REVIEW: Justice League of America #15

Justice League of America #15
Company Name: DC Comics
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Pencils: Ed Benes
Inks: Sandra Hope
Colorist: Pete Pantazis

For the past two issues, plus the JLA Wedding Special which he wrote, all had some great dialog but little of the amazing action or stunning twists in the plot that made his work on Justice League Unlimited so great. With this issue, that has changed and Dwayne McDuffie has seized control of Justice League of America and made it his own. Oddly, he’s done this by doing something that few DC writers and editors seem to bother with anymore; acknowledging past characterization and continuity.

Case in point: it has also been noted that despite being voted JLA Chairperson during Brad Meltzer’s run on Justice League of America, Black Canary’s “leadership” was limited to a bit of con-fabbing with Power Girl during The Lightning Saga. We also frequently saw Dinah playing second-fiddle to Superman, Batman and even Black Lightning in books such as Amazon’s Attack and Countdown in situations where she should have been field-commander of the JLA during a combat situation.

McDuffie, however, does not make this mistake. And while I should note that every character is given a chance to shine throughout the course of this story, it is McDuffie’s portrayal of Black Canary that really stood out in this issue. For the first time since Gail Simone left Birds of Prey, we have been given a vision of Dinah that not only suggests that she be leading The World’s Finest Heroes – it demands that she do so.

Here’s the panel-by-panel list of just how Black Canary kicks ass and how much Black Canary SHOULD kick ass when properly written.

Kick-Ass Moment #1 – Dinah is using her signature super-power, The Canary Cry. Old-school comic fans might remember her having this ability. The Canary Cry is a sonic attack capable of disabling or unbalancing most beings. Black Canary frequently used this power at the start of battles in order to weed-out the weaker foes so she can focus on more dangerous targets.

Kick-Ass Moment #2 – Dinah is a mentor. Even as she is trying to rip off Cheshire’s head, she always has a moment to give a less experienced hero advice on how he may better aid his comrades.

Kick-Ass Moment #3 – Black Canary giving Wonder Woman orders. Like a leader.

Kick-Ass Moment #4 – Dinah is portayed as being smart, competent and funny. She knows she can’t fight Giganta on her own terms and makes light of the fact. She then uses her martial arts knowledge, albeit on a larger scale, in order to dislocate the thumb of her enemy in order to win a temporary distraction.

Kick-Ass Moment #5 – The bigger they are, etc. Despite facing a relatively over-powered enemy, Black Canary wins using her wits, experience and substantial skill.

Kick-Ass Moment #6 – Dinah stares down Batman after he disobeys her orders. Rather than waste time arguing the point with him there, she says only that “we’ll talk about it later”. From the dialog and even the art, it is clear that by no means is Batman off the hook and the the only reason she doesn’t give him the ass-kicking/tongue-lashing he deserves is because they have bigger concerns i.e – a group of unconscious baddies to lock-up before they wake-up.

Even Ed Benes’ usual cheesecake work can’t diminish the greatness of this comic. I think it’s more than fair to say at this point that Dwayne McDuffie has finally restored Justice League to the high standard set by Mark Waid and Grant Morrison.

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