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Justice League Adventures #28

Posted: Saturday, February 7, 2004
By: Ray Tate



"Future Imperfect"

Writers: Jason Hall
Artists:Min S.Ku(p), Ty Templeton(i), Tom McCraw(c)
Publisher:DC

Readers who have dismissed the Justice League Adventures due to its status as an all-ages title have been, barring the execrable last issue, missing some of the most tightly written, exciting and sophisticated episodes of "the World's Mightiest Super-Heroes." After Grant Morrison left JLA, one of the few reasons why comic book fans should have arisen on Wednesday, the title suffered from the equivalency of a virulent plague that caused mental deficiency in all unfortunate enough to read the book. Justice League Adventures on the other hand ever since its prototype days in Batman & Superman Magazine and Adventures in the DCU has rarely failed to honor reader intellect as well as the reader's love for the heroic icons of DC's past. The Bruce Timm spin has only heightened the Justice League's importance to the genre of the superhero.

This issue as the cover shows a team up between the Justice League and their descendents in heroism the Legion of Super Heroes. I almost wish that DC had kept this plot twist to themselves, but the revelation of the surprise does not defuse the enjoyment one receives from this epic story that's related in such a fashion that you feel that at any moment it may spill over to a second issue. That would be silly. Why would you need two issues when such a gamut of guardians protecting humanity from this particular menace? Still, writer Jason Hall creates tension with a ticking clock, and as the pages in your hand become thinner in quantity, you begin to wonder if the dreaded words "...to be continued" will be confront you on the last page. The words and quick action of the League and Legion simply leave one breathless.

This has not been the first time the Legion has entered the animated Adventureverse. They were introduced on Superman: the Animated Series in "New Kids in Town" where Legion members traveled back in time to stop Brainiac from murdering Superman's past self. Jason Hall does not repeat the roster. Instead, he introduces readers to a different group of Legionnaires.

One of the things the Adventureverse tends to do with frightening ease is smoothly create character without confusion. The talent of these Adventureverse writers is such that exposition becomes teased into dialogue and behavior rather than clunky passages of text. By their actions you can see that Brainiac Five and Andromeda are an item. Nobody says, "Brainiac Five and Andromeda have a relationship." There's simply more showing in the Adventureverse than telling which is always good for storycrafting. Furthermore, all of the information has importance. Andromeda for instance identifies herself as a Daxamite. The snatch of data resonates because of the title's previous continuity, as Hawkgirl mentions, and her portion of the dialogue carries weight because of Daxam's future history.

Jason Hall juggles many characters, but he never loses the ear for their dialogue, and artist Min S. Ku never once loses his eye for their body language. For instance, you will hear Maria Canals when Hawkgirl gets ready to demolish something with her mace. Kevin Conroy's gravel-laced voice can be heard as Batman bunches his fists and haunches his shoulders during a plausible defeat. This creative team even gets the little things done correctly. It was a brilliant choice to have Batman discard his cape so we can see the gray of his uniform in order to draw the maximum amount of power from the visual representation. The cape would have created ambiguity something that would have undermined the whole scene.

While maintaining the drama, Hall and Ku include a number of jokes within these pages. Some hit from the inside, and some are told within the frame of the story. For those long-time Legion fans, we see some thirtieth century staples. Takron-Galtos, the prison planet, gets mentioned along with familiar slang words such as "sprock" and "nass." Disguises allude to past Legion members.

The craftspeople behind Justice League Adventures do more than merely stay true to their characters or the plot. They create an overall sense of a professional comic book story. All of the Justice League and Legion including the women exhibit degrees of intelligence and heroic poise. We see nothing stupid or implausible given the premise. The slugfest that would have been expected in a story targeted to a more "mature" audience is carefully avoided, and the drama of heroes working together for a better future and past never lets go of the reader's interest.

In terms of art, the sublime, streamlined animated anatomy facilitates the ability to imbue depth of body. Case in point, Mr. Ku places the crease of Hawkgirl's costume between her hip and waist--exactly where it should be. Colorist McCraw deepens the colors under her arm to illustrate the illusion of fullness. Inker Ty Templeton, whose style is very recognizable, stays invisible. Using strong inks he pulls the characters out of the panels to imbue the story with scale. Justice League Adventures is not merely a kid's book. It is for anybody who loves super-heroes and especially for those who love these heroes.



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