“Unlimited” (part 4)
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Artist(s): Ed Benes, Sandra Hope (i), Pete Pantazis (c)
Published by: DC Comics
Ever since the restart of Justice League, I have been waiting for the epic story that I wanted. I really thought that McDuffie could deliver. There are many good things about McDuffie’s writing style, but he is hampered by a rushed story, forced character inclusion and inconsistent art.
This story arc had the potential to be a real return to JLA style. Big drop down drag out battles contrasted with interesting story that challenges both the personalities and skills of our heroes. However, after a strong start, this story faltered into hackneyed battle after battle, long exposition sequences with bizarre twists in character interactions.
The deus ex machina of Firestorm appearing to save the day started this story off strong. McDuffie has a fantastic feel for the character of Jason Rausch, however the secondary personality in the Firestorm Matrix seems to be missing. Firestorm himself is cleverly written, with witty banter, and I am starting to feel that this character is an adequate, if not stellar, replacement for Ronny Raymond. His inclusion in the League is welcome, however the scene in which Batman commands him into the League role is idiotic, with Diana and Clark agreeing in one panel to waylay the rights of Jason completely destroying the ideas that were set up one year ago by Geoff Johns. In particular, why not have Jason work with the JSA for a while to train his abilities? Isn’t that part of their role in the new DCU? What about the Titans? Maybe Jason isn’t emo enough for them or something. Either way, the League is acting like a bunch of jerks, and apparently Black Canary, the chairperson, doesn’t get a say in who is in the League.
Segue into the character of Black Canary, McDuffie does seem to know how to represent Dinah as a strong commanding force in the JLA. The scene with Giganta is well written, funny and shows how really cool Black Canary can be when written competently and consistently.
Oddly, in contrast with the great sequences with Firestorm and Canary, there are other scenes that feel like there are committee meetings going on. They are stilted, and do not sound like McDuffie’s dialogue. Hal and John, Diana and Dinah, Batman and everyone, they just don’t flow. Oh, and Red Arrow talking to Hawkgirl about getting naked in the middle of a battle, that really didn’t fit right in the story, even if it may have been in character (which I am not totally convinced about).
Finally, the story feels like it wrapped up just too quickly, with another deus ex machina moment with the Suicide Squad showing up to move all of the villains on to the Salvation Run title. OK, I can live with that, but maybe some time should have been spent establishing how Waller knew all of this was going on, instead of just showing up. Even one panel with Deadshot in the window waving would have helped.
Some of the art looks good but many of the panels are without background, and as a result look like posters. Someone also needs to buy Benes a book on body construction. I am fatigued by Benes’ need to paint butt shots of all of my favorite heroines. More importantly, he doesn’t do it in a way that is sensible. The big reveal page of the League in this issue once again allows me to see Canary’s bikini briefs in their wedgie spectacular form (and again on the following page), but he also manages to contort her body in a way that allows you to see the profile of her cleavage.
At least McDuffie managed to satisfy some fans who felt that villains shouldn’t be working with the rapist Dr. Light (because he is really evil, as opposed to just sort of evil), managed to correct the timing of the issue as being before the wedding (even if it still doesn’t quite work in the timeline) and meet the editorial demand of having a reason for blasting all of the villains off into space together.
Really I just get the feeling that McDuffie was trying to cram too much into this issue, with too many side points being made, and trying to meet editorial demand in some cases.
I am afraid that the DC universe is beginning to try my patience. There are just too many books that I am reading from them that read like the description above.
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