Review: Justice League of America #48

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It’s the conclusion of a JLA/JSA cross-over, and everyone has turned up for a big fight. How nice.

Justice League of America #48
Writer: James Robinson
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inks: Rob Hunter, Norm Rapmund, Don Ho, Derek Fridolfs & Rich Perrotta
Colours: Ulises Arreola & Zarathus
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Mark Bagley & Jesus Merino with Nei Ruffino
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC

Previously in Justice League of America: Alan Scott gets possessed by the Starheart, whose presence near Earth also causes lots of super heroes to go temporarily crazy. The Justice League and Justice Society thus team up to battle the possessed Green Lantern on his newly-constructed moon base.

“Hey dad, look what I can do!”

So this issue basically consists of a big battle between the two Justice teams and Alan Scott on the moon. Whilst this is going on, back on Earth Mr. Terrific invents a device that temporarily blocks the Starheart’s crazy-rays. Jade and Obsidian, previously driven crazy and merged into a single being, get separated when Jade goes all White Lantern and gets told to, ‘Balance the darkness.’ Jade discovers an ability to somehow hurt the Starheart and does so, allowing Alan Scott to regain control of himself. The two teams say goodbye, with Jesse Quick and Supergirl joining the Justice League, and the issue ends on a Supergirl-related cliffhanger.

This book is, essentially, a big fight scene. It’s the climax, the final battle, and it has several problems. First of all, there isn’t much resolution. Jade allows her father to regain control and, what? What happens with the Starheart? This is never explained – Scott is apparently still wrestling to keep control, but is the Starheart still near Earth? Is it still causing people to go crazy? The second major problem is that the Jade’s White Lantern powers come out of nowhere, as does the realisation that she can hurt the Starheart. This is bad plotting, in which the victory at the end of a five part story comes not because of the efforts of our heroes, but because of some magical occurrence that is pulled out at the last minute. There is even a two-page spread where Jay Garrick narrates about how awesome Alan Scott is, and how strong his will is; this would have been a really great and triumphant moment, if only it were Alan’s will that won the day, rather than Jade’s serendipitous powers.

The third problem is that this issue is padded. The entire Mr. Terrific portion doesn’t need to be there and there are several pages of fighting that could easily have been cut out. In fact, this entire storyline is about two issues longer than it needs to be – being only a three-parter would have kept the story (which is meant to be pretty fast-paced, I think) considerably tighter. The book also ends on a strange note for me: I really don’t think that ending an ‘epic’ five-parter on a cliffhanger is really appropriate, as this ending is meant to be triumphant it would have sit better if they had carried on that theme right to the end. On the plus side, though, the dialogue is generally good and the characters felt like actual people rather than simple fighting machines, so it’s a pity that the story didn’t have them do more as characters.

At Least Its Readable

The art is fairly enjoyable – the fight scenes flow well, which is no insignificant accomplishment as the scenes feature a lot of movement and a myriad of characters, so big kudos go out to Bagley in that area. I don’t particularly like the way Alan Scott is drawn in his aforementioned two-page spread, though – for me, his face looks far too much like how Bagley has also drawn Kyle Rayner. For the most part, though, the art is more than decent and certainly helps to liven up the fight scenes (i.e. all of the book), which are pretty drab textually.

There are a couple of minor issues, though; in fact, they are very minor but they really bother me. Firstly, the book cuts to an epilogue pretty abruptly. Literally in the middle of the page, with the ‘Epilogue’ title squeezed in between two panels, to the extent that one could almost miss it. Secondly, in the first panel of the last page, when Supergirl is flying around Metropolis, we can see the Daily Planet globe in the background, but the visible letters on it are, ‘aily bugl’, which is perhaps meant to be, ‘Daily Bugle’? Regardless, those letters cannot spell out Daily Planet – am I missing something here or is this just a weird error?

We also get a back-up feature in this issue, as we have for the past three issues, which is a Cyborg & Red Tornado story. Basically the Red Tornado has gone insane due to the Starheart, which is inconvenient because Cyborg just rebuilt him to be near-indestructible. In this conclusion, Cyborg stops Red but has to utilise The Construct, a dangerous artificial intelligence currently captured by the JLA. Cyborg succeeds but The Construct starts rebuilding itself. This whole back-up has been really rather boring, just a straight fight between Cyborg and Red – no mystery or suspense, and really does nothing for the book. The art by Pow Rodrix (pencils), Ruy Jose (inks) and Zaratas (colours) is fine, though.

This storyline has been building up a five-part cover across the Justice League and Justice Society books, and this issue completes it. The entire thing shows a fight scene between the two Justice teams and a giant Alan Scott/Starheart, and this book features Supergirl in a giant hand, with Hourman and Congorilla also present. The entire scene looks fine but, despite being big, there’s not much exciting about it, sort of like the actual content. This individual cover is simply the final part of that and, on its own, isn’t particularly impressive either.

Rather Forgettable

In conclusion, this is a pretty uninteresting ending to a pretty uninteresting story. As I’ve said, this entire arc could have been a couple of issues shorter, and it really suffers for not being so. The ending comes out of nowhere, and the plot is only partly resolved – decent art is the thing that really keeps this book at least readable. This story has tried so hard to be big and epic, but I doubt anyone will remember it in a year’s time – it gets one star our of five.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆