Justice League of America #47 continues the 'Dark Things' storyline, an ambitious crossover between the JLA and the JSA written by James Robinson and Mark Bagley.
I tend to be up and down with this arc. There are a lot of small touches that I think are fantastic. The characterization seems to be right on the money. And the action is very good. The main plot, Alan Scott being possessed by the Starheart and the return of Jade, is a good one. As always, and some times in particular with James Robinson, I just wonder if things are going to be wrapped up in a satisfactory way.
Will we learn how Jade ended up in the Starheart? Why she was there? Why she isn't effected by it? Why some others are? Or am I just going to have to roll with it? This is a 5 part story. There are only 2 issues left. Is that enough time for everything to be explained to us? This was the same concern I had with Superman and even World of Krypton. A lot is being shown to us; there better be explanations.
Now judging a 3rd chapter because I fear of a 5th chapter let down seems unfair. So I will do my best to review this issue on its own merits.
As has been a running theme in this arc, we see the effects of the Starheart on the planet. Yes, metahumans are still being affected. But now the planet itself is. Weather is running mad.
And those 'chaotic' elements on the planet can continue to be overwhelmed by the Starheart. Case in point, Congorilla who had just saved thousands of lives is gripped by madness. Luckily, Supergirl is around to eliminate him as a threat.
In the meantime, the JLA/JSA assault team is attempting to infiltrate the Starheart's stronghold on the dark side of the moon. While they stealthily try to slip in the side door, the JSA All-Stars act as a noisy distraction at the front door.
One thing that Robinson has been doing that I have liked is showing how all the other heroes are responding to Dick Grayson as Batman. The use of individual thought boxes allows Robinson to peek into everyone's mind. It allows Robinson some leeway to see what everyone is thinking. Here, I like that we hear Mr. Terrific compliment Dick on being as good a strategist as Bruce.
The plan seems to work as Mr. Miracle is able to get the team inside the castle walls. Of course, Jade is also ... somehow ... able to use her powers to mask the team's presence from the Starheart.
Remember how I talked about the small things making this a good arc. Here is an example. Miracle is explaining how some of the fortress's defenses are used to disorient. The landscape is sort of an escher environment. Now I have seen this in a million comics. But I rarely see the word bubbles also slanted like this. I had to turn the book. Made me feel a little topsy-turvy. It was a nice little touch.
Of course such an orderly building with such complicated defenses doesn't seem to be the work of an engine of chaos.
Maybe there is still some Alan Scott at work here? It is enough to give Jade some hope.
I still don't know exactly what the plan is here other than trying to rescue Starman. Is there a plan here other than trying to talk Green Lantern to regaining control?
Here are more of those small touches that I like.
Is that Doiby Dickles!
I definitely am in the camp of enjoying Robinson flooding the book with little known characters and flourishes from the history of the DCU.
But small touches aren't always enough.
At last we get to hear from Alan Scott/Starheart. It seems that the Starheart was drawn to Earth by the chaos here. And now that it is wallowing in it, the Starheart kind of likes it. It doesn't want to control it anymore ... he wants it to run rampant.
I guess I have to roll with it. But there also are hints that everything isn't that simple with the Starheart. We learn that Dr. Fate is the one keeping the captured JSA'ers in check. And we see the Starheart playing with Starman's chest gem. Could it be that the Starheart isn't as powerful that it is letting on?
All I know is I want answers to all of these things. I hope they are coming.
I was worrying about the ending of this arc; I was worrying I won't get the answers I want. And just as those worries were about to sour the whole book, I was given the biggest 'small thing' in the book. I loved this panel.
How interesting to see all these slices of Alan Scott's history played out in the defensive constructs of the fortress. So to see this rather deadly version of the Harlequin, guarding Starman, ... well this was just beautiful. My favorite panel of the book.
And as I said above, Robinson's characterization is another high point of the book. I really love his Donna, clearly the warrior of the group. She has the same feel that Diana had in Kingdom Come, the ultimate warrior willing to plow through any enemy before her.
I love how she is leading the battle here, pushing the offensive.
Finally nearing the epicenter of the stronghold, Jade is confronted by her Starheart-controlled brother Obsidian.
Obsidian sounds like he is in his right mind, begging Jade to take his hand and set things right. But we know that he in the thrall of the Starheart. There is something nefarious going on here. My guess is the Starheart needs Jade for some reason. Maybe she has a big role to play in the ending of this madness.
But before any sibling rivalry explodes, Kyle Rayner shows up. The Guardians have sent him to the moon to kill Alan Scott, presumably to end the threat.
I don't know if Kyle is that good of a soldier that he would simply murder Scott. I hope he isn't portrayed that way next issue. That said, he has a history with Jade so hopefully there will be some grist for the dramatic mill.
Bagley again seems a little rushed here. Some panels seem a little ragged or rough. The layouts and panel construction is still solid but some panels just seem a bit off. I can't wait to when Bagley can concentrate just on one title a month again.
So lots of small stuff that is fantastic. Spot-on characterization. A plot that seems to be treading water a bit. And a concern for a lackluster ending.