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(Formerly Known as the) Justice League #4

Posted: Monday, October 6, 2003
By: Tim Hartnett



Writer: Keith Giffen with J.M. DeMatteis
Artists: Kevin Maguire and Joe Rubinstein

Publisher: DC

"Dead as disco. That's right, all of you."

To me, one of the most refreshing things that can happen to a comic book reader is when they pick up something completely new that they enjoy. In this case, we have the nostalgic Formerly Known as the Justice League, yet another example this week of the kind of comic book I want to read more of. Fun, simple, clever, and well-drawn. Now that doesn't make people like me Simpletons. Of course, I can enjoy the darker stuff, but this is more what I long for, because it's easier for this type of material to be consistent, and that's all that Formerly has been up until this point.

But the nostalgic aspect of this title is one of the major selling points. Anytime we have a tribute or reunion of something from the past in pop culture, I usually have a blast, and it's no different here. I can't tell you how amusing it is for a longtime collector to see a veteran creative team show their stuff in the modern day comic book world. And nothing pleases this teenage old man more than to see how well this is received, and the fact that people are enjoying this type of book.

This issue continues the uber-storyline we've had from the beginning, as the former JLI continues to adjust to their new roles. Instead of the writers sitting around showing us how good this concept used to be, they actually go out and treat them like a real superhero team, leaving many laughs along the way. It's the epitome of what I look for in an update---something new, directly expanding on the old concept, and not trying to make it too relevant. The Mary Marvel character is generally new, and it is absolutely hilarious watching the team react to her in the fighting ring.

It's no wonder this miniseries has been so popular. The characterizations are consistent enough that a brand new reader can be pulled in with each issue, especially since the writers make these characters non-interchangeable. You won't find this in say, Avengers or Teen Titans where the characters' individual superhero powers are sacrificed for the trade-paperback crowd and the desire to keep it over-accessible.

Kevin Maguire looks better than ever when placed in the talented hands of Lee Loughridge. Loughridge knows how to color a comic book right, using soft, simple overtones for the simple art. He doesn't destroy it by supersaturating the artwork. Maguire's facial expressions are just one of the many drawing points of his artwork. His style is simple while realistic, and his form allows the readers' imagination to fill in the detail, while the art itself has a feel of its own.

This is one of the Top 5 comic series of 2003; no contest. It serves as further proof to my theory that we need more books like this, and books with this much consistency. A terrific show from Giffen and Co., and I can't wait for the second Formerly series.

Wanna see what you should be reading this week? Michael Diaz can show you over in What Looks Good?! And then be sure to check my, as well as the other reviewers' take on his picks in the reviews each week.



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