Justice League of America #3
Written by Bryan Hitch
Art by Bryan Hitch
Inks by Daniel Henriques
Colors by Alex Sinclair

Justice League of America is in its third issue, and all I can say is that Bryan Hitch is getting it right! DC currently has two Justice League books in rotation that involve the same core team, and both of them are knocking it out of the park. Where Geoff Johns’ Justice League feels bigger, and is more of a universe-wide event, Hitch’s JLA feels more self-contained and intimate. By no means does that make JLA worse, it’s just not trying to reinvent the wheel by delivering a huge, dramatic story that turns the Universe on its head.

There’s been quite a bit of mystery in this title so far. In the first issue, members of the Infinity Group revealed they knew Superman’s identity and requested a meeting with him. When Superman obliged to the request, he discovered that versions of himself from different timelines were teleporting to this facility, but they were all dead on arrival, with the exception of a few who died seconds later. Before he could learn more, he received a distress call from the League. Each member had received an invitation to meet at a power plant, where Parasite was waiting to attack them. While the team managed to beat Parasite, Flash, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman were sucked through a portal, and their whereabouts are unknown. With the threat conquered, Superman returns to meet with the Infinity Group again, only to discover that they didn’t exist, and their base of operation had disappeared. And on top of all of this, Rao, Krypton’ sun god, arrived on earth.

In last month’s review, I discussed how creepy the idea of Rao is. The moment you see him, you know it’s bad. Although he’s presented as a figure of light and you see him doing good things, you know something is wrong. But it’s not disappointing. It’s not an instance where you read an issue and think, “Here we go. This all-powerful being that’s good is really evil, and the team is going to have to fight him.” The concept is smarter than that. Rao is smarter than that. If you look at what Rao is doing from a black and white perspective, then he’s a saint. He’s uniting nations. Healing the sick. Curing the disabled. And in this issue, he essentially does something that pageant contestants have wanted to do for decades…

So how is this different than that “good guy who’s really evil and turns on the team” plot? There’s more to it than just that. In many ways, the damage is already done. Rao has made human beings all across the world a believer in his abilities. Even leaders of nations and religions are starting to turn their faith towards Rao. They’re in awe of him – and it’s not unreasonable considering the progress he’s made in such a short time, with such little effort. And that’s where the damage lies. Rao has won the people, but it’s at a cost. What that cost is, we don’t know. As a race, we’ve become entitled. We believe we deserve certain things in life, and become less willing to work for it. We look for the easy way out, and ignore potential or guaranteed consequences. We don’t ask important or relevant questions, and we don’t take time to educate ourselves properly. Rao is the easy answer. Rao has become the champion of the people. And if/when the Justice League ban together to try and stop him, they will then be the enemy of the world… unless Hitch decides to make Rao psychotic and in-turn has him try to rule earth like a tyrant… but I’m hoping that’s not that case.

Before you continue reading, be warned that there are spoilers below!
The Art: I have to applaud Hitch on the work he’s doing. On top of writing duties, he’s also covering the art! While I wouldn’t consider his art perfect or amazing, it is really good. Where he falls a little short in technique, he makes up for in guaranteeing that you see his vision. Nothing is lost in translation, and visually, minor details or focuses have a full effect.

And just think, I haven’t even touched on Diana, the Flash, and Green Lantern – all of whom show back up in this issue! And what about Batman? Well, let’s just say he’s the Batman we expect to see!

For a glimpse at some of the internal art, check the spoiler tag below.

Spoiler

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The Good: Dynamic Plot. Hitch has created a dynamic plot that’s working for me on many levels. Clearly Rao is the threat, and one that has immense power. But it’s not just the power that makes him dangerous. He’s smart and now has the world’s support.

Separation. The League has been separated. Some members have been separated physically, and some mentally. Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern all disappeared during the fight with Parasite. We now know where each of them are, and it’s trippy! Diana is on Olympus, but it’s completely destroyed. The only thing that’s left is an entity that provides answers. Unfortunately, none of its answers are good.

Flash and Green Lantern, on the other hand have landed on another planet… Krypton… and they landed there hundreds of years ago. Hitch had to throw a little cherry on top though, so flash ends up doing the typical Flash thing, and runs a little too fast… sending him to the Infinity Group – wherever and whenever they are now. The interesting tie to this though, is that you don’t know who’s behind it. You don’t know if its Rao or the Infinity Group… or if they’re in this whole coup together.

 

The Bad: That annoying scientist from the Infinity Group is back… so there’s that…

 

Recommended if:

  • You enjoy “classic” Justice League stories.
  • You want to read an arc that’s entertaining and engaging without thinking, “Who is going to die to make this story shocking?” or “What crazy thing are they going to do to change the universe?”
  • Having an all-powerful god from Krypton appear, win over the world, and potentially oppose the Justice League sounds like a must read.

Overall: Justice League of America works because it wins on so many levels. It’s entertaining, action packed, intelligent, mysterious, and daring all at once, without ever feeling too crowded or convoluted with noise. It’s clear Hitch had a distinct vision coming into this, and it shows in execution.

 

SCORE:  9/10