In Review: Justice League of America #6

I expect better on DC Comics' flagship team book. I'm done.

The covers: Two different covers to collect, if you’re a “true” fan. The Main cover is by Bryan Hitch and Alex Sinclair. It shows the aftermath of a terrific battle, with members of the Justice League unconscious. Superman, Aquaman, Cyborg, Flash, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern were unable to overcome some unseen foe. Remarkably, Batman remains standing, his right side open and bleeding, but his face shows he remains determined to finish the battle triumphantly. Great cover by Hitch, showing the non-super powered hero still ready to battle. The coloring by Sinclair is also good and I found two different versions of his coloring: the physical copy I purchased had a brown and tan background, while an image I found online, and the one used to accompany this review, had a blue-gray background. Either coloring works due the locations in this installment, though Batman is nowhere inside! The Variant cover is the Harley’s Little Black Book Variant by Joe Madureira and Nei Ruffino. I’m really not a fan of Harley, but this cover is so good, even I’d be searching it out. It shows Harley, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman leaping or flying down to the bottom right corner. Harley’s firing pistols in the air, Superman is fists forward, Wonder Woman is deflecting bullets with her bracelets, and Batman is following them from behind. The illustration is tops and the coloring is fantastic. This looks good. Overall grades: Both A

The story: The fifth installment of “Power and Glory” by Bryan Hitch opens in Atlantis with Aquaman confronting the followers of Rao. “Get out before I take a more direct approach. That’s as much as a negotiation as you get.” One follower says no, Aquaman throws a punch, and is mobbed by the minions. In Themyscira, home of the Amazons, another group is taking out the women warrriors, but their plans for a “transfer” are ready to go. At the Fortress of Solitude, Superman makes quick work of the followers there, leaving only Rao standing. The last son of Krypton looks at his foe and says, “Best you got?” It’s not, and their battle rages for a few pages. The story then moves to the Flash, who’s at the Infinity Corporation building…in 1961. Several clues about what’s going on are given there, before things shoot to Wonder Woman. The issue ends following Green Lantern, who’s on Krypton 250,000 years ago. Hitch is definitely tying up things, with some of the heroes reuniting and others learning important information. I missed seeing Batman and Cyborg in this issue, but with so much going on that’s a little nit. Flash and Green Lantern had the most interesting segments of this issue, being the most plot heavy and, seemingly, the most important pieces to the saga. I found the “transfer” portion of the story very interesting and can’t wait to see how that pans out, but the Superman vs. Rao pages went on too long: Pages 5 – 9 could have been condensed to one page and have the same effect. Overall grade: B

The art: I started picking up this book due to the raves I was reading online about Bryan Hitch’s artwork. I’m just not impressed with him. His artwork is inked by Daniel Henriques, Andrew Currie, and himself. Hitch is good at layout; it’s his execution that’s leaving me lacking. Looking only at the first page, it’s obvious that he knows how to set up an epic scale. The first panel in the Temple of Poseidon would be a budget breaker in a film, so it works easily as an illustration. However, the details are really lacking: there are no faces on the people, the ground is a suggestion of debris, and even the background is rudimentary in its construction. Things improve slightly in the second panel, but everyone, save Aquaman, has a suggestion of a face, with the background being, again, very basic. The third panel fares much better with Aquaman and his target being well drawn, and the character in the background closest to the pair has a face. Better still is the final panel, with Aquaman getting swarmed — the characters look complete. The first panel showing Themyscira suffers from lack of details again. And what’s up with the character in the final panel of Page 2? He looks to have coffee stains on his head. I’m also not big on the weapons the minions wield, looking too similar in design to the Indigo Tribe found in the Green Lantern titles. When Superman is face to face with Rao the image is to far away to see the characters’ faces, and what is shown is sketchy. The battle that follows does not have the clarity or design necessary to justify the pages devoted to it. Even the coloring cannot save the lack of detail on the characters battling on the double-paged spread. Only the pages featuring the Flash are well drawn, although look at how long his arms are in the first panel on Page 11 — his hands would be past his knees! The rest of this book is adequate, but not stellar. Overall grade: C-

The colors: The first four pages of this book has coloring that blends too much with other panels, creating a smudge of colors on the page. Even with his orange clothing, Aquaman is lost on the page, especially at the bottom of Page 1. It’s so dark in Atlantis it’s hard to see any detail. This may have been an editorial direction given to Alex Sinclair to “hide” the illustrations with his coloring. I’ve seen Sinclair do work on several other books, and this is nothing like he’s done before. It’s hard to separate the individuals from one another that Superman is fighting at the top of 3 and 4. Even with pinks, it’s hard to make out the combatants on 7 and 8. The colors are so muted as to make everything about this issue blase and boring. I just don’t understand why Sinclair did what he did on this book. Overall grade: C- 

The letters: Scene settings and dialogue are done by Chris Eliopoulos, with assists by Ameded Turturro. All look fine, but the absence of sounds make this book sadly unemotional during battles and explosions, and there are several. I realize that inserting them is not Eliopoulos’s decision, but they are needed to punch up the action scenes. The book comes off as monotone without them. Overall grade: C

The final line: This storyline hasn’t completed, but I’m done. I’ve been very disappointed in the story and art and don’t think this book is worth the cover price. I expect better on DC Comics’ flagship team book. Six issues is more than enough time to hope for improvement. 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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