Justice League of America #50
Written by James Robinson
Art by Mark Bagley
This is the most fun that this book has been in years. Seriously, it is. Oddly enough, you know how they managed to do that? By taking out the big guns of the DC Universe, the sames whose inclusion helped make Grant Morrison’s run on JLA as epic as it was. It’s hard to separate your big top tier team for your big name brand characters, this much is true, but JLA has finally fallen into place as Robinson’s plans make sense. We’ve got the Justice League, and while they aren’t the big seven, it’s honestly more interesting because of it.
The biggest name on the team is Batman, who happens to be the Dick Grayson version, and who is essentially the leader. He’s, obviously, filling the Batman gap. Donna Troy fills the Wonder Woman vacancy, and actually reads stronger than Diana tends to in JLA, her character gets a bit more pronounced and she makes for a good fit. Supergirl takes the place of her cousin, and it’s a good change. Kara provides the raw power of a Kryptonian without the experience and wisdom that Superman brings to the table, making it easier to see her as a character that is growing into a hero as opposed to one who is already the best. Jade fills the role of a Green Lantern, and in her case I’m going to stay mum for a few more issues as…..I’m still not a huge fan of hers, but she does add a much different element than Hal or John would. The most inspired choice, however, is Jessie Quick playing the role of the team speedster, she’s a much different character then Barry or Wally, and given her ties to the Titans and JSA, she is as much an old hat as she is a rookie.
The team is an interesting dynamic, and yes, I did leave out Congo Bill and Starman, but that’s just because neither of them is really in this issue.
Robinson has been building this team since before Blackest Night kicked in, when he took over the issue with his team that included Mon-El, Dr. Light, Guardian, Starfire, and The Atom. In retrospect, I’m not sure how anyone believed that that was going to be his lineup going forward. I mean, Mon-El and Starfire. The book spun its wheels, not unlike McDuffie’s run, and for a while it felt as if this book was always going to just sort of….be there, never crucial or important, but always there.
Robinson broke that with this issue, in this reviewers eyes, by putting this new JLA up against a team of classic villains in the Crime Syndicate. For several issues he’s been slowly developing the teams chemistry, but despite the JSA crossover, they’ve yet to truly go up against any threats that truly scream out “Justice League”. And is there really any better way then to have everyone go up against their equal number? Or better yet, given the second tier status of their archetypes, they had everyone go up against the equal number of the first tier character they spun off from.
As far as battles go, this issue was essentially one big fight for about half of it, and to judge the issue on it would be fair. Mark Bagley hits a homerun on art, as was to be expected, and every active member of the team gets a chance to show not only what they can do, but why they are there. From Supergirl’s determination fighting this evil version of her cousin, to Donna going blow for blow with an evil Wonder Woman, and Jade showing why she isn’t just Green Lantern Jr., Robinson juggles the cast well.
Now, this isn’t to say the issue is perfect by any means. The how and why for the fight is a bit….well, I can’t say much of anything nice when Countdown is involved. Robinson definitely puts forth the effort and tries to tell a coherent story by tieing in continuity where applicable, but a two page spread of Donna Troy talking about her adventures in the multiverse with Kyle, Jason, and Bob the Monitor is still a bad memory of mine. Thankfully we got to see Bagley draw one of my favorite multiverse characters, so that was bonus.
Dr. Impossible returns, and it reminded me that Meltzer promised big things for this character that has never really done a damn thing. And Blue Jay pops up again to make sense of why he’s been brought up during the run in the first place, but, to be honest, the stuff with Impossible and his people was the most head achey part of the issue. Sure, it led to a last page cliffhanger that made me want to see the next issue, but I’ve yet to be given a reason to care about these villains. Impossible in particular, and I need that kind of attachment with a villain for me to really care about what they’re doing. Right now he’s just a jackass who wears purple Mr. Miracle gear, while his henchman look like….you know what, the henchmen whose names I don’t remember don’t really matter.
Bagley’s art really does pull the issue together, and after years upon years of Spider-Man it really is a welcome change to get to see his take on multiple DC characters at a time. It’s a welcome change for someone who has been scoping his art since Amazing Spider-Man and got a little bored of….him drawing Spider-Man. His style is suited for this book, and to be honest, I’m amazed Marvel hadn’t put him on an Avengers or X-Men title full time. The man can draw a team book.
The book is good, not great, but good. It still has a ways to go before it can really be put up there with how great it was at it’s best, but it’s off to a good start here. Finally freed from crossover syndrome Robinson has a chance to finally play with the team he’s gathered together and let them just be the Justice League. With any luck, this team will stick around for a while and give him the chance to build them up, because, honestly, any more big roster changes will just kill this book completely in the water.
Tags: Batman, Brightest Day, Crime Syndicate, DC Comics, James Robinson, JLA, Justice League of America, Mark Bagley, Reviews, Supergirl