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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League of America #46 Justice League of America #46

Justice League of America #46

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 30, 2010

Cover date: August 2010

"The Dark Things"

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

"COGS - Part 1"

Writer: James Robinson
Pencillers: POW, RODRIX
Inker: Belardino Brabo

Reviewed by: Ralph Silver

Click to enlarge

The theme continues from last issue; "dark magic runs wild". Since the chaotic energy from the Starheart is randomly possessing magical and elemental metahumans around the world, the Justice League and Justice Society members must remain busy keeping those forces at bay while they search for the Starheart and investigate a way to counter its influence.

Supergirl and Batman/Dick Grayson show teamwork as they battle Naiad, a Water Elemental. She has water powers, and has whipped up a tsunami in Gotham City. Batman defeats her by attacking her weakness, which is pollution in the water she inhabits. In the meantime, Supergirl uses her cold breath to eliminate the tsunami threat.

Meanwhile, Congorilla and Jesse Quick combat and defeat Samurai, who is using his wind powers to whip up a storm. We quickly jump from place to place and briefly observe other JLA/JSA teams in similar battles.

In flashback, we see the JLA and JSA members at the Hall of Justice on the previous day, regrouping and planning strategy in the aftermath of the discovery of a possessed Alan Scott, seen last issue. Ted Grant (Wildcat) makes some very insensitive remarks to Jade; and Jesse Quick comes to her defense. Jade is apparently still feeling guilty that the Starheart is causing all this trouble. She is also mystified because she ordinarily has a mystic link to Green Lantern/Alan Scott, her father, and Obsidian/Todd Rice, her brother; but cannot currently locate them.

There is general discussion of the current dilemma and a proposed battle strategy. Batman indicates they need to confront the madness however and wherever it occurs, while ensuring that no team members get possessed. Donna Troy points out that while the possessions are random and can happen anywhere, they tend to pass quickly.

As Donna and Jade team up on another battle, Jade's thoughts seem to wander; first focusing on her father and brother; and then having thoughts of Kyle Rayner and feeling jealous, since Kyle had relationships with both Jade and Donna.

Jade goes to her Dad's home and asks Molly Scott for Alan's power battery. Jade hopes to use the battery to track her father and brother. It works, as the battery helps reignite her mystic connection with her family members; and she senses that GL and Obsidian are on the dark side of the moon.

Due to his powers, Mikaal Tomas is chosen for the job. He heads to the moon, where he battles the energy from the Starheart, and is then confronted by the still-possessed Alan Scott, who painfully rips the sonic crystal from Mikaal's chest.

3Story - 3: I liked this story, but was not bowled over by it.

As part 1 of a 5-part story, the role of this issue is to kind of set the table by laying out the general plot points and main conflicts that will characterize the larger story. I felt this issue did that in a solid way, but also in a way that so far felt unremarkable. Suspense is building slowly. Hopefully, the good stuff is yet to come, in the next four issues.

As a TEAM book, the quality of JLA stories in general will be dependent on the author's ability to show two things:

(1) Meaningful dialogue and interactions between the heroes, which build relationships and reveal character traits.

(2) The value of teamwork to conquer major challenges where individual efforts would fall short.

In general, my reviews of JLA will focus on the extent that the author succeeds in featuring and demonstrating these two themes. We do get glimpses of both themes at work in this issue.

With dark magic affecting metahumans and popping up in trouble spots here and there, much of the action in this issue occurs with pairs of heroes working together to quell each of the disturbances.

I particularly like the first scene, with Supergirl and Batman/Dick Grayson pairing up to battle Naiad. In a recent interview, James Robinson indicated that he plans to build sort of a "junior World's Finest" relationship between the two of them; and we see that starting to happen here. On page one, it is implied that Supergirl is working hard to impress Batman; while Batman is making extra efforts to support Kara as she mourns and adjusts in the aftermath of the 100-minute war and the loss of New Krypton. This is a sensitivity that I would expect from Dick, but not necessarily from Bruce, his mentor and namesake.

I like the way they work together; with Batman combating Naiad directly, while Supergirl handles the tsunami. After the threat has been eliminated, we see light banter between them that suggests a warming of their relationship. When Supergirl suggests that too much of Dick's face is hidden behind the cowl, I sense she is being a little flirtatious. Dick at first is not really sure how to take this or respond; but he does get around to welcoming her to the JLA. This is his way of giving her a positive response. It is also important and overdue; since it was somewhat unclear last issue whether she was an official new member, or just helping out on this case. Now, it is official!

In the scene with Congorilla and Jesse Quick, we learn two things about him; that he always interrupts people, and that he speaks several languages.

The scene where it is revealed that Jade has some latent jealousy towards Donna due to their relationships with Kyle Rayner is quite interesting. We will see if this theme is carried forward.

I liked the scene where Jade visits Molly Scott to discuss her dad. I thought it was poignant that Alan Scott felt hurt when his daughter did not go to him immediately after her resurrection. I liked how Jade uses his lantern here to renew her psychic connection to her father and the Starheart.

This story will now move to JSA #41, and then back to JLA in issue #47 next month.

4Art - 4: It is a tough assignment to draw all the members of the Justice League, but Bagley pulls it off. I particularly like how he draws Jade. He makes her look especially beautiful.

I like the final splash page, showing Alan Scott ripping the sonic crystal from Mikaal's chest.

"COGS - Part 1"

Writer: James Robinson
Pencillers: POW, RODRIX
Inker: Belardino Brabo

At STAR Labs in Houston, Kathy Sutton (the girlfriend of Red Tornado) walks with Cyborg (Victor Stone) as they discuss Red Tornado, whether he has a soul, and whether she is foolish to love him. Interspersed are scenes of Cyborg battling Red Tornado, who is now much more formidable because he has been infused with nanites that provide a strong healing factor, making RT almost indestructible. In those scenes, Red Tornado implores Cyborg to kill him; because Red Tornado is unable to control his actions, and is afraid he will hurt someone.

4Story - 4: When was the last time you saw a backup story in JLA?

At six pages, this is not really a full story; more of a brief dialogue. But the topic, whether loving Red Tornado is tantamount to loving a toaster, is provocative and interesting. It is particularly interesting since Kathy Sutton is the one having the conversation; and her love of Red Tornado has been pretty much unconditional in the past.

I am eager to see where Robinson is going to take this.

5Art - 5: Kathy Sutton looks beautiful, Red Tornado looks menacing, the fight scenes look dramatic, and the backgrounds are detailed and nicely drawn. Great job!

2Cover Art - 2: The Mark Bagley cover, on the other hand, is very unimpressive. This cover has no focal point. I look at this cover, and my eyes dance from place to place without finding any real interpretation or meaning. It looks like Batman, Starman, Jesse Quick, and a whole lot of green mud. :)

4Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 4: The variant cover by Manapul/Buccellato continues the recent trend of showcasing a closeup of a single team member. This time it is Jesse Quick, looking intense as she runs. A second figure in the picture reminds us that Liberty Belle is both her mom and her former identity.

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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