Or  – “Faces Of Evil… WITH EYEBEAMS!!”

JLA1.jpg

Space.

Vampire.

With LASER EYES!!!

You give this guy some claws, and I think Rob Liefeld might have a lawsuit for ya…

JLA2.jpgPreviously, on Justice League of America:  There’s a thing, with an alternate universe?  And Icon and Hardware and the Shadow Cabinet were there?  And, somehow, Superman and Icon were willing to let all their teammates beat each other senseless over a macguffin?  And the macguffin actually seemed to be a candle that is the last remains of Arthur Light, inveterate looney-tune, Elongated wife violator, and general schmendrik?  And, at some point, I think Hawkman showed up, in the same manner that Dirty Steve busted into the movie Young Guns four of five times to scream plot points like “Charlie’s gettin’ married!”?  And weirdly enough, there was just enough cleverness going on to balance out the fact that the group consisted of characters who may or may not be dead, in the past, beaten to death by Genocide, trapped on New Krypton, impaled on an arrow, joining the Outsiders, or sucked out of the timeline by a giant mystical deck o’ cards?

This Faces of Evil special gets mis attention on the very first page, with two names that I haven’t seen in a while: Len Wein and Chris Cross.  Starbreaker addresses us (or at least addresses somebody) in full fledged lunatic supervillain mode, orating loudly about how he was taken out by “the thrice-cursed Justice League of America!”  He tells us the story (one that takes place during the League’s old Satellite-era) of how he faced down the old-school JLA, including a shirtless Hakwman, a not-yet-dead Barry Allen, Hal Jordan when his uniform had trunks and Art Curry in orange chainmail.  The team mobilizes against a series of threats, while Starbreaker oversees, analyzing and looking for weaknesses.  The big pink pointy-haired assclown beams in and attacks, only to get the attention of the JLA’s first-strike team.  Superman, Flash and Green Lantern are easily defeated by the energy vampire and the team regroups at their orbital headquarters.

Starbreaker responds by dragging Earth out of it’s orbit, forcing the team to move into action.  Green Lantern beams up a green harness, hooks it to the Last Son of Krypton, and together they desperately try to pull the planet back.  Flash, Batman and company attack Starbreaker, and Batman figures out that the hopeful cheers of the crowd somehow weaken the vampire, giving the Hal & Kal connection the crowd boost that allows them to pull off their finishing moves, while AQUAMAN gets in the final blow on Starbreaker with a good left hook and a clever line, and ‘Breaker laments his loss, and explains that the Oans tossed him into a shadow universe, an inescapable prison for vrtually everyone…  except the man to whom he’s speaking.  “Call me… Shadow Thief!”

Hmm…  This issue’s story is one that I’ve read before (though the story itself is nearly as old as I am, I have a pretty good run of Bronze Age JLA) but the overall comic is a mixed blessing.  Chris Cross does interesting work, not at all reminiscent of his days on Blood Syndicate, and Len Wein delivers an interesting retro treatment of the team.  I can’t tell if I’m old, if Len is intentionally tweaking the cliche dialogue of 1972, or what, but some of the lines were cheesy in an almost awesome way, while others fell seriously flat.  Having Arthur Curry throw the final punch that takes him down reminds me of why I miss Aquaman (Let’s see YOU get by underwater the way that he does on the ground!) and there’s some nice team moments as well.  Problem is, it’s not our CURRENT team…  The weakness of the book comes in having it be mostly flashback, especially at a point where last issue’s storyline was starting to coalesce into something I was interested in.  It’s almost a non-sequitur, though it does explain Hawkman’s assertion that a godlike madman is about to destroy the universe.  The good and bad even out here, though, giving this issue an appeal that’s hard to deny.  Justice League of America #29 earns 2.5 out of 5 stars, an atypical issue for this series, but not a bad one at all…

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

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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10 Comments

  1. Joshua Smith
    February 3, 2009 at 12:52 am — Reply

    I was very, very surprised by this issue. I am not a huge fan of JLA but have been picking it up due to the re-introduction of the Milestone heroes (MORE ICON NOW… please!). It really would have been quite spiffy to see a little more of them but other than that I dug this one.

    ps. Len Wein needs to get a flashback JLA book permanently… The retro feel was awesome and I want a team with both Aquaman and Martian Manhunter (RIP Big Green RIP).

  2. brainypirate
    February 3, 2009 at 9:46 am — Reply

    > “he group consisted of characters who may or may not be dead, in the past, beaten to death by Genocide, trapped on New Krypton, impaled on an arrow, joining the Outsiders, or sucked out of the timeline by a giant mystical deck o’ cards?”

    Holy… I see that by skipping the Final Crisis series I’ve missed a lot! I know that Bats in the past, but who are the other characters you’re referring to here?

  3. February 3, 2009 at 10:43 am — Reply

    Respectively?

    Batman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Black Canary, Black Lightning, and Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman.

  4. Ricco
    February 3, 2009 at 11:13 am — Reply

    So THIS is DC’s response to Galactus? A energy vamp who’s weakened by hope, so basicaly a Blue Lantern and kid with a stick can beat him to death…

  5. steviecool
    February 3, 2009 at 2:36 pm — Reply

    I know the villains can’t all be winners, but the Brand-New-Day-Spider villain (did you catch the similarities on that?), then THIS guy?

    Strike two.

    Seriously, I dislike the Terror Titans, but at least they can do a villain recap in one page.
    I would have rather read 18 one page origins of a new iteration of the Injustice League.

    This is a strong contender for 2009’s My Personal Unfavorite category.

  6. ~wyntermute~
    February 3, 2009 at 4:32 pm — Reply

    “Holy… I see that by skipping the Final Crisis series I’ve missed a lot! I know that Bats in the past, but who are the other characters you’re referring to here?”

    I’m relatively sure not everything Mr. Matthew is referring to happened in F$*# Continuity…er, Final Crisis. For example, the bit about being sucked out of reality by playing cards refers to Trinity (which, btw, is buttloads more entertaining to me than F.C.).

  7. Ricco
    February 3, 2009 at 5:58 pm — Reply

    @~wyntermute~: So true, Tinity’s a nice read and like F.C. also has obscure characters but it’s not written like a bad acid trip. Maybe if he’d had 52 issues Grant Mirrison’s tale would have been better, or at least more coherent…

  8. February 3, 2009 at 8:51 pm — Reply

    I skipped this book so I could buy something that seemed weightier to me so thanks for the review!

  9. brainypirate
    February 4, 2009 at 4:41 pm — Reply

    Thanks for filling in the gaps for me.

  10. February 5, 2009 at 10:09 pm — Reply

    It should be noted that Starbreaker is an old-school DCU villain, whose first appearance was in roughly 1970 or so…

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