Saturday, March 26, 2011

Review: Justice League Of America #55

Justice League of America #55 came out last week and had the difficult task of dealing with two big plotlines, Eclipso's return and assault on the magical powers of the DCU and Doomsday's reign of terror on the Super-family members. With that much action going on, the pace here was fast and furious.

One thing that has interested me about the Reign of Doomsday storyline is just how Supergirl was going to fit in. It is pretty clear that Doomsday is going after the people who tried to stand in for Superman after Doomsday 'killed' the Man of Steel. We have seen him go after Steel and the Eradicator. But he didn't necessarily go after Matrix/Supergirl in that arc. In fact, it is unclear if that Supergirl is even in continuity. Still, Doomsday has a major affiliation with Superman and Kryptonian history, so I am glad that Kara is being included somehow.

Of course, to get Supergirl in on the action, James Robinson needs to work some writing legerdemain, getting the right pieces in the right places, even if it is serendipitous.

And, as I said, the action in this issue is crazy with a lot of stuff happening very fast. Some major things happen within a few panel or off screen entirely. Despite that incredible pace, James Robinson doesn't lose sight of the subplots that he is building here. The Dark Supergirl and Jade storylines move forward despite all the action. I am very happy to see because one of my major complaints with Robinson's Superman work was that too many plotlines well left dangling or forgotten completely.

This issue also is the first time that we see Brett Booth's art on the major characters here.  Booth's work is very stylish and slick. It isn't the usual style that I am drawn to, but here it worked wonderfully.

The issue opens Alan Scott nursing his injuries from JSA in the Emerald City. He says that his current condition makes it extremely hard to keep the chaotic Starheart under control. Jade is at his bedside and says she is going to do everything she can to help. But things get suddenly out of control. Scott senses an outside danger ... Eclipso.

I have enjoyed Robinson's take on Eclipso so far. Here he calls the storming of the Emerald City an 'adventure'. It like some range of emotion in my villains. I don't think Eclipso would constantly be seething in his own evilness. So to see a grin as he banters with Bruce Gordon's persona, calling his war an adventure, added some much needed dimension. He takes joy in what he does.

I also think his current look, with the hand-sewn looser cowl, is more fitting for a magical creature than his prior snug spandex costume and cowl.

While that is happening on the moon, Supergirl and Batman are in deep space.

I like how Dick says that Kara is not so dark, not evil, in this current incarnation, even referencing the prior Dark Supergirl stories. And I was also very glad to see him call her his 'little sister',the relationship Robinson has always supported. I was glad to see that re-emphasized.

Supergirl calls in her favor. She wants all of New Krypton's remnants removed, a physical way to help her forget about it. This Dark nature of Supergirl seems more and more a facade, something he is doing to appear tough and disinterested while she is still nursing the emotional wounds of War of the Supermen. She is trying to laugh away her pain ... and that doesn't work. Still, much of this was covered in her own book with Sterling Gates. I hope this 'dark' period doesn't last much longer. But most of all I am glad that Robinson hasn't made her evil again. For a while there I was worried.

So in something of a deus ex machina, Boodika is also at the site of new Krypton surveying it for Oa. It is a convenient way for Robinson to get the spirit of the Cyborg Superman into our galaxy ... maybe too convenient given all that is happening in the Lantern books?

Regardless, with all the heroes there, Doomsday arrives, nearly disemboweling Boodika. Nice splash page by Booth here.

At first Kara thinks Doomsday is after her ... which would make sense given his history ... but it soon is clear he is after Boodika. And his opening attack has seriously wounded the Alpha Lantern.

Regardless of his primary target, Doomsday is a villain and hated figure in Kryptonian history. Supergirl doesn't shy away from combat. While that skirmish begins, Batman contacts Starman and asks for him to teleport the heroes back.

Instead Starman teleports himself there and joins the fight.

Oh ... and Saint Walker is also there. No explanation on that yet. I know Walker is supposed to join the JLA. But I hope there is more to his appearance than 'I happened to be in the neighborhood'.

I love this panel though, seeing Supergirl's fury as multiple after images of her attacks on Doomsday are shown. Very nice.

But the Doomsday story is only one half of what's happening. With half the league away in space, it is an easy invasion by Eclipso. The chaotic magical creatures which flocked to the Emerald City are easily overcome by his dark magic, falling before his power, and joining his army.

In some ways the quick overrun is dramatic, letting us know just how strong Eclipso is becoming. But was it accomplished too fast without letting the readers get a sense of the battle? I am still mulling that one over.

Jade knows that Alan's safety is paramount. Who knows what would happen if Eclipso got hold of the Starheart. So Jade askes Jesse Quick to run him to safety.

The problem is we learn that Jesse is losing her powers, becoming slower. Is this a way to get her back into the Liberty Belle outfit? A way to open the door for a Flash to join the JLA? We just learned this so I guess we have to wait and see. I have always liked Jessie as a character so I hope there is nothing dire here. Nor do I want her to head to comic limbo as a depowered civilian.

Jade tries to fight Eclipso but is soon brought under his sway.

Was anyone surprised by this? Jade has had a dark side to her since she came back as a White Lantern and joined the League. I was not surprised to see her fall so quickly. The thing is, she has been shown to be extremely powerful since her return as well. This can't bode well for the heroes.

And the JLA satellite is finally able to teleport everyone back to Watchtower. Unfortunately everyone includes Doomsday. And when Boodika falls, the Cyborg-Superman manifests. It can't wait to see the resulting battle. Cyborg wants to die ... but I don't think a pummeling by Doomsday will accomplish that. Will Cyborg fight? I have to think he will defend himself. And who do the Leaguers fight? Both of these guys as they try to kill each other? Should be fun to see.

When I was done reading the issue, I needed to take a deep breath. Everything happens in a frenzy. Fast pace and great action usually means an entertaining comic and this one was. But I was happy to see the Dark Supergirl storyline progressed. We have a better sense of her feelings and motives now.

Another thing that I have liked about Robinson's League has been that they are fighting huge threats, dealing with the major players that the JLA is supposed to. Here they are fighting two at once. Eclipso and Doomsday are top tier villains. We'll have to see how this split League deals with them. The only downside to the issue was the 'too easy' appearances of Boodika and Saint Walker. They felt forced, there more to move the story in a direction than to actually have a reason for being there.

Brett Booth's stuff really sizzles here. The battle sequences have a nice kinetic feel with a stylized and detailed feel. I hope he remains on the book for a while.

Overall grade: B+


Anonymous said...

I like the way she is presented artistically in JLA. I do prefer the red/blue/yellow to the black costume, but the longer hair with no shorts under the skirt and a little sexier is a vast improvement. She just looks so much more like Supergirl-- so much more like the character I followed during the 80's, 90's, and during the Loeb and Kelly runs.

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight, "Dark Supergirl" rises because "Normal Supergirl" is too shy to ask the JLA to sweep up the dust left over from the destruction of New Krypton?

But it is nice to see SG go toe to painted toenail with Doomsday without being knocked into a pile of sentient goo in the first five seconds of the brawl.

John Feer

Coloman said...

I figure it's less 'too shy to ask' and more 'wants to forget it ever happened and the best way to do that is lock myself away.'

valerie21601 said...

Personally, I would like to know when and where the "Dark Supergirl" and the JLA story lines fit in where it concerns the continuity of Kara's own series.

Anj said...

I am just glad that Dark Supergirl just seems to be Kara trying to have a thick skin, trying to be emotionally invulnerable. BUt it isn't real ... the request shows it.

It is still better than her attacking the JLA!

TalOs said...

wholeheartedly agree come the latter mentioned Anj.

"Dark Supergirl" seems to me like Kara's having a bit of nervous breakdown (like Kal currently) of her own.