Friday, October 19, 2007

REVIEW :: JLA #13-14

by Dwayne McDuffie, Joe Benitez, and Ed Benes

reviewed by Jason Wheatley

Man, I hate to admit I’m wrong.

I enjoyed Brad Meltzer’s relaunch of Justice League of America. Yes, it was very, very decompressed. But I did find the story interesting, and I liked the character interactions. But when I heard Dwayne McDuffie was taking over, I expected I would drop the book. Nothing against McDuffie--I loved Justice League and Justice League Unlimited--but the announcement just didn’t “wow” me. But I read the JLA Wedding Special, which technically starts McDuffie’s run, and found it to be pretty entertaining, so I decided to give JLA #13 a chance.

Yeah, so about that part where I was wrong…

This was a fun, fun read. If you enjoyed Justice League Unlimited, I defy you to pick this book up and not have a ball reading it. It has the same high-action vibe that show maintained as well as keeping the character interactions Meltzer emphasized in his run. The heart-to-heart between Superman and Vixen is a great example. That scene also shows that McDuffie isn’t throwing out everything that came before, since the Superman/Vixen scene picks up on an important character element Meltzer left dangling when he left. My only real gripe is the replacement of Hal Jordan with John Stewart as the team’s resident Green Lantern, as the in-story reasoning seems kind of forced (“I’m too busy, so let’s trade”--seriously?). But the switch does give us another good scene between John and Black Lightning, including a pretty good wink-and-a-grin to Justice League Unlimited, so I’m not sweating it too much for now. The fun continues as the action heats up in #14, with members of the Justice League taking the fight to the Injustice League--but not before we get a glimpse of the lengths to which Lex Luthor and his crew will go to get under the skin of our heroes.

On the artistic side of things, I wasn’t too thrilled with Joe Benitez on #13. That’s no knock against him--his style’s just not my cup of tea. There’s no denying that he’s got a knack for drawing action scenes, though. His artwork has a lot of energy to it, so despite my own preferences, he’s a good fit here. There’s a certain J. Scott Campbell flair to his work, if I had to make a comparison. The only thing I can recall seeing him on before is the Poison Ivy story in Detective Comics several months ago. I do think it will be interesting to see him continue to grow as an artist as he gets more work.

Regular series artist Ed Benes is back on #14. After about 12 issues on this title, most readers probably have some idea of what to expect from his art on Justice League by now, so I won’t rehash things. I will say this, though – his Joker looks just plain evil. Sinister, I’d say. If I had a complaint, though, it would be that there are a couple of needless splash pages, including a two-page spread of the Injustice League’s “Legion of Doom”-style headquarters – which we’ve already seen before. I don’t know if these were called for in the script or if they were an artistic choice by Benes, so I won’t attempt to unfairly pin it on anybody. But it is nice to see the series’ regular artist back, since I was concerned he would leave along with Meltzer.

Anyone who bemoaned earlier issues of JLA for a seeming lack of action, look no further – this new Justice League vs. Injustice League already has everything you’ve wanted. These two issues get a big thumbs-up from this skeptical-turned-excited reader.


Robert Ullman said...

I thought about checking this out when I heard that McDuffie was writing it...I'm a huge nerd for the JLU. But that art...hideous. So cluttered and busy. I'll pick 'em up for four bits apiece at next year's Heroes Con.

Daniel Von Egidy said...

I told you so Jason. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

Shawn Reynolds said...

That "Mmmmmmmmmmmmm" was a little creepy.

Daniel Von Egidy said...

Well since your the Champion of the Sun I'll take your word for it and apologize. :( Frowny face of sorrow.

Shawn Reynolds said...

I blame Jason who was behind me saying "Mmmmmmmmmm" in a Herbert voice.