Saturday, 20 August 2011

Justice League of America #60 review


Oh, James Robinson is a bugger. As the current members of the JLA discuss taking their leave of the team, he sprinkles the pages with splashy scenes of adventures he's not had time to show us in full. Glorious, fun-filled fictions.

The Construct takes over every robot on Earth, pitting the JLA against the Metal Men, Red Tornado family, over a dozen GI robots and a lot more (click on image to enlarge - and that's only half the spread).
There's the Saturn-Thanagar war, as the JLA stands by J'emm, Son of Saturn, against the invading Hawkmen.

And the Battle for Gemworld, with Starman besting Dark Opal in a swordfight.

And these barely told tales are all beautifully presented by penciller Daniel Sampere, inker Wayne Faucher and colourist Andrew Dalhouse. The pages burst with characters and incident, the flashes of action begging for extrapolation.

As with last week's Batgirl #24, whether or not the stories were really all planned out doesn't matter; what's interesting is the potential we see (if we never truly meet Robo-Octo-Ape the world will be a sadder place). Robinson's JLA has grown in stature. More than a collection of promoted sidekicks, legacy heroes and second stringers, they really are (some of) the World's Greatest Super-Heroes. And this issue we see the kind of cosmos-shaking direction in which Robinson may have taken them, accompanied by mouthwatering artwork. You know, we just may be missing a classic JLA run by a classic creative team.

But there's more to this issue than teases. We're also allowed to eavesdrop on the final meeting of this incarnation of the JLA, as each member decides to move on. Some reasons are convincing: Jesse Quick is pregnant; Congorilla aims to find a successor to the fallen Freedom Beast; Starman needs to recover from injury; Supergirl plans to choose between college and exploring space.

Others serve the story's need to end a chapter more than they do the characters: recently reborn Jade wants to spend more time as photographer Jennie-Lynn Hayden; the Dick Grayson Batman decides that as everyone else is going, he may as well make it a clean sweep; and - stop me if you've heard this before - Donna Troy is off to find herself.

With Donna herself saying 'the first thing I need to do is work out who Donna Troy is nowadays', I'm pretty sure this is Robinson 'aving a larf. Nevertheless, it's painful to contemplate the multiple-origined Donna Troy going off to find herself yet again, even though the coming New 52 kinda-sorta-reboot means we're not going to have to suffer the sight. Indeedy, DC has announced no plans to include Donna in upcoming books, something Robinson graciously sets up here: 'I want the world to forget Donna Troy ever existed. I'm certainly going to do my best to disappear.' So if we don't see Donna for a few years, we can assume she's visiting Jack Knight, patron saint of self-effacing super-heroes.

Robinson also cheekily pre-engages with the post-Flashpoint world via Congorilla's commentary on the idea that Batwing is the only hero Africa needs. And he proves the point by rolling off a whole bunch of names of heroes unknown to his JLA pals - the Shanty Saint, Ghost Fury, Princess Knife, Science Whiz, Gullivar Sotinwa - causing them to blush with shame.

Then there's Dick's comment that despite his success as Batman, 'he'll want me back as Nightwing soon'. Robinson is letting us know that DC could easily make the changes it wants in character status quos without shifting the universal axis or whatever.

I also like Supergirl's telling Dick that he was the big brother she needed (they're both too polite to mention that Superman, who traditionally fills that role, has spent the year being rubbish); the fact that there's no JLA No More gloom ... everyone rightly assumes there'll be a new wave of heroes to take up the baton, hence the story's title, 'Adjourned'; Jesse Quick finally finding her niche as a speedster, and no one sharing her sense of humour; Donna's playful parting comment to Jesse: 'Let us know when you drop.'

Some of the dialogue is a little clunky, such as Jade's explanation of where she's at: '...how I've been reborn, and that I'm not just in some weird dream, which I admit was kind of how I regarded it up until now as a way of dealing with my brother and me not able to be near each other and all the other subtle changes.' I know she's Californian, but she doesn't have to sound like Little Miss Therapy. Editor?

On the whole, though, this is a sterling issue. Robinson and partners, in a very entertaining manner, accomplish a lot - explaining why the curtain is coming down so soon after the JLA's massive victory against Eclipso, setting the characters up for their next seen or unseen status quo, and making us pine for a series curtailed.

Will I miss this incarnation of the Justice League of America? I already am.

7 comments:

  1. I have enjoyed Robinsons run on JLA, I know he was not everyones cup of tea, but he took a book that seemed to have no direction and for me turned it around. Like you I will miss this JLA team

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  2. I wonder if those stories might have been stories that couldn't be told thanks to the DC Reboot...

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  3. I'm glad it's not just me, Rob!

    I reckon so, Baron.

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  4. I admit, when this new JLA team came to be, I was like, WTF? But, I have to admit, I have really come to like Mikal and Congorilla, and I have always loved Donna Troy (It's Donna who is going to be a photographer, her and Jade do live in San Francisco together) even if writers have always had a hard time pinning her character down. I think Robinson did a good job of giving us a reason she is so hard to pin down, her rage. Imagine you have had your life torn apart, your child dead, and worst of all, like power girl, a mess of memories and emotions of lives not really lived, and you begin to understand her anger. And I like that, if DC is going to get rid of her in the relaunch, at least we get to see her off to do something she loves and maybe find some happiness.

    I came to really like this JLA. I'm gonna miss it.

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  5. Hector, isn't Jade going to be snapping too, as Donna's partner?

    I do wish writers would stop trying to 'explain' Donna and simply use her - she's the powerhouse next door, simple.

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  6. Who's the Green robot next to Robert Crane/Robotman? And is that Mekanique with the cone shaped head?

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    1. The green robots I don't know but the lady-bot is Copper from the Metal Men.

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