In Review: Justice League of America #2

The story treads familiar and incredulous territory and the art suffers in several places.

The covers: The Regular cover is an action shot of the heroes taking on Havok and his Extremists. All the characters look good, and there’s a lot of them, so kudos to Ivan Reis and Joe Prado for making each one stand out clearly in such a cramped space. Heck, even the Atom shows up down at the very bottom. Credit must also be given to Marcelo Maiolo for coloring such a detailed cover so well; again, I go to the Atom — if he stands out with all that’s going on, the colorist has done a good job. As much as I like the Regular cover, it’s the Variant cover by Doug Mahnke and Wil Quintana that I purchased. Havok absolutely dominates this cover. He’s got his foot on Batman’s neck, while the others are tied to together with some heavy chains. The power on this frontpiece is amazing! That said, the villain looks absolutely nothing like he does within this issue. In fact, he reminds me, because of his design and coloring, of Apocalypse from X-Factor. Still, I do like this cover. Overall grades: Both A

The story: Last issue, Lord Havok had Atom by the neck and was about to break it until Batman said he would surrender himself. The youngest hero of this new Justice League is tossed aside as Havok says, “I accept that.” All the fighting comes to a halt as Batman speaks with the super powered leader of this group of villains. As he’s doing so, Black Canary wants to restart the battle, but is stopped by Vixen. “Batman’s stalling for us to get to safety.” This prompts Frost to say, “Like Hell. He saved my life. I’m not going anywhere.” All seems to be working out well, until one of the Extremists, Dr. Diehard, knocks both men aside. “We came here to protect. To rule! Now Havok capitulates? Compromises? It’s more of the same…You deserve stronger leadership. With the strength to do what is required. I have that strength.” This was an unexpected turn of events from writer Steve Orlando. The fighting then resumes with a new leader in charge of the Extremists. There’s a good surprise on Page 6, with one hero’s reaction outstanding. A change of location then occurs and the story just fell apart for me. The political actions are just ridiculous. Even worse were the reactions of the Justice League. With all their resources, including the considerable fortunes of Wayne Enterprises and access to all of the Dark Knight’s “wonderful toys”, they enter the location in that fashion?! Nope. I just don’t buy it. The last two pages of the story take an even bigger political leap. The story is moving forward, just not in a way I’m enjoying. And wasn’t this territory covered in Justice League International #16? I might go another issue, but I’m really straddling the fence on continuing with this series. Overall grade: C-

The art: The pencils on this issue are by Felipe Watanabe and inked by Scott Hanna. The first seven pages are well done. What’s left of Saratoga is in ruins and the crumbling buildings and debris strewn streets are impressive. The characters are also executed well. The first page’s first panel has Havok looking powerful and threatening as he’s throttling the Atom. There’s a partial double-paged splash on 2 and 3 that shows each side facing down the other with every character looking sharp. Particular standouts are Batman and the Ray. There’s also some nice movement around the heroes as they debate what they’re going to do with their leader surrendering. The final panel on Page 3 is from an excellent point of view, foreshadowing the height from which Dr. Diehard speaks. This character looks particularly maniacal at the bottom of Page 4, though with his helmet, flowing cape, and those colors, it was difficult not to think of Magneto. I really, really liked the reaction from the hero on the far right on the second panel on 6 — outstanding! However, these nice details change considerably on 8: that establishment shot of the city is nowhere as detailed as the previous pages. The characters at the bottom of the page look as though they were illustrated by someone else. Ditto with Havok on the next page. Look at the bottom panel on 11: it’s more a rough of a panel than a finished work. 16 and 17 feature crowd shots, but they’re just outlines for the members of the crowd. Each page in this issue seemed to lose more and more details than it started with. If this is how the visuals will look next issue, I’ll definitely skip it. Overall grade: C-

The colors: Now here’s a contributor to be happy with: Hi-Fi. This group does a great job on this issue. The opening pages in Saratoga have terrific coloring, with the oranges and reds used for the background making the destruction more complete. The shine given to Havok’s armor is awesome, and it continues throughout the book. The shine on the Ray’s helmet and armor is also something to look at, for it’s great. The close up of Dr. Diehard at the bottom of 4 looks great, even if he is a little too mutant-familiar. My favorite page by Hi-Fi is 11; I’m always amazed at how colorists are able to put shading on skin tones, and there’s several done exceedingly well on this page, not to mention the terrific work done on Batman. Hi-Fi aces yet another book. Overall grade: A

The letters: Clayton Cowles creates scene settings, dialogue, sounds, whispered dialogue, yells, a newspaper headline, a transmission, the story’s title, and the book’s credits. I really like the strong scene settings for this book, which would stand out regardless of how the boxes that contain them are colored. Also nicely done are the sounds, with the penultimate panel on the first page having three outstanding ones. I also like the way Cowles italicizes and bolds certain words in characters’ speech to put more stress on what each is saying. Cowles is also a top notch contributor. Overall grade: A

The final line: The story treads familiar and incredulous territory and the art suffers in several places. If this doesn’t improve with the next issue, I’ll be done with this Justice League. Overall grade: C

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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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