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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League of America #45 Justice League of America #45

Justice League of America #45

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 19, 2010

Cover date: July 2010

"Prelude to The Dark Things"

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

Reviewed by: Ralph Silver

Click to enlarge

We begin at JSA headquarters. JSA members are watching Alan Scott/Green Lantern with concern. As seen last issue, Scott has emerald energy emanating from his body, and is in a weakened state and unconscious. Obsidian questions Sebastian Faust, who again claims that he knows what is going on with Scott, and that Scott's condition marks the beginning of the end of the world. The JSA members watch as Alan Scott's body starts to behave like a rocket lifting off from the launch pad.

We switch back to Germany, where we left off last issue. Jade (Jennie-Lynn Hayden), a bit grumpy having just awakened from an unconscious state herself, angrily refuses to cooperate with some German commandoes on the scene who want to question her. Karl Zorn introduces himself as the commanding officer of the team called the Rocket Elite. Jade soon calms down, and they discuss the Starheart, the green meteor that brought Jade to Earth and wields great power.

JSA members are following Scott, who is being transported by the green energy to the JLA site. They discuss the situation with Faust, who asserts that the Starheart is what is making Scott sick. Faust senses that something magical has awakened and is causing all this.

As Alan Scott and his JSA companions approach the JLA members from above, Power Girl arrives, obviously under some kind of mind control. She catapults through the JSA aircraft, smashing it to bits. Flash (Jay Garrick) and Jesse Quick use their speed to safely round up the other JSA members who are falling from the wreckage of the plane. Power Girl, totally out of her mind, charges the superheroes menacingly when Supergirl arrives and plants a haymaker on Power Girl, sending her flying. We immediately learn that Supergirl has arrived in response to a summons from Bill (Congorilla).

Power Girl returns and hits Supergirl hard. She then goes on a rampage, attacking everybody in sight. Supergirl reenters the fray; and the two Kryptonian ladies battle to a standoff. At Batman's command, Donna whisks Supergirl out of the battle while Jade shoots a massive dose of her magic-infused green energy at Power Girl, finally knocking out Karen and bringing her rampage to a halt.

Alan Scott arrives, accompanied by Obsidian. Now both of them are unconscious and surrounded by green energy. Jennie explains that after her "rebirth," she went to OA to heal. It was during her space travel that the Starheart found her, consumed her, and brought her to Earth. Since it is the Starheart that is victimizing her father and brother, Jade expresses guilt that her trip to space kicked off this unfortunate chain of events.

The Rocket Elite, angry at their earlier pounding from Power Girl, go into attack mode. But Jennie effortlessly puts up an impenetrable green barrier, eliminating the minor threat. Batman/Dick complains that Congorilla essentially took it upon himself to invite Supergirl as a new member. But then Batman does tell Kara to stick around. He is curious why the Starheart possessed one Kryptonian, but not the other.

At Batman's request, Jennie then gives a brief summary of the history of the Starheart and how it powered her father as the first Green Lantern. Mr. Terrific interrupts the story to explain that he is getting reports that other metahumans around the world are acting uncharacteristically strange and violent, obviously under the influence of the Starheart. Faust explains that his father, the sorcerer Felix Faust, was similarly affected, even as the Starheart was still in outer space. We also learn that Etrigan the Demon last issue was operating under the influence of the Starheart.

Jade again expresses guilt, indicating that her resurrection somehow "shook" the Starheart into action and precipitated the current situation. Suddenly, Alan Scott awakens from his coma. Jade is overjoyed, until she discovers that he too appears to be possessed. His costume is transformed, as he expresses the sinister hope that it is indeed the end of the world, and that he will help bring it about.

4Story - 4: I enjoyed this issue. I am enjoying the mix of characters Robinson has placed together. This is perhaps ironic considering some comments I made in my review last month.

In my review of JLA #44, I shared my views about the changing roster of the League. I expressed the point of view that the Justice League, by definition, should have DC's A-list characters. It should represent the "best of the best". That is what the Justice League means to me. That is how it has been for much of its history. I mentioned that I have a soft spot for the early Gardner Fox days, and the classic lineup featuring Superman, Batman (Bruce), Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter (J'onn J'onzz). I would love to have this as the core set of members, with perhaps a few other folks thrown in like Hawkgirl, Zatanna, and Vixen. I think this is a terrific lineup that would be consistent with the original concept of "DC's best".

But several Superman Homepage members, in comments they posted online in response to my review of JLA #44, expressed an alternate point of view. They really liked the idea of replacing these classic members with their younger counterparts. This provides a new and different dynamic to the team, while keeping the same mix of abilities.

So when you think about it, I get my wish, sort of. While I do not have my dream lineup (the classic lineup) of Superman, Batman (Bruce), Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash; I do have their surrogates: Supergirl, Batman (Dick), Donna Troy, Jade, and (coming soon) Jesse Quick. The structure is the same; the players are different.

I am still warming up to this idea. But it is certainly an alternate way to view things.

So here is a shout-out to Jacob, dragon22a, FlashGordon, and dayzdoom. Thanks for your thoughtful comments last issue.

I was really happy to see Supergirl play a central role in this issue. I have always been a huge Supergirl fan, and hope that she will remain a member of the team on an ongoing basis. It is not clear to me if Batman is telling her to stay and assist for now, or to stay on as an official new member.

Of course, two central characters in this issue were Jade and her father. I found Jade's story quite interesting. Returning from the dead certainly seems like it would be traumatic; so I am glad that they presented it as such. It makes sense to me that she would head to OA to clear her head and sort things out before being ready to face her life on Earth and her family again.

Note to myself: Don't ever ask Jade a question before she has had her first cup of coffee. :)

I am also glad that they explained the strange behavior of Etrigan the Demon last issue. I hate when story threads are left dangling. But when tied up, they make for a tight narrative. Robinson is usually good about this.

I liked how the fight scene with the two Kryptonians was handled. It makes sense that the two ladies would battle to a draw, their powers being so evenly matched. It was quick-thinking for Batman to come up with an effective solution based on teamwork. Teamwork is, after all, what the Justice League is all about.

As this story arc heats up, I am intrigued by the premise. The concept of "dark magic runs wild" should make for an interesting series, and a worthy challenge for this new Justice League.

4Art - 4: I am fast becoming a Mark Bagley fan. Or, I suppose, to be fair I should say a Bagley/Hunter/Rapmund fan.

When I finish reading a story, I love to go back and scan the artwork, looking for my favorite images. And there is much to like here. I love the splash page showing Green Lantern/Scott on page 2; and the splash on the next page showing a rather irritated Jade. Jade is both a beautiful and powerful character, and this image conveys both those things. The two-page splash of Power Girl crashing through the Justice Society aircraft is well done; as is the splash a couple of pages later showing Supergirl land a devastating left hook that sends Power Girl into orbit.

3Cover Art - 3: The Bagley/Hunter cover is OK. It is not as cluttered and haphazard as last issue. The layout is good. There is a definite focal point, which is the two combatants in the center, with a rather large moon framing the action.

I am very happy to see a couple of Kryptonians at center stage.

My problem is that the two ladies look kind of awkward. Supergirl's legs are stretched so far apart, it is hard to imagine that she could fight effectively in that pose. Both Kryptonians appear to have their eyes shut, which is not a good idea when in a fight. They look like they are punching the air, not each other.

5Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 5: The variant cover by David Mack is quite nice. For the second month in a row, he gives us a portrait of a single main character; an interesting idea for a team book. Last month, we had an excellent image of Jade; this time it is Supergirl. Both Mack covers convey feminine charm along with power. Mack has a flair for realism. The wispy hair covering the right portion of Supergirl's face gives kind of a Marilyn Monroe effect.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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