I remember hearing about this comic when it was solicited and thought it might be worth checking out. After all, JLA crossovers are always fun: a lot of characters (more often than not “classic” JLA members), superhero action and adventure, and usually some pretty good art. This book hits on most of those points, but doesn’t wow me.
It’s a straight-forward textbook cross-company team-up: a little of this, a little of that, here are some of the more popular and/or prominent characters from the two teams who have long admired each other despite never appearing together nor even co-existing prior to this event. The JLA, as they are represented here, is certainly an interesting cross-continuity mix featuring Barry Allen working alongside John Stewart and Carter Hall with a distinctly Bruce Wayne Batman and Wonder Woman in her new togs. The 99 are represented by Jabbar the Powerful, Noora the Light, Samda the Invulnerable, Darr the Reflicter, their founder and benefactor Doctor Ramzi Razem, and a handful of other characters with very brief appearances in this issue. Unfortunately, save for the exposition tags (or character labels) we don’t get even treatment from all of the characters represented.
Sure, there are some nice introductions to the JLA and the 99, but by and large those introductions are very pedestrian. That doesn’t do much to advance the story, hook the reader, or satisfy the reviewer, but it does set the table for what is to come. As for what that is, I’m not really sure. It appears as though the JLA and the 99 are going to be fighting some sort of mind control or perception challenge, not unlike what was heaped upon the DC Universe by G. Gordon Godfrey in “Legends.”
In the interim, however, the foes – because a good crossover always uses some from each universe – include Albert Chou from Mamluk International (an organization “sworn to destroy the 99”) and the new Madmen. I didn’t realize there were new Madmen, nor have I ever considered the Madmen a Justice League-level threat, but here they are. The end result is a story that is tepid and afraid of a misstep rather than telling a bold, new, exciting adventure.
Tom Derenick’s art on this book is sharp, solid, and clean. It is some of the best stuff I’ve seen from Derenick, but for some reason the figures all appear very flat. Allen Passalaqua’s colors, while bright and appropriate for a superhero comic, aren’t very deep. The tone is right, but Passalaqua just doesn’t blend well with Derenick’s art.
I’m ignorant on the 99 to this point, but this book is a fair starter. It leaves me wanting more information, but honestly, my curiosity is tweaked a little harder by the JLA roster than by the powers, abilities, and personas of the 99, maybe future issues will offer a little more to enjoy.