Saturday, August 20, 2011

Review: Justice League Of America #60


Justice League of America #60 came out last week, the next car in the funeral procession of the current DCU.

One of the interesting things to watch this month has been how each creative team has decided to usher out their books. Some, like Birds of Prey, didn't even acknowledge it. Some, like Red Robin, have had an ambiguous ending, allowing the reader to decide which direction the character would end up going. Some, like Batgirl, have really felt like an ending.

Justice League falls into the latter category with writer James Robinson literally turning off the lights and shutting the doors of this incarnation of the League. It has certainly been an interesting ride with this League, made up of legacy heroes of some of the original 'big 7' and a couple of oddball DC characters. Robinson has kept the stories 'big', keeping the threats on a 'need the League' level. And the characters have been treated very well. In particular, Supergirl, Donna Troy, and Jade have all been handled with respect and shined throughout. But I sense Robinson felt that he needed to justify this lineup as starring in the biggest team book DC produces, having some character say 'This is the Justice League' at least once per arc.

Still, I have enjoyed this book more than I thought I would coming out of Cry For Justice. I am typically a 'big 7' League guy, thinking that Morrison's run on JLA was the pinnacle of JLA stories I have read. And yet, Robinson won me over.

Daniel Sampere provides the art here and sparkles in some places. I will admit that some panels the characters appear stiff or oddly positioned. But for the most part, especially in the splash pages in the book, he shines. And Ivan Reis' cover is just fabulous; what a beautiful Supergirl.

But this is the end of this DCU and so it is the end of this version of the League.

The issue picks up right where last issue left off. The members of the League have gathered on the satellite one last time as each one explains why they are moving on from the JLA.

Intermingled between these character moments, we are shown other battles the League has fought between Eclipso and now. I don't know if these were arcs Robinson was planning or just ideas to flesh out the history ad importance of this League. But they all match the same caliber of threat that full arcs had. So first we see how The Construct, an old JLA villain and Red Tornado nemesis, took control of all the robots on Earth in hopes of detonating the weapons cache in the Fortress of Solitude.

I thought this splash page showing Supergirl throttling Kelex while Jessie takes out the Superman robots was fabulous.


Despite these successes, Supergirl thinks it is time to leave the League.

With the trauma of New Krypton relatively fresh, with the Dark Supergirl period just behind her, she thinks she needs some alone time to sort out her life.

If she was the only one leaving, I think I might scoff at this. Kara has  never been someone to shirk her duty. And she seemed to thrive in the League. I guess time away would not be unheard of given the other events in her life.


But Supergirl isn't the only one who thinks it is time to move on. Donna also thinks she needs to move away from the League. That fire in her belly that kept her going just isn't there anymore. She is going through the motions.

If anyone has grown in Robinson's time on the book, it has been Donna. Certainly her character has been dragged about as low as you can in prior DC stories. So to have her filled with anger at life made sense, even if it made for a crasser Donna Troy than I am used to. Anyways, I am glad she was able to face her issues and put them behind her. I like Donna as a character and I am sad she doesn't seem to be part of the DCnU.


Jessie's reason to leave the JLA is pretty straight forward. She is pregnant! What a great little revelation in the last issue.

Her difficulties with the Speed Force are sort of swept under the rug, a side effect of the strain she put on her connection when she was racing around in the Omega Man story. I wonder if that is what Robinson's original idea was. Or was there a bigger story to play out there.

Does Jessie Quick have a place in the DCnU? She is the daughter of Jonny Quick and it is unclear if he, or any of the JSAers, even exist in the DCnU. So this may be the last time we see Jessie. I guess if Wally is MIA, Jessie can be too.


And then Robinson hits us with another 'what could have been' storyline ... The League interceding in a Saturn-Thanagar war. And Bill gets a moment to shine as we see him pummeling the Faceless Hunter, a traitor in the Saturnian ranks.

Again, I have to wonder if this was a story that Robinson hoped to do one day. And I like the classic heroic team pose on this double page spread, even if Jessie looks just a bit askew.


Congorilla has a reason to leave the League as well.

He is supposed to be looking for the next B'Wana/Freedom Beast. Remember, Freedom Beast was killed in Cry For Justice. But more than just that, Bill wonders if it isn't time for a different JLA ... a Justice League of Africa.

I don't know if I exactly understood Robinson's love of the character. Bill seems to vacillate between distinguished man and true beast. He has had some of the better lines in the run.


We get to see another League adventure when we see Starman fighting Dark Opal in the 'War of the Gemworld', the League fighting Mordru. Starman has been injured in this fight and so plans to head back to Opal City to recuperate.

I am a big fan of Amethyst and kept hoping Dark Opal was going to be the villain in the current Legion arc. At least I get to see him here. And I would have loved to read this arc.


And Dick realizes that with Bruce back, his time as Batman is limited. He'll be back to being Nightwing again soon. (Of course, we know in the DCnU, that is true.)

I have really enjoyed reading the Batman character here as he also grew in this book. I really felt Robinson showed just how much weight there is in simply being called The Batman, how people expect you to be a perfect hero, a brilliant tactician. And even though Dick was always up to the task, it was interesting to see him occasionally question himself, wondering if he was worthy.


Now I know I am biased. But I was so glad to see Supergirl in the League, acting as the muscle of the group. And I think Robinson handled her character very well.

But I also loved the sibling sort of relationship between her and Batman. She really did lean on him in the book, and he was always there for her. So I have to thank Robinson for putting in this scene where the two acknowledge that relationship. Just fantastic.


But this was my favorite moment in the book. We saw in Supergirl #67, Linda asking people not to forget her.

Here Donna tells Dick she wants to vanish for a bit, to be forgotten for a while. Within the story it works. She needs some time to recharge her batteries, to enjoy some quiet time. She even says she needs to figure out 'Who is Donna Troy?" a question asked in comics many time.

But metatextually, she is going to be forgotten. We haven't heard if she exists in the DCnU. Will she be forgotten? Batman tells her not everyone will forget her. Donna has her fanbase like everyone else. I know I am going to miss her. She is one wonderfully complex character. Maybe it is time for Donna fans to grab on to that great line from Steph Brown in Batgirl #24. It is only the end if you want it to be.

Still, there was a definite sadness to this issue, Dick and Donna turning out the lights of the satellite and transporting away. Nightwing is in the DCnU. Supergirl is in the DCnU (albeit not this Supergirl). Jade is there (but what is her origin if Alan Scott wasn't the first GL). But the rest of these characters might not be seen for a long time.

So I'll thank James Robinson again for his time on the title. Major threats, big arcs, legacy heroes ... it has been a fun ride. And this was a fitting closure.

Overall grade: A

8 comments:

Gear said...

It was an interesting end to an interesting run on JLA. Like with Batgirl it's tough seeing some of the stories we're going to miss out on - more killer robots and another interplanetary war don't particularly spin my spurs, but losing a Gemworld story makes me a bit sad. I would have liked to read those stories. And I liked reading a JLA that wasn't the same mainline stars that I grew up with.

Starman and Supergirl leave together, so it looks like this happened just before Supergirl 65 where they're touring Metropolis. And from the crazed robot storyline that was hinted at I think I better understand why Kara was expressing being tired of robots. Those small touches add a lot for readers like me.

Scott Bryan, Annabelle's scribe said...

Great review! I'm sad to see this team go so soon.

Martin Gray said...

Yeah, fab review of a fab issue. To use what seems to be my favourite word this month, JLA #60 is a bittersweet issue. I'm grateful to James Robinson for not giving us a throwaway final issue.

Anj said...

but losing a Gemworld story makes me a bit sad. I would have liked to read those stories.

Yeah. I wish we could have seen the Gemworld story too!

Starman and Supergirl leave together, so it looks like this happened just before Supergirl 65 where they're touring Metropolis.

That completely slipped my mind! Great point. Thanks for sharing!

Anj said...

To use what seems to be my favourite word this month, JLA #60 is a bittersweet issue. I'm grateful to James Robinson for not giving us a throwaway final issue.

Bittersweet is right on the money.

I am glad Robinson gave Donna the closure she deserves.

Anonymous said...

So Supergirl flies off into the sunset, what will be her next team affiliation? The Doom Patrol, the Metal Men (hey she IS the Girl of STEEL after all), the Inferior Five...the Zoo Crew?
This was a good story, but I could also see the whole JLA turn to the readership and say "We wanna stay, but the REVAMP sez we have to GO!! Bye Kids!"
Still I"m gonna have fond memories of this JLA run, Supergirl was never really a full member of the organization (Outside the JLU animated series) so it was nice to see her crack the A-List for once even if we had to suffer thru the whole Dark Supergirl mishaugas.
"The Owl of Minerva Flies at Dusk" to quote Hegel, so all I can say is, we had it pretty good Remember the feeling, don't forget it.

JF

Anj said...

Still I"m gonna have fond memories of this JLA run, Supergirl was never really a full member of the organization (Outside the JLU animated series) so it was nice to see her crack the A-List for once even if we had to suffer thru the whole Dark Supergirl mishaugas.

I agree. This was the biggest stage for this Supergirl to be on and she shined, even with the Dark Supergirl early stuff. (I though the resolution of that was fantastic.)

Given the solicits so far, I doubt she'll have any team affiliation for a while.

Anonymous said...

I really miss this era. Supergirl was still getting good stories after the magnificent Gates' run, she was everywhere, had good relationships with other heroes and was a member of the Justice League.

All of it was lost when the universe rebooted. She didn't get along with her cousin, she didn't hang out with other heroes. And yet, she made friends after a while, joined another incarnation of the League and her relationship with Clark got better.

And then DC pulled the plug. Again. Right when she was about to get her own live-action show.

Fortunately she has her own solo book again, she's about to meet Batgirl, her cousin and Saturn Girl, which will lead to a Legion of Super-Heroes. And Rebirth hints that she and the Pre-Flashpoint Supergirl are one and the same. Will Kara get her past and history back? Will she become a major player again and a member of the JL?

I hope so.