By: Bryan Hitch
Inks By: Daniel Henriques
Colors By: Alex Sinclair
I have to admit, I missed the memo explaining why we even have a Justice League of America ongoing. I thought we had decided a long time ago that the addition of the “America” at the end of a team’s name that was really supposed to be about defending humanity on a global basis was a bit prejudiced and/or jingoistic. Still, I felt a flush of boyhood giddiness when I saw the title initially announced. But that other half of me that asked “Why?” led to me not bothering to check it out until now.
This issue leaves me with a mixed muddle of feelings as to how this platform serves to further the concreteness of the JLA’s legacy in my head. On one hand, the fight between the JLA and Rao (yet ANOTHER false god on display in another comic this week? Seems to be a trend) was satisfying in the highest service to nostalgia. On the other, the end result feels like it cuts too close to other media I’ve recently consumed. Pushing that aside, the JLA is engaged in a big, final battle with another Kryptonian who is looking to pull a Stargate and convince many earthlings to look to them as their sovereign deity. Having achieved some modicum of success, dislodging said deity from their pedestal is a bit tricky. So the JLA calls in help from a particularly nasty villain. As is oft the case, Bats and Cyborg come up with the plan and the rest of the League executes, complete with one of the most war-like renders of Diana Prince that we’ve seen.
I like the story. I almost love it. It brings all of the things that typically make JLA stories great. A big Superman fight, Wonder Woman and Arthur Curry showing up to lay some additional smack down, Bats working tactics behind the scenes until the combat reveal…it’s wonderful in content, pacing, and panache. Then the book ends. And the ending is…polarizing at best. I cannot decide if it should have happened. Or if it should not have. And I’m not sure I can guess as to whether the ending was orchestrated with other events or is just the unfortunate happenstance of constantly moving schedules involved with the release of media across all formats. At best, it’s surprising, a bit jarring, and…yeah. I wish it had been something else.
The art is equally polarizing. Panels go back and forth between some wonderfully artful and moving imagery, to panels where the body proportions on some characters seem distractingly off. The Superman v Rao fight in the opening pages is nothing short of wonderful. Hitch does a great job of rendering his own script into panels. I especially love the all-out Superman fisticuffs with no cape. Superman’s face in his hands in a display of hopelessness is so powerful. Aquaman showing up and flipping Rao about like a rag doll is a hand-clapping moment. But then a crazed Diana showing up in free-fall from the skies with body proportions that make her look like a man made me do a double-take before I could proceed forward. I do love her being fitted out like a walking arsenal…two short swords, one each in scabbards on left and right leg, a normal spear, the lightning bolt spear, her helmet, lasso, and shield…she is bearing arms for war without doubt. In general, Hitch seems to have a problem with nailing Wonder Woman’s face and body form. It’s not just a skosh off, it’s enough to be noticeable and interrupt the flow of my reading.
Regardless, this issue is just shy of being something that would make me jump onboard the ongoing. It’s as classic a JLA tale as you can get without the questions of “why?” and the jarring ending and Wonder Woman art. I do look forward to hearing how this arc rounds out, and hardcore JLA fans will eat this up. It’s fan-service hero stuff at nearly its best with a few nittinoids. Long live the JLA.