Reviews: DC’s Team Books

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #33

JLA

It’s a sad time to be a fan of the Justice League.  The book just hasn’t been worth reading for a long time.  After reading Dwane McDuffie’s on-line comments about some of the bizarre editorial mandates inflicted on the books, I’m kind of amazed that the book  has been readable at all.

Having said that, this issue was actually more readable than most.  It feels like a lot of the outside pressures and influences eased up a little this issue and the story actually got a little room to breathe.  It probably helped that a lot of second and third tier characters took center-stage.  (Black Canary and Superman may be on the cover, but don’t expect to find them in the book.)

A lot of the plot threads that McDuffie has been working with come together in this issue.  Starbreaker has kidnapped Dr. Light and the Justice League enlists the aid of Hardware to track her down.  Meanwhile, Anasi contacts Vixen and charges her with an important mission.  To aid her, he provides a partner last scene in a previous JLA arc.

If you haven’t been reading Justice League, this is hardly new-reader friendly.  Having been a less-than-devout follower of McDuffie’s run, I know little to nothing about the Shadow Cabinet.  And if I hadn’t read the Anasi arc, I think I would have been utterly baffled by the entire issue.  But, if you have been keeping up with McDuffie’s run, this issue starts to pay things off.

The art by Rags Morales is good.  I would prefer him as a regular artist on this book over Ed Benes.  Having said that, the art in this issue kind of lacked some of the “wow” factor I expect from Rags.  I don’t know if it was rushed or poorly inked.  It just fell a little short of what I have seem from Morales in the past.  But it was still better than the usual art on the book.

I also credit McDuffie with doing a couple of things I would not have thought possible.  One, he makes Starbreaker feel like a legitimate threat.  I can’t remember the last time the JLA faced a worthy adversary.  And two, he’s actually making me care about Dr. Light.

I also couldn’t help noticing that this JLA is the most ethnic JLA I’ve ever seen.  There was not a white man to be seen aside from the guest star Anasi whipped up.  I couldn’t help thinking that was kind of cool.  First a black president and now a racially diverse Justice League!

I also liked a lot of the smaller moments in the book.  For example, Zatanna is unable to simply teleport the League to Dr. Light.  She goes on to explain that she has a set number of spells prepared and this isn’t one of them.  I like Zatanna, but I always thought her power-level was poorly defined.  Sometimes she seems all-powerful and sometimes she’s useless.  I liked this explanation.

I am not recommending Justice League.  Not yet.  But if you’ve been reading McDuffie’s run, things look to be getting better.  Hopefully he will be allowed to continue that momentum and rebuild this once-great book.

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #27

JSA

Last issue was the end of the Geoff Johns era of Justice Society.  And the new writers haven’t gotten here yet.  So that obviously means it’s time for a Jerry Ordway fill-in arc.  It’s hard to get too excited about a fill-in story like this.  You know going in that nothing of any significance is likely to happen.  But I decided to give it a shot anyway.

Frankly, I was pleasantly surprised.  Ordway does an admirable job with the large cast of the JSA.  and his old-school style suits the book.  Despite being a fill-in story, the issue actually feels relevant.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ordway is allowed to make some roster changes before the new team arrives.

Although several members of the cast get their moments in the spotlight, the issue focuses on two former members of Infinity Inc.  Both Atom Smasher and Obsidian have betrayed the JSA in the past.  And neither one of them is fully trusted by the team.  So, when they start behaving oddly in the name of protecting the team, not everyone is willing to take them at their word.

Doing a fill-in after Johns’ long run on the book has to be a daunting task.  But to his credit, Ordway seems up to it.  If you’re not currently reading JSA, this isn’t the issue to start.  But if you’re already a JSA reader, this issue is a good enough place holder until the new creative team arrives.  And that’s all you can ask of a fill-in.

TEEN TITANS #71

Teen Titans

I’ve been a vocal critic of the Titans books.  The entire franchise has been a complete disaster for a long time now.  And I have hated Sean McKeever’s run on the book.  It started off mediocre and then completely crossed the line with this issue. 

I could never get invested in the book again after that.  It didn’t help matters that this book was tied up in the garbage that was Deathtrap.  It made both Titans books more skipable than ever.

This issue marks the end of McKeever’s run on the Teen Titans.  But he’ll be sticking around the book writing back-up stories for his Mary Sue, Ravager.  With Deathtrap over, I decided to give the book another look.  And I shouldn’t be too surprised by what I got.

Ravager was front and center.  In fact, this issue was less of a Titans story than it was a set-up for McKeever’s Ravager co-feature.  After her escapades with the Terror Titans, Ravager returns to Titans Tower to decide whether or not she should rejoin the team.  Meanwhile, Wonder Girl and the rest of the Titans have to decide whether or not they want Ravager back.

It’s all false drama.  Bombshell, who was depicted as an out-an-out villain during Johns’ run on the book, has been accepted by the Titans.  How could they refuse membership to Ravager?  Even Wonder Girl just seems to give up when arguing her point.

Of course, Ravager doesn’t make the decision any easier.  In a truly astonishing lapse of judgement, she decides to betray the Titans’ trust in order to force a confrontation with Bombshell.  Why?  Because she wants to test Bombshell’s loyalties.  Huh?!?

I wish McKeever well, but I am glad to see both him and Ravager leave the book.  I only wish the back-up feature were going somewhere else.   I plan to give the book another chance when Bryan Miller takes over next issue.  It’s just a shame I’ll still be getting 10 pages of the same crap from McKeever.

Oh well, 10 issues of crap is better than a full issue.

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8 Responses to Reviews: DC’s Team Books

  1. [...] read/RANT! « Reviews: DC’s Team Books [...]

  2. brucecastle says:

    I wish you would break these reviews up, but I guess you had to be all “I read every DC Team Book.” Mr. Ego.

    You know, you can’t give me shit for liking Uncanny X-Men and Green Lantern when you read crap like JLA and Teen Titans.

    I know you and everyone else didn’t like Johns’ Teen Titans, but now you would kill to have the book be half as good as it once was.

    And I like Ravager. Not McKeever, but I like Ravager the character.

    • dclebeau says:

      I usually do one review per book, but since all 3 of the books I read that night were DC team books, I figured I’d lump them together that one time. I haven’t read JLA or TT reguarily in quite a while. I’ve been skimming JLA and decided to give this issue a look-see. It was an improvement over a lot of the recent issues. Too bad we’ll never get to see where it goes. Good luck, Dwayne!

      What makes you think I didn’t like Johns’ Titans? I liked them just fine. I hated what he did to Bart, but I got over it. And Superboy was a completely different character than the way he had been portrayed for the previous 10 years, but I got over that too. It was less fun than Young Justice, but I enjoyed it as an overly melodramatic teen super hero book. It was good, not great. Kind of like Green Lantern actually.

      And I don’t give you shit for liking GL. I like GL. I give you shit for saying every issue is awesome. The book is a good read. But it’s overrated. That’s all I’m saying.

      I liked Ravager when Johns wrote her. McKeever has made me sick of her. If someone else gets a hold of her, I may start liking her again.

  3. blake says:

    When Johns finished with the book, Cassie and Ravager came to a place of mutual respect for each other, which I thought was a really significant thing, given that these are teens who are supposed to be growing up, learning and maturing together into the adult heroes of tomorrow.

    Then suddenly a few issues later with the other dude writing, they’re acting like stereotypical b!tches that have learned nothing and hate each other for the sake of drama. So much for somewhat fleshed out characters. What annoyed me was- we saw this already. It played it’s part.

    I actually ripped up the Wendy and Marvin issue after I read it, in a rather emotionaless way. Very matter of fact. JLA and Teen Titans used to be my favorite books, and now they are simply embarassing. I’m done.

  4. brucecastle says:

    “I actually ripped up the Wendy and Marvin issue after I read it, in a rather emotionaless way. Very matter of fact. JLA and Teen Titans used to be my favorite books, and now they are simply embarassing. I’m done.”

    You ripped up a comic? You’re my hero.

    “What makes you think I didn’t like Johns’ Titans?”

    I could’ve swore I heard you say you didn’t like it.

    “And I don’t give you shit for liking GL. I like GL. I give you shit for saying every issue is awesome. The book is a good read. But it’s overrated. That’s all I’m saying.”

    I was pretty much joking about the shit-giving. I don’t think every issue of GL is awesome. Well, that depends on how good awesome is. I did say there hasn’t been a bad issue, and I stick by that.

    Is GL overrated? I think you’re spending too much time on DC forums. Although, and I hope you’ll agree, I do think GL is great for making GL as important as Batman and Superman.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying people don’t love Kyle, but Kyle never got his own event. GL is a top-tier book now, and that’s pretty new. So, you have to give the book a little credit.

    • dclebeau says:

      “I could’ve swore I heard you say you didn’t like it.”

      I had some issues with it. I didn’t like what he did with Bart or Conner. But I got over it an enjoyed his run on the book. I actually feel the same way about Johns’ Titans that I do about his GL. Both are good books if you’re willing to look past some things. But some people don’t see the problems with these books at all. That’s how they became over-rated.

  5. [...] this sounds good.  Why are JSA and GLC the only decent team books DC is putting out these [...]

  6. [...] been a vocal critic of Sean McKeever’s run on Teen Titans for a long time now.  Last issuewas McKeever’s last as the writer of the main feature!  This issue kicks off the run for new [...]

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