Orlando’s second chapter of “Surgical Strike” contains a combination of highs and lows. For me, Prometheus overcomes a chunk of this issue’s opportunities and tips the book towards the enjoyable side of the scale. That doesn’t mean all is excusable though. Some aspects that have bogged Justice League of America down since it’s debut come forward in this issue as well, and I can’t help but wonder if we’ll ever see these aspects improve.
With the JLA embodying the perfect representation of everything Prometheus detests, he’s set his sights on taking the team out. The previous issue throws us directly into this conflict as Prometheus infiltrates the JLA’s headquarters, and with the help of Afterthought, systemically separates and challenges the League members… All while dozens of citizens witness and fall victim to the chaos.
Early in its run, I had problems with Justice League of America jumping into narratives without much set-up, but “Surgical Strike” is one of those instances where an in-depth set-up isn’t needed. In fact, I would say that the lack of an elaborate set-up benefits this story. Prometheus infiltrates the League, plants seeds of doubt, and sets plans into motion so that when our heroes become aware of what’s going on, it’s already too late.
This issue kicks off with the conflict fully escalated! The Ray and Batman aren’t in Happy Harbor, and Killer Frost and The Atom have already been taken out by Prometheus. Afterthought is going toe-to-toe with Black Canary and Lobo, while Prometheus takes advantage of his opportunity to embarrass Vixen in front of a crowd of civilians. This is when the issue is at its best. Orlando writes some incredibly good dialogue for Prometheus, and I – surprisingly – found myself agreeing with many of his points. I don’t agree with Prometheus’ actions, but agreeing with his belief is powerful enough, and he’s counting on that. His approach is psychological, and I’m not certain if the League, or readers for that matter, realize how damaging his actions could be for the future of this team.
There’s more than psychological play here though. As expected, we can count on Lobo to deliver the hard knocks, as he and Dinah take on Afterthought. The fight might surprise some of you, but I felt it was on track considering Afterthought’s abilities. The art could have been a little better to help elevate these pages, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say the pages and panels look terrible.
My biggest complaint here stems from the problem of a heavy-handed script. I’ve never struggled to embrace the emotional aspects of Steve Orlando’s other books, but Justice League of America has yet to deliver on relationships. Every attempt has come across as juvenile or forced in my opinion… but that’s not even the biggest let-down in this chapter. A resolution for a conflict comes about out of nowhere and it had me giving the moment major side-eye. Mirroring one of my biggest complaints about “Panic in the Microverse,” characters come to a conclusion without any actual science, knowledge, or effort… It just happens.
Whether you enjoy this issue or not will most likely depend on what preferences you hold over others. I enjoyed everything involving Prometheus, and found the fisticuffs between Lobo and Afterthought to be mindless fun. I do feel that the issue if front-heavy in terms of quality though, as it appears most of my least favorite moments come towards the end of the issue. The final page does provide a decent cliffhanger though, and I’m curious to see how it wraps up in the next issue.
The Art: Hugo Petrus handles the art, and overall, it’s a solid delivery. His biggest obstacle is consistency considering the quality of his pencils shifts drastically from panel to panel. Every time I noticed a page or panel that looked rough, it was then followed shortly after with a page or panel that looked incredible. There are small details that I noticed – such as Black Canary having a busted blood vessel in her eye – that make me think that Petrus could really deliver some outstanding work if here weren’t working on a double-ship schedule. Still, despite some shortcomings, Petrus is still better than nearly every other artist that has worked on Justice League of America other than Reis.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
- You’re a fan of Prometheus.
- You’ve enjoyed Justice League of America so far.
Overall: I’ll be the first to admit that JLA isn’t without its problems, but I do feel there has been some progress. We’re still getting some heavy-handed dialogue, and poor plot progression in some areas, but as far as the conflict is concerned, I think this is the most entertaining threat yet. It’s quick and to the point, but Prometheus’ presence packs quite a punch all on its own.