Current Reviews


JLA #86

Posted: Tuesday, September 16, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Joe Kelly
Artists: Doug Mahnke (p), Tom Nguyen (i)

Publisher: D.C. Comics

Under attack, we see the JLA are in complete disarray, as their attacks are ineffectual, and it doesn't help that their opponent is invisible, and fast enough to take down a speeding Flash. As the JLA abandon the Watchtower we see the battered team gathers together to discuss the possibility that their attacker may very well be one of their own, as Superman has noticed the Martian Manhunter has been acting very odd.

On one hand it's always fun to see the JLA up against something that makes one question whether they can emerge victorious. Plus the slugfest happy fanboy in me actually enjoys seeing the JLA getting their heads handed to them as it's something that rarely occurs when the characters are assembled as a group. I'm also pleased to see J'Onn finally gets a moment where he's given the respect I've come to feel is long overdue, as Superman's little exchange is exactly the eyebrow raising admission that should make fans sit up and take notice of the Martian Manhunter. On the other hand, while I'm excited by the prospect that J'Onn may very well be the mystery villain of this arc, and we'll get to see him put on a show as he takes on the collective might of the JLA, I'm a bit concerned that if he's allowed to come across as too evil, fans who have ignored him for decades as a hero might start to prefer the character as a villain, and I'd hate to see J'Onn's stint as a villain extend past this current arc. Than again worrying about what might happen is hardly a valid complaint, and frankly I'm more than willing to sit back and enjoy the show as it unfolds. Plus it doesn't hurt that there serious moments to be found during this battle, as John Stewart receives a fairly serious looking injury, and a good chunk of the JLA Watchtower is destroyed by Major Disaster in his bid to take out the villain.

As for the art, there are moments when Doug Mahnke's work is very effective at delivering the story, as the reveal shot of the Burning is a very solid piece of art that leaves little doubt that the JLA are in tough against this creature. The scene where John Stewart has his belly ripped open is also a wonderfully chilling scene, though readers who hadn't read that issue of Green Lantern might be a little confused by this scene. I also found some of the more impressive moments in the issue lacked the proper sense of impact, as when the Watchtower is blasted apart, the art offers up a very uninspired far away shot that utterly fails to convey the importance of this moment. The takedown of the Flash on page three also looked a bit goofy.

Final Word:
An action heavy issue in which the JLA do battle with a fairly ruthless adversary who may or may not be one of their own. Now the JLA come across as bit disorganized, and there are times when it's a little difficult to believe this is the DCU's team supreme, as they display very little teamwork, and unable to coordinate their attacks. Then again, with half the team fairly new to the concept of fighting as a team combines the abrupt nature of the attack itself, and I'm more than willing to accept the notion that the JLA have simply been caught on the heels, and their opponent is powerful and smart enough to not give them the time or space they need to get their act together. It certainly make for an exciting reading experience, as the question of whether the JLA are fighting one of their own in an interesting dilemma, and I rather enjoy the novelty of a JLA battle where the team ends up running away. Plus, there's some fairly serious-minded moments in the battle, as a couple JLAers are taken down hard.

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