JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #33
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
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
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.