The latest issue of Justice League of America by Matt Kindt and Doug Mahnke is a drawn-out and often repetitive installment that kinda-sorta answers the question “What happened to all the good guys?”

On the opening page of JLA #8 we learn that Stargirl and Martain Manhunter have somehow been spared the same fate as the rest of our heroes. This is something that goes completely unexplained throughout the comic and it’s not the only new question to go unanswered. For instance, Stargirl recaps the events of Forever Evil #1 but those events happened when she and the rest of the heroes would have already vanished. To keep this from being a glaringly obvious continuity error, the narration also features Stargirl saying “How do I know that?” but, again, that’s never explained and I sincerely hope that it is in a future issue. However, even if that is rectified it still won’t fix one panel in which we see what appears to be the green gauntlet of Lex Luthor (I don’t know who else it could be. Metallo? But he’s silver, right?) pick up the tattered cape of Superman at the Crime Syndicate’s “You get a piece of a superhero costume! And YOU get a piece of a superhero costume!” giveaway. This wouldn’t have happened because Lex Luthor is actually on the verge of leading a resistance against the Crime Syndicate and wasn’t even invited to the event where said cape was thrown out. Another potential continuity error occurs later in the book and I’ll put it in spoilers.

Spoiler
At the end of Trinity War, Shazam was corrupted by Pandora’s Box and was apparently turned into an evil version of Shazam that was dressed like Black Adam. In Forever Evil #1 we even see Evil Shazam standing with all of the bad guys at the Crime Syndicate’s party, but in JLA #8 Shazam is still a good guy and he’s trapped in the mind-prison along with everyone else. Did Shazam split in two? What’s going on?

The majority of the issue is about Martian Manhunter exploring his new surroundings along with a tour guide whose presence is also never fully explained. Stargirl, on the other hand, sits this one out and essentially does nothing but ask what J’onn is up to throughout the comic. It’s a real waste of her character and I can’t help but feel that if the story had been structured differently it would have been much better. As it stands, we focus on J’onn alone while Stargirl is benched until the final page. Had the tale cut back and forth between Martian Manhunter and Stargirl doing equally interesting things rather than saving Stargirl’s big discovery for the final page cliffhanger it would’ve made for a far, far more engaging read. J’onn’s journey alone actually gets quite repetitive since it answers nothing and his discoveries feel like a watered-down version of elements we saw in the modern classic, Tower of Babel.

Spoiler
It’s page after page of J’onn entering torments specifically structured to each individual character. This is a fine concept and all, but I don’t think we needed to spend the entire issue on this idea. With some better pacing we could get the point across about what each hero is suffering through AND actually have something more substantial occur. Why isn’t J’onn asking his tour guide how he’s able to walk about the compound freely? Why didn’t J’onn and Stargirl get a jail? How is the jail capable of weakening everyone’s powers? Is there a twist and this entire mystery is actually Stargirl and J’onn’s private jail? How exactly was Stargirl able to escape the jail on the final page?

The artwork by Doug Mahnke and a team of inkers is not as strong as I had anticipated. No page is spectacular by any means and there’s a noticeable drop in quality during the reveal of lost hero #2, where close-ups are ghastly (it’s something about the eyes). It’s an overall average looking comic and nowhere near Doug Mahnke’s usual output.

Recommended If…

  • You like Martian Manhunter (Stargirl just chimes in every once in a while to find out what J’onn is doing)
  • You want to know what happened to the Justice Leagues but are cool with only getting your question half-answered. The real explanation will probably come in Geoff Johns’ Justice League #24 next week
  • The tortured hero moments from Tower of Babel were your favorite part of that story

Overall

Besides the annoying continuity errors (or perhaps its simply my mistake), issue #8 of JLA feels repetitive after a while and only half-answers the question of what the Crime Syndicate did to all of our heroes at the end of Trinity War. In fact, I felt that I had even more questions once this issue was over and not intriguing questions that light the imagination on fire, but frustrating ones. Perhaps this will read better in the future, but after I finished it I felt like the whole thing had stalled for time as if Justice League #24 is the book that will have the honor of supplying real plot development. I give JLA #8 the “meh, it’s okay, I guess.” score of 5/10.

PS: There were a few more interesting Forever Evil developments in today’s Pandora #4 and I actually recommend that issue more than this one. It has better artwork and a greater sense of purpose.

SCORE: 5/10