In this issue of Justice League of America, we find out what Ray Palmer has been up to these past few months… And that’s about it.
I’ve been a champion for “Crisis in the Multiverse” because it’s easily been the best arc in Justice League of America since its debut. Quite frankly, this is the story – and quality – we should’ve gotten to begin with. This chapter, however, is a mixed bag for me. On one hand, I really enjoy what Orlando offers up in this issue. Every single page is focused on Ray Palmer. Every. Single. Page. I can’t tell you how overjoyed that makes me. Ray’s a great character, and getting such a hyper-focus on him after he’s been M.I.A. for years is unspeakably satisfying.
But the plot… Well, there isn’t one. We get a really nice recap of what Ray has been up to, and how he got where he is. There are interesting element found within the issue, from his discovery of the Microverse, as well as his strive to help the people of the Microverse, but it all feels pointless. Nothing that occurs in this issue aids the plot in any way, nor does it provide any new worthwhile information. This is what we call a filler issue. And not one of those filler issues to give the main creative team a break, and might actually surprise you. No, this feels more like an “I was told to create a six-issue arc, and I only really have enough of a story to cover five issues… I know! I’ll make one issue a complete flashback recap!” But seriously, if you ever watched Lost, this issue is the equivalent of the episode “Expose.” (You know, the one about Nikki and Paulo… The episode that sets them up only to kill them by the end of the episode… Completely pointless.)
I really just wish Orlando would have found a way to make this issue have a purpose. Months of narrative are skimmed over (aka: exposition), and while these stories could have been interesting, they’re not because we’re not actually experiencing them. The same problem that plagued Orlando’s earlier arcs strikes again. This chapter feels like nothing more than a “Previously on JLA…” except the recap is of episodes that never aired (must be a show on FOX).
Relationships are explored, but because they haven’t been earned, I, again, don’t care. I want to care. I really do… But I don’t. The most frustrating think about this issue is that the one thing we all really wanted to know, never gets answered. Issue #14 left off with a cliffhanger of Ray seeing Aron Aut and yelling, “Why did you bring him here? You’ve doomed us all.” Then this issue begins with that very dialogue, and… Nothing. We have to wait until issue #16 (I hope) to find out what the big deal is. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the term “blue balls,” but this issue is the literary equivalent of that.
The Art: Watanabe steps back in on art, so if the script doesn’t get you down, then this probably will. I don’t know… The art is mediocre at best and really stands out when compared to Reis’ work. The technique of the pencils, attention to detail, ability to tell a story… None of it meets the quality that we should get from the Justice League brand. HOWEVER, I have spoken to Steve Orlando before concerning the rotating artists, and he informed me that his priority is making sure deadlines are met so books can be released on time… I have to respect that and thank him for respecting readers in that way as well. I’d much rather have a book with mediocre art than not have a book at all. Sometimes it’s just tough to swallow when you know how good something could’ve been.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
Ray Palmer. As I said earlier, the best thing about this issue is Ray’s return. I hope he sticks around because he adds so much to this book. With so many “developing” heroes in JLA, the book could benefit from having another veteran to help Batman. If you’re a fan of Ray, then you’ll probably be overjoyed as well.
This Disaster Was Created. The only plot development worth discussing is that the crisis that’s taking place isn’t natural… It was created! Too bad this is the last page of the book because exploring this further (in this issue) could’ve redeemed the fact that this is an incomplete flashback/ recap issue.
Pacing. Look… Covering months-worth of events within twenty pages is a feat to conquer. It’s not impossible, but one will need to rely heavily on exposition, and that’s never what readers want. Orlando touches on so many interesting ideas, but it makes me wish that we’d had a six-issue The Atom mini to fully explore these events, then join up with JLA so that the narrative in this issue could have room to breathe. It also would have let us experience it… I know DC appears to be pushing shorter stories, but man they’re gutting the heart of so many of their narratives.
What did Aron Aut do? I don’t know! I would like to know! I’m sure you would too!
- You want to know what Ray Palmer has been up to.
- You’re invested in “Crisis in the Microverse”
Overall: Two factors will decide how much you like or dislike this issue. The positive aspect is that Ray Palmer is back, and he gets the spotlight here! Unfortunately, there’s practically no plot progression. You literally would need to make an argument as to why someone needs to read this issue to complete the story. It’s also frustrating that the one question all of us came into this issue wanting to be answered, remains unanswered. As happy as I am to have Ray Palmer back, and as beneficial as it is to learn what Ray has been up to during this time, I can’t help but feel that this issue was a let-down. It’s not bad, just extremely disappointing.