"Power Chapter Four: J.L.A"
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artists: Ian Churchill (p), Norm Rapmund (i), David Moran (colors)
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: Lex Luthor has exposed Supergirl to Black Kryptonite, which has created a sinister doppelganger of the Girl of Steel. The battle between the two takes them to the JLA Watchtower where Supergirl takes on Luthor and the Justice League.
Commentary: There seems to be a certain contingent of fans on the various forums that I frequent that really don't like Jeph Loeb's writing on this title. The general consensus is that it is all flash and no substance with nothing but gratuitous guest stars and fight scenes. In all honesty, as much as I have enjoyed the first three issues, there is something to that criticism. It seemed like Loeb was having trouble balancing the action and story. There was a definite point to the story, but sometimes it got lost in the different melees.
This issue turned that around. The balance has returned, and there was a more organic feeling to the action. One of the themes Loeb has tried to explore with Kara is how she deals with the darkness she knows is inside of her. He goes into it head on by having the Black Kryptonite draw out the darkness and reveals itself in the form of a dark twin. This is primal "man versus self" stuff. Loeb makes it work and gives the fight with the JLA a purpose.
The Dark Kara was an interesting vessel to explore not only Kara's dark side but also the fears and insecurities the character feels. Her reaction to John Stewart was interesting especially her shouting that he won't tell her what she can't do. It certainly fits with the feelings that Kara has had from her first appearance that other people, mostly men, were trying to control her and tell her what her destiny is. Poor John was just the guy who got pasted for it. As a matter of fact, the whole fight with the JLA was an extension of this.
There was obviously a lot of thought put into the fight scenes. The choreography was well done, especially Dark Kara using her heat vision and breath to make Lex's armor brittle before breaking his arm. I always enjoy a clever fight, and her spats with Flash (and making him run into the vacuum of the moon) and her finding J'onn made the scenes more enjoyable than watching two super powered characters beat the snot out of each other.
I also enjoyed Lex in this issue. Loeb has always had a good handle on who Lex Luthor was and the character evolved under his care. What made this appearance more enjoyable was the fact that he was put into a position that he wasn't ready for. Lex thought he could manipulate the situation because while this Supergirl may be powerful, she wasn't as clever as he was. He underestimated Dark Kara and paid the price for it. After she broke his armor, he was trying to get himself out of the fight as soon as possible. In a way, the JLA saved Luthor because it looked like Dark Kara wasn't going to stop until he was dead. At least that is the feeling I got from Loeb's writing.
Drama. I love it.
The art in this issue was also a step up from the past three issues. Ian and Norm put a lot into their work and the action scenes benefitted from it. Their versions of the JLA, especially J'onn, looked great as did Luthor and his armor. Their pacing worked better in this issue as well with several pages of multi-panel layouts leading into a splash page. The past few issues seemed like they were all splash pages whereas this issue has several build up pages before we get hit with a powerful image that pays off the previous bits of action. There was definitely more storytelling in their art and the story benefited from that.
In The End: Well, it looks like the action isn't going to let up in the next issue, which isn't a bad thing. My hope is that, like this issue, the conflict in the next has the same kind of balance to it that this issue had. Kara is really coming into her own as a character and Loeb did a better job a fleshing her out. (Insert joke about Ian and Norm showing flesh here.) I realize that the people who don't like the book or the character probably won't be swayed by this issue, but I think that Loeb, Ian and Norm really got back into the game this time around and brought it back up to the standards of their previous efforts.
What did you think of this book?
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