Or – “Breakdowns II: Electric Boogaloo.”

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– MAJOR SPOILERS EXCLUSIVE: The Missing Dialogue From This Issue’s Cover –

Bruce:  “So…  I’m dead now, y’know.”
Diana:  “We heard.  I blame that Frank Miller person.”
Bruce:  “Yeah… I’m the $&#damn Deadman doesn’t have the same sort of ‘ooomph’ to it.”
Diana:  “Don’t let Boston hear you say that.  I irritated him once, and ended up dancing topless to “Three Little Maids from School” in a Turkish bathhouse called ‘The Magik Lasso.’ ”
Clark:  “Y’know, I was dead for a while…  Editorial went nuts trying to hide it.  So, how many guys they got swanning around in YOUR costume?”
Bruce:  “Six or ten…  I dunno.  Maybe even Harley Quinn, if you believe the promotionals…  Your dad says ‘Hi,’ by the way.”
Clark:  “Tell him Tom Wopat misses him.  And we all know it’ll be Dick.  C’mon, who else COULD it be?”
Diana:  “So, Bruce is off being dead, and you’re gonna be tied up in your big crossover event.  Why am I quitting again?”
Bruce:  “The Sovereignty of the Trinity, Diana.”
Diana:  “What does that even mean?”
Clark:  “It means Black Canary is getting a push, and editorial is afraid you’ll overshadow her.”
Diana:  “Overshadow her?  I’m not even a founding member!”
Clark/Bruce:  “Yes, you are.”
Diana:  “I am?  I thought she was.”
Clark:  “Three words, Di:   Tom.  Welling .  Punch.”
Bruce:  “Same way my butler became James Bond…”
Clark:  “And also how my Milwaukee’s Best mysteriously vanished last summer.”
Diana:  “Well, hell…   Anybody for souvlaki?”

JLA1.jpgPreviously, on Justice League of America:  The best laid plans of even the supermen go awry now and again, and their plan to create an all-star JLA from all eras, featuring a variety of powers and archetypes was undermined from all sides.  Invasions came from the future, the past, from space, and from the underworld.  The Legion and Red Tornado were restored, but the consistency and coherence of the League was lost.  Membership fluctuated like the blood level in Grant Morrison’s alcohol stream, and great plans went unfulfilled left and right.  Add to that Batman’s slight case of decedence, the presence of a new Planet Krypton (and you can’t order the mozzarella sticks at this one) and the return of the Amazons clouded already murky waters, while some of the team members apparently struck out on their own.  Or will strike out on their own.  I’m still not sure how this all works.  All I can tell you for sure:  with this issue, we are finally firmly set in the post-Final Crisis-era.

We open with a very confusing sequence in which we watch the Watchtower exploding into fragments, as a voice says “Dinah?  Dinah!”  We are treated to the sight of Wonder Woman and Zatanna, having a discussion during which she apparently just trailed off into reverie.  Of course, Wonder Woman’s name is DIANA, and I’m confused whether it’s a gaffe in the art or in the dialogue.  Either way, we immediately cut to Green Lantern and Green Arrow being summoned by Black Canary (the aforementioned Dinah) to get the riot act over Hal’s new Justice League offshoot.  If you’re confused, don’t be.  A f,ootnote explains that the whole story will be told in a miniseries… on sale NEXT JULY!  Say WHAT?  Hal angrily fires back at Dinah, roaring that J’onn is dead, Bruce is dead, something had to be done.  Black Canary tells him to stop it, and he snarls, “I’m going to stop it.  Because YOU couldn’t.” 

Sadly enough, if you read this series from day one, you have to admit… Hal has a point.  The League has done nearly nothing in this incarnation.  They’ve defended themselves from a couple of threats, but that’s roughly it, at least in their own series.  Some time later, Black Canary and her best friend, Oracle (Yaaay, Barbara!) discuss the situation, and she explains how Flash, Red Arrow (ugh), Hawkgirl, Superman and Wonder Woman are out and only Doctor Light is in to replace them.  Faced with a team consisting of Doctor Light II, John Stewart, Vixen, Zatanna and herself (a team which won’t stop bickering about Hal starting his own League) Black Canaray realizes the truth of the matter: this team is over.  Flawed from the beginning, it has collapsed under the weight of it’s own hubris.  “I’m disbanding this branch,” decides Canary as her stunned team looks on.  “As far as I’m concerned, this is the end of the Justice League.”

So.  There you have it.  This issue troubled me on a number of points, even as it serves as an improvement over previous months.  The suddenness (to us, I believe weeks have passed for the characters) of the members’ changes of heart grates on me, and feels very unnatural.  The unceremonious end (seemingly) of the promising Hawkgirl/Roy Harper romance makes me sad.  The use of Black Canary as DC’s own Hank Pym (i.e., the one long-term member who couldn’t cut it as leader and will get no respect, even from lifelong comrades) irritates me to NO end.  And after the sturm und drang of the Shadow Thief arc, and the Final Crisis blah blah blah fishcakes, I had hoped we might get a little something uplifting, or at least not annoying.  There were some high points, though.  Oliver Queen trapped between his best friend and his wife was fun…  The banter between Vixen and Green Lantern about Hal (“Sure.  Miss Daisy is your bessssst friend.”) was very JLU and nicely done, and the cover to next issue reveals that Doctor Light will be staying onboard.  (It also shows her in a hideous spangly costume being attacked by the useless Starbreaker, but hey, y’cain’t have everything, ’cause…  Where would you put it?)  This issue is a competent “clearing the decks for the new world order” issue, and Dwayne McDuffie again puts each character solidly in their wheelhouse for characterization.  Shane Davis does an okay job with the art, but there still seems to be a command to “draw this book like Ed Benes” which I don’t care for.  Overall, it’s an issue that happened, and hopefully it’s building to a League that will work on it’s own terms, rather than a monstrosity chosen for prime demographic sell-through and diversity reasons.  Justice League of America #31 earns a hopeful 2 out of 5 stars, and I urge those of you likely to drop the book without the Big Three to stick around and let the thing stand on it’s own merits.  Worst case scenario, you drop it in three months…

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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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15 Comments

  1. Ricco
    March 26, 2009 at 3:35 pm — Reply

    You’re little “missing dialogue” and “Membership fluctuated like the blood level in Grant Morrison’s alcohol stream” made this review many times better then the actual comic issue.

    I think the watchtower burning is reference to Final Crisis.

  2. crood
    March 26, 2009 at 4:12 pm — Reply

    I thought Hal’s Justice League was supposed to be an ongoing.

  3. Creep
    March 26, 2009 at 4:27 pm — Reply

    Not anymore…-.-

  4. ~wyntermute~
    March 26, 2009 at 5:46 pm — Reply

    Hal’s Justice League connects to Final Darkness of The Ring War and Lite-Brite Fyte?

  5. Brent
    March 26, 2009 at 6:09 pm — Reply

    Matt:

    I concur, your review was better than the actual comic. And I agree that this incarnation of the League has not lived up to its potential. However your “monstrosity chosen for prime demographic sell-through and diversity reasons” comment concerns me.

    A push for diversity on the Justice League roster is not in and of itself a bad concept. It can’t be a bad thing for the League to look like any or all of of Earth’s citizens. As is in real life, the focus should not be on IF diversity is a noble goal, but rather, HOW to achieve it.

    If readers don’t like Black Lightning, John Stewart, Vixen, or Dr. Light II in the League, please understand the fault lay in either the writing (execution), or in the general lameness of DC’s minority characters. Maybe fanboys would be more open to a more diverse League if the new additions were first and foremost compelling characters who happen to be nonwhite. It takes all types to make a truly great team (in life and in comics). Since Red Arrow and Geo-Force (and admittedly, Vixen) have already filled the Lame Quota, perhaps DC should do a better job at creating new, diverse, non-derivative minority characters who fit the bill.

    • March 27, 2009 at 8:47 pm — Reply

      I concur, your review was better than the actual comic. And I agree that this incarnation of the League has not lived up to its potential. However your “monstrosity chosen for prime demographic sell-through and diversity reasons” comment concerns me.

      I questioned the line, even as I wrote it, concerned that it would be offensive. But here’s the reasoning behind it. I LOVE Black Lightning, and I felt it was time for him to be in the League, to show his potential. He did nothing. Black Lightning’s biggest moment came in a tie-in issue (which, I might add, isn’t bad at all.) Black Canary’s leadership was given a big fanfare, and then… nothing. Clark, Bruce and Diana still ran the team, for all intents and purposes. Doctor Light’s return pleased me, and then she wasn’t allowed to do much at all. She got to be almost a damsel in distress for a whole arc before getting repowered (and, admittedly, destroying the Shadow Thief singlehandedly.)

      My feelings on diversity are very much like yours, and my big concern in this book came not from the addition of characters who aren’t Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, but indeed the addition of characters to a League already cumbersome and overloaded on members, yet short on plot. Vixen’s story gave us one of the best issues of this run (in the alternate reality) and John Stewart is actually a better team fit than Hal Jordan could ever be…

      So mea culpa for seeming insensitive… I echo your remarks and look forward to what I expect to be Icon’s replacing of Superman in the near future. :) He’s a bit derivative in powers, but I think his perspective will make for a more interesting League in the long run.

  6. Salieri
    March 26, 2009 at 6:28 pm — Reply

    I find it funny that the Dinah-Connor scene was originally meant to be at the graveside of the HawkPeoples, then Dwayne was told they were dead and had to change the dialogue and now they look like morons. Poor Dwayne. Will the editors ever ease his suffering?

  7. mosdef
    March 26, 2009 at 9:21 pm — Reply

    Brent, I couldnt agree with you more. Well said friend, well said.

  8. steviecool
    March 26, 2009 at 9:52 pm — Reply

    What the hell? I thought *I* was the guy to re-write issues dialogue!

    *** How I would have done it ***

    (to be continued in the forums

  9. Lou
    March 26, 2009 at 9:54 pm — Reply

    “”Worst case scenario, you drop it in three months…””

    Three months nothin’ … I am dropping this title as soon as I can get back to the comic book store.

  10. nu
    March 26, 2009 at 10:43 pm — Reply

    you missed the great line from oracle to black canary about how hal wouldnt have pulled that stunt on bruce

  11. Dave
    March 27, 2009 at 12:52 am — Reply

    I’m glad to say I dropped this title 5 months ago. Am I the only one here with conflicting feelings about continuing my little hobby?

  12. Brent
    March 27, 2009 at 9:49 am — Reply

    @ Dave,

    At my peak, I was actually showing up every single Wednesday for a year to get the latest copy of Identity Crisis, 52, Civil War, etc. But at the end of 52, with Mr. Mind looking like Mothra and the Tom Welling punches altering reality, I felt like a 14 year old girl after a date with R. Kelly. Despite all money I spent, I STILL don’t understand the thing with Supergirl splitting in two.

    Feeling burned, I stayed away from COUNTDOWN and only halfway supported the Skrull Invasion. Under whelmed by all the mega events, I pared my pull list down to just the titles that have kept my attention. Then I began to lose the habit of picking up new books on Wednesday altogether. I still visit the stores maybe once a month to pick up a book here and there, but I don’t have a pull list anymore.

    If only I could find some other industry to spend money on…some other habit to hide from my wife and friends, something I can keep in my basement or sock drawer to enjoy in total solitude like I did with comics…some visual media with unrealistic representation of pliant, hyper fit women. Any suggestions?

  13. matt
    March 27, 2009 at 4:28 pm — Reply

    I actually dropped this book once McDuffie came on as writer. I loved the guy on JLU but hate his comic writing.

  14. BiffordMichael
    March 29, 2009 at 1:12 pm — Reply

    It seems this book and Teen Titans and even Justice Society do nothing but shuffle members from month to month…nothing actually happens…Legion, that was a team book that had stuff happening…and it’s cancelled…?!?

    Biff

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