Buy Now!

Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League of America #44 Justice League of America #44

Justice League of America #44

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 21, 2010

Cover date: June 2010

"Devil in the Details"

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Mark Bagley
Inker: Rob Hunter and Norm Rapmund

Reviewed by: Ralph Silver

Click to enlarge

The story begins with the current Justice League in simulated battle against holographic assailants as a training exercise. Batman (Dick Grayson), Donna Troy, Congorilla, and Starman (Mikaal Tomas) square off against virtual copies of Joker, Killer Croc, Giganta, Captain Cold, Bizarro, Sinestro, Black Adam, Lex Luthor, and others. As the training exercise proceeds, Dick and Donna take the opportunity to quiz Congo Bill and Mikaal about their powers, and learn more about their new teammates.

Suddenly, the simulated battle is interrupted by a real challenge: an explosion or energy blast of some sort. This rips a hole in the JLA satellite, and as things and people get sucked out into the vacuum of space, the two newest members save the other two from death by asphyxiation and exposure.

The members are momentarily bewildered, but then discover that the source of the disturbance is a meteor strike. As the glowing green meteor sets down on Earth, in Germany, the League goes to investigate. They find Etrigan the Demon, expressing (in rhyme, as is his trademark) his desire to possess the green rock at all costs. Etrigan is also using his hellfire to attack some German commandoes who are on the scene.

The four JLA members engage Etrigan in battle. As they battle, the new JLA members are beginning to learn to work together effectively as a team. Through their combined efforts, the tide turns against Etrigan; and Donna is able to ensnare him in her lasso of persuasion. (In a twist from Wonder Woman's golden lasso, Donna's works a bit differently. Diana of course can compel you to tell the truth. But if Donna ensnares you in her blue lasso, she can force you to do what she tells you if her will is stronger than yours.) Under the power of the blue lasso, Etrigan transforms back to his human identity as Jason Blood.

At the Justice Society headquarters, we see a disabled Alan Scott (Green Lantern) on a gurney with emerald energy emanating from his body while other members look on and Dr. Mid-Nite examines him. The green energy seems to be draining GL's vitality.

Mister Terrific bursts in with the news that a green meteor has touched down in Germany. He expresses the belief that there may be a connection to Alan Scott's predicament. He notifies his teammates that the JLA are on the scene and have been battling Etrigan the Demon.

In walks Sebastian Faust, introducing himself as a long-time acquaintance of Alan Scott. He also admits that he is the son of evil sorcerer Felix Faust, a classic Justice League villain. Sebastian claims that Alan's condition is an omen that portends the end of the world!

Back at the meteor crash site, the JLA members question Jason Blood to find out what is going on with the green meteor. Jason is confused, as if waking from a dream. Jason indicates that Etrigan felt strongly compelled to take possession of the green meteor, as if he was possessed. But there is no apparent explanation as to why this was so. That answer remains a mystery. After telling his tale, Jason leaves before Donna decides to take him in.

As the members examine a fissure in the green meteor, they are surprised to find, lying within, the hero Jade (Jennifer-Lynn Hayden), who was recently resurrected at the conclusion of the Blackest Night saga.

4Story - 4: I enjoyed this issue more than I expected to. The last few issues have not worked for me. At all! They seemed disjointed and rather aimless. So coming into this issue, my expectations were quite low. I found this issue to be a pleasant surprise.

This comic book has been in a state of flux since Robinson's run began with issue #38. In that issue, he was still showcasing the lineup from the previous authors and preparing to shift gears. Then came two "Blackest Night" tie-ins. With issue #41, we had the actual roll-out of Robinson's new lineup. As Michael Bailey pointed out in his review last month, this new lineup was introduced with a bit of fanfare; but then it only lasted three issues before everything unraveled!! Obviously, Robinson had a change of heart! And so, last issue we were treated to scenes of Kory (Starfire) flying back out into space, Barry (Flash) and Hal (Green Lantern) heading out to work on another case, news that Mon-El, Cyborg, Atom, and others were heading out to handle other priorities. And the reader was left wondering what exactly was going on.

And so, at the end of issue #43, we were left with a small and rather unusual roster consisting of "substitute-Batman" (Dick Grayson), "substitute-Wonder Woman" (Donna Troy), Starman (Mikaal Tomas), and Congorilla! And although this issue is an exception due to the "Brightest Day" logo on the cover, recent JLA covers have included a caption promising that inside you will find "The World's Greatest Superheroes"! So quasi-Batman, quasi-Wonder Woman, Starman, and Congorilla are "The World's Greatest Superheroes"? Really?!?

When I think of Justice League of America and the phrase "The World's Greatest Superheroes", I think of the glory days; Gardner Fox in the early days of the original run of JLA, telling some fantastic stories! I think of that original lineup consisting of Superman, Batman (the REAL Batman), Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter (J'onn J'onzz). Now THOSE are "The World's Greatest Superheroes". You know it!

This book needs a stable lineup. And it needs to include many of DC's A-list characters. That is what the Justice League is supposed to be all about. The best of the best! Bring back that original lineup, or one just like it.

But within that context, some of these new members might work well as part of a larger team. We will see where Robinson is headed. This book is still in a state of flux!

Last issue, this was a title that seemed to have completely lost its way. Teamwork was non-existent; morale was low. Even Dick/Batman, contemplating the current state of the League, admitted to himself that "Bruce would be ashamed".

I couldn't agree more!

But in this issue, I see a spark.

I believe that this magazine will climb out of the abyss and be great again. And I think the ascent may be starting very soon. This issue shows promise. Robinson just needs to get his footing. He has been telling some great stories over on New Krypton; he needs to apply those same quality standards here!

For example, why was Etrigan so drawn to the green meteor? Why was he driven to possess it? This is never explained. When loose ends like this get explained subsequently, that is good tight storytelling. But when such loose ends are left dangling, that is rather sloppy. I am betting that Robinson will come back and explain this plot detail later. We will see.

It is apparent that Jade will be added to the JLA lineup. It will be interesting to see how she fits in with an already interesting mix of characters.

And I am encouraged that DC is advertising that a member of the Superman family, Supergirl, will be joining the League next issue. That is certainly a step in the right direction!

4Art - 4: Drawing the Justice League of America comic book has got to be one of the toughest assignments for a DC artist. So many different characters to draw! So many panels that feature a variety of heroes interacting. But Bagley, Hunter, and Rapmund are up to the challenge!

There are so many good images here! Look at the dynamic opening splash featuring Batman squaring off against the team of Joker and Killer Croc. Or the excellent forest fire scene at the meteor crash site. Or every shot of Etrigan the Demon. Or the look of sheer determination on Donna's face as she explains her blue lasso to Etrigan and exclaims that her will is iron. Great stuff!

2Cover Art - 2: Unlike the wonderful internal art, the cover is not to my liking. It is just too cluttered and haphazard. However, I did find the "Guess-who" quality of this cover, with Jade's legs descending from the upper left corner while everybody stares in amazement, somehow rather amusing.

5Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 5: On the other hand, I love the variant cover by David Mack! We have an image of Jade standing alone, looking beautiful and very lifelike. Green energy is emanating from her, revealing her power. Her hair looks windblown. She has kind of a Mona Lisa smile. This is a great image!

As I have said before, sometimes simple is better!

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2010

February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010

Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.

Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2010.