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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League of America #17

Justice League of America #17

Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 16, 2008

Cover date: March 2008

"Sanctuary - Part One"

Writter: Alan Burnett
Penciller: Ed Benes
Inker: Sandra Hope, Mariah Benes and Ed Benes

"Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen..."

Writter: Dwayne McDuffie
Penciller: Jon Boy Meyers
Inker: Serge LaPointe

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

"Sanctuary - Part One"

Black Lightning surprises Crowbar, Black Mass and Nightfall as they try to hi-jack a plane. It isn't easy but he manages to take the villains down and afterwards discusses where they were headed with the newly freed pilot. The pilot explains that the members of the Cadre weren't really sure where they wanted to go but he got the feeling that they were running away from something.

Roy Harper pays a visit to Bromwell Stikk, a former villain of the Titans whom he had recently become reacquainted with at a soup kitchen. He enters the apartment and is surprised by Batman, who turns on a light to allow Roy to see the trashed dwelling. Roy is confused as to who would want to hurt the old man but Batman is certain that someone wanted the man out of the way and it wasn't the police.

Elsewhere another collection of villains meet to discuss their options now that most of their ilk disappeared. Before they get anywhere the Suicide Squad attacks and despite suffering some losses a small group manages to escape.

At the Hall of Justice the League discusses the recent rumors of Amanda Waller collecting other super-villains. She assures them that whatever is being done is well within the confines of the law. The League has their doubts but their debate is interrupted by the villains who had escaped the Squad. Much to the Justice League's surprise the group immediately requests sanctuary.

"Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen..."

Roy and Vixen discuss her new abilities and her unwillingness to open up about them to her team mates. The two are confused over how her powers work and call in Green Lantern to perform an experiment. Much to everyone's surprise Vixen is able to mimic Green Lantern's power ring.

5"Sanctuary - Part One" Story - 5: Four years ago (give or take a few months) IDENTITY CRISIS came along and pretty much knocked the legs out from under the Justice League. Before IC the League's history was pretty much unblemished. Sure there were certain eras that were perceived by some as bad or inferior but the team had never really (to my knowledge) done anything wrong. Then we find out that at one point in the League's history a vote was taken to not only perform what was essentially a lobotomy on Dr. Light but to mind wipe certain other villains when they had discovered the League's secret identities. What followed was a year or so of hurt feelings, torn allegiances and many, many scenes of Superman looking disappointed, Batman looking grim and other characters giving each other disapproving looks number fifteen through thirty.

It was an interesting concept. I am all for comic book publishers pushing the envelope even when they either go too far or wimp out at the end. The problem is that after awhile it gets dull. Read enough comics from around INFINITE CRISIS and I defy you to like or approve of most of the heroes and their actions. It was designed this way to supposedly make the heroes eventual victory that much more dramatic and heroic but instead the idea was dragged on and on and finally I just stopped caring.

Ok, maybe that was a bit harsh. I didn't stop caring or at least I didn't stop caring until very recently. In any case I think this iteration of the Justice League has had a long, hard road to getting on track. Meltzer's run was good but slowly paced, as is his way. Dwayne McDuffie came out swinging with an action packed story where hero fought villain. Two different extremes. Two sides of the same team and both equally valid. Frankly I didn't know what was coming next.

And I wasn't expecting the League to get a chance at redemption.

"Sanctuary" has the potential to be a great story. This first chapter had all of the seeds for such a thing. Sure it is tied to SALVATION RUN and SUICIDE SQUAD to one extent or another and I have complained about such things in the past. So am I a hypocrite for not having a problem with this story tying into other mini-series? Maybe. I would understand if someone leveled that charge at me and frankly I don't have much ground to stand on. Despite this or maybe in spite of this I think the concept of a group of super-villains launching an assault on the Hall of Justice only to have the same villains request sanctuary is probably the best ending to a first chapter of a story arc that I have read in some time not only because it allowed for the obligatory and oft times enjoyable fight scene to happen but also lured the reader into a false sense of security for revealing the twist.

Man I liked that.

This issue was great all around. I enjoyed the intrigue and seeing the villains scrambling to find any way out of Dodge that they could. I also liked how the characters were brought into the story organically, such as Batman surprising Roy at the Gargoyle's apartment. It was also neat that the Christmas story from last issue actually had some meaning beyond being a solid little character piece.

More than anything it is the fact that the League now has a serious choice to make regarding their one time enemies? Do they turn them over to Amanda Waller, who has proven that she can't be trusted and is working the shady side of the street or do they fight and risk bringing down the government on their heads? There is so much story potential as well as the potential for some great action scenes, which is the best combination possible for a team book. Frankly I can't wait for the next issue.

4"Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen..." Story - 4: I honestly don't have much to say about this short story because there wasn't much there. That is not to say that I didn't enjoy the story. It was well written and moved Vixen's arc along. I just didn't get much out of it and that could be a combination of the lead story being so strong and the fact that this is the first part of a longer story.

Oh well. Good story anyway.

4"Sanctuary - Part 1" Art - 4: Ed Benes sure has to draw a lot of characters, doesn't he?

I guess it comes with the territory of drawing a book like the Justice League, but still. I never really thought of him as that type of artist.

He's doing a good job, though. I like his art. He even made Amanda Waller look somewhat attractive and frankly I don't know if I should be impressed or scared.

4"Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen..." Art - 4: I liked the art in this story. It kind of reminded me of Todd Nauck. I have no real complaints here.

4Cover Art - 4: This piece reminds me of the OUTSIDERS cover from a few years back that had Captain Marvel Junior on it. Overall I like the cover. It had a dark quality that makes it compelling and leads nicely into the first scene. Two thumbs up with this one.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2008

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