Justice League of America #42

by Doug Zawisza, Reviewer |

Fri, February 19th, 2010 at 5:51PM (PST)


There are not very many times in the history of the Justice League where I've been disappointed after having expectations set so high. The first time I can recall this happening, though, was when Aquaman disbanded the League, sending many of my favorite characters (Hawkman, Hawkwoman, Firestorm, and Red Tornado) packing. That left Aquaman, Zatanna, Martian Manhunter, and Elongated Man, hardly a League worth following. I persevered, however, and the Detroit era of the League eventually became a favorite of mine, if only in fuzzy, nostalgia-filled memory.

This run, however, sets the bar at a new low for me. James Robinson is arguably one of the greatest comic book writers of the modern era, but his work here is unimpressive. The voices he has put upon many of these characters just don't fit. Cyborg talks the same way Ray Palmer talks who talks the same way Professor Walter Haley does. Donna Troy is obsessed with hitting things, but takes the time to remind herself she needs to be hitting things so she doesn't overthink the recent past. Starfire is a lovesick puppy dog.

Green Arrow starts this issue heading down a dark path (literally) with Shade, combining the efforts of Brad Meltzer and James Robinson into a plot that seems to be little more than space-filler as DC tries to even out the shipping gaps between this series and "Justice League: Cry for Justice" before the big calamity awaiting clan Arrow. Next issue promises the last stand for Green Arrow, but honestly, it doesn't feel like a threat.

I used to tradewait "Justice League of America" due to the infrequency of the shipping for the "monthly" issues when this volume launched. I would read an issue and be tormented by the time lapse until the next. Tradewaiting made the stories easier to bear. This latest creative team hasn't made us wait between issues, but the stories just don't resonate. Robinson appears to be trying like hell to make this the DC Universe book. After all, we've got everyone from Darwin Jones to Congorilla in here. That's a brilliant concept, but it seems jarring for this team coming out of the gate. I'd like to see a little smaller focus in order to give me a reason to care about this team. I'm not saying I need to have a drawn-out seven-issue gathering the team story, but I would like to know why I should care about Guardian, Batman, Starfire, and Donna Troy.

The biggest disappointment for me personally has been the art. The Justice League brand has seen a plethora of comic book art hall of famers contribute, from George Pérez to Bryan Hitch, Dick Dillin to Kevin Maguire. Bagley's just not cutting it for me. The art doesn't feel like it belongs in what should be the comic for the DC Universe. Maybe it's the trio of inkers; Maybe it's the higher than normal page count. I don't know what the cause is. I just know the end result isn't great. Bagley's Congorilla has no gorilla-like qualities whatsoever, save that he's vaguely apelike and covered with fur. He looks more like Harry from "Harry and the Hendersons" than a gorilla. The amount of rubble and rockscape as background seems like a shortcut. The characters are rendered inconsistently. One example is Tender Mercy, tabula rasa as far as comic characters go. In one panel she is beset with basketball-sized breasts, but in the very next panel, she is drawn with a much sleeker figure. Bagley is the first to draw her. He should be able to handle her consistently.

While I am intrigued by these "New-New Gods" (or maybe "Dark New Gods"?) introduced in this book, my overall sentiment of them is that they are lackluster. They don't seem like much of a threat to the assembled power on this team regardless of how soundly they may have defeated the Power Company.

When I read that Robinson and Bagley would be put in place on "Justice League of America," I was thrilled. Robinson is one of my favorite writers, Bagley a serviceable, timely artist. Surely this pair could concoct stories to rival those of the Satellite era, right? My expectations have been dashed, just as they were when Aquaman disbanded the League. Given the talent in place here, I'm hoping future issues offer more for me to enjoy.

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