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Formerly Known as the Justice League #5

Posted: Friday, November 7, 2003
By: Ray Tate



"The Wrath of Manga Khan"

Writers: Keith Giffin, J.M.DeMatteis
Artists: Kevin Maguire(p), Joseph Rubenstein(i), Lee Louridge(c)
Publisher: DC

Reviewers have different criteria. Our former editor created the bullet rating system, and although we reviewers at Silver Bullet Comic Books use it, our reviews even if they have the same grade seldom have that grade for the same reason. We adapt our own system to the bullet ratings system. For instance, one bullet to me means that it sucks. Two bullets to me means it sucks but it looks pretty, or it reads wonderfully, but I'd like to stab out my own eyes rather than witness this artist's work again.

In many ways humor books are the easiest to judge. All you need do is ask is the book funny. Regarding books by Giffin's, DeMatteis', Maguire's Justice League books--which will now in general be referred to as Justice League International--the question is not merely is the book funny. The question becomes is the latest book bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! funny. When asked that question about Formerly Known as the Justice League I can without hesitation answer: oh, cosmos is it ever.

The book immediately begins to amuse the reader. On page five you begin to grin because you think you know which mystery guest is about to sign in. When the identity of the mystery guest is revealed and you are proven correct, the impact still can be felt.

On page twelve, we achieve bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! funny. The combination of Bea's look, expertly rendered by a guy whom you expect to illustrate expression that cannot be matched, and her dialogue make you laugh out loud. You can't help it. It's as if somebody--hopefully a supermodel--stripped you naked and tickles you with feathers. You cannot help laugh out loud.

Nothing gets in the way of your enjoyment of the gags or the characters in Formerly Known as the Justice League. Captain Atom's plight looks dire indeed, yet the antics of Beetle and Booster hilariously compete against the black humor of the hospital staff. You've got a feeling Atom's going to pull out nice and shiny from this unfortunate situation, and the Looney Tunes atmosphere makes you all but forget he's leaking in the corner of the ER.

Mary's guilt over being the wrecking ball that condemned Atom to his current condition is played so wonderfully over the top that you simply feel the need to pat her on the head and go "awwwwwwww." I mean Fire is the intelligent, rational member of the team. How funny is that!

Oracle guest-stars in the book, but the creative team seem to know how much of a downer this crippled incarnation would be in the feel-good comic book of the decade. They refrain from depicting her in her chair. This gives me the luxury to imagine her standing and talking with the Blue Beetle.

Her health may also explain why Batman is in such a good mood. This incarnation called Nabu to help Beetle. So it's only natural that The Killing Joke would impact on the Justice League International elseworlds not at all. 'Twas an imaginary story anyhow.

Formerly Known as the Justice League, not just funny. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! funny.



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