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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League of America #57 Justice League of America #57

Justice League of America #57

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 18, 2011

Cover date: July 2011

"Eclipso Rising" - Part 4: "Wrath & Vengeance"

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Brett Booth
Inker: Norm Rapmund

Reviewed by: Ralph Silver

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Mikaal is experiencing total darkness, and believes he is dead. Images of his childhood pass through his mind. Mikaal recalls that Talok III, his home planet, was a militaristic society where conquest and warfare were taught to the young. Mikaal had a distaste for the "cruel kill"; and feels guilty for the bad men he has killed through the years.

Suddenly, his friend Congorilla wakes him; and Mikaal discovers he is alive and surrounded by his Justice League friends. Mikaal's "sleep" was a rather intense and vivid experience that was caused by Obsidian's power of darkness.

Alan Scott arrives and explains that most of Emerald City has been lost; and that they are making their last stand in this small section of the city that he has saved. Scott is now able to walk, but explains that Eclipso has taken control of the Starheart, which spells doom for Alan Scott and Emerald City once the remaining Starheart energy within him is depleted.

Jesse Chambers explains to Donna Troy that her speed is waning; ebbing moment-by-moment. Jesse still has her super-strength, though. Jessie and Donna discuss Jade, who is completely under Eclipso's control. Obsidian reveals that despite efforts to appear to show solidarity with Eclipso (seen last issue), he is immune from Eclipso's control, and is fully on the side of the heroes.

The heroes continue to brainstorm and strategize. Donna says that Eclipso has shown a weakness to light in the past; but Dr. Light did not have luck; and Alan Scott asserts that Eclipso is stronger now due to the influence of the Starheart.

Eclipso continues his internal dialog with Bruce Gordon. Eclipso again states his goal to "kill God". For centuries, Eclipso has been trying to hurt God by hurting the people of Earth, who God loves. Now Eclipso plans to summon his adversary and successor, the avenging angel known as The Spectre. Since angels have a unique way of communicating and contacting each other, and since Eclipso no longer "speaks in Angel", he threatens the angel Zauriel with his sword and coerces Zauriel to make the call for him.

Obsidian reveals elements of Eclipso's plan to the Justice League. Obsidian says that to defeat Eclipso, the JLA must sever the ties between Eclipso, the meta-humans, the Starheart, and Jade. If they can do that, they can save Alan Scott and Jennie-Lynn Hayden. Batman chimes in, and declares that they should focus on The Shade, who is the one linking all the shadow energy together. Obsidian agrees. Batman expresses that they must contact one specific hero from Earth, who can help bring Eclipso down. Saint Walker indicates that one of the present members holds the power within himself/herself to defeat Eclipso, although that hero is not aware of it.

Eclipso has succeeded in summoning The Spectre through trickery. The Spectre is not at all pleased. After some verbal sparring, Eclipso orders the heroes he has possessed to attack Spectre. Eclipso taunts Spectre, warning him not to hurt them, since they are innocent pawns. Spectre indicates he will show them God's mercy; something that is beyond Eclipso's comprehension.

As Eclipso and Spectre battle, Eclipso begins to get the upper hand. Because he is stronger now, Eclipso is able to absorb Spectre's powers, causing Spectre to falter. In a mighty and sudden show of evil power, Eclipso brings his sword crashing down upon the head of Spectre, causing his apparent death.

The Justice League prepares to battle Eclipso. Meanwhile, as Eclipso continues to gloat to Bruce Gordon, who shares the host body; Eclipso brags that his plan was to bring about the "End of Days". As he says this, Eclipso plunges his sword into the ground with a mighty thrust and manages to crack the moon into two separate hemispheres!

4Story - 4: This story is a change-of-pace from last issue, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

The mood last issue was quite gloomy and pessimistic. Donna particularly seemed very discouraged and overwhelmed, and was especially upset that her close friend Jade was completely under Eclipso's control. When reserve Justice League members showed up last issue to help, Eclipso gained mental control over them almost immediately and used them as minions, so that the odds kept getting worse for the Justice League heroes who were still autonomous. Batman seemed distraught by the disappearance of Supergirl, who was kidnapped by Doomsday. At one point, the heroes stood back-to-back and seemed prepared to go down together in defeat. That story ended with an apparent devastating attack from Obsidian. Things looked really hopeless.

By contrast, this issue the Justice League members are regrouping and seem much more positive (except of course for Jesse). Obsidian's attack was a sham, designed only to fool Eclipso. So the JLA members wake from Obsidian's slumber-like darkness, and for the moment are in no danger. They see no action this time around, but are taking time to share facts, brainstorm, and plan out their strategy for success. Batman says they can bring Eclipso down if they enlist the aid of a specific hero on Earth, although he never identifies the hero. Saint Walker, hopeful as ever, indicates that one of the heroes present has the power needed. That identity is also not revealed, leaving some mysteries to be solved next time. We can all guess in the meantime. After planning their strategy and goals, they prepare to launch themselves into battle, with Congorilla uttering his signature battle cry "tally ho". The team really looks pumped up.

So what changed to help the JLA members bounce back from their slump last time. I have a theory. We see Mikaal on page one experiencing extreme darkness and dream-like visions induced by Obsidian's powers. Although it is not shown, presumably the other JLA members all had similar experiences. So my theory is that perhaps the darkness caused by Obsidian has restorative powers, much like a full night of deep sleep? That could explain their improved outlook. At least, that's a thought.

But of course only about one-third of this book features the Justice League members. The remaining pages feature Eclipso, his interactions with Zauriel and Bruce Gordon, and especially his extensive battle with The Spectre. Eclipso is a former angel who was the incarnation of the Wrath of God before he turned evil and was replaced by the Spectre. So it is no surprise that the two are rivals and adversaries. The scenes between them are particularly powerful. There is much talk of God, giving this story overtones that are spiritual, if not overtly religious.

As always, Robinson likes to focus on characterization, which makes him a good choice to author JLA, a character-driven book. Here are some tidbits from this issue. We learned that Mikaal is 112 years old, although he certainly looks good for his age. :) Furthermore, we learn that Mikaal comes from a warlike planet; which is ironic because he does not seem aggressive and hawkish. We learn that Batman/Dick modestly considers himself the world's "second best detective"; a nod to his mentor who is now back from his absence. And we learn that Jesse is now willing to express her fears about her disappearing speed to her good friend Donna. I am sure that Robinson plans to address the cause of her waning speed in an upcoming story.

I am looking forward to next issue, as the battle with Eclipso heats up, and maybe we learn the identities of the heroes mentioned by Batman and Saint Walker who can help turn the tide.

4Art - 4: The Booth/Rapmund artwork was solid. I enjoyed the battle scenes between Eclipso and Spectre, and the final splash showing the moon split in two.

3Cover Art - 3: The Justice League members appear battle-ready as they face an unseen enemy. They are partially entangled in "tentacles" of darkness. This cover is well-drawn, but average in its layout and design; with no real focal point or unique characteristics. It is not bad; just kind of dark and not very eye-catching or memorable.

4Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 4: The Ed Benes cover is a winner! Eclipso and Spectre square off and exchange blows. Their faces reveal anger and determination as they engage in this high-stakes battle, as the Justice League looks on.

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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