Friday, August 27, 2010

Review: Justice League Of America #48

Justice League of America #48, written by James Robinson and drawn by Mark Bagley, marked the end of the 'Dark Things' JLA/JSA/All Stars story arc and was the inaugural mission of this new Justice League team.

Throughout the arc, I talked of being worried about the conclusion. Could Robinson answer all the questions I had in my mind? Well, after reading the issue, it seemsmy worries were premature. While they all weren't answered, they were at least acknowledged ... hinted at as being the basis of a future story.

For me, the fun part of this story was the coming together of this JLA team. It felt like all the members had reasons to doubt themselves a little, wonder if they deserved the name ... if they could really be the Justice League. In particular, Dick acted like he had big shoes to fill, feeling uneasy at being the League's Batman. So to see the members get to know each other, get comfortable with each other ... the tactics, the powers, their roles on the team ... that was very entertaining.

Most of the JLA, JSA, and All Stars are on the moon battling the Jade/Obsidian fusion being, the Starheart-controlled Alan Scott, and countless constructs.

The Jade/Obsidian creature is frightening thing, lashing out with dark energy. But it is really focused on Donna and Kyle, retelling the emotional baggage of the Jennie/Donna/Kyle romantic history.

Unfortunately, some of the teams' big guns, including Supergirl and Power Girl, have been left on Earth for fear that they would fall victim to the Starheart's chaotic presence.

Luckily, Mr. Terrific has deduced an answer to that presence. Don't ask me to explain the science here ... it's comic book parlance, but I don't know if I quite get it. The bottom line is he has a designed a machine that sets up a counterfield, one that will allow the remaining heroes to head to the moon and join the fray.

Robinson does a good job of stressing the characterization is both Power Girl and Supergirl in this scene. Mr. Terrific calls upon Power Girl's scientific prowess to help him build the machine. She even gets to say why she rarely deploys her science mind in the JSA. Her role there is brawn. Mr Terrific is the brains.

But Robinson shows Supergirl some respect as well. She says she understands the schematics, acknowledges her family's Science Guild heritage, and is able to pitch in. Nice that Robinson understands that piece of Kara.

As always, I love the small moments of character development as much as big action sequences.

But the battle rages on the moon. Finally Jade-sidian is captured, enveloped by a spell of restraint by Dr. Fate.

I've always been a fan of Fate so I was glad to see him get a piece of the action here.

While captured, Jade and Obsidian suddenly separate. But it isn't Fate's doing.

Suddenly Jade manifests as a White Lantern. Even the Starheart on her palm is white. She even sports a White Lantern ring.

This is the 3rd or 4th splash page of Jade in this arc and each one has really been marvelous. I wonder who has the greater love of the character ... Robinson or Bagley? This is really a striking page.

And while a White Lantern, Jade is finally free of Obsidian.

And she also has a vision ... told that she must balance the darkness and that Obsidian will save her friends. And is that Eclipso!!

I have to say I was really worried that the Jade/Obsidian fusion wouldn't be explained by Robinson, that it would simply stop at the end of the story. Here it is shown that it might be a whole story of its own. That was very reassuring for me.

The peace is short lived, as is her White Lantern form. Almost immediately she becomes Jade again ... and almost immediately Obsidian succumbs to the madness of the Starheart and attempts to join with Jade once more.

Kyle's ring, drained by the Starheart before, is replenished by Jade. I haven't seen that before. Interesting.

Repowered, Kyle does the best thing he can ... remove Obsidian from the area, flying him Earthward.

Supergirl, Power Girl, and Congorilla arrive on the moon and begin  battling among their friends. In the midst of the scrum, Batman finally figures out how to end the whole mess. Dick realizes that the Starheart can't control Jade, probably fears Jade. And he also knows that Alan Scott has shown signs that he is trying to regain control. If Jade can weaken the Starheart, maybe Alan can defeat it.

In another revelation, Jade senses she has drawb some of the darkness from the Starheart into her. Visually, we have seen this by the darker shade of green she manifests. It is a nice mix of the visuals and the story.

Jade has been the focal point of this arc so it is appropriate that she saves the day. She painfully drains the Starheart, absorbing its chaos power into her. This allows Alan Scott to shake off its influence and regain control. Just like that ... it's all over.

There is a great splash page at this point of Green Lantern shedding the Kingdom Come green armor and returning to his original costume. It is superb.

With the battle over, there is nothing left to do but wrap things up.

First we see that Jade and Obsidian need to remain separated or they will fuse again. This must be related to the White Lantern vision. Moreover, Green Lantern barely has control of the Starheart. Any major chaotic event might tip it's influence into the forefront again.

Jesse Quick officially joins the JLA.

But my favorite panel was this last one as Starman, Donna, and Bill bask in the victory. Bill must be Robinson's mouthpiece about the complaints of the JLA lineup. 'We're not so bad.' In this story, they weren't.

And Supergirl? In the last issue of JLA, I wondered why she wasn't affected by the Starheart. Robinson gives us a tease.

That's right!! It's the black-garbed Supergirl from waaayyy back in Supergirl #5! There was never a clear cut explanation of what the 'black clad Supergirl' was back then. Was she a clone of sorts, a separate being? Was she the 'evil' parts of Kara, ripped from Supergirl? And what exactly happened at the end of that story when Wonder Woman lasso'd them and asked them who she was. I wasn't really happy with that story or that ending. What happened?  Did they merge? (Subtle hints from Kara's costume made me think so.) Or did she escape? Is her chaotic presence still in Kara? Is that what shielded her from the Starheart? I am very intrigued by this.

So a nice, if understated, ending to the Starheart threat, Jade as a reborn hero, a new League acting as a team, and a bunch of new and interesting plotlines hinted at. All in all this was a very good issue.

Last review I praised Mark Bagley for his ability to keep up with the art chores on this compressed storyline. This issue was the first time it felt a little rushed ... rough in some places, sparse in others.

Overall grade: B+/A


valerie21601 said...

I wonder if the Dark Supergirl is what will evolved into the being known as Satan Girl later on?

Just have to wait and see what the future stories reveal. I do remember reading in an interview that Robinson has a two year plan for this group of Justice League legacy characters in the works.

Mad Men Girl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Yeah I wonder if this a teaser for Supergirl annual #2.
BTW how COOL is it we have regular Supergirl Annuals after a Forty Year Hiatus?
This was a fun ish if a bit ubiquitous...However as long as Supergirl is depicted as the team's "Legacy Muscle" I'm kewl with it.
Also liked the briefing airing of the two Kara's scientific skills...

John Feer

Gene said...

Anj wrote:
"And what exactly happened at the end of that story when Wonder Woman lasso'd them and asked them who she was. I wasn't really happy with that story or that ending. What happened?"

These are questions I have asked myself, for I too did not like how that arc ended. I welcome the idea that Robinson will revisit that part of Supergirl's past and clarify it.

Unknown said...

I was shocked to see the black-clad Supergirl at the end of the issue. I thought the entire arc was alright. Overall, it had a few nice moments but in general, I thought it was relatively average.

TalOs said...

Equally satisfied with this JSA/JLA team crossover arc and was so psyched to see "Dark Kara" making an apparent come back too! B-D