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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA: Classified #25

JLA: Classified #25

Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 26, 2006

Cover date: September 2006

Writter: Steve Englehart
Penciller: Tom Derenick
Inker: Mark Farmer

A Game of Chance - Conclusion: "All In!"

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Shortly after J'onn J'onzz revives Gypsy reveals that the cave the Justice League has taken refuge in leads to the Royal Flush Gang's hideout. Gypsy goes off to do some reconnaissance and discovers the Gang's exact location in short order. The battle is fierce and the Gang reveals their new abilities that Amos Fortune has developed based on the Tarot. Suddenly King has a heart attack and dies forcing the rest of the Gang to abandon their new powers which connected them allowing the League to finally defeat them.

3Story - 3: I was hoping against hope that this final issue would somehow vindicate "A Game of Chance" and make the story worthwhile. It has happened before. I've seen some "miracles" and "Hail Marys" in my time.

Unfortunately it didn't happen.

In fact things got a heck of a lot worse.

The poor pacing of the past two chapters made J'onn's sudden revival seem a little too convenient. The man was at death's door for most of the previous issue and suddenly he's up, around and able to take on the Royal Tarot Gang. It was a little thin for me but not as thin as the revelation that Gypsy was behind just about every bit of providence that the group had. It was Gypsy who led them to that cave, the cave that just happened to be where the Royal Tarot Gang was hiding out. And how was she able to accomplish this? Her amazing Gypsy powers, which not only allowed her to turn the Royal Flush Gang against each other but they also made her immune to J'onn's telepathy and hid her true nature from Zatanna.


Now I could be wrong here because I have yet to read my run of Justice League of America where the Detroit League had their day in the sun but I never thought that Gypsy was that powerful. I mean she's a great character. My limited exposure to her has always left me with a positive impression, especially in Justice League Task Force and, more recently, Birds of Prey, but I think it was a bit much to make her as powerful as she was revealed to be. I was also unhappy at the ret-con that revealed that she knew Vibe and Steel's ultimate fates. Sometimes this can work but in this case it really doesn't add anything to the characters. If there were hints in the original issues (and there might have been since, again, I have yet to read them) then that would be one thing, but if there weren't this bit of drama was kind of pointless. It doesn't really add anything to the original stories.

I was also put off by the Royal Flush Gang becoming the previously mentioned Royal Tarot Gang. This was just ridiculous. If this was 1984 then I could see it because you could get away with this kind of thing back then. It doesn't work now or at least it doesn't work in the way Englehart presented it. The story arcs and mini-series set in the past that work the best are the ones that capture the feel of that era but manage to tell a contemporary story. "A Game of Chance" didn't do that. It told a story that could have easily been taken from the mid-eighties and made no attempt to add anything besides revealing that Gypsy knew her teammates were going to die and has been more powerful than once thought. The Tarot idea was just silly and not even silly in an entertaining way. It was silly in the "I know the writer could have come up with something better than that" way. It is taking something as complicated as the Tarot and doing a comic book simplification of it for the purpose of giving the villains new powers.

Not that I'm all that into the Tarot, but come on.

Englehart's intentions with this story were noble. I can't speak for the man but I think he wanted to shine a light on some characters that despite getting some screen time on Justice League Unlimited and spotty appearances here and there have mostly been moved to the wonderful world of character limbo. The recounting of the character's origins was great and it was nice to see the conversation that J'onn and Aquaman had at the end regarding how well the new members did. The problem is that it wasn't near enough to make the rest of the story worthwhile.

I don't want to feel this way. I wanted to like this story. I didn't and part of me feels bad about giving this issue the review I did.

Oh well, I can't like them all.

4Art - 4: The art was really solid in this issue. Derenick and Farmer did some interesting things with Gypsy's abilities and while I didn't like the fact that she was as powerful as she was revealed to be I liked the way it was presented. The splash page of the League descending on the Royal Tarot Gang was also strong and was the type of page you would want hanging on your wall. Like Gypsy's powers I wasn't thrilled with the Gang's Tarot powers but the visuals were interesting. Aquaman stumbling through the scorched forest was another great page and I really felt for Aquaman's struggle.

3Cover Art - 3: Once again we get a cover that has absolutely nothing to do with what is going on inside the comic. I don't know why that bugs me so much, but it does. The fire had been out, Aquaman wasn't trapped and Vibe never went to his rescue. Zeck and Ordway are both strong artists. The characters looked good and it was an interesting composition but overall the cover did nothing for me.

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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