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We’re back to a regular cadence with Justice League of America and I’m slowly beginning to warm back up to this book, especially after last month’s issue. We’ve known that Rao is a less than stellar guy, but last month was the first time we actually witnessed him own it, when he attacked Superman. With the attack increasing the book’s momentum, I expected this issue to continue that trend… Unfortunately, this is probably my least favorite issue of the book’s run so far. The issue itself isn’t bad, it’s just that there’s hardly any plot development, and that left me feeling let down and wanting more.

Up to this point, Hitch has done a solid job of balancing the narrative and characters by putting a focus on each League member at the right time, which would then support the plot in the best way possible. This installment felt more like he spread himself too thin by focusing too much on each character, and not enough on a single character to drive the plot. To put it into perspective, it was kind of like watching a hero make a grand entrance, brandish his gun, and then right as he’s about to fire, realize he forgot to load it. That was what I experienced leading up to, then reading this issue.

Power and Glory: Part Six picks up with Batman and Cyborg investigating the staff of one of Rao’s followers. Batman previously had an altercation with them while at a hospital, and in turn, brought Vic a little gift. This is probably one of the more critical scenes from this issue as it gives the Justice League – well, Batman and Cyborg anyway – insight into Rao. Vic manages to tap into the scepter, and begins to learn what it’s used for, and how it works, as well as the truth behind Rao’s powers.

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Even with that knowledge though, it’s going to take more than just Batman and Cyborg to stop him. The problem is that the rest of the League is completely unaccounted for. Superman is down for the count after Rao mopped the floor with him. Green Lantern and Flash are still on their time trip, but are no longer together in the same time. Hal remained on Krypton thousands of years ago, and is now with the Rao from that time period, while Barry is in a completely different time at the Infinity Corporation. The book then begins to touch on some crazy meta-physics/ space-time continuum stuff, and I honestly couldn’t decide if it was good, or unnecessary… mainly because I’m not a scientist, and trying to connect or understand these pieces is a little more than I’m prepared to delve into at the moment. I’d venture to say that Green Lantern’s situation is a little more intriguing than Flash’s, but I’ll let you read the issue rather than spoil it for you.

Don’t forget about Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Diana has been M.I.A. since the fight with Parasite, and her mysterious teleportation to Olympus introduced more questions than any other character’s situation. With Olympus now abandoned, Diana has been trying to discover not only what happened to the home of the gods, but where her priorities should lie. Meanwhile, Aquaman is coming to terms with the loss of Atlantis, after Rao’s disciples converted the Atlantean race to put their faith in Rao.  Diana and Arthur’s paths manage to cross in an explosive way, and leads to what could potentially be the best set-up for this arc.

As I previously mentioned, there isn’t much in the way of plot progression, so it’s a little difficult to discuss what takes place without giving anything away. What Hitch does manage to accomplish in this issue though, is more set-up. One thing is clear: when the bottom does finally fall out in this arc, it’s going to be intense!
The Art:  Hitch continues art duties, and as I’ve said before, he’s a solid artist. There’s a style to his work that makes it easily recognizable. While I enjoy his art, I don’t think he’s putting his full effort into due to timing, and his writing responsibilities. I can’t help but wonder if this book would be even better if he shared some of this responsibility with a partner, or another artist.

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

Spoiler

The Good: The scan. Cyborg’s scan of the scepter was one of the big, ah-ha moment’s for this title. I’ve been curious as to how the Justice League would learn about Rao to be able to try and stop him. I assumed Green Lantern would’ve been the one to eventually share the information pertaining to Rao’s abilities, but this is a little more interesting. I’m willing to bet Cyborg further utilizes the staff to eventually turn it into a weapon against Rao. I hope Hitch has something a little more original up his sleeve, but it seems very plausible at this point.

The gods’ armory. Hands down, the coolest thing about this issue, is when Diana takes Aquaman into the armory on Olympus. Any weapon that has ever been created can be found there. It’s really freaking cool. And then to up the cool factor, there’s an area designated for the gods’ weapons of choice, including Zeus’ thunderbolt. Then… wait for it… Diana tosses Aquaman a trigon, and says, “Here. King of the Seven Seas? Try god of the oceans.” It was kind of epic, and I can’t wait for the outcome.

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Rao, meet Rao. The whole bit with Green Lantern and the Rao from the past going to the Infinity Corporation building, and meeting the present Rao (or close to present… perhaps future?) is intriguing. I’m not sure where it will lead, but it served as a nice touch to the issue, I just hope the follow-up is as good as I want it to be!

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Superman. Supes gets the award for being the biggest badass in this issue. Last month, he had his ass handed to him by Rao. I mean, Rao practically knocked him out with two to three punches. He’s now being held captive, which conveniently allows Rao the opportunity to spill his master plan. This, in turn, pushes Superman to try and escape, or so it seems. What Superman is actually doing, is WAY cooler! But why tell you, when I can just show you…

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He just flew that space craft into the moon… the freaking moon! And he’s bound! And it looks like whatever it is that’s binding him, is actually stabbing him! The sheer power of this is outstanding. I mean, we all know Superman is incredibly strong, but sometimes I forget just how strong he actually is.

 

The Bad:  The lack of overall progression is the issue’s biggest downfall. While it’s hard for me to consider that “bad,” it is worth noting. I do, however, feel like Hitch took a less interesting step with Rao. For a few month’s now, we’ve witnessed Rao completing miracles: healing people, ending famine, creating peace, but we learned it was at the cost of people’s lives. Granted, a much smaller scale than the numbers that would’ve died naturally, but it’s still essentially murder.  But instead of continuing to keep this interesting, and have Rao do this because he truly feels it’s the right thing to do, and that the sacrifice is worth it, Hitch just makes him power hungry. Now Rao is basically turning into your average psychopath… this psychopath just happens to be stronger than Superman.

 

Recommended if:

  • You’ve been waiting for Cyborg to play a key role in this arc.
  • You want to see Superman live up to his namesake.
  • You want Wonder Woman to embrace her godhood.

Overall: More exposition heavy than I would’ve liked, this chapter of Justice League of America is still a solid read. It is one of the weaker chapters of this book, it does “rev up the JLA engines” to set-up what I’m hoping will be a slobber knocker between Rao and the Justice League.

SCORE:  7.0/ 10