Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Justice League of America #54 review


New JLA artist Brett Booth immediately shows us what he can do with a grimly powerful cover. Inside he gamely illustrates writer James Robinson's latest whirlwind tour of the DC Universe, producing some memorable images. Chief among them is the dark god Syththunu, an HR Giger Alien by way of HP Lovecraft, though the French villain Bete-Noire is also rendered as an intimidating force. Other characters who show up this issue include the Shade, the Shadow Thief, Nightshade ... notice a theme? Yes, it's characters who wield darkness, all being corrupted by Eclipso, newly reunited with longtime host Bruce Gordon.

Apart from a splash and a single panel including two of the members, the JLA don't appear this issue. We're with Gordon and Eclipso all the way, as the dark god enacts his latest plan against mankind. And I didn't miss the heroes one bit, so engrossing is Robinson's latest storyline. 

I say 'latest' but there are elements here that were set up months ago; I think it's safe to say that Robinson is on form now, telling the type of longform story that made Starman such a success. Having his favourite, the Shade, on hand helps, of course, but Robinson's also world-building, as he did in Starman. He's not only bringing a classic character back to greatness, in the shape of Eclipso, he's including such obscurities as Mexican heroine Acratas from the Planet DC event and someone I've never heard of, Daniel-Crow-Brings-Darkness, a male Raven from Canada.

With a couple of bonus story pages, this $2.99 item also has room for a history lesson, Eclipso 101, and a cameo by Dr Midnite, who could be in trouble. Robinson's script is first rate, while Booth injects a refreshing energy into the series. His characters, inked by the extremely able Norm Rapmund, just ooze strength and malevolence - I can't wait to see what he does with the good guys. Adding to the visual feast are the colours of Andrew Dalhouse, whose Diablo Island scenes are especially strong, and letterer Rob Leigh, whose work is ever outstanding.

Eclipso Rising: Part One, Shadow Warriors is a new beginning for the JLA - if you're a lapsed reader, I'd advise giving the book another try. With a revivified writer, a new art teams that gels brilliantly and one of DC's best baddies, you'll likely be glad you did. 

8 comments:

  1. Just read it over lunch.
    Have been loving Robinson's new team, sensing the threads he's been plucking for months, and finally SEEING the fabric starting to come together here.

    I agree the set-up is over, and all the greatness I've sensed him building to is starting to be unleashed. Actually looking forward to this arc more than the War of the GLs event in a couple month.

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  2. And we even had, last issue, Donna admitting that cussing wasn't her thing. Result!

    Thanks for the comment, Chris.

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  3. What I'm looking forward to with this new arc is the return finally of Eclipso to being a prominent and cohesive Villain. I was never a fan originally as he was just very oddball and lacked substance but the early 90s reinvention caught my imagination and he was a genuinly dangerous and scary threat, I loved the redesign and am glad to see they've kept it.

    I do wish though that DC would get serious with The Spectre again, is he their #1 powerhouse or not anymore...?
    (That's a rhetorical question BTW)

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  4. May I treat it as non-rhetorical? I feel the Crispus Allen Spectre, and the Hal Jordan one before that, have been massive failures. I'd love to see Crispy back to life, and Jim Corrigan back in control. And consistent in power levels.

    I prefer the original Eclipso design, I'm not keen on the Peter Pan leaf he's currently sporting.

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  5. May I treat it as non-rhetorical? I feel the Crispus Allen Spectre, and the Hal Jordan one before that, have been massive failures. I'd love to see Crispy back to life, and Jim Corrigan back in control. And consistent in power levels.

    I prefer the original Eclipso design, I'm not keen on the Peter Pan leaf he's currently sporting.

    I think the original Ecliso conceot & design is what held him back, too 60s and too reliant on Gimmick. I have just finished reading JLA and as you said it was a decent read, I'm happy to see Ecliso taken back to his roots and anchored to Bruce Gordon again and thre is the definite feel this is an extremely powerful villain.

    Regarding The Spectre - I'm torn on this. I don't see any way Jim can be brought back after such a final send off in Ostranders series finale but while Crispus had real potential as a succesful Spectre he is being destroyed in credibility by writers treating this incarnation as a mere plot device and lacking a three dimensional personality and intelligence.
    I did like the initial treatment as Allen was even more bitter at life and in turn sadistic than Corrigan was, genuinly a scary tormented man, but without an ongoing series to build on that he has become the equivalent of a stand in, no one takes him seriously as a character as he hasn't had the chance to establish himself fairly. Shame.

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  6. I too would hate to see Corrigan return as the Spectre. Then again I hated Crispis becoming the Spectre as well, and the fact he still sports his goatee as the Spectre.
    I'd like to see a new character, someone we haven't heard become the new Spectre.

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  7. Dave, Crispus becoming the Spectre seemed just a way to keep him out of comics limbo. Him becoming the big guy is just so very random, it doesn't work - Jim Corrigan was never known to us before he became the Spectre, so he had no baggage. But Crispus was a popular part of generally non-supernatural series, and having him as a super-ghost seems just weird.

    And as Travis points out, that goatee - zoinks!

    I'd rather Crispus had vanished into comics limbo until a Gotham Central revival came along, or better yet, shown up in the Batman books occasionally, along with the similarly (badly) re-purposed Renee Montoya.

    And DC could bring Crispus back from Spectre-dom - remember the previous guy?

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