Remember when Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 was released, and I got excited because of this teaser at the end of the book?
Remember how amped I was because of the panel of Batman holding a shield and having his life threatened, and The Atom finding Ray Palmer (or at least, he thinks it’s Ray)…. Yeah, both of these are touched on in this issue. One of them is a total let down, and the other doesn’t sound remotely exciting anymore… And it’s all because this first arc stinks.
I’m still trying to figure out what in the hell happened to Justice League of America. After a set-up in Justice League vs Suicide Squad, and a strong push/ focus on characters with the Rebirth specials, this has turned out to be a real dud. In my review for issue 3, I mentioned that I didn’t feel as though I was experiencing the story, but that Orlando was, instead, recapping the story for me. That continues to be the case here.
So much of the set-up for this story was either glossed over so quickly, or just introduced through poor exposition, that there’s no emotion in what’s taking place. This first arc is basically an outline of a story. Nothing feels grand, or personal, or relatable – which is strange considering we’re witnessing a misguided revolutionary gain control of a country through the use of force.
When it comes down to it, Orlando has crafted the bones of a good story, but the details are nowhere to be found. We know why Havok and his Extremists are attacking Earth, but only because he’s mentioned his past in every issue so far. What we don’t know – or understand – is the “Why” and “How” element. It might seem unimportant, but without these two elements being included, our villains just come across as generic. There’s no reason they couldn’t rotate other villains in, and feel as if there’s no change to the story.
I can’t help but think that if more time were spent focusing on the characters – or at least Havok – that the story would have been much more rounded. Had we had an issue that told the story of Havok and the Extremists on their world, then perhaps we could find something relatable in them while also understanding their reasoning… but we don’t. So now we’re at the end of a story where the villain isn’t relatable in any way, and he never even felt like a viable threat. In fact, Havok felt more threatening in that JLA Rebirth #1 teaser panel than he ever did during the actual story… Try figuring that one out.
And speaking of that panel, so much of an emphasis was put on the fact that Havok killed the person who held it last, but now that we’ve reached this point in the story, it carries no weight, because we know nothing about the Crusader, or his team’s feud with Havok. I’m going to assume that Orlando is pulling from past comics and assuming that readers today have a strong grasp on those events… But guess what? Most of us don’t. I mean, I could talk the history of Batman and the Bat family all day, but obscure characters like Lord Havok and the Extremists? Nope.
Also, where in the hell did Batman get this shield anyway? It literally appears out of nowhere in issues 3! I had hoped that this final issue would parallel what’s taking place currently with Havok’s past, and help explain how the Extremists got here, how Batman got the shield, what his plan is, etc… And none of that ever gets answered. It’s a little infuriating. For all we know, Havok farted and the shield popped out so Batman could use it against him.
Most of the issue is what we’ve come to expect. There’s no team dynamic here at all. Every member of the JLA are spread across the country fighting Havok’s generals, and the depth of their scenes are the equivalent of when my tiny puppy piddles. There’s simply no substance. Bogna also reappears as the (good) revolutionary. I wish I cared, but I don’t. If there’s anything worth praising, it’s the art (which honestly looked a little rushed), and Mari. Mari manages to get the only nice moment in the entire issue for using her cunning skill rather than brute force… That’s, literally, all you have to look forward to here. Sorry.
The Art: I can’t tell you how happy I was to see Reis return to art duties. I’m so excited that I’m mostly overlooking the fact that this is the roughest art I’ve seen from him to date on Justice League of America. Still, he brings and energy and intensity to his action – which comprises most of the issue – that it helped elevate the story. I just wish he actually had a better script to work with.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
Clever Girl. I enjoyed that Mari used her whit to beat Lord Havok. After the League failed to beat him with brute force, she decided to go for the “slow kill” and utilized the skin of a poisonous tree frog to infect Havok.
Details. There simply aren’t any details to add some type of texture to the narrative here. There’s no character development, or history, so if you’re looking for something other than a “shallow story,” then you’re out of luck. It also appears as though Orlando is relying heavily on previous stories that aren’t well known – and also from previous continuity – to drive impact here. For me it didn’t work, and it doesn’t make me excited about the future either.
Another book lacking logic. Birds of Prey isn’t the only story lacking logic. JLA has its fair share of it – or if there is logic, it’s stretch so far the it becomes unbelievable. One moment in particular that occurs in this issue happens between Killer Frost and Deathbat. Deathbat is burning everything around her, and Killer Frost comments that her flames are vaporizing her powers.
One page later, Killer Frost is beats Deathbat by freezing the air around her… I guess her fire can’t vaporize Killer Frost’s ice anymore now that the story needs to end…
- You enjoyed obscure comics from the 80’s.
- Meh, why not?
Overall: Out of all of the stories I’ve read from Steve Orlando, Justice League of America is by far the most lackluster! I’d hardly consider this a team book. Instead, it’s more like a collection of poorly executed fight scenes featuring a collection of heroes and D-List villains…. And that’s about it. No character development, no gripping story, and no payoff.