JLA #102 Review

Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: The Pain of the Gods: Scarlet Speedster

Written by: Chuck Austen
Art by: Ron Garney
Colored by: David Baron
Lettered by: Pat Brosseau
Assistant Editor: Valerie D’Orazio
Editor: Mike Carlin
Publisher: DC Comics

As a whole this was not a bad issue of JLA. In fact, it far out-distances the handful of issues I’ve read of JLA the past couple of years. As big of an improvement as this issue was, it still barely rises above mediocrity. I can’t believe how badly this story was botched from the standpoint of its focus—a look into the world of the Flash. Not to mention it took me less then three minutes to read. Unless unbeknownst to me, I recently gained the speed reading capabilities of the Flash, that’s just unacceptable.

“The Pain of the Gods” is a six-issue arc focusing on solo stories of the top JLA members. Each of the stories is supposed to focus on the individual’s personal crisis. A interesting concept for a team book, and one that I have been looking forward to. The Superman story that kicked the arc off two weeks ago was quite good; Chuck Austen really nailed Supes, unfortunately, Austen seems to have caught the same illness that plagued writers of the Justice League cartoon—the one that makes people incapable of writing Wally West correctly. He’s a long-established superhero that’s done it all! He may be act irrationally at times, but he’s not a rookie.

Other than the ridiculous brevity of the script, you may want to know what’s my big beef?

The whole issue centers on Wally clearing out a burning building at super speed. He comes to a room where he finds two children dead from smoke inhalation. When Wally gets downstairs, he speaks with a firemen and we find out that Wally has never found a dead body before. GIVE ME A BREAK! Even in DC’s screwed up continuity, Wally, between being Kid Flash and Flash, has been doing this for going on ten years. It’s not just silly, it’s moronic, to think that he’s never uncovered a dead body! I can’t get by this. It irks me to see Wally written as a foolish, innocent kid. This is bad writing. Period!

Flash then runs around town installing smoke detectors in every house. Nice touch by Austen. Yet, isn’t this something Flash should have thought of before? He’s the fastest man alive. It would take him, what, a couple of minutes to do. Then Flash has a little chat with the JLA and a then a quick wrap surrounding the child of last issue’s victim of tragedy.

Artistically speaking this issue rocks! Ron Garney has captured the Flash with utter perfection. He’s got the speed and majesty of the character down; something Chuck Austen only seemed to get half right. I’d love to see Ron Garney work on the ongoing Flash series sometime down the line. Not too soon, mind you. I don’t want to see Howard Porter off that book quite yet.

I don’t want to turn this into the all-to-easy Chuck Austen bashing review. I’m not happy with the issue, but it could have been worse. Chuck took a major conceit with a character that I just don’t buy. As a whole the book was well written and the art was amazing.