Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Artist: Mike McKone
Publisher: DC Comics
Well, here is my first review of what is yet another new era for the Justice League of America. I was about 10 minutes away from dropping this book. Metzlerís run was good in some respects, and terrible in others. So, I thought, letís give McDuffie one issue. He has to wow me, if he doesnít, Iím out. Johns made me smile with Quantum Gold, I mean Booster Leap, I mean Booster Gold, so if it doesnít at least hit that level of fun Iím out.
Well, Mr. McDuffie, I tip my hat. You actually managed to keep me around for at least 6 months. Overall, I was impressed, and here are the reasons why (in a new format I am going to try out):
Right off, McDuffie manages to hit the Joker and Lex Luthor better than any recent writer has done in about two years. While Johns did a decent job on Luthor in 52, he didnít have the witty rapport with other people that Iíve come to expect from the slick talking genius in a power suit. In this, he feels menacing due to his intelligence, his charisma and of course, a giant robotic suit.
The Joker comes across as insane, as he should, but also unbelievably clever. He has a one liner for everything, and you can just hear his laughter. The opening scene where he refers to Dr. Light as ďsunnyĒ left me chuckling.
Cheetah finally feels like a villain again. During the opening Wonder Woman run she seemed, well Ö she didnít seem to be much of anything. This woman is in the ďmad scientistĒ category again, and Iím happy to see it. That and she is playing as an equal, which is a nice parity to the big three playing as equals again in the League. Also note, the scrapbooking phase lasted for 3 pages in this issue, not three issues. That is absolutely key for later.
On to the heroes, I think I finally get Firestorm. I do not know why he book was cancelled, I never read it (oh wait Ö). But this character seems to have a lot of potential, and although I grew up with Ronnie Raymond, Iím actually finally interested in finding out more about a new character in the DCU. Hopefully McDuffie can do something with this character. He also breathes new life into one of my old favorites, Killer Frost, who was done very well in JLU on TV, but really has done poorly in comics recently (I canít even remember when I last saw her in all truth). The thing I particularly liked was that it was through her, the first member of the new Injustice League that we meet, that we find the new threat in this series.
As for the other heroes, Hal and Bruce come across pretty well, and in particular I think that Roy and Bruce come across as real team mates. This was impressive, and there was even a nod to him taking Ollieís place in more ways than one. Note, out of all of the people in that room, Batman chooses Red Arrow as his partner. It gives that character a level of respectability in the League that otherwise has not been there in Metzlerís run. Oh, and by the way, believe you me, Oliver Queen will be dead at the end of the wedding. He is so out of there. It makes me very sad. (Oh Ö and telling two men that they should be jealous of their old man for banging their surrogate mother Ö eww.)
McDuffie has also done a good job of throwing up things that otherwise arenít addressed in comics. Things such as Dr. Light being a murderer and a rapist, but people still work with him. Also things like the deal between Hal and John regarding their GL duties and the ďstuffĒ that John always gets saddled with from both the DCU and the fans. It is clear that McDuffie is going to take John Stewart and make him real hero in the DCU, and for that I am happy. (Oh Ö and I will bet anyone a fiver that Stewart is retconned to getting his architecture degree in the marines.) Overall, I am pleased that McDuffie chooses to at least acknowledge these items, as the make the universe feel more coherent.
McDuffie manages to some how tie together much of what has happened in the DCU into a nice little ball, give a nod to it, and promptly throw it out the window. It is clear that he does not want to be overly burdened by the last crisis outcome, but he has to acknowledge it.
He has a couple of continuity nods in the villains sections regarding their past alliances, how they havenít worked, and what their current motivation is. I like the idea of a mutual protection society. I also like the idea that if you did get all of the DCU villains in one place that would be a really scary thing. There are also little things, like Luthor having the four different gems in his gauntlet, which just make it feel like the story is picking up from where it was before. But the continuity doesnít overwhelm you, and you arenít beaten over the head with it; that is kind of nice.
I am disappointed that we got to see all three of the GLís of Earth that were in the Sinestro Corps War and who arenít Kyle (who is seen this same week in Countdown). Basically, it looks like everyone comes out okay, and that takes away a great deal from the Sinestro Corps War. Not only that, no one even comments on the fact that there was a giant mass of yellow powered villains that decended on Earth some time in the recent past.
I am also confused: why is Aquaman at the bachelor party? Does he even know Oliver?
The character designs on the villain are a real treat for old school fans. Joker in the purple coat, Luthor in the armour, and even Giganta back in her leopard skins (which is just silly but fun). There are a number of new designs, like Mr. Freezeís armor, which I think is just one of the best designs in a while. The heroes receive similar treatment, but they are less prominent. You cannot really tell who some characters are (is that Gypsy dancing with Black Canary?), and many characters are left with their backs to the reader. Other characters, such as Aquaman, seem to have a very different look from their previous appearances, and if I didnít know better I would swear that it was Orin.
There seems to be some problems with the anatomy that McKone is doing in this book. It is very odd for this artist to have this problem, but at times there are just too many body parts that are too long, or at weird angles. Examples include Guy Gardner as well as many shots of Luthor where the body armor looks really strange. However, the women actually have different body types, which is a change from some other comics in the industry, so that makes me pretty happy.
The action sequences in the book are stunningly good. They feel real, have a real tension to them. When characters get hurt, they look significantly different than when healthy, and the injuries make sense.
The villains steal the show on this one. I think that McDuffie is in his element working with classic characters in new situations. A close second is the interaction with Batman and Red Arrow during the investigation. The fact that both of them are really into things like analyzing crime scene information is a nice touch that I look forward to happening more.
I highly recommend this issue for what is looking to be a big big throw down between the Injustice League Unlimited (stupid name not-withstanding) and a super Justice League lineup.
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