In Review: Justice League of America #8

Disappointing.

The covers: The Main cover shows Rao exploding with energy, sending the JLA flying about in debris. The illustration is by Bryan Hitch with colors by Alex Sinclair. Initially, this seems like a strong image, but the coloring hurts it. There are white streaks coming out of the antagonist onto the heroes, but this energy is done without outlines. Instead, the streaks turn the reds into gray blurs. In fact, when I examined my copy at home, I thought that there was water damage on the cover. It’s very difficult to make out these streaks of energy; outlining should have been employed. The Neal Adams Variant cover is by Neal Adams with inks by Bill Sienkiewicz and colors by Sinclair. This is a new take on his classic frontpiece to Batman #244. However, instead of having Ras looking down upon a stabbed Batman, this has Batman looking down at a Superman stabbed with a kryptonite bladed sword. It’s outstanding and something every fan would want in their collection. Overall grades: Main D and Neal Adams Variant A

The story: This seventh installment of “Power and Glory” by Bryan Hitch opens with the humans of Earth under the god’s control wondering where he has gone and his prophets weeping for being abandoned. Where is Rao? He’s on the moon battling Superman. The two throw punches, fly into the sky (back towards Earth), and the Man of Steel grabs the false god’s head with both hands and unleashes the full power of his heat vision. The pair land on Earth, but the battle’s not done. Superman learns something about the foe that has him halting their fight. I don’t give specifics of books beyond the first four pages, so I’m going to be vague with what happens next. The rest of the JLA gets involved, flashbacks show that the team had a plan before engaging the uber-villain, and a past villain returns for a greater purpose. The highpoint of the book is the dialogue on Pages 22 and 23, which is something that should/could have happened in an earlier issue. The payoff of this moment is good. However, the cliffhanger ending is not as well done. Given the proliferation of comics in today’s society, I don’t think anyone but the youngest of readers would have any fear about the conclusion. This is a cliché. That said, the rest of the story is fine, grandiose superhero entertainment. Overall grade: B-

The art: After the first two issues of this series, the quality of art by Bryan Hitch has degraded. He can lay out a panel and page excellently, but the fine detail work needed for the panels is missing; the first panel illustrates this concern. There are several people in a small panel, looking as if they are lost. Only the closest individuals have any details in their faces, while those in the middle of the panel have only slits for noses, mouths, and eyes. The bottom two panels should have been smaller to allow the first two panels of the book more space; having the credits be overlaid onto the artwork would have also helped. Pages 2 and 3 consist of several good panels of the battling characters, though the debris of the first panel that’s a partial double-paged spread is just sloppy; there’s no way to make out what is being seen, leaving long time readers scrambling to remember what it is they’re looking at and completely ignoring new readers’ queries. The top of Page 5 is necessary to show the ferocity of the battle, but the figures in the foreground are unnecessary, and their sketchy composition does not help the illustration. When characters are in close up, focusing only on their faces or as bust shots, Hitch does a superb job, but if they’re in the background or not the focus of the panel they become visual distractions, as shown with Cyborg at the bottom of 13. Settings are also taking a hit, as in the fourth panel on 15 and the fifth on 18. This is unacceptable in a flagship book that charges a dollar more than other books. Overall grade: D

The colors: This book starts rather blasé with colors being an amalgamation of blues, rusts, and grays. There’s an occasional bright color when the fighting pair hits the atmosphere or Superman uses his heat vision, but there’s nothing that stands out because of the coloring. It’s only when the rest of the Justice League appears that other colors finally put some energy into the visuals. Though this is only momentary, again things become a faded swath of night time antics, with only the returning villain providing any color, and even he’s been faded! Colors should put some punch into the art, and Alex Sinclair, surprisingly, does not do that with this book. Overall grade: C-

The letters: Narration, opening credits and story title, yells, dialogue, scene setting, and screams are brought to life by Chris Eliopoulos with assists by Amedeo Turturro. All are done well, though a lack of sounds neuters the action. Including sounds is not this pair’s decision, sadly, for I’m sure their work would have helped. Overall grade: B-

The final line: I’m just reading this book to finish out this saga, but it’s disappointing to read. I should not have believed the hype for this series. Overall grade: C

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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