Or – “Vixen And Her Amazing Friends!”


So, an elder god has unthreaded the skeins of the reality you know, leaving you powerless, without friends, without hope, and the people you know are so completely changed that you aren’t even sure what they do or whose side their on?  Is that what’s getting ya down, Vixen?  And you have nothing but your wits and cunning (and maybe a couple dozen borrowed animal powers) to get you by?  What do you do when the League as you know it is forever gone?  You build a new League!

Previously, on Justice League of America:  For months now, the JLAer known as Vixen has been impaled JLA2.jpgon the horns of a dilemma quandary.  Her connection to the Morphogenic field (an ill-defined realm of power that allows her and others to channel abilities that mimic those of various animals) has been twisted, causing her to duplicate the powers of her fellow Justice Leaguers rather than those of the Fauna kingdoms.  Seeking out Animal Man, she finds him likewise with a bad connection, and both of their lives changed in ways both subtle and profane.  Vixen, Firestorm, Red Arrow (Ugh) and Black Canary venture into the hidden realms inside her magical Tantu Totem, and Vixen is horrified to watch her partners killed, reality altered by an ancient power, and most of her allies and friends literally retconned before her eyes.  Superman dead, Wonder Woman in mourning, Batman a gun-wielding vigilante, and the League in mothballs.  Vixen manages to find the testicular (or perhaps ovarian?  I’m not all that sure about anatomy) fortitude to escape into this strange new world, and now has to figure out that ancient quandary:  What does God need with a starship?

 Her arm broken, running on the edge of exhaustion, Vixen finaly pauses (after TWO DAYS of racing through a nightmarish mirror reality) to assess her situation.  She has her animal powers back, allowing her to heal her wounds, to get where she needs to go, and she’s found another thing that has been missing in recent months.  “I’ve always been courageous,” she thinks, “that’s not vanity, that’s a fact.  But the past few months, in the company of the world’s greatest heroes, I’ve LOST my courages.  Grown fearful, ineffective…  I can’t be.  The Justice League is depending on me.”  She races across the skyline, while, on a rooftop not far away, another of our players enters the scene:  Bruce Wayne, the vigilante known as Paladin.  The P-Man has finally tracked down the elusive Catwoman, and is ready to put a bullet in her head when a green shield blocks his shot.  He tries to escape, but runs right into the hands of James Gordon of the Gotham City P.D.  Gordon and Paladin face off, and shots are fired, but Vixen suddenly leaps into the path of the bullet, catching it with the speed of a mantis shrimp, while Paladin gets captured by Green Lantern.  Vixen convinces the cowboy and the mystic (a man named David Kim, who may seem familiar to old-school Milestone comics fans) to gather the remaining Justice Leaguers to help…

Wonder Woman buys in (after a little magic lasso action proves Vixen isn’t lying) and the strange League is united, including a man called the Brown Bomber, a fat caucasian bigot whose super-power is to turn into an two-fisted African-American powerhouse…

I’ll let that sink in for a moment…

Now, here’s the kicker folks.  The Brown Bomber was meant to be real.  When Tony Isabella was hired by DC back in the day to create their first high-profile black superhero, he was actually given the task of making this twisted character work, as explained in his essay, “Black Lightning and Me.”  Stuff like this is why I love Dwayne McDuffie’s writing, thank you very much.  With the help of an elderly, childless Zatara, the League confronts Anansi, only to have the trickster turn the team on Vixen, leaving her in a worse state.  Finally realizing it’s all on her, Vixen steals Paladin’s gun, and threatens to destroy the Totem, and with it the mystical world in which they’re all currently residing.  The Spider calls her bluff (if bluff it is, and restores her League.  “Doppelgangers.  I need some quality time with the big spider guy,” says Vixen, and her teammates leap into action in seconds.  Vixen talks to Anansi, and the Spider god makes it simply for her.  “The world has changed.”  He tells her that in the coming days, she may be forced to act as his agent, and that he had to strengthen her, to temper her powers and courage and prove herself worthy.  Vixen is skeptical, but the Spider is a man of lies.  “Should the terrible day ever come, you will know I spoke the truth…  Your powers are yours again.  Your confidence is back.  You are my champion.  You are Vixen.”  With that, the League is transported back to reality (in Animal Man’s backyard, no less) and Vixen tells her friends, “We won… by being who we are.”

Let me just say this…  FINALLY!  Finally, we have an issue that showcases the League as the League (ironically by making them not BE the League, but… nevermind) and gives us a clear picture of what being in the JLA is all about.  These characters are the first line of defense, and it’s time their stories lived up to that.  This issue was mostly Vixen’s story, but the moments with alternate-Batman and Wonder Woman were telling enough about the characters to make it clear that these aren’t just guys in tights punching people.  The art was well-done this time around, with some of the sketchiness of Ed Benes’ recent issues tempered, possibly because he inked himself this time.  This one is awesome, with good plot, a great central character, nice bits of history and ephemera, and even a hint of how the Milestone heroes may be arriving in the greater DC Multiverse…  I really enjoyed this issue, and hopefully it’s an indicator that Justice League is back on track.  Justice League of America #26 rates a well-earned 4.5 out of 5 stars.  This is what the World’s Greatest Heroes should be, a well-oiled machine.



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


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