Wonder Woman! Red Tornado! Firestorm! Plastic Man! Vixen! Doctor Light!
These, my friends, are your Justice League of America.
Feeling underwhelmed yet?
Okay, so I understand that this book’s in a bit of a transitional phase, and that it will pick up more in the future. But come on, DC, this is the best you got? This is not exactly the Morrison JLA, with the most powerful characters in the DCU, nor is it the JSA, where the problem is too many characters rather than too few.
Instead the problem here is that we just have the mediocre heroes. We get bitchy Doctor Light, boring Red Tornado, declawed Plastic Man, Vixen striving to be a decent leader, positive Wonder Woman, and Firestorm so dull I almost forgot to include him in this sentence.
These are the world’s greatest heroes?
Almost miraculously, writer Len Wein manages to create a nice, professional story here. Wein is a solid professional, who’s worked in the industry since the early 1970s and thus knows his way around a mediocre character or two, and has great skills at being able to do the sort of solid workmanlike writing that this comic requires.
Wein presents a nice take on the origin of the Royal Flush Gang, this issue’s villains, effectively presenting a flashback that’s both entertaining and appropriately derivative. The characters’ origins are a bit clichéd, but that’s what we want and expect in a comic of this type – the sort of solid, unpretentious comic writing that used to sell for a quarter at the local 7-Eleven.
Of course Wein once wrote such comics. His run on the original Swamp Thing is legendary, and he served as editor-in-chief at Marvel for a tumultuous year in the mid-’70s. But for purposes of this review, it’s important to note that Wein wrote a run of issues of the original Justice League of America. He was the writer during the legendary phase in which the comic was released in a series of 100-Page Super Spectacular issues. He turned the Sandman’s partner Sandy into Sand. He resurrected the Red Tornado. Heck, if memory serves, he helped decide their satellite would orbit 22,300 miles above the Earth.
It’s great to see Wein back on the JLA, and he does a totally professional job with the characters he’s given. But who in their right mind would choose the characters he was given?
One more note, I deducted a half-point for the genius who put Superman on the cover of this issue. Shame, shame, for the false advertising, genius. Superman is nowhere to be seen inside this comic, being as he’s away from Earth for the moment.