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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League of America #21

Justice League of America #21

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 21, 2008

Cover date: July 2008

"The Gathering Crisis"

Writter: Dwayne McDuffie
Penciller: Carlos Pacheco
Inker: Jesus Merino

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman journey to a separate part of the Hall of Justice and discuss recent League business, particularly Vixen and her new abilities and the prospect of bolstering their ranks. Elsewhere Red Arrow and Hawkgirl fight an old enemy of the Martian Manhunter named the Human Flame. The Flame manages to get the upper hand and makes a run for it but Hawkgirl manages to recover. She is taken down by a villain named Libra, who escorts the Human Flame to a meeting of super villains to make him an offer. In return for his cooperation Libra will give the Flame his heart's desire; power enough to gain vengeance on the Martian Manhunter. The Human Flame agrees.

3Story - 3: I am very conflicted about this issue.

On one hand it was well written. I like the way Dwayne McDuffie crafts a story. At the beginning of the issue he seemed to be trying to pull things back from the crossover quagmire the book has been stuck in lately. The conversation between Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman was lively and entertaining. McDuffie kept the characterization strong and managed to make a Z-list, obscure villain seem kind of interesting.

So, on a technical level this was a very good issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA.

And yet I have three very specific problems with how things went this month.

Problem #1: The SIGHTINGS tag on the cover. In a recent DC NATION Dan DiDio stated that one of the problems with COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS was, "...we realized, was that when you have all the stories line up and moving at the same pace, nothing is moving with its own natural rhythm." To solve this perceived problem DC created the SIGHTING banner. According to DiDio, "SIGHTINGS will be your signposts, marking important storybeats and moments throughout the DC Universe. These moments, exciting in their own right, are the beginnings, the turning points, the beacons clearly guiding your way to the future of your favorite super-heroes."

Now that's all well and good and while I appreciate the concept that DC didn't publish a separate special to highlight who Libra was...wait, they did that.

Never mind then.

Anyway, it seems kind of disingenuous to highlight a particular problem (too many crossovers causing titles to become somewhat stilted creatively) and then essentially say that we're still going to do that but we're going to warn you first with a banner on the top of the cover. I'm sure DC's intention was that the SIGHTINGS banner would entice people who gotta have them all to buy that particular issue it could also serve as a sign to just stay away, which I would have if I didn't review this title.

Problem #2: Comes from problem number one. Once again JUSTICE LEAGUE is being used to not entertain but to advertise. After a TANGENT: SUPERMAN'S REIGN one shot and three issues of SALVATION RUN crossover action we get a set-up for the upcoming FINAL CRISIS, which just infuriates me. In the past six months we have gotten two, straight up, non-connected JLA stories. I just want this book to be about the adventures of the Justice League, not a three dollar ad for whatever DC feels like pimping at the time.

I seem to be writing this with every review, but at the same time if DC keeps doing it I will continue to complain about it.

Problem #3: While Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman hanging out in the Star Chamber made for a well crafted scene I continued to be annoyed by the concept of the "Trinity". Sure I'm looking forward to the upcoming series by Busiek, Bagley and company but at the same time DC is foisting a lie on us by suggesting that these three characters have "always" been the cornerstones of the DC Universe or Multiverse I guess. I appreciate where they are coming from and the marketing potential that lies in having the only three DC characters to be somewhat continuously published since 1940 united in purpose but come on now. Don't try to make us believe that these guys have always been the best of friends when for nearly the entirety of the characters' publishing histories they were kept apart. Sure Batman and Superman had the whole WORLDS FINEST thing going, but there were very few stories where all three would have an adventure together without a team with the word Justice in the title being involved.

Ok, the last bit had very little to do with this issue, but it's been on my mind lately.

In summation this wasn't a bad issue, I just want the book to start being its own entity again.

Oh well, at least Firestorm was in there for a few panels. Nice to see he hasn't been forgotten.

4Art - 4: Normally I have no problems with Pacheco and Merino as an art team. I enjoyed their work on SUPERMAN quite a bit, so I was very pleased to see that they would be coming in for a fill-in here. On the whole I was satisfied but there were moments that the art was a bit wonky. Wonder Woman looked off. I don't know what it was but she just didn't look right. Still I can't find too many bad things to say about the art and Pacheco and Merino made two very obscure villains look kind of cool.

4Cover Art - 4: On a technical level I have absolutely no problems with this cover. It has a good composition. There are villains on the cover standing triumphant over two member of the League. There's even the curiosity factor of what are these two relative unknowns doing on the cover of the Justice League of America. So it works visually.

Then there's that darn SIGHTINGS tag at the top of the page.

Kind of ruins everything for me.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

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