Or – “Remember That Time Karate Kid Showed Up On The Cover And Confused Everyone?”

 

That was weird, huh?  It seems like only yesterday that Brad Meltzer was writing the book and it made only marginal sense.  Now, we have James Robinson handing the JLA plotting and…  Um… 

So, how ’bout them Huskers, huh? 

Justice League of America #50
Written by JAMES ROBINSON
Art by MARK BAGLEY with POW RODRIX
Inks by ROB HUNTER and NORM RAPMUND
Gatefold cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER
Variant covers by JIM LEE & MARK BAGLEY
Letters by ROB LEIGH
Colors by HI-FI
Published by DC COMICS

Previously, on Justice League of America:  The JLA was shattered by the events of ‘Cry For Justice,’ with a new core team growing around Donna Troy and Batman II, the artist formerly known as Robin.  Many heroes have come and gone, never quite fitting into the group dynamic (Mon-El, we hardly knew ye, except for your 50 year history and all) and the team has finally stabilized to Amazon, Control Freak, Dead Chick, Gorilla, Kryptonian, Legacy Speedster & Mik (attorneys at law?)  The League seems to be enjoying a momentary lull in their endless cycle of loonies that want to kill everyone, so it’s obviously time for everything to blow up in their collective faces, right?

We open with a really cute sequence wherein Jesse Quick (also known as Liberty Belle II, recently of the Justice Society) and Supergirl race through the JLA satellite doing their “chores,” making a game of the dull drudgery of repair and cleanup duties.  They even have some time for bonding, as both women share about the loss of their fathers during Blackest Night (Johnny Quick and Zor-El were both among the zombie ring-bearers, you might recall) and discuss the fact that the real binding characteristic of the current JLA roster is loss.  Before they can paint each others’ toenails and watch Big Time Rush, though, a flash (not that Flash) of light heralds the arrival of Green Lantern!  (Not THAT Green Lantern…)  Mark Bagley is one of my favorite artists, but I’ve been a bit ambivalent on his work on this title thus far, but this issue reminds me of what I love about his work.  I don’t know if it’s the inkers or the colorist, but if anyone at DC is listening:  KEEP DOING THIS!  Kara and Jesse look phenomenal, and the random frammistat machines are awesome as well.  We see Batman and Donna having a deep discussion about the new League, same with Jade and Sebastian Faust (who would make an excellent magic-guy now that Zatanna seems to be off the table) before the League is collected to figure out the mystery of the pretty Asian woman who thinks she’s Hal Jordan.

Of course, that’s not the case at all, indeed this is the Tangent version of the character, who has a bombshell for the JLA:  The Crime Syndicate is back, they’ve destroyed her homeworld and have targeted Earth-1 (or whatever we’re calling the Prime Reality these days) as their next victim.  Donna walks her partners (and us, through some nicely handled exposition) through the whole “Multiverse” thing, even talking about her days partnered with Jason Todd (“Yeah, I think I’ve heard of him,” replies Batman snarkily) during the best-forgotten days of Countdown, just in time for the Crime Syndicate to bust in and start cracking skulls.  I’m sure it was planned this way, but the Leaguers make a pretty good counterpoint to the CSA (Jesse Quick/Johnny Quick, Power Ring/Jade, Ultraman/Supergirl, Superwoman/Donna, and Owlman/Batman fights quickly break out) making me wonder if James Robinson isn’t building towards something important involving superhero archetypes or some such.  We get some interesting flashbacks from the CSA (Owlman and Superwoman are a thing, even though she’s married to Ultraman, and Power Ring and Johnny Quick are recently back from the dead, inexplicably) explaining their thing.  All the dialogue is nicely handled, balancing out the “WTF?” factor with character work, and we even get some smart thinking from Batman, while Jade kinda flips out and drains away all of Power Ring’s energy.  Hopefully it’s not more Starheart madness, but I’m sure that train has sailed.  As the fighty-fighty continues, we discover that it’s all a ruse to cover a plot by Owlman and Doctor Impossible to resurrect… DARKSEID!!!  (Collective groan of fandom in 3… 2…  1…)  Luckily, though, things don’t quite work out the way Doctor I had planned.

I have to say, this is the most impressive issue of JLA in some time, as whatever rust was in Mark Bagley’s drawing has been fully busted loose, and Robinson gets to play his usual existential questions with characters that truly work in that frame.  Supergirl’s lack of identity, Batman’s long history of tragedy, Donna’s long history of even GREATER tragedy, even Jesse & Jade’s legacy status are all rife with potential, and a quick side-trip involving Congorilla and a missing Starman is a juicy little teaser for things to come.  All in all, it’s a solid anniversary issue of a series whose main consistency has been inconsistency, dating all the way back to the Brad Meltzer relaunch of the book in ’06.  I’m liking this team (though I’d like it more with Faust as a member), I’m loving Bags’ art again, and the story is suitably big without being another smarmy “EVERYTHING IS IN PERIL!!!!” plot.  This title is DC’s flagship book (at least in my mind) and it’s time that it was legitimately good again.  Justice League of America #50 is a couple-three steps in the right direction, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall, even with more Darkseid stuff in the margins…

Rating: ★★★★☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  My latest brainchild is a mandatory cooling-off period for characters (like Darkseid) who are in danger of being made irrelevant by overuse.  What do you think would be an appropriate amount of time to declare a character “off-limits” to protect it’s legacy?

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.

Previous post

Critical Hit #71: Listener Feedback

Next post

Major Spoilers Costume Contest 2010: Meet the Entrants

12 Comments

  1. tidge
    October 23, 2010 at 6:19 pm — Reply

    I’m 50/50 on the “Death of the Fourth World”, but aside from that…

    Darkseid should remain off limits until Walt Simonson brings him back…oh how I enjoyed his “Orion” series.

    In the DCU, I have mixed feelings about a cooling off period for characters. I can think of plenty of instances when I feel like an author really *shouldn’t* have been allowed to use a certain character, but there are also instances in which an author has really surprised me with the use of a certain character. Sometimes it’s the same author (ehem, Geoff Johns)

    In the post-Bendis 616 Marvel Universe…I really don’t care if characters live or die or are over-used or not, as continuity has become a massive joke. All the toys ought to be played with.

    The classic DC character I would enforce retirement upon: Mordru. I simply refuse to enjoy any comic that can (re)introduce and defeat this guy within the span of a few issues.

  2. SenorEjaz
    October 24, 2010 at 11:18 am — Reply

    Marvel has had success with this character vacation thing with a few characters. Thor went away for a few years before JMS relaunched it. The Scarlet Witch has been gone for a few years. (Although I don’t think any amount of time can fix her character after what Bendis had her do)Steve Rogers was absent for a couple of years as was Dr Doom when Mark Waid stranded him in hell. I think a couple of years on vacation can cleanse readers’ palette for a character and remind everyone they like them and/or why.

  3. October 24, 2010 at 11:27 am — Reply

    Depends on how overused he is and how much of that “I’m better than everybody” factor is at play with him.

    Deadpool needs a break so the joke doesn’t get old.

    Bruce should stay in Batman Inc. Sirens needs to end.

    After Brightest Day and the War of GL’s Hal need to stay in just one book and let the other Earth GL’s take center stage.

    Wolverine should be put off limits for 3-5 years so people will become sane again and realize that mass murderers don’t make for good franchise characters. ;p

  4. October 24, 2010 at 2:10 pm — Reply

    My latest brainchild is a mandatory cooling-off period for characters (like Darkseid) who are in danger of being made irrelevant by overuse. What do you think would be an appropriate amount of time to declare a character “off-limits” to protect it’s legacy?

    I’d say about five years. That’s just long enough for nostalgia to set it but just short enough to keep it from clouding out good judgment about the character’s use. However long it is or should be, I’d appreciate if they’d do it to the Titans franchise, which is currently terrible (the best book is “Tiny Titans”, and that can be spared the break).

  5. October 24, 2010 at 7:01 pm — Reply

    ever long it is or should be, I’d appreciate if they’d do it to the Titans franchise, which is currently terrible (the best book is “Tiny Titans”, and that can be spared the break).

    The problem with Teen Titans is a lack of consistency… It seems like every 3-4 years they relaunch with a version of the Wolfman/Perez team (they’re doing it again right now, with Superboy in place of Robin) and then transition to an unorthodox team, and then it’s lather, rinse, repeat.

    What’s more irritating to me is that no one at DC seems to be able to SEE what made Wolfman/Perez interesting: Stealing from sources other than the expected ones.

  6. October 24, 2010 at 8:07 pm — Reply

    What I’m wondering is this “OmegaMan” supposed to be a multiverse version of Darkseid? Or some other powerful character altogether?

    • October 25, 2010 at 10:18 am — Reply

      What I’m wondering is this “OmegaMan” supposed to be a multiverse version of Darkseid? Or some other powerful character altogether?

      Given that Doctor Impossible and his cronies are expies (or maybe Earth-3 versions) of Mister Miracle and the ruling elite of Apokalips, I think perhaps this guy is their king… Hard to say on that one.

  7. Jim
    October 24, 2010 at 9:27 pm — Reply

    This was the best issue of JLA in a while, but that’s not really that big of a compliment. I still thought there was way too much awkward exposition and the story was again confusing at times. However, I am glad they have settled into a clear line-up that seems to have some potential.

  8. Irving Forbush
    October 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm — Reply

    Good question. Not to hijack this thread, but…how long was it and did it work for these folks?

    “dead” Reed Richards
    “dead” Superman
    “dead” Jean Grey
    Barry Allen
    Hal Jordan
    Supergirl

    Seriously, I forget. How long were each of these folks (and more) “gone”?

    Thanks.

  9. brainypirate
    October 25, 2010 at 3:15 pm — Reply

    I liked this issue much more than anything JR has done with the League thus far.

    But did the colorist make a major goof with Jesse Quick’s costume? It looks like she’s colored to have bare legs instead of pants. How did that get past editorial???

    • brainypirate
      October 25, 2010 at 10:00 pm — Reply

      Woah–I just saw the JSA 80-pager and it looks like they really do have her in bare legs! Quelle horrible!!!!

  10. Damascus
    November 21, 2010 at 9:34 pm — Reply

    If this is your first issue of this run of JLA, then definitely skip it. It was horribly confusing for me since I haven’t been reading any other JLA books. I didn’t realize the whole team was comprised of previous side-kicks. I didn’t care for the story either, and that’s highly likely due to the fact that I haven’t been up on the story. One last complaint was the layout, and really only because I actually tried to read this one in a digital format and all the two-page spreads required me to zoom in and grab the image and slide it from side to side and top to bottom just to read it all. I’m cool with an odd team of JLA’ers, but it does feel odd to me that there isn’t a single previous JLA member on the team, not even a Martian Manhunter as like team coordinator or anything. It’s hard to say that the kids have made it up to the big leagues when there’s nobody of the previous iterations on the team, they might as well have a completely new team name, like the Legacies or something. Oh well, to each their own I suppose.

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section