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Justice League Adventures #15

Posted: Monday, January 6, 2003
By: Ray Tate



"Enslaved"

Writer: Tom Seavey
Artists: Aluir Amancio(p), Rob Leigh(i), John Kalisz(c)
Publisher: DC

In Justice League Adventures Tom Seavey's plot introduces a very nice spin on the pulp tradition of ancient, alien warlords battling it out for conquest of the galaxy. Mr. Seavey uses the ritual combat of some of the so-called primitive, egalitarian tribes as a premise and advances their rules of combat to a science fiction setting. The method makes the plot a little more complex than usual without swamping the story in window dressing that only makes it seem complex. Furthermore, the plot anticipates such questions as why the aliens have not before looked to earth and as well provides the answer of how to stop what ensues. If you pay attention, you too can see the solution. Rather than simply following the plot twists, the reader interacts with the plot.

Mr. Seavey's characterization of the Justice League touches on some interesting elements only briefly explored. He uses for instance Wonder Woman's cultural heritage as a means to naturally involve the League in extrasolar politics, and Mr. Seavey shows how Batman applies his strategic mind to issues that fall outside his normal encounters. Hawkgirl he portrays as willingly bellicose and the Flash as a jokester. Superman and the others fall back as supporting roles, which is not a complaint merely an observation.

One of the things Mr. Seavey I feel does fail to do is to involve the League members with each other. They all seem to be doing their own thing without interacting save for a scene which alludes to the Appellex Meteor secret origin of the JLA from pre-Crisis cosmology, and before any touchy fan boys start blithering about how the Appellex origin was preserved in the post-Crisis, stop typing now. Yes, there is an Appellex origin for the post-Crisis League, but the only member in the post-Crisis League that is in the Justice League of the Cartoon Network--the Justice League as far as I'm concerned--is J'onn J'onnz. So, the post-Crisis Appellex incident lacks pertinence. In any case, I would have liked to see some characteristic dialogue that didn't feed the plot or introduce some clunky exposition, which with care could have been revealed with more polish. Mr. Seavey clearly can dialogue well. All of the League and the villains have a choice line or two, but the lines are somewhat spoken in a vacuum.

Aluir Amancio and Rob Leigh handle the pencils and inks, and neither artist surprises. Amancio was one of the regular artists on Superman Adventures. Rob Leigh also has experience working on the animated titles, and both artists' ease and comfort with the style comes through here. Mr. Amancio's own style is a little busier, but the enforced brevity of line work lets the reader enjoy more his page layouts and his character design. Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl for instance here look amazingly sexy--in one scene, the Amazon is positively kittenish--with zaftig bodies that sport powerful musculatures that do them service in battle. On occasion, though one must strain one's belief to believe the curvatures of their backs. He captures well the struggle of the Martian Manhunter as he attempts to break free and use his telepathy, and he has a lot of fun with Kanjar Ro: making him skulk like the weasel he is. Mr. Amancio doesn't mind throwing in a few visual jokes such as Hyathis' resemblance to Lillandra from The Uncanny X-Men and the mecha-warlord's likeness to a Jack Kirby Celestial from The Eternals, and while Superman and Batman clearly look to be the favorite male heroes of the artist, he overall illustrates the League with an unmitigated talent.

Throughout the book Rob Leigh's inks add depth Mr. Amancio's pencils. Leaguer's stand out against the backgrounds, and the thicker line work on say the Martian Manhunter's jaw when superimposed on Hawkgirl ready for battle creates the illusion of dimension that goes off into the panels. Mr. Kalisz's colors work on the characters themselves. On page three for instance, he uses a very soft brown to heighten the sense of Hawkgirl's sinew. He creates the illusion of light being cast and sweeping over her muscle and those ever-important fleshtones. There's a omnipresent feeling in the animated-style books that contrasts sharply with the most of the post-Crisis books: subtlety. Everything in the animated books are evoked rather than forced, and this leads to peaceful, thoughtful, entertaining comic books that cost less than most titles and provide greater value.



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