Friday, March 14, 2008

Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #13-17 (2007-8)

Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Art by Joe Benitez & Ed Benes
Covers by Ian Churchill

I missed the Wedding Special, but I was able to jump into the storyline cold: JLAers captured by Injustice Gang, drawn extra-skinny by a former Top Cow artist. The very black Milestone Comics co-founder writing the book has also upped the profile of darkest League membership ever, meaning more than one at a time, with John Stewart in a leadership role. I can live with this. The story is fun and fast-paced-- perhaps too much so. Despite the Image art style, the pages have plenty of panels, but they're often near silent action beats. Should I be surprised a former scripter for animated series has turned the comic into a glorified storyboard? Umm... not after slogging through those tedious Brad Meltzer issues.

The second issue (third, I suppose) misplaced Green Lantern, but Black Lightning represents. Shame about his lame current costume (Newell design FTW) and "negative combover." Note to artist: a great many black men like hair on their heads. Another note, this time to Ed Benes: If you must draw heroines as pin-ups, at least put some meat on them. Bad enough Black Canary must again be bound helplessly and eroticized, but can her butt look slightly more developed than playground pedophile fodder? Also, just start drawing Wonder Woman nude. It would be more respectable than strategically placing her outfit the very cusp of every one of her naughty bits. Points earned for the Legion of Doom headquarters, minus quite a few for reminding everyone of the kraptonite shank from "Superman Returns."

Final chapter calls Jason Rusche off the bench, more dynamic than the 25 or so issues of Firestorm I suffered through expecting it to finally turn a corner. Not to be. Great collection of iconic and under appreciated villainy, as well.

No disassemble Red Tornado! Johnny Smith is alive! No thanks-- leave him in the hard drive to replace Oracle or (yet again) J'Onn. Much hate here for stupid Red Usurper!

Written by Dwayne McDuffie and Alan Burnett
Art by Joe Benitez and Allan Jefferson

Here is where balls drop. Super-heroes behave stupidly. "Red Arrow" (ugh) is overplayed. I will always dig Speedy, but he's a hand-to-tushy man, not a fightin' machine. I'd be seriously peeved about paying $2.99 for a preview of an external event mini-series if I hadn't read it free at the library. That would be you I hosed, Dan Didio. Expect more where that came from. You're owed.

Speaking of Speedy love, a back-up feature rescues a sorta-kinda Roy Harper rogue from the pawn shop. The story isn't worth reading, and it sets up another event mini-series, but there went your silver lining.

Written by Dwayne McDuffie and Alan Burnett
Art by Ed Benes, Jon Boy Meyer and Sandra Hope
Cover by Ethan Van Sciver

OUTSTANDING cover! An instant classic if the interior story is half as good! Welp, screw you readers, as this is more novelty and marketing for other DC titles. Members of the Cadre pop up to be beaten by Black Lightning alone. This is why Vibe will never, ever be resurrected. Crowbar specifically needs to just give up the life of crime in favor of playing Tuesday night open mic in a Village People cover band. These characters are drawn better than ever, proving soundly their utter lack of worth, as they're still laughable. I almost sent this review over to the Idol-Head, as the Human Flame cameos with the Cadre, but even I found that too much of a reach.

Dwayne McDuffie continues to waste space on the lousy Vixen subplot Meltzer should have resolved his own damned self. I like Vixen, which is a good thing, because she's having her personal "Steel in 52" spectacle here where the awfulness of her arc will probably drive any potential new fans to lingering animosity toward her.

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