his head to the way the League operated as a team this issue was chock full of classic JLA moments, which is interesting to read considering the League's current state.

As much as I like Gail's work I found her characterization of the Flash to be very over-the-top and not in a funny, Sylvester Stallone arm-wrestling some steroid freak way but in a, "Why is he emoting so much?" way. Having the Flash outraged at the hell that was Tuzik's country is one thing. Having him almost salivating because of it is quite another. While this may seem like a minor complaint it was something that stood out for me. I will admit, though, that the passion he expressed in the beginning made his illness at the end that much more dramatic.

All in all a fun start to what could be a great story arc. The ending raised the right amount of questions to make the reader want to come back and while the major themes of the story have yet to emerge they are starting to poke their head out a bit. Gail Simone has proven that she can handle books with a large cast of characters, so she definitely has the chops for this type of story.

4Art - 4: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.

I write again, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.

If you were a comic fan/child of the seventies and eighties (and even the nineties) chances are you know his work even if you didn't read comics. If I am correct Jose did a large chunk of DC's marketing artwork, so if you saw Superman on, say, a box of cereal chances are it was a Garcia-Lopez Superman. I don't throw the word master around all that often, but the term definitely applies to him.

The only reason I didn't give this issue a five in regards to the artwork is because I think that Klaus Janson, while one of the most talented inkers in the industry, is the wrong guy to ink Jose's pencils. Garcia-Lopez has a very smooth style and Janson's sketchy form seems to dull this. Both men are immensely talented and there is a no-brainer quality to putting the two together, but to me it just didn't come off as well as it could have.

Don't get me wrong; the art was fantastic. The page layouts, especially the first few, really sold the story. Watching the Justice League at work at the beginning of this issue was more than I could hope for.

Despite the minor misgiving over the art team I think that these two are going to produce a great story and hopefully the seamless melding of art and writing will continue as the story arc progresses.

4Cover Art - 4: This is what a cover should look like. While the action going on is an exaggeration of the interior it still made the potential buyer want to check it out. The art was solid and the old-school nature of the cover blurb made it a lot of fun to look at.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2006

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