Or – “When There’s Trouble, You Know Who To Call…”
One of the unanswered questions of Brad Meltzer’s JLA run (and trust me, there were a LOT of unanswered questions raised by Brad Meltzer’s JLA run) was the origin and identity of the mysterious Doctor Impossible, sort of an evil duplicate of Mr. Miracle.Â Some said he was a minor thug who lucked out with Apokaliptian tech, others wondered if there was more to it.Â As for Matthew, I’m going on the record as saying “Earth-3 Crime Syndicate Doppelgangers.”Â Either way, looks like at least some of the questions aim to be answered in the near future, if only five years and four creative teams later…
Justice League of America #42
Previously, on Justice League of America:Â In the wake of the (as yet mostly unseen) tragedies that ended the ‘Cry For Justice’ miniseries, the League once again splintered as it has a dozen times in recent years.Â The question has become not ‘Who will be in the JLA?’ but ‘Why do these people insist on continuiting to try and create a JLA when they know that their own foibles will bust it up in six months?’Â Indeed, the loss of the core three DC heroes (one to Krypton, one to death, and one to Gail Simone) could pose a problem in the new Trinity-centric DC universe.Â The obvious answer came in the form of Donna Stacey Hinkley Troy Long, aka Wonder Girl, Troia, er Woman’s cloned playmate.Â Donna has agreed to lead a new Justice League, bringing along a few familiar friends, and has merged Hal Jordan’s proto-League from CFJ into her squad.Â With the addition of some new blood via Daxam, Suicide Slum, and Tokyo, the League has reformed just in time to confront an entirely new menace, one with some decidedly Fourth World overtones.
We open in familiar territory for James Robinson readers, as The Shade (of ‘Starman’ and recent Blackest Night special fame) consults with Oliver ‘Green Arrow’ Queen, inquiring as to whether the Emerald Archer is really sure of his plan. “If I give you what you want,” warns the immortal king of darkness, “there’ll be NO turning back.” GA (who seems to have symbolically returned to his hooded ‘Longbow Hunters’ garb, the clothing he wears during periods of soul-searching, it would seem) agrees, and both men walk into darkness together. Smash-cut to Atlanta, Georgia, broad daylight, as Batman, Starfire, Donna Troy and Green Lantern leap into action against Atlas. I suspect that the presence of the Big A, a Jack Kirby creation, is a hint as to the nature of the threat to come, but I like how Robinson handles the interplay between the team, with Hal respecting Donna’s leadership, Dick “Batman” Grayson getting used to giving orders to dear-old-adoptive-Dad’s teammates, and Starfire dealing with her feelings for the former Robin. They find that their foe is being mind-controlled, and take him down easily, as a mysterious man watches from the shadows, a strange Rob Liefeld starburst coming from his eye. (Could it be Longshot???) The first flashback of the issue then occurs as we see the Challengers of the Unknown (more Kirby ties, I might add) discovering a strange device in the wake of a battle with their arch-foes, the League of Challenger-Haters. Yes, their villains are actually called The League of Challenger-Haters. Deal. Ace Morgan touches the device, and flies into a rage, as if controlled by an external force. Only the assistance of the Metal Men saves the day, as the device is taken to STAR Labs for dissection.
In the present, those self-same STAR Labs are under attack by Doctor Impossible and his new pal, a man called Hunter. With his helmet and astro-glider, Hunter bears the same resemblance to the New God called Orion that Impossible himself bears to Mr. Miracle. The are engaged in battle by The Power Company (remember them?) at great personal cost. We are told of the aftermath of the battle by Mon-El and The Guardian, who arrived just in time to help with cleanup and save the lives of Josiah Power and company. The Atom puts two and two together and figures out the Apokalips connection, while Cyborg studies the remains of Red Tornado. Tornado has been fully functional, if unable to talk, during the events of the last several issues, but Cyborg has reactivated his speech functions and vows to build him a body that is a bit more durable. (FINALLY! I think Reddy has been destroyed FIVE times in 42 issues of this comic…) Cyborg discovers a report from 1944 that triggers our second flasback, showing Plastic Man, The Freedom Fighters and the Blackhawks engaging another device of alien origin, this one a brain-frying conglomeration. After the battle, the ‘Hawks returned it to their home on Blackhawk Island, where we sudddenly find Mikaal Tomas and Congorilla fighting with more New God replicas, these in the formimage of Metron and Big Barda. They quickly overcome the former Starman and the great ape, but before they can kill their prey, the new Justice League of America arrives at full-strength, allowing us our first look at the full roster: The Atom, Batman, Black Canary, Cyborg, Doctor Light, Green Lantern, The Guardian, Mon-El, Starfire and Donna Troy. They do look quite impressive, although the sheer number of former Titans could be a bit disconcerting. With the team away, though, their headquarters on the Watchtower is invaded by Doctor Impossible and his friends, who are seeking out another lost object. Just then the teleporter kicks in, and Green Arrow arrives… Looks bad for Oliver.
This is the first issue of Robinson’s run that I have really gotten into and enjoyed, mostly because of the dynamics of the team assembled. Cyborg casually relates to a puzzled Red Tornado, Green Arrow goes to The Shade for help, as he did once before, as related in ‘The Archer’s Quest,’ and Bill and Mikaal get in a coule of good licks in their fight. I’m not sure WHY the team has shaken out the way it has, but I have to say I’m more engaged in this team of former teen heroes and lesser-known lights than I was with the all-star JLA in previous issues. The old battle of “Should we use big names with all their hassles?” versus “How can we get people to read a book with no big names?” is a valid question, but Robinson handles it with deftneseftness, making the characters voices distinct and entertaining. Artist Mark Bagley has an occasional issue with symmetry in the faces, especially with Doctor Light’s headdress, but he puts in a good showing here, especially with Donna Troy’s facial expressions. Overall, it’s still a somewhat flawed book, as I can see how the multiple flashbacks and cameos could be offputting to someone who isn’t versed in DCU lore as I am, and the central problem of starting a new story before the old one is finished is still an issue as regards CFJ, but all in all, this is a more focused and somehow more relevant JLA than we’ve seen in some time… Justice League of America #42 earns a respectable 3 out of 5 stars overall from me, as I’m warming up to the lineup and the execution, as well as finally beginning to answer the question of who Doc Impossible actually IS.
– On the suggestion of Faithful Spoilerite Astrodinosaurus, I am going to be testing the addition of the “Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day,” a query that came to mind while reading the issue reviewed, and one that I hope will spur some discussion amongst us all. –
Today’s Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Do you prefer a super-team (be it JLA, Avengers, or what have you) consisting of the most popular and powerful heroes, or a team where lesser heroes are allowed their time in the sun?