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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League of America #50 Justice League of America #50

Justice League of America #50

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 20, 2010

Cover date: December 2010

"JLA Omega" - Part 1: "Worlds Collide"

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

Reviewed by: Ralph Silver

Click to enlarge

Supergirl and Jesse Quick have monitor duty together. For fun, they decide to have a footrace while performing their Watchtower chores. They begin to banter about JLA membership, which turns into a serious conversation about losing loved ones. When Supergirl expresses loneliness due to the loss of her parents and the destruction of New Krypton, Jesse reminds her that she is not alone, and that the Justice League is her home now.

Suddenly, they hear the cries of a young lady in a mask and robe who says that her world is dead. The lady is carrying a staff with a lantern attached.

The scene shifts to Egypt, where Jade and Sebastian Faust are sitting together and talking at what appears to be an outdoor cafe or meeting place. They are discussing the Starheart, and whether her father Alan Scott truly has its energies under control in light of recent events. Faust expresses concern over the fact that if Jade gets too close to her brother Obsidian, her father may lose control again. Jade mentions that when she absorbed dark energy from the Starheart, she briefly felt an external force or presence at work. Jade leaves suddenly when her JLA signal goes off.

Batman/Dick and Donna Troy are in combat training together. While training, they banter about the old days in the Teen Titans, and how the Justice League is different. Donna expresses absolute loyalty to Dick, as the leader of the team. Their discussion is interrupted by their JLA signal devices.

The members converge at the Hall of Justice, the other JLA headquarters. Congorilla and Starman are no-shows; although we get a brief glimpse that Bill is out looking for Mikaal, concerned for his safety and well-being.

Supergirl and Jesse Quick have brought the robed lady along, to introduce her to the other JLA members. The stranger identifies herself as The Green Lantern from her own Earth elsewhere in the multiverse. Further discussion reveals that she is from the Tangent universe. On her Earth, there are many heroes who have the same name as our heroes (Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern), but have totally different powers, appearances, faces, and personalities; and in fact share nothing in common with our heroes except the names.

The Tangent Green Lantern tells her story. On the parallel world that is the home of the Crime Syndicate, Alexander Luthor created a doomsday weapon that was set to detonate after his own death. The device caused extensive damage, spreading like a cancer. The Crime Syndicate moved the poisonous dark energy of that weapon to Tangent Earth, where it wreaked havoc. The Crime Syndicate also went on a killing spree on Tangent Earth; attacking the heroes and killing some of them.

The Tangent Green Lantern indicates that she is on our Earth now because she followed the Crime Syndicate here. Almost on cue, the Crime Syndicate crashes through the walls of the Hall of Justice, making a dramatic entrance. Although the Crime Syndicate members do not recognize the current Justice League members, they attack anyhow, and the battle is underway.

In a flashback from one hour ago, we see Owlman and Superwoman having a sexual encounter inside the vault of the treasury reserve of a Central American country. They make snide comments suggesting that Ultraman is brutish and not very intelligent, when Ultraman (her husband) arrives, having heard the entire conversation. Although he finds his wife in a compromising position with Owlman, he takes their infidelity and the insults with surprising nonchalance.

In subsequent conversation, it is revealed that Owlman misses his home world, and would prefer to return. But Ultraman would prefer to remain here and take over this Earth. Owlman reminds him that they have suffered defeat from the Justice League several times in the past. He feels that victory will forever elude them on our Earth, because "the energy is wrong". Amusingly, Ultraman mentions that the reality in their own universe is constantly shifting; even altering their colleagues, so that they have had several versions of Power Ring and Johnny Quick.

When Power Ring arrives and notifies the others that Tangent Green Lantern has alerted the Justice League to their presence, the group decides they must come out of the shadows and attack immediately. Owlman confers with Dr. Impossible to ask if a certain machine is ready. Dr. Impossible replies that the machine is indeed ready.

Back in the present, the battle between the Crime Syndicate and the Justice League rages on. Batman realizes that Owlman is missing, and realizes he must pursue him because Owlman may have a plan up his sleeve, and may be the real threat. Power Ring attempts to prevent Batman from leaving, but Jade provides cover for Batman.

Jade is fending off the attacks from Power Ring, and actually siphons off his power like she did recently with the Starheart, leaving him helpless. Donna is distracted by Jade's maneuver, just enough to let Superwoman land a haymaker. Donna is afraid that Jade will use excessive force and kill Power Ring. Superwoman has disdain for Donna for even caring.

We again flash back one hour in the past. Dr. Impossible has several recruits with him. He uses his powers to transform and empower them for the battle ahead. He is, essentially, fashioning them as members of the New Gods.

Back in the present, Batman discovers Owlman in the Hall of Justice Morgue. Owlman has uncovered the body of Alexander Luthor. Batman believes that the fight in the main hall is just a diversion, and that owlman must be stopped. Batman is holding his own against Owlman until he is felled by a blast from one of Dr. Impossible's recruits.

We view more images of the battle between the Justice League and the Crime Syndicate. Jade, having vanquished her Crime Syndicate counterpart, is able to assist in the fight against Johnny Quick, freeing Jessie to help Donna against Superwoman. Supergirl is going toe-to-toe with Ultraman.

In the next scene, it is revealed that Dr. Impossible's machine mentioned earlier is a Resurrection Machine. And although they use the body of Alexander Luthor, what emerges is a being very reminiscent of Darkseid. Indeed, the recruits refer to him as Darkseid, but with a blast of a Darkseid-like Omega beam, he refuses that name. The text at the bottom of the final splash refers to him as The Omega Man.

4Story - 4: I have really been enjoying Robinson's run on Justice League.

There are certain elements that I have come to associate with Robinson's writing. One of Robinson's strengths is his ability and willingness to pull together disparate elements and characters from all over the DC Universe, and combine them in ways that make sense. So this time around we are treated to a story that neatly blends the Crime Syndicate universe, the Tangent universe, and elements of Apokolips. The resultant medley succeeds; none of it feels out of place or forced.

The other quality that plays out over and over in each issue is Robinson's emphasis on characterization over plot. I love character-driven stories, and feel that is the right emphasis for the Justice League comic book. As a team book, the quality of JLA stories in general is dependent on the author's ability to use meaningful dialogue and interactions between the heroes to build relationships and reveal character traits. This is where Robinson shines.

For example, consider the opening scene with Supergirl and Jesse Quick at Watchtower. There is a spirit of fun as they go about their chores; but there is also a real spirit of camaraderie in evidence. When Supergirl expresses loneliness and sadness over the loss of her parents and the destruction of New Krypton, Jessie is empathetic. She really emphasizes that Supergirl can count on her support and the support of the other League members. Not just a fighting team, the Justice League is a close knit team of friends who really watch out for each other. Supergirl has been brooding over her loss for a while. And it will likely continue. When you lose your parents to violent attacks, and witness the destruction of your entire planet, you don't get over that quickly or easily. But as her mourning continues, her JLA friends will be there for her the whole time.

The camaraderie is also evident in other scenes, as when Congorilla searches for his friend Mikaal out of concern for his safety and well-being; or when Donna expresses respect and loyalty for Dick, the team leader. This is a Justice League whose members love and care for each other. This has not been the case with every version of the Justice League in the past.

This young version of the Justice League continues to grow as a team; not just bonding as friends, but also maturing as combatants. Look at the confidence that Jade displays as she makes mincemeat out of Power Ring. In fact, all the members show confidence and determination in battling their Crime Syndicate counterparts. It was a pleasure watching Supergirl go toe-to-toe with Ultraman, who admittedly is very intimidating. This is a Superman-like villain who is pure evil, and is casual and boastful about killing. He would frighten most anybody, but Supergirl stands her ground. Go Kara!

I liked Donna's comment when the Crime Syndicate first arrived. Donna turns to Kara and says, "Okay Supergirl? You ready for this?" This seemed very realistic to me. At once, it reminds us that Supergirl has less combat experience than some of the other members, shows Donna in a mentoring role, and emphasizes how much the other members rely on Supergirl, their most powerful member.

I found the dynamics between the Crime Syndicate members to be very interesting. When Ultraman walked in on the tryst between Superwoman and Owlman, his nonchalance is striking. This suggests that he has caught their shenanigans before and is resigned to the arrangement. Or perhaps he and his wife have some sort of understanding, like an open marriage. Or perhaps it is not really much of a marriage at all! We know that Ultraman forced Superwoman to marry him in the first place.

Robinson is setting the table for what promises to be an interesting and entertaining multi-issue story arc. I look forward to next issue.

4Art - 4: The Bagley/Hunter/Rapmund art is a hit. The artwork seems to adjust to evoke the different moods that the story requires: Jovial images during some of the Watchtower scenes; a solemn tone when we first see the Tangent Green Lantern, a pensive tone during the outdoor meeting between Jade and Faust; dramatic and explosive energy when the Crime Syndicate smashes their way into the Hall of Justice and during the subsequent battle scenes.

I liked that the title page showed the Roll Call with the characters names and faces in the margin. This is a classic look that harkens back to early Justice League books during their original run way back when I was reading them as a boy.

I want to mention the brief rearward nudity during the scene in the vault. I was a little surprised to see it there. But actually it seemed natural and tastefully done. It was not at all gratuitous or out of place. They would never have allowed this image in a Justice League comic during the old days. Times have changed.

5Cover Art - 5: I like the wrap-around cover. Open the comic book to the middle, and then flip it over to reveal the two-page cover, with the Justice League logo on the right, and the similar Crime Syndicate logo on the left.

I generally do not like crowded covers, because there is often no focal point. That is not the case here. The eyes focus initially on the Supergirl-Ultraman battle and the Donna Troy-Superwoman battle, and then pan out from there to notice the other heroes in the background. The extra real-estate on this two-page cover is put to good use, giving things a little room to spread out.

Because the Crime Syndicate is such a dangerous foe for the Justice League, this is a very dramatic cover.

4Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 4: The variant cover is symbolic, and quite clever. We see Ultraman, Superwoman, and Owlman posing on a mirror-like surface. But their reflections underneath take the form of their Justice League counterparts: Supergirl, Donna Troy, and Batman. This is a clever idea, nicely executed.

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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