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Justice League of America #17

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2008
By: Bryant Frattalone

Alan Burnett, Dwayne McDuffie
Benes, Hope & Benes, Meyers & LaPointe
DC Comics
Plot: Black Lightning and the JLA encounter villains running from the gestapo government and in the backup story the mystery of Vixen’s powers is explored.

Commentary: What the *bleep* is going on with the “World’s Greatest Superheroes”? I see that’s not even the tagline for the book anymore. Ironic since there is very little to boast about regarding this new “era” for the JLA. In this reviewers estimation the recent spat of stories will be utterly forgettable. Once again we have the two stories in one format and it looks as if this will be the case for awhile. At least until Vixen’s powers are explained. The lead story begins the first chapter in what is titled, “Sanctuary”. It’s obvious what the JLA has become and will be for the forseeable future. Namely, filler stories to tie into mediocre larger stories in the DC Universe. It started last issue with the abysmal, "Brief Tangent" and continues here with "Sanctuary".

There is no tension, mystery or anticipation to any of this. The whole affair seems lazy and half-hearted on the part of all involved at DC. I mean c’mon editors! The cover credits for this issue go to Ed Benes and Alex Sinclair when it’s clearly an Ethan Van Sciver colored by Moose cover! An uglier one by Sciver to boot! This is symptomatic of how sick and anemic this book actually is. Benes has an extra inker in the person of Mariah Benes (sister? wife?) but the extra inking does nothing for the art. From page one it’s a dark, muddy, indistinct mess lacking in backgrounds. The most well rendered characters are Batman, Blind Faith (looking for all intents and purposes like an anti-Black Canary) and Dr. Polaris. The rest are just sketchy and rushed looking. I’d throw Wonder Woman in the well drawn character pile too but Benes continues to annoy me every issue with her butt in my face. Is this what DC thinks of their flagship heroine? Get as many cheesecake shots of her as you can? She’s supposed to be a noble hero. Benes draws her and Black Canary as if a peeping Tom is looking at them through a window. C’mon let’s grow up a bit.

Speaking more about the art in general on JLA and in both stories this issue when is someone going to draw the definitive and majestic renditions of the new Hall of Justice and the Kitchen training Satellite? These are two cool ideas that came out of Brad Meltzer’s launch but to date have not been presented to their full potential. This is just another sign that DC has forsaken majesty and scope in the pages of the JLA for also ran knock-off stories capitalizing on the success of other publishers (or attempting to anyway).

Sorry, but its blatant what DC is doing here. They saw the success of the Beyond mini-series, Civil War, the Initiative and Thunderbolts over at Marvel and the DC editors have scrambles to hobble together something comparable with these issues of the JLA, The Suicide Squad and the Salvation Run mini-series. The cover question even asks, “What Comes From Beyond?” Um, if you read the issue apparently, NOTHING! It is just a subliminal trick for those of you that read Beyond to be drawn into this mish-mosh. Are there no good JLA stories available at DC that can stand on their own? I’m sure there are but Editorial and Marketing are once again killing any creativity in this core book.

On a positive note Dwayne Mcduffie does bring some redeeming material to the table with the back up Vixen story. He’s got me interested enough to care. It’s revealed this issue that whatever’s happening to Mari’s powers, she is not tapping into the morphogenic field that she used to when she gained animal abilities. This is McDuffie’s most thoughtful and well executed story since the JLA Wedding Special as a shocking surprise awaits Mari and Red Arrow as she experiments on gaining someone’s powers who is completely human and doesn’t have the Meta-Gene; Hal Jordan. The results make you stand up and take notice of McDuffie once again and it’s the only thing that would bring me back to this story and the JLA next month. It’s sad really. The back up story is better than the lead story. It’s fresh, it’s original and makes you care about a C-list character and her fate. I can take or leave Jon Boy Meyers manga style on the art. It’s the story that carries these pages.

Final Word: The World’s Greatest are just not that great anymore.



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