Justice League of America #37

A comic review article by: Jason Sacks
Wow, this is a rotten comic. I mean, it's not just bad, it's plan rotten on every level: stupid, annoying, with dull heroes and uninteresting villains and a pointless plot and really the whole thing just kind of makes me sad when I think about it.

Okay, first of all, look at that cover at the top of this section. See that guy in the blue suit sticking out his chest like a stripper does when she's trying to get more tips? That guy's called Superman. And the reason I specifically mention him here is that he appears in one page in this whole issue. It would almost be too polite to call Superman's brief scene a cameo, since he really just appears in order to kind of give a fifth-rate heroine called Vixen a pep talk – see, she would have been willing to just lie on the floor and wait to be killed by the nasty members of the Royal Flush Gang if it weren't for her memories of Superman telling her she needs to help the JLA endure while he abandons his friends in space.

Curse you, DC, for lying – though, of course, the presence of Wonder Woman, Plastic Man, Firestorm and the aforementioned desultory Vixen wouldn't sell many copies of this comic (apparently the presences of Red Tornado and that bitch Doctor Light would sell even fewer – which is actually not a bad assumption in this case). But there Superman is, front and center on the cover, sticking out his chest at you but not even remotely being available for anything more than that.

Inside things are no better. The whole story this issue is essentially a proxy battle between a corpulent freak and a skinny geeky woman with two tattoos: one that goes from her leg up at least to her stomach and another that's under her right eye. I don't know who these people are and why in the hell I should care about them, but apparently I should.

The battle involves the Royal Flush Gang, who dress up in costumes like playing cards. They've been around for a long time, but pretty much are among the lamest of DC's lame villains. They exist in this issue to provide someone for this crappy League to fight, and they do live up to that limited potential.

But even there I gotta wonder what DC was thinking. Page two shows three suits of villains fighting the JLA: spades, hearts and diamonds. What happened to the clubs we have no way of knowing; they probably don't fight the JLA out of consideration of the fact that the JLA is made up of only six heroes at this point, only one of whom is even remotely able of supporting her own title.

So the three sets of villains fight the JLAers, who are together in pairs – one of the few cool aspects of the book, since it pays tribute to the early days of the JLA when Mike Sekowsky drew them.

In the first battle we see Wonder Woman and Red Tornado fight the villains at the Museum of Natural History in New York, which apparently looks somewhat like a Vegas casino based on the garish signs displayed in front of the museum on page three. Thankfully, despite the fact that the museum should be filled with priceless fossils and other scientific relics, the place actually appears to be deserted based on the art by six (count 'em, six) artists. Aside from a dinosaur bone that appears out of nowhere to strike Wonder Woman on the head on page four, there appears to be nothing in the museum.

Which is really a very good thing, because imagine the damage that a tornado created by a hero with the name of… what was it again, that's right Red Tornado, would create in an enclosed space full of priceless items. Talk about the cure being worse than the disease…

Next we get Plastic Man and that bitch Doctor Light in part two. I call her "that bitch Doctor Light" because that's how she's characterized in this book. She's a bitch. That's her personality trait, bitchiness. So we get to see a happy-go-lucky hero teamed with a bitch. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to get away from that woman, lest she cross the fourth wall and insult me for spending my money on this dog of a book.

Finally we get Firestorm teamed with the aforementioned Vixen, who needs motivation from Superman to actually fight for her life. It's considerate of Firestorm to announce who the heroes are as he enters a convention center in Chicago to fight his group of Royal Flush Gang. It's even more considerate of him not to use his special super-hero powers to destroy the villains' weapons and defeat them in three seconds flat. Instead he uses his fists to beat up the bad guys, which never works in comics. I mean, he's a JLAer, doesn't he know that fists don't actually hurt when they hit you in the face?

In the end the fat man and the tattooed woman get away, though they might have been killed by that bitch Doctor Light, who also seems to be pretty bad at using her powers.

This atrocity is written by the legendary Len Wein, who wrote some classic JLA stories 30 or 35 years ago. It's cool to see him get work in comics again, but it's sad to see such mediocrity on the comics page.

And the art this issue would be bland if it wasn't actually so awful. On the surface, the pencils by Tom Derenick seem competent in a bland way, but the more you look at them, the more they look like Derenick needs to return to art school and learn his figure drawing. It doesn't help that five people ink this project, which is obviously the sign of a team phoning it in.

Obviously this issue was just filling space until James Robinson's JLA appears next month, but couldn't the creative staff have devoted some work to creating a comic that was reasonably professional?

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