Justice League of America #14 Review

The Revolution enjoyed McDuffie’s debut on the Justice League of America in issue #13. It wasn’t anything earth-shattering. Nor did it really engage the reader’s mind. And it certainly is a departure from Meltzer’s much deeper and slower paced writing. But, what McDuffie did do was provide for plenty of good old fashioned fun. Hopefully, McDuffie can keep the ball rolling with Justice League of America #14. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Pencils: Ed Benes
Inks: Sandra Hope

Art Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: Lex Luthor is squared off against Black Lightning and Superman. Black Lightning blasts at Lex and it goes right through him. It is just a hologram of Lex. Superman asks what Lex wants. Lex says he wants to enrage Superman and make him so distracted that his carelessness will cancel out Superman’s obvious power advantage. That the only way to beat Superman is to take him out of his game.

Lex then shows Superman and Black Lightning a holographic image of Wonder Woman, Vixen, Black Canary, Red Tornado, Geo Force, Red Arrow, Hawk Girl, Batman and John Stewart all being held captive and being tortured. Lex shows the new Shaggy Man beating away on some of the captive JLA’ers.

Lex tells Superman that his friends need his help and for Superman to come and rescue them. Superman yells out “Where are you?” Lex responds “You’re Superman—Find me.”

Lex’s hologram disappears. Superman spies a disk where the hologram was being projected. Superman picks up the disk and it sprays his face with green Kryptonite paint.

We cut back to the Hall of Doom. Lex likes the little present that the Joker left behind for Superman. Cheetah then busts in and yells that Grodd is about to kill Geo-Force. Lex quickly goes to Geo-Force’s cell and calls off Grodd. Grodd reluctantly stops hitting Geo-Force. Lex reminds Grodd that the films they are making of the JLA’ers humiliation and defeat are instrumental to their long-range goals.

We cut back to Black Lightning finishing washing the pain out of Superman’s face. Superman wants to go attack Lex immediately. Black Lightning wants to call up some reserves. Jeff says that Lex is pushing Superman’s buttons to get him to act irrationally.

We cut to Superman and Black Lightning tracking down the Hall of Doom to a swamp in the Florida Everglades. Superman busts into the Hall of Doom and quickly takes out the Parasite. Black Lightning then takes down Joker, Poison Ivy and Cheshire. Black Lightning then gets blasted in the back and falls in defeat.

The villains then regroup as Dr. Light blasts Superman out of the sky. The villains then combine their powers and beat the hell out of Superman. Lex than grabs the unconscious Superman and tells Superman to wake up. That Lex would hate for Superman to miss what comes next. Lex pulls out a green Kryptonite dagger and places it next to Superman’s neck. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Justice League of America #14 was an absolute blast to read! We get treated to non-stop fun from start to finish. McDuffie cranks out a fast paced read without it seeming rushed or sloppy. The reader gets treated to tons of great action. Justice League of America has a nice rhythm to the story as McDuffie strikes an enjoyable balance between fast paced action and a steady progression of the main plotline.

McDuffie does a great job capturing the essence of the old campy Superfriends cartoon and blending it with modern storytelling and action. There is nothing complex about McDuffie’s story on Justice League of America. This is not a dense, intricate, textured and thought engaging read.

Instead, McDuffie spins a streamlined story that doesn’t throw that many different ongoing plotlines at the reader. That makes the story very easy to follow and also new reader friendly. McDuffie keeps dialogue heavy scenes to a minimum and makes sure that the reader doesn’t go more than a couple of pages without getting an action scene.

McDuffie engages in the exact opposite of what Meltzer did on this title. Meltzer went in the direction of adding layer upon layer to his stories to create dense and slower paced reads. On the other hand, McDuffie has stripped everything down to the basics and has modeled his story off of the Justice League cartoon.

Standard issue good guys engage stereotypical and fiendish villains in plenty of fighting. That is the basic formula for an always entertaining read. McDuffie’s story is simple and straight forward. It seeks to simply provide the reader with a bit of mindless fun. And that is the basic purpose of a comic book in the first place.

So, even though McDuffie doesn’t give us a story nearly as well written as Brubaker’s Captain America, I can enjoy it for what it is. And just because a comic book is cotton candy for the brain doesn’t mean that it doesn’t deserve a high score. Well done cotton candy should definitely be appreciated.

McDuffie cranks out some wonderfully campy villains. They are all one-dimensional and easy to hate villains. They are your typical gutless and craven villains who won’t take on a hero face-to-face or one-on-one, but when that same hero is done then these villains love to pile on at that point. If you enjoy the heel bad guys from Pro Wrestling then you will definitely like McDuffie’s Injustice League.

McDuffie gives us some enjoyable chemistry between Lex and Joker. The scene where Joker makes some joke about full body cavity searches between friends being enjoyable was great. Lex’s response of “Too much information” was classic. You can tell that poor Lex sometimes wishes that Joker would just keep some of his own thoughts to himself.

McDuffie also does a nice job handling the ongoing rivalry between Lex and Superman. The reader gets an intense taste of Lex’s white hot hatred for Superman. Lex’s rage aimed at Superman is palpable throughout this issue. I also dig that Lex knows that pushing Superman’s buttons is the only way to even the playing field. Cooler heads always prevail and Lex aims on knocking Superman off his game so that Superman will make a fatal error. Typical Lex Luthor.

Lex is one cool customer and I dig that he is doing everything he can to try and take away the obvious physical advantages that Superman possesses. And it is clear that nobody knows how to completely irritate Superman quite like Lex Luthor.

McDuffie teases the reader with the fact that Lex clearly has much larger plans in mind other than just pissing off Superman. That they are making films of the JLA’s humiliation for a certain purpose. I am curious to see just what that devious Lex Luthor is up to.

It was great to see Jeff getting some action in this issue. Black Lightning kicks some ass when he and Superman arrive at the Hall of Doom. I also liked that McDuffie has Black Lightning play the role of the calmer and more controller person compared to Superman’s irrational impulses. Jeff may have his own axe to grind with Lex, but he is such a poised character that he knows how to keep his composure even when Superman cannot.

All the action scenes are adrenaline filled and well choreographed. McDuffie is certainly going to give us plenty of ass-kicking during his run on the Justice League of America. Also, it is nice that the action scenes are not a chaotic mess that you see over in other titles on the market.

McDuffie rolls out a great hook ending. Black Lightning and Superman fall in defeat to the Injustice League. The rest of the JLA members are being held captive. And Lex Luthor stands triumphantly with an unconscious Superman in his hands with a Kryptonite dagger up to Kal-El’s neck. Now that is one wild finish that definitely gets the reader eager and anxious for the next issue. I can’t wait to see how our heroes get out of this huge mess.

Ed Benes and Sarah Hope combine to crank out some flat out fantastic artwork. This is one gorgeous looking comic book. Benes has a dynamic and detailed style of art that lends to some great action scenes. All of the double page splash shots practically leap off the page at the reader.

Benes draws some incredible looking villains. Benes gives us an intense Lex Luthor. And nothing looks cooler than Lex in his trademark green and purple battle armor. Benes serves up one sick looking Joker. And Benes’s Grodd? Perfect.

The Bad: The dialogue is decidedly average. It is pedestrian and hardly impresses the reader. This certainly isn’t the title for you if you are the type of reader who requires wonderfully textured and realistic dialogue that you get over in Captain America and X-Factor.

The character work is minimal at best. McDuffie treats the heroes and villains more like caricatures rather than fully developed three dimensional characters.

Overall: Justice League of America #14 was a delightfully fun read. McDuffie goes old school by just trying to deliver some popcorn for the mind. Not every comic book on the market has to be dark, somber, serious and dramatic. Not every title needs to be a deep and heavy read. Sometimes you just want a quick read that puts a smile on your face and delivers some mindless entertainment. I’d certainly recommend giving Justice League of America a try if you enjoy straight up old school comic book heroes, villains and action.

5 Comments

  1. On art, Benes is definitely better than Benitez (funhouse mirror guy) and, in terms of dynamism, both he and McKone, but he also really, really needs to restrain him obvious love of T & A a bit. That big two-page spread is supposed to show how Luthor is torturing the League, but Benes centres it on Wonder Woman’s “Rack of Ages”, with Black Canary’s ass in the background. I like sexy ladies as much as the next person, but cripes.

    Otherwise, it’s a straightforward action story, and there’s nothing wrong with that, although I wouldn’t want every story like this (Morrison’s JLA, for all it’s wild inventiveness, became dreary in its refusal to ever let up the pace for a second between massive fight scenes). McDuffie can do character stuff as well as the next guy (his “Fantastic Four” has done a great job with Reed and Sue’s reconciliation), so we’ll see what he does next.

    One of the things McDuffie does with Superman here (similar to the JLU Superman) is give him a bit of an ego, which I enjoy.

  2. His FF was fairly old-school in terms of stories (FF vs. Frightful Four, FF vs. Galactus/Surfer, etc.), but given the task of knitting the group back together in time for Millar and Hitch to arrive in February, I think he did a good job. Reed and Sue’s marital difficulties got smoothed over fairly well.

    It wasn’t Mark Waid-level stuff, mind you.

  3. Millar and Hitch are doing twelve issues (Hitch has made intimations that he’d like to stay on beyond that); it was announced a couple of months ago, at which point Hitch was said to be about half done, and very motivated to keep the whole thing on time, so here’s hoping.

  4. Luthor and the Joker are the ultimate supervillain Odd Couple. Luthor is a complete control freak, who wants everything and everyone to act according to his precise plans. Joker, on the other hand, is total chaos, comepletely unpredictable, and nutty as a fruitcake. Luthor is never going to be able to control the Joker, and it probably drives him up the wall. Which is why it’s soo fun when the two of them have to work together.

  5. Agree on JLA. This is just a campy, fun superhero romp. It’s hard to fault the book or McDuffie for the simplistic plots or pretty much anything when its just this much fun.

    As for Millar / Hitch, supposedly, based on interviews at Newsarama, Hitch became completely burnt out on Ultimates and ended up never satisfied with most of his work, resulting in lack of motivation to do the work and then, when he finally did get to it, constant nitpicking and touching up so that it was “perfect”.

    Supposedly he is in love with FF and pumping out pages similar to his work on Authority when he was putting that book out every 3-4 weeks.

    However, they said he was 6 issues in the can on Ultimates both times that series launched and we all know how that turned out.

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