Book Reviews - "Justice League of America" Titles
JLA: JLA - ExterminatorsWriter: Christopher Golden
Cover: Alex Ross
Series cover design: Georg Brewer
Published by: Pocket Books (July 2004)
Reviewed by: Aaron Thall
As the JLA respond to crises in Gotham, and Europe, they encounter powerful new metahumans, who are revealing themselves for the first time. Of all the metahumans, the most welcomed is a telekinetic named Ian, who befriends the Flash and Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner) after assisting them in the defeat of a psychotic attacking the Royal Palace in England. While some of the League welcome the emergence of new heroes, Batman and J'onn voice concern, realizing that a sudden outbreak of metahumans could be disastrous.
Then the metahumans begin to vanish. One by one. While Aquaman battles a mysterious creature at sea, Batman realizes that all the new metahumans were in Europe ten years prior. Concerned for Ian, Flash and Green Lantern stick close on him, in case he is in danger of vanishing as well.
In Hollywood, another metahuman attack leads Wonder Woman and Aquaman to a horrifying revelation... the metahumans aren't vanishing... they're MUTATING. Aquaman recognizes the creatures as identical to the one he fought before. He also realizes something else, even as J'onn's own investigation turns up a metahuman suicide... a metahuman halfway through the same change. J'onn and Aquaman confer, and eventually realize that these new metahumans and mutations are a direct result of the original JLA's actions ten years ago.
Ten years ago, the League was called in when creatures crashed to Earth like meteors, causing massive devastation across Europe. Being inexperienced and disorganized, the League was forced to kill the alien creatures, and never thought to look for a reason as to the attack.
Superman has Flash and Lantern bring Ian to STAR Labs for examination, where they discover an interstellar parasite creating the powers as a side effect. In reality, it is using its human hosts to propagate its species. When the parasites mature, they subsume the human DNA, leaving nothing behind. Ian, naturally, freaks out and runs away.
The creatures begin to emerge in force across the globe, forcing the JLA to call in both its reserves and hero teams across the globe, but it is, at best, a stalling action. The League also remembers that the head of one of the aliens ten years past still exists in British custody, and that it holds the solution to remove the new alien monsters ravaging the globe.
But is the cure worse than the disease? Will Ian be among the casualties? Can the mutated Metas be cured? When the dust settles, the League will be faced with the terrible truth that, sometimes, victory means doing what's fast, and not what's right.
Story - 5: A five, all the way. Each and every League member gets a moment to shine. Especially enjoyable is the character of Ian, who revels in the idea of being a hero even as he dreads the thought of wearing the daft tights. From J'onn and Batman's investigation, to Aquaman's casual dismissal of a raging fire, thinking "I'm not a fireman", this novel hits the ground running and never stops. Of COURSE the League won't die, so the real concern is for Ian. You're left to wonder if he'll live, mutate, or die. And you'll keep reading to find out. As far as Superman is concerned, he's firing on all thrusters. He shows just the right amount of contempt for a pyrokinetic's tactics during a fight with undersea monsters; he inspires awe in even the jaded Ian; most importantly, he knows when to make the hard choices that define a hero. Ultimately, though, this is really Green Lantern and Flash's story, and their desperation to save one man in the midst of a global crisis rang remarkably true, and remarkably human.
Cover Art - 4: Of course, Alex Ross artwork is beautiful. We have five Leaguers posing, but... The problem here is Hal Jordan. True, Hal does appear in the flashback portions of the story, but he's really a bit player here. This cover needs the far more integral Kyle Rayner on it. As it is, this cover represents a League not in the book. It leaves out Aquaman, Kyle, J'onn, and the Atom, all of whom are critical players in the drama. Most disappointing, it's simply, as far as I can tell, a recycling of an earlier Ross work, and not something newly commissioned for the series. This is a problem across the board with the new JLA series, and a most distressing one.
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