Current Reviews


Formerly Known As The Justice League #5

Posted: Sunday, November 9, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

Writers: Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis
Artists: Kevin Maguire (p), Joe Rubinstein (i)

Publisher: DC

As half of the team returns to their headquarters to find the vessel of intergalactic trader Manga Khan hovering over the building, we see Blue Beetle is at the hospital with the gravely injured Captain Atom, where he finds the doctors aren't exactly lining up to treat a patient who may be leaking potentially deadly radiation. Meanwhile back at the headquarters we learn what object of value Manga Khan has come to Earth looking to acquire, and what he's brought in trade.

More than any other issue of this miniseries I would have to say that this issue is the one that is dependent on one being familiar with the original Giffen/DeMatteis run for one to fully enjoy this issue, as even the big surprise regarding what Manga Khan is offering up to trade for L-Ron requires one to be aware of this character's previous appearances in order to fully appreciate why no one would be willing to make this trade, even if the life of this captive was threatened. With that said I have to say I'm delighted to see yet another element from the original run make a reappearance, as some of the funniest issues of the run involved this character. There's also a delightful acknowledgement in the final pages that while the Giffen/DeMatteis was largely made up of second stringers, it's membership did include two of the big seven JLA, and the scene where these two debate whether they are willing to get sucked back into the madness that was the old Justice League made for a cute little moment of comedy. However, the issue also manages to include some drama in the middle of the comedy, as we get a fairly amusing, but also highly effective little moment with Ted as he attempts to use the resources available to him to save Captain Atom's life, with the scene where he finally breaks down and admits as much being the highlight of this sequence.

As for the art, Kevin Maguire continues to offer up a wonderful display to every artist in the industry on how to deliver comedy using the facial expressions and body language of the characters. I mean the second page of this issue is absolutely hilarious as we have three separate characters going through a wide range of emotions, and while the dialogue makes this scene effective, Mary Marvel doesn't utter a single word, and yet she is the funniest element in these panels. There's also a solid display of Blue Beetle's rising level of frustration as he finds that even the task of making a simple phone-call for help looks to be beyond his abilities. There's also a rather amusing in-joke involving the captive that Manga Khan has brought to trade for L-Ron, as we see that he found his way into the dumping ground that acted to catch many of the former members of the organization that he used to belong to.

Final Word:
A very funny issue that is helped tremendously by my being a big fan of the original run, and as such I can fully appreciate the various nods of the head that this issue makes to those classic issue. I mean this issue is funny in its own right, as the interaction between Fire, Ralph and the devastated Mary Marvel in the opening pages is truly hilarious, and when Max and L-Ron enter the picture the comedy becomes even more enjoyable. I also like the fact that this issue plays up the idea that there is an aftermath to battles, as watching Blue Beetle struggle with the idea that people are more concerned that Captain Atom may be leaking deadly radiation, instead of the fact that he is dying, or Mary Marvel devastated state throughout this issue as Ralph continues to twist the knife makes for a fairly solid emotional aftermath to what was a fairly intense bit of action. This issue also brings back another welcome face from the original run, and there's also a fun look in on Batman and the Martian Manhunter as they look back upon their days in this version of the League.

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