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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League of America #14

Justice League of America #14

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 17, 2007

Cover date: December 2007

Writter: Dwayne McDuffie
Penciller: Ed Benes
Inker: Sandra Hope

"Unlimited - Chapter 3: "Two Against Nature"

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

The sudden appearance of Luthor is revealed to be only a hologram of the villain, who spends most of the conversation taunting Superman. He reveals that all he really wants is Superman to be filled with so much rage and indignation that Superman will be too distracted and thus careless in facing off against the Injustice League. He opens up the hologram further to show the rest of the League in various states of bondage and torture. Before closing the transmission he dares Superman to find them. Black Lightning's attempts to track the resonance of Luthor's broadcast frequency prove fruitless. Superman investigates the device that allowed Luthor to contact them and suddenly it explodes, covering the Man of Steel in Kryptonite paint.

Luthor and Joker discuss this at the Hall of Doom before Cheetah bursts into the room and begs for help in controlling Gorilla Grodd, who is beating Geo-Force to death. Luthor convinces Grodd to not kill anyone until Superman is captured and the gorilla reluctantly agrees.

Black Lightning helps Superman clean off the paint and the two begin tracking where Luthor and the Injustice League are holding their friends. They find the Hall of Doom and launch an all-out assault. Things go in the heroes' favor at first, but the combined might of Fatality, Killer Frost and Dr. Light prove to be too much and both Black Lightning and Superman are overcome. Luthor grabs the unconscious Superman and produces a Kryptonite blade as he tells the Man of Steel to wake up since he would hate for Superman to miss what comes next.

5Story - 5: Lex Luthor is a hard character to write. I think this is just as true today as it was ten, twenty, thirty, etc. years ago. He is Superman's "arch enemy." The one that, thanks to the SUPER FRIENDS, the Christopher Reeve films and, more recently, the Bruce Timm produced efforts and SUPERMAN RETURNS, the general public think of when they think of guys and gals who fight the Man of Steel. When it comes to comic book fans there seems to be something of a division. Some prefer the armored up, brilliant scientist version of the character while others like the "Wilson Fisk" version that is just as brilliant but is able to hide behind a benevolent front and evade prosecution.

In all honesty I don't know which version I like more. I started reading Superman full time during the Byrne/Carlin administration so I have a soft spot in my heart for the ruthless business man Luthor. It's an interesting track to ride on with the character and I think that between the first season of LOIS AND CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES that such a characterization can work even outside the comics.

Still, if done right the armored up Luthor makes me just as happy. McDuffie certainly did that in the first few pages of this issue. This is a Luthor I can get behind. Because of Superman's powers and abilities it is hard for a man such as Luthor to take him on in a physical confrontation, so Luthor has to be smart about it. At the start of this issue Luthor did everything he could to push Superman's buttons and McDuffie managed to do that well without making Superman look silly or stupid. In fact, I really liked how McDuffie played their relationship, which made for a nice moment in the story and a great moment for me as a Superman fan.

Sometimes I do get my cake and am able to eat it too.

Even with the strong Lex opening McDuffie did a great job with the rest of the Injustice League. I loved the little "gag" the Joker left for Superman. The bit with Grodd was fun, or at least fun in the sense that it showed what a malevolent creature Grodd is. McDuffie is writing the Injustice League as a true threat to the JLA, which actually works since the JLA has had a pretty good run up until now. They beat Solomon Grundy and there really wasn't a true villain during the "Lightning Saga", so to have them get taken down in such an effective manner makes for dramatic reading.

I'm still not finding anything truly wrong with this story arc, which makes me nervous. Either I am going to be let down later (says the jaded comic fan in me) or it is just a lead up to more comic book goodness (says the twelve year old in me that loves everything).

Only time and the conclusion of this arc will tell.

(Wow, is this only a four part storyline? I'm so used to six parters. Strange.)

4Art - 4: Benes and Hope are back and the issue looked great. I liked how Benes designed Luthor's armor, the rest of the villains looked great and there was even a sweet two page spread of the Hall of Doom. The one piece of art that I thought worked great in context of the story caused a bit of a tizzy on the Internet this week. The large, two page spread of the female members of the Justice League trussed up was seen by some as sexist, but considering that Batman was hanging upside down and the others were strapped into some freaky machine I can't get too upset about it myself.

Oh well, I liked the art. That's all that really matters to me.

4Cover Art - 4: I am just going to go ahead and get something out of the way right at the start here.

"So, you think the Injustice League is making the JLA watch A CLOCKWORK ORANGE?"

Yeah, that was a lousy, obvious joke. But it was there, man! It was there!

Now that I got that out of my system, I liked the cover. It had an old school feel to it. You could imagine a tamer version from the sixties with the Injustice League standing over the League and announcing their victory over the Justice League of America.

So I liked the cover. It gets a four.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2007

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