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Justice League of America #16

Posted: Friday, December 21, 2007
By: Bryant Frattalone



Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Artist(s): Joe Benitez, Victor Llamas

Publisher: DC Comics


Plot: DC once again uses one of their flagship books to introduce lost characters into the present day DCU.

Commentary: Um? What? Huh? Again? The re-launched JLA is not even 2 years into the new run and DC has managed to drop the ball on 2 of the first 3 major story lines and given us crappy filler stories in-between. I enjoyed “The Tornado’s Path” but was annoyed by “The Lightning Saga” which neither struck any cords with me nor was it a saga. To me it was simply an uninteresting drawn out vehicle to bring Wally West back into the DCU. McDuffie and company after a strong start with the JLA Wedding Special fumbled and fizzled when it came to satisfying us in the core JLA book. “Unlimited” turned out to be very much limited! It had a whole bunch of characters but no characterization. Again it was just a vehicle to bring all the villains in one place together so they could be shipped off into The Salvation Run mini-series! Blah, no thanks. Now McDuffie is up to bat again and what do we get? A third strike! As the cover says it’s, “A Brief Tangent”. Does anyone even remember or care about the Tangent heroes? I know I sure don’t!

It certainly is a brief tangent. The lead story (that’s right there are two so-called stories in this issue but no extra pages) only takes up 14 story pages. Two petty thieves break into Guy Gardner’s storage unit and find the Green Lantern from the Tangent Universe in one of Guy’s boxes. It activates and switches one of the crooks into the Tangent Universe and brings the Tangent Atom over to ‘our’ universe. A disembodied Red Tornado is monitoring police bands and hears of the break in sending three JLA’ers to the rescue. John Stewart, Black Canary and Red Arrow. Sigh. Is this what the mightiest team of heroes on earth has come to? Investigating petty break-ins? Also, if you are sending a Green Lantern to a robbery what in the world do you need back-up for? Conversely, it is a robbery and why can’t the like of Red Arrow and Black Canary handle it themselves? Speaking of Black Canary, can she be drawn with a little dignity please? She’s the chairperson of the JLA for Pete’s sake. How can anyone take her seriously walking around as Benitez depicts her? She looks like one of these pop star divas not the experienced and capable leader of the world’s premiere super-hero team. Another thing about Benitez’s art; he can’t do backgrounds. How do I know this? Because there are none! This happened back in the second chapter of the Unlimited storyline too. His characters only look slightly better under the inks of Llamas.

The Justice League, at its best, has always been about grand adventure on a large scale. What we have here is neither. There’s a short “battle” with the Tangent Atom and then he’s drawn back to the Tangent universe. As the Leaguers leave we’re left with the arrival of the Tangent Universe’s Flash in our world and the promise of ‘To Be Continued’. Frankly, I don’t care. This whole mess is as uninspired as the costumes the Tangent heroes wear. Dwayne McDuffie had a good run writing Justice League Unlimited for Cable TV. His work there met critical acclaim from the fan base. Unfortunately, his comic book work here along with Benitez’s art doesn’t even reach the level of Saturday morning cartoon.

The back up story is better with more tension and character development in 7 pages than McDuffie has given us his whole stint. Allan Jefferson’s art echoes Mike Mckone’s which is a good thing. Maybe DC can put him on the book regularly. The story by Alan Burnett is slightly amusing and nostalgic as Red Arrow encounters a down on his luck super-villain from his and the Titan’s past during his annual visit to a soup kitchen. However, seven pages of holiday antics do nothing to make me feel the least bit cheery about the state of the world’s premiere super-hero team.

Final Word: It’s been three strikes now against the re-launched JLA. I fear unless a relief writer is brought in there will be no extra innings for this book as far as I’m concerned.



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