Justice League of America has so far had a good start to the series. The dynamic between the members of JLA is very different from the one we are seeing in the main Justice League book. The direction Batman has given the JLA to be more grounded inspiration to the people at large has been interesting. This new arc has given us yet another look at how this direction will be going as the JLA with the team trying to save another part of the world from a tyrannical ruler using their power against people. Will the JLA be able to save the day once again? Let’s find out with Justice League of America #6.
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Andy Mcdonald
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Atom tries to stop Aegeus from continuing the destruction but Aegeus says that he will be the one to control a world filled without stability because that is how things are.
Elsewhere in Penn City, the Justice League of America are fighting off Aegeus forces with Ray giving everyone special light armor. Batman has Ray go check on Lobo’s injuries.
Ray finds an injured Lobo surrounded by people who don’t want to go near Lobo. Lobo tells Ray to cut out his heart as the poison is rotting him from the inside but Ray is hesitant.
In another part of the city Vixen is taking out some of Aegeus men. Inside a house one of Aegeus men is holding up a family. Killer Frost saves the family by freezing and shattering the guy’s arm, which makes the family react in fear.
While Aegeus continues to rant at Atom, Ray says he can’t cut Lobo’s heart out. Lobo chastises Ray and tells him to grow a spine. Ray finally does it and stabs Lobo’s heart out with an energy blade.
Elsewhere Batman, Vixen and Black Canary continue to fight off Aegeus army. Though they are overwhelmed Ray joins the fight and helps balance things out. Ray mentions to Batman that Lobo is out making some “noise.”
Atom and Aegeus continue to talk when Xenos interrupts and tells Aegeus that torturing people wasn’t part of their agreement. Xenos reveals Aegeus is holding the entire village hostage and will kill them the instant he stops helping build things. Atom gets a message from Lobo while he continues saying he didn’t understand the choices Xenos had to make.
Ray and Lobo bust into the building, surprising Aegeus that Lobo is still alive. Aegeus attacks the group with his lightning bolt. Ray creates a shield to protect himself, Xenos and Lobo. Atom shrinks down and gets close enough to regrow and knock Aegeus down with a punch.
Aegeus complains that he just wanted to make people stronger and does not understand how Lobo is still standing after being poisoned by something that would kill “God”. Lobo closes in and says it looks like God never met at Czarnian.
Back outside Batman, Black Canary and Vixen are able to stop all of Aegeus forces as their weapons and beast dissolve.
A few hours later Batman says that Aegeus is going to stand trial for what he has done. One of the Penn City citizens says that while that is good to hear the city has no jobs or infrastructure to support them. Vixen says she will open a branch for one of her nonprofits in Penn City as her foundation moving makes people and other business follow it.
At the JLA Sanctuary, Atom is hanging out with Lobo wondering what he is doing spending time there after weeks away from his lab and family. Lobo says he isn’t sure what Atom is doing but he is there because he knows Atom doesn’t judge, comparing Atom to dolphins. Atom awkwardly thanks Lobo.
In Ray’s room, Xenos is thankful that Batman has given him a chance to redeem himself by redesigning the Sanctuary but thinks it may be too much responsibility for him to handle. Ray reminds Xenos that he isn’t alone in his new venture.
Black Canary visits Killer Frost to check on how she is doing. Killer Frost says she understands that the others think she may go back to her old ways but Ray recently found something in the Museum of Unnatural History that could cure her. End of issue.
The Good: As much as Justice League of America has set itself apart from its big brother title “Heart of a Bastich” felt like a step back for the series. In many ways it felt as though rather than going further down the route the opening arc set for the series Steve Orlando went down the typical Justice League story route.
One of the positives of Justice League of America #6 is Killer Frost’s character progression. While she wasn’t a big part in this issue, Orlando does a solid job inserting some development for Killer Frost as she feels her old life calling her back. Seeing not only the fear in her eyes but also the family showed how protective Killer Frost is of not stepping back into who she was. With a deeper exploration into Killer Frost’s history Orlando has unlimited potential in where he can take the character.
Andy Mcdonald artwork delivered on the chaotic nature of the war going on in Penn City. While it won’t blow anyone away, Mcdonald’s artwork got the job done in making the big moments, like Ray stabbing Lobo’s heart out, get over in importance. At the same time, there wasn’t anything that stood out as the artwork was sloppy at points with character expressions not always matching the dialogue.
The Bad: Though Orlando tried to get over how inspirational the JLA are things quickly devolved into a big action set piece. The scale of the battle is exactly what you would expect from and we see consistently in the other Justice League book. To help set the JLA apart we need to see more of the action that actually means more than just Batman and others fighting waves of grunts. It’s why the first arc worked so well as we got to see the JLA fight villains that were unique.
It also did not help that one of the big focal points of this arc was Lobo. As much as DC Comics has tried to get Lobo over as an anti-hero it is just not where the character fits in. And “Heart of a Bastich” shows us why Lobo just does not fit that role and stands out like a sore thumb when next to his JLA teammates. Even his dolphin comparison felt very out of character and read more like Orlando screaming at the reader to connect with Lobo rather than be a natural thing Lobo would say.
Right now, the best thing for Lobo’s character is to keep his development to the background and slowly integrate himself with the team. Because as is, anytime he is at the forefront of the story he just ends up coming off as just a typical snarky asshole that won’t develop outside the box he is in.
The same goes for the development of Atom and Ray. While I understand Orlando’s intention to highlight both these characters since they are the least developed and known on the team, it did not feel like they grew as characters. Even where Orlando leaves the two off felt like they just stayed in place. If we are to believe these two as characters worthy of standing amongst Batman, Black Canary and Vixen than we need to see progression where their unique skills and powers add to how the JLA are saving and inspiring people.
On the other side of things, Aegeus failed to come off as a villain you’ll want to see return. All of his dialogue read like a typical tyrannical bad guy who was taken down because of his overconfidence. And the fact he was taken down by just one punch from Atom and never actually showed how powerful he is made Aegeus look like a villain not worthy of the JLA’s full attention. If Orlando wants to make new villains then we need to see them carry more weight in terms of power and speech that isn’t what we’ve seen before.
The solution for Penn City’s revival also felt like it was a cheap way for things to be wrapped up. Given that we haven’t really seen how far Vixen’s nonprofit business reaches compared to other companies like Wayne Enterprise it did not feel like a true solution. Instead it came off as us having to trust Vixen’s words rather than it being based on what has been previously established by the what we know of Vixen.
Overall: Justice League of America #6 was an uninspiring ending to the “Heart of a Bastich” story arc. This second arc for the JLA never attempted to stand out from being nothing more than a typical Justice League story. The failed execution in the attempt to give Lobo, Ray and Atom some much needed character development did not help the story that Steve Orlando and Andy Mcdonald tried to craft.