Justice League of America #57 came out last week, the next chapter in The Rise of Eclipso arc by writer James Robinson and artist Brett Booth. This is the fourth chapter of the arc which has been building in momentum.
This issue certainly moved the story forward as we learn a bit more about Eclipso's ultimate plan. We also get some movement on personal storylines as Alan Scott, Jesse, and Obsidian's stories all progress a bit. But I have to say that as we turn the corner of this arc, I feel that this issue actually lost some momentum, mostly around Eclipso's plan.
It is true that Robinson has done a very good job making sure that this League fights big threats. We have seen the League fight the Starheart, Omega Man, and now Eclipso. But the problem is that sometimes the threats can feel so big that the story can veer towards lunacy. When I see what Eclipso is up to, the power he wields, I have to wonder just how Congorilla and Batman are going to defeat him. I wonder what Congorilla and Batman are even doing in this fight?
The truth is though that this is probably Robinson's last arc on the book, at least with this team. So I guess why not go out with a bang. Still, I wouldn't have minded seeing this team beat the snot out of the Royal Flush Gang for a couple of issues, if only to catch my breath and see the characters interact when the FATE OF THE WORLD was not at stake.
I do have to say that Brett Booth's art is just wonderful. I have really enjoyed his linework throughout his stint on the book. Very nice stuff here.
I don't know too much about the back story of Mikaal Tomas Starman so I enjoyed this single panel where he remembers his home world and culture. I didn't realize he was from Talok III but I liked that a lot given that Shadow Lass is from Talok VII. Nice.
Starman is seeing his life flash before his eyes but he is only unconscious after the shock of being rescued by Obsidian at the end of the last issue. Obsidian has shunted them to a protected area on the moon, a place shielded by Alan Scott. The link between Scott and the Starheart has been severed. He is up and about again, healed, but with only what energy he has in him. Like a battery, his power will eventually dwindle. The Starheart's power now flows into Eclipso.
One thing I did like was that Jesse's first concern is for Jade rather than her own loss. That is the selflessness of a hero.
Unfortunately, we see Jade under Eclipso's complete control. In fact, she seems more like an automaton.
Jade's plight was detected by Obsidian and that's why he showed up, his evil banter last issue a ruse. In a prior arc (JSA Princes of Darkness) Obsidian became immune to Eclipso's control. I didn't read that arc, so any information on what went down there would be appreciated.
With the Starheart dumping all it's power into him, Eclipso is more powerful than ever. His weaknesses like light and holy power (Dr. Light, Zauriel) don't bother him any more. And his plan is still unknown.
Obsidian, as a shadow, can somehow link to the hive mind of the shadow army and hears the plan.
But to accomplish his goal, Eclipso needs even more power. And to get that power to come to him, he needs Zauriel to release a distress signal. And what better way to do that than to torture the angel.
Okay, nice imagery there, the fallen angel gutting the warrior of the faith. And thankfully, not too gratuitous. We don't see intestines, blood, etc.
Okay, Robinson may have just lost me. Just because we are starting to veer towards the absurd. How can any JLA defeat something that nigh-omnipotent? Chuck a batarang at it? Punch it in the face?
Well, in a nice twist, it turns out that The Shade is the keystone to the whole thing. The Shade has the influence over the Shadow energy, the power that is giving Eclipso control over everyone (like Jade) and everything (like the Starheart). Sever the Shade's link and Eclipso will suddenly not be a threat.
That's why the Shade was so important to Eclipso's plan. But it makes him the weak link in the chain.
And St. Walker thinks someone on the team can negate Eclipso's evil.
We know that future solicits say a woman is the last standing team member. So who is it going to be? Let's start guessing.
My best guess is Donna. Somehow it will come out that her ability to persevere and carry on, to continue to look to the light despite the horror in her history, is able to dispel Eclipso. Okay, it's a stretch ... but I am a Donna fan.
I suppose somehow Jesse's power loss is somehow linked to this St. Walker idea. Maybe Eclipso is trying to keep her away from doing whatever she needs to be doing, robbing her of her powers to keep her at a distance.
Or maybe it's Jade. The truth is, she probably has the power to drain Eclipso, or at least turn off the Starheart energy spigot.
But I still hope it's Donna. Remember, she was basically the hero of Cry for Justice, freeing herself from being crucified to take out Prometheus. Maybe Robinson likes her just as much.
Eclipso provides some exposition ... which I don't know that I necessarily follow ... that the Earth is God's most favored planet. That God needs the love of Earth to sustain him, and so to destroy the Earth will kill God.
Now, again I don't know if I follow it necessarily, but somehow the Spectre begins to lose his powers on the moon. His power begins to feed Eclipso. Somehow the Shadows and the Starheart is effecting the Angel of Vengeance. Ummm ...
Anyways, the resulting shift allows Eclipso to kill the Spectre and gain all his power.
(Yawn) ... the Spectre loses again.
So, when exactly was the last time the Spectre won a big fight? I can't respect the Spectre as a big threat anymore. He is now in the same category as Lady Shiva ... a yard stick.
And frankly, it has gotten to the point of being overused. I am bored with the 'Spectre losing' panel. The last great one was way back in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing #50.
It just felt like too much. I mean where is there to go from here? How do you fix that?
Anyways, there are 2 issues left in this arc so plenty of time to explain things. There are some hooks I am interested in ... Batman's mystery hero, which Leaguer has the power to take out Eclipso. But have we really come to a place that we need to split the moon and try to kill God to get a reaction from the readers?
Still, I have come to like this JLA as a team so I will sad to see this roster dismantled.
Overall grade: B/C+