McDuffie’s Justice League of America has been some enjoyable cotton candy for the brain. There isn’t much substance or depth, but the story has managed to deliver tons of fun. I’m sure that we will get another enjoyable 15 minutes of escapist entertainment with Justice League of America #15. Let’s hit this review.
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Pencils: Ed Benes
Inks: Sandra Hope
Art Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Firestorm suddenly appearing onto the scene and turning Lex’s Kryptonite knife into a butter knife. The Injustice League assembles around Luthor. The villains then begin brawling with Firestorm. Firestorm mentions that on his way to save Superman, he slipped Batman a ballpoint pen. That Firestorm was about to turn the pen into a lock pick when he noticed Luthor about to cut Superman’s throat.
Suddenly, we see all the Justice Leaguers freed and assembled in the room. Batman comments that he can pick the locks at Fort Knox with a ballpoint pen. And it is officially on as the Justice League members lock horns with the Injustice League members. Some of the villains make for a quick escape. Black Canary orders the Leaguers to not pursue any fleeing villains since the Leaguers are so badly outnumbered.
Our heroes begin to plow their way through the villains. During the battle, Vixen kisses the unconscious Superman in order to give him his powers back that she had borrowed. Superman asks if she had to kiss him to give him his powers back. Vixen answers no and says that she doesn’t know why she did that. Superman comments that they will talk about it later.
The only Leaguer not taking part in the fight is Red Tornado since he has been disassembled into several parts. We see Geo Force split the ground open under Grodd, Grodd falls into the chasm created by Geo Force. Geo Force then slams the ground shut and seals up the chasm. Geo Force comments how Grodd wanted to eat him.
We see Cheetah grab Dr. Light and tell him that they need to make a quick escape. Dr. Light agrees. Suddenly, Cheetah slashes Dr. Light in the back and says that she will never work with a rapist. Cheetah is about to kill Dr. Light when Wonder Woman steps in and blocks her blow. Firestorm then takes out Cheetah.
Hal Jordan is on the scene and he teams up with John Stewart to destroy Lex’s Kryptonite gauntlets. The two Lanterns then hold Lex still and let Superman take a free shot at Lex. Superman then takes out Lex.
Superman stands over Lex and retorts that he isn’t fooled into thinking that all this was just about Lex setting up a protection racket for super villains or about overthrowing the government. Superman asks Lex “What were you really up to?” Lex responds “Were?” Superman retorts that whatever it is, he will stop Lex. Lex retorts that Superman will try.
We cut to our heroes having rounded up all the villains that they defeated and captured. Batman walks back onto the scene with an unconscious Joker. Batman comments that he found Joker running outside through the swamp. Black Canary snaps that she told everyone not to chase after the runners. Batman answers that he disobeyed her. Black Canary retorts that they will talk about it later.
Suddenly, Amanda Waller and the members of Task Force X enter the room and hand over arrest warrants for all the villains the League has captured. Hal Jordan comments that the JLA doesn’t work for Waller. Waller retorts “No. Not yet.” Waller and her team take the villains and leave.
Batman then tells Firestorm that he is going to join the JLA. Firestorm thanks Batman for the offer, but says that he doesn’t have the time right now for that. Batman retorts that it wasn’t an offer. That it is the way it’s going to be. That Firestorm is too powerful to be out there unsupervised. Black Lightning comments that the Bat-God has spoken. Wonder Woman agrees with Batman. Superman then welcomes Firestorm to the Justice League. End of issue.
The Good: Justice League of America #15 was a fast paced issue. McDuffie delivers several fantastic fight scenes. And that is by far and away the strength of McDuffie’s run on the Justice League of America. The reader never has to wait more than a couple of pages before we get some exciting action. I loved Geo-Force’s excessive use of force in dispatching Grodd. Of course, given how Grodd wanted to eat Geo-Force, I can say that I blame Geo-Force for using extreme force.
McDuffie delivers a pretty bad-assed Batman. McDuffie’s Batman is heavy on the attitude and cockiness. This is certainly one Batman that you don’t mess with. I dig that McDuffie has Batman brazenly ignore Black Canary’s orders for the JLA’ers to not go after the fleeing villains. What was so well done about Batman’s flagrantly flouting Dinah’s orders was that it wasn’t mean spirited on Batman’s part. The fact is that nobody, and I mean nobody, comes in between Batman stopping the Joker. Period.
Now, even though I absolutely despise the fact that Firestorm is joining the Justice League, I completely agree with the logic that McDuffie uses to get yet another one of his pet characters onto the roster. The fact is that Firestorm is grossly inexperienced and frighteningly powerful. Firestorm is exactly the kind of character that Batman would not trust and would constantly worry about being used for evil purposes. It is totally believable that Batman would see Firestorm as a potential danger and would want Firestorm under the watchful eye of the Justice League.
I was rather surprised to see Vixen planting a big wet one on Superman. And even more surprised that Superman would actually complain about that act. Dude, are you kidding me? Vixen is insanely hot, and last time I checked, Lois keeps getting uglier and uglier with each issue I see her in. Here’s my advice to Superman: shut up and enjoy it.
McDuffie teases the reader with Lex’s true intentions behind forming the Injustice League. I like that Lex even comments that he is still plotting and planning. That the JLA’ers have not been able to uncover what Lex is really up to. It should be fun to find out what the true nefarious plans of Lex Luthor are. I just hope that McDuffie doesn’t make us wait too long before we learn what is going on with Lex.
I loved the appearance of Amanda Waller and her team. Waller is such a great character since it is so incredibly easy for the reader to hate her. I liked the tension that crackled in the air between the two teams. I also like how Waller lords her ability to take the villains from the JLA while at the same time goads our heroes with the fact that while they don’t work for her now, they will in the future. It is becoming more and more obvious that the long term goal of the government is to place all metahumans under their control. I really hope that McDuffie has these two teams lock horns at some point in the future.
Benes and Hope craft some gorgeous artwork in this issue. Benes makes Justice League of America #15 simply a fantastic looking issue. Benes creates some incredibly dynamic fight scenes with snap and crackle with tons of intensity. Benes also does a great job with the subtleties of the Waller scene. Benes is able to convey the tension that is rippling forth from both sides.
The Bad: McDuffie’s dialogue is average at best. We get nothing more than your standard issue type of dialogue that you get in your typical comic book. Some of the dialogue is downright cheesy. And we have to suffer through some “witty” dialogue that is more juvenile and predictable than it is entertaining.
The various characters still come across as caricatures rather than actual people. None of them have their own unique external voice. We are still lacking anything that could be considered character development during McDuffie’s run on this title. We get about as much character development as you do on your average Saturday morning cartoon.
The scene with Cheetah attacking Dr. Light because he is a rapist was stupid. I know that McDuffie showed us the gun in Act I so he had to fire it by Act III. But, the fact remains that this little plotline just never worked for me. And I didn’t see this scene as being necessary at all.
In general I found Justice League of America #15 to be a bit lacking. This story was somewhat of an anti-climactic ending. I was hoping for something a bit less predictable than our heroes staging a convenient escape and then quickly taking down all of the villains in a single issue. I was hoping for a story that had an ending that was a bit more surprising or shocking than the typical ending we got in this issue. I certainly expected more from our villains than them all developing glass jaws and being dispatched with ease.
Another issue I have with Justice League of America #15 was how thin and flat the story reads. McDuffie’s story lacks any depth or texture. Where are all of the multiple plotlines? Meltzer did such a good job cultivating a myriad of plotlines at the same time. It seems that McDuffie is planting nothing for the future other than the question of what Lex is truly up to. Other than that, we have no other interesting plotlines cooking. The entire story just seems a bit shallow and flimsy.
And the ending to Justice League of America #10 was a bit too cheesy for my taste. I could almost hear the 1970’s cartoon music and the laugh track with the final couple of panels. Oh, that wacky Batman!
And I truly hate that McDuffie is shoving yet another one of his pet characters down our throats with the addition of Firestorm to the roster. Seriously, the JLA already has several characters that simply have no business being on this team. Geo-Force and Vixen simply are not Justice League material. Honestly, Roy is more Titans material than JLA material, but I’m going to give him a temporary pass as DC appears to be trying to grow and evolve his character. And as much as I love Black Lightning, he is a better fit on a team like the Outsiders than he is on the JLA.
Firestorm is yet another character that simply is not Justice League material at all. I could see Firestorm being a nice addition to the Teen Titans. But, being worthy of the premier super team in the DCU? The one that is reserved for A-list talent? No. He isn’t worthy of a roster spot on the JLA. But, when you look at the rest of the C-list characters like Geo-Force, John Stewart, Vixen, Black Lightning, Red Arrow and Harkgirl, that dominate this roster, I guess Firestorm fits right in.
Overall: Justice League of America #15 is an average issue. McDuffie does a good enough job making sure the reader doesn’t look behind the curtains. McDuffie unleashes enough eye catching action bundled up in a story that moves at a fast pace with the hopes that the reader doesn’t stop and realize that the story itself is lacking in substance. This title is truly best described as cotton candy for the brain. And while cotton candy is delightful to eat every once in a while, it is certainly something that you cannot sustain yourself on over the long haul.
McDuffie’s opening story arc has been silly fun. But, if he is planning on staying on this title for a long duration then he has to step up his game and begin to deliver issues with a lot more depth and substance to them. I definitely recommend Justice League of America if you enjoy mindless fun and don’t mind a cartoon styled comic book. However, if you prefer your titles with some complexities and thought provoking stories then save your money and don’t buy Justice League of America. Spend that money on another title like X-Factor or Daredevil.