Reviewer: Tim Stevens
Story Title: Master of Light
Written by: Grant Morrison
Penciled by: Ed McGuinness
Inked by: Dexter Vines
Colored by: Dave McCaig
Lettered by: Phil Balsman
Editor: Mark Carlin
Publisher: DC Comics
Ahh, this is more like it. Issue #1 was decent, but I didn’t feel any of the mad rush of excitement that I thought I would. With Grant Morrison on the JLA again I was expecting so much and, sadly, found the book falling short of those hopes.
But this…this does the trick.
With the real JLA still on a mission in the cubed infant universe, Batman dispatches a team of robot look-alikes to Superbia (renamed Gorillatropolis by Grodd…who knew that angry fella had such a sense of humor) to achieve victory. Or, at the least, hold the line until Squire can retrieve the flesh and blood league.
Meanwhile on Superbia, things have gone from bad to worse. All the Ultramarines have beaten and either shattered (Warmaker) or taken prisoner (the rest). Unfortunately, the bad news does not stop there. It seems a few members are not acting quite like themselves and by issue’s end that number is only going to rise.
Last time out, I complimented Morrison for his handling of Batman and Grodd. There is more of the same greatness here, but with a nice bonus. Morrison writes both of them with a wicked sense of humor while still keeping them in character. Besides the aforementioned name change, Grodd waxes philosophical about the flavor of superhero and takes the time to roast one particular hero on a spit, claiming that, while he was always want to eat this hero, he hardly knows where to start now that he has the opportunity. Batman is his typical dry something, commenting, “That went well,” as his robotic league gambit spectacularly falls apart around him. For those of you that remember a bloodied Batman stumbling into the hall and commenting, “Well, that was a humbling experience,” after Prometheus took him down the first time the two met, this is more of that same tone of voice.
However, what propelled this book above merely good for me was the rest of the JLA’s adventures in the infant universe seeking out Black Death. First, Morrison links Death’s actions to Grodd’s plan, thus offering up a reasonable explanation of how both events just happened to coincide so perfectly. The real treat, however, is the way the story of the JLA’s activities in the cubed world is told. The layout is always 16 panels a page and consists entirely of close-ups. It is fascinating to see McGuinness, who has paid in his through large almost balloon muscled heroes and villains and big splashy scenes, rein it in so tight to storytell in this manner. His choice of images to zoom in on is inspired and well depicted. It is in this portion of the story that Morrison also makes the best use of Superman’s alter ego that I have seen in sometime as Kent “accidentally” spills a woman’s drink, saving her from certain death by poison.