Justice League of America #6 “Power & Glory” Part 5
Written by Bryan Hitch
Pencils by Bryan Hitch
Colors by Alex Sinclair
I have a confession to make. I ranked this book too low on my Upcoming Comics post… While I’m irritated with the amount of delays this book has seen,it is a quality book and worth your time and money! Just wanted to openly admit that. Ok, enough sentiment, on to the review.

In case you’ve had a lapse of memory – it has been a while since the last issue of this arc – Krypton’s sun god Rao has come to earth, and is turning the world into believers. He’s healing the sick and wounded, eliminating famine, and bringing joy to the world. And while Superman was quick to accept him, Batman was not, despite all the good Rao is accomplishing. But Batman’s concerns aren’t unwarranted considering Rao’s arrival also coincided with a number of coincidences: a mysterious invitation addressed to each hero’s public identity, an attack from Parasite, and the mysterious Infinity Corporation.

As we all expected, Rao begins to show his true colors once the League starts questioning his intentions. Turns out his followers aren’t as willing as we’d first thought, as Cyborg discovers  that Kryptonians were genetically modified to trust Rao, a trait that was eventually bred into each new Kryptonian generation. Something that Rao is now trying to start on Earth. Each time he blesses someone, he modifies their DNA to inherently make them trust him. This discovery causes Superman to become curious about Rao and his intentions as well.

Meanwhile, as all of this occurs during the present day on Earth, Wonder Woman, following her fight with Prometheus, is teleported to Olympus, where she finds that the gods have vanished. With Olymbus all but destroyed she essentially shuts down as she tries to determine her next move. She’s not the only one in a weird predicament either. The Flash and Green Lantern were both teleported to the planet Krypton, somehow managing to time travel back thousands of years. Flash is there, then teleported again to the Infinity Corporation. Green Lantern, however, is still on Krypton, and meets Rao. More importantly, he learns where Rao’s power comes from – he feeds off of the life force of other Krytonians.

There are pros and cons to Hitch’s writing. He’s definitely a talented writer, and I honestly feel that he’s just beginning to grow his craft. From a big picture perspective, he appears to be taking his time to build a narrative that is driven by the characters as much as it is by the plot. And that, ironically, is where the negative comes into play. I personally love and prefer this type of storytelling! It’s similar to what Genevieve Valentine was doing with Catwoman, but it feels a little slower here because the story is revolving around six or seven characters instead of one. This type of writing doesn’t play well from a monthly standpoint though. If you’re trying to write an epic, it most likely won’t be as powerful when broken down into shorter segments, and released over a period of time. It especially doesn’t help when you only have five issues of your story released in nearly 8 months…

Alas, we’re hopefully back on track now as far as keeping the releases on time, and the characters will continue to tell their own story within this larger narrative. Superman and Rao are both featured, but mostly take a back seat to some of the other characters. And Batman, despite being the dominant character on the cover, isn’t in this issue at all. Instead, this issue belong to Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern – all of them receiving at least one nice moment along the way. The most plot progression comes from pages featuring The Flash as he partners with the Infinity Corp to learn more about Rao, what’s actually going on, and the mysterious stones that were in shown all the way back in issue one.  But what’s more exciting, is that we finally getting to see the scope of Rao’s physical abilities! Trust me, you’ll enjoy it!

The Art:  As I’ve mentioned before, Hitch’s art is solid. I never have major qualms with his work, but I’m starting to see patterns in his style. He clearly likes to showcase large numbers of people in battle, or following the aftermath of a battle, and its beginning to look a little like color-by-numbers. That being said, he’s overall vision does have a cinematic flare to it, which supports his writing style, and makes up for his shortcomings in technicality.

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Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.

Spoiler

The Good: Rao’s physical ability. We’ve seen the scope of Rao’s abilities, and we know he’s insanely powerful, but we’ve yet to see his physical strength until this issue. I was beginning to think that his edge and advantage over the League would be from sheer numbers since he’s won over the human race. Turns out, it looks like he might have the physical advantage as well!

I’ve compared Rao to Jasmine from Angel on a number of occasions here, and I’m about to do it again. Like Jasmine, Rao is a god, can alter the chemical make-up of people to convince them to trust her, and gains her life force by feeding off of people. For a decent part of her arc, Jasmine never showed her physical strength until she was forced to… and it left me thinking, “Oh $h!%!” So how does Rao compare? Well…

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To be frank, it left me thinking, “Oh Sh!%!” again.

 

Atlantis & Olympus Collide. Another solid moment in this issue, is another example of Rao’s power. More layers are uncovered into what Rao’s intentions really are, as Olympus and Atlantis become connected in what appears to be some sort of dimensional tear in the fabric of space time. Arthur confronts the disciples of Rao for overstaying the welcome, but is met with force from the Atlantian people. The next thing he knows, he’s on Olympus with Wonder Woman before Rao’s disciples try to take action against them for not converting. The whole thing is pretty “radical.”

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Time. One of the most intriguing aspects of this arc, is the time travel/shifting. We’ve seen Superman from various timelines die. The Infinity Corporation’s building appears and disappears at random. Flash and Green Lantern are sent to Krypton thousands of years ago. Flash is now sent to 1960’s Chicago. And then we end the issue with Infinity Corporation’s building appearing on Krypton during the same time that Green Lantern is there… There aren’t too many details as to what’s actually taking place concerning these time travels/shifts, but it looks as though the reveal is being set-up. I’m not sure if the time travel is due to the Infinity Corp, Rao, these mystical stones, or all three, but it has my attention!

 
The Bad:  Pacing. I mentioned this earlier, but the pacing of this book could improve based on the format of how it’s released. I’m certain that once all of these issues are combined in a trade, it will read really well and receive higher praise than this book is currently getting.  Until then, Hitch is going to want to find a way to make these monthly issues a little more impactful to ensure he stays at the helm of this book.

Meeting Deadlines. No matter how good this book is, those pesky delays will kill your momentum, and that happened here. Hitch is back to square one in trying to win readers over. If this book continues to see delays, then it’s fan base will continue to drop swiftly… and if that happens, DC will be as responsible as Hitch for not taking action.

Jasmine. Ok… I’m starting to wonder if Hitch is a fan of Joss Whedon, and actually did lift the idea of Rao from the Jasmine arc/ character. There are A LOT of similarities so far. The only thing that really separating the two plots, is the time traveling piece.

 

Recommended if:

  • You’ve been curious about Rao’s physical abilities.
  • You’ve been waiting for Wonder Woman and Aquaman to find a purpose in the plot.
  • Learning more about the Infinity Corporation and what they’re trying to do intrigues you.

Overall: This issue proves that Hitch is capable of telling stories that are character driven, while also delivering those grand “comic book moments” we’ve come to expect. I still think he needs some development in his writing, but it’s strictly around the structure of his narrative, and how to tell his story, while also making the most out of the monthly format.

SCORE:  8.0/ 10