Justice League of America #11 Review

Now that the brilliant JLA/JSA crossover is over, it appears that we are going to get a filler issue with Justice League of America #11. After such a huge story arc, it is understandable that Meltzer feeds us a one-shot issue. Even though I’m not a huge fan of one-shot issues, I’m fairly confident that Justice League of America #11 will be a solid read. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Brad Meltzer
Artist: Gene Ha

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Vixen and Red Arrow trapped in the rubble of the Watergate Hotel that collapsed into the Potomac River. Red Arrow focuses on his training from Ollie to calm himself. Roy is on all fours and is using his back to push up against the rubble. Roy calls out for Vixen. Vixen is lying next to Roy with a broken arm and some serious injuries.

Vixen begins to totally panic and lose it. Roy does his best to try and keep her calm and focus her. Roy asks Vixen to tell him about her mom since she keeps a picture of her on her totem. Roy says that he keeps a picture of his daughter Lian in his quiver. Roy says that he is not ready to say goodbye just yet. Roy says that there is tons of lead in the rubble and that is going to keep Superman from saving them. It will also prevent the transporter doors from working and prevent the communicators for working.

Roy tells Vixen to use her animal powers as a mole, ant, cockroach or even an earthworm and to dig them out of this rubble. Vixen says her arm hurts too much and tells Roy to give her an arrow. Roy gives Vixen a sharp arrow to dig with and a trick arrow to plug up any water that might come spraying through the hole she digs.

Vixen starts digging and suddenly water starts spraying through the hole. Vixen plugs up the water with the trick foam arrow. Roy says that the hole Vixen made is their way out. Roy tells Vixen to swim through the hole using her fish powers and to take him with her. Vixen says she can’t. Vixen drops the bomb that she hasn’t had her animal powers since their fight with Amazo two months ago.

Roy retorts that he saw Vixen use her powers since the fight with Amazo like her race with Jay Garrick. Vixen tells Roy to think about it. That Cheetah’s don’t run that fast. Roy then realizes that Vixen has been leaching off everyone’s powers.

Vixen admits that when she lost her animal powers the only way back was to absorb the human animal and then once she did that then that was all she could do. Vixen then says that currently she has Black Lightning’s powers. Roy spits out that those powers are useless since if she used them she would fry both of them in all of this water.

Roy then tells Vixen that she has to swim for it. That she will eventually come within range of a fish and the desperation should allow her to kick in her animal powers. Vixen ties one end of Roy’s arrow line around her waist and swims up through the hole she dug. Vixen says that if she makes it to the surface she will then pull Roy up to safety.

Roy sits in the dark waiting for Vixen. Roy begins to think that maybe the rope fell off of Vixen. Suddenly, Vixen comes back in through the hole. Vixen says that the water was too deep. That she couldn’t even see the sunlight.

The rubble begins to close in more and more on Roy and Vixen. Roy thinks that this is how it is going to end. Not with a death ray or with a fistfight. Roy then prays to God to watch over his daughter Lian. Suddenly, Roy realizes that the water from the hole Vixen made is puddling on his head.

Roy suddenly realizes how turned around he was. That he was totally upside down and that what he thought was up is really down. Roy exclaims that Vixen didn’t fail. She was simply swimming in the wrong direction. Roy then begins digging at the rubble that is truly on top of them. Roy makes a hole in the rubble and the water begins spraying in. Roy and Vixen then swim for the surface.

Roy thinks how super powers don’t matter. All that matters is the fight in the heart of a person. That Vixen will fight just like Roy will fight. Like Bruce taught Dick and Dick then taught Roy. That they all fight for different things, but they still all fight. Roy thinks how he is coming for his daughter. Roy thinks how everything they need is all within them. Roy and Vixen then get to the surface of the water and are safe. End of issue.

The Good: Justice League of America #11 was a nice read. Meltzer crafted a well paced and plotted issue. The steady and measured pace reflected the feelings of hopelessness and isolation that come with a slow death. Roy even mentions that this death is different than going out in a blaze of glory during battle. That this type of death is an impending slow death that is unglamorous and terrifying. That all the victim can do is simply lie there and wait for death to take them. Meltzer does a truly impressive job cultivating the sense of tension, dread and hopelessness inside of the reader during this story.

Justice League of America #11 was most certainly a filler issue; however I won’t kill this issue like I normally do when I review a filler issue. This issue was a wonderful character study. Meltzer takes this opportunity to use an unusual situation to give the reader an excellent sense of Roy’s personality and character.

And that it is the excellent way that Meltzer writes Roy that has me enjoying this issue. Red Arrow is the newest member of the JLA. Roy is a former sidekick as Speedy. He is a former Titan, the second string junior members to the JLA. He is a former member of the misfits known as the Outsiders.

Roy is a character that needed some character growth to prove to the reader that he is no longer just a sidekick. That Roy is no longer a C-list character who is a member of a lower echelon team like the Outsiders. Roy is the Red Arrow. He is now on the same level as all the other A-list characters that comprise the JLA.

Meltzer shows the reader what a heroic heart that beats inside Roy’s chest. That Roy is a man. He is a stud. That in the face of overwhelming adversity and hopelessness, that Roy keeps his cool and never stops fighting. Against all odds, Roy keeps swinging and refusing to surrender.

If a reader was unfamiliar with Roy’s character before he joined the JLA and was skeptical about his worthiness on an all-star team like the JLA, then those concerns should be put to rest by this story. Meltzer uses this issue to demonstrate what a cool character Roy is.

It is almost impossible not to read this issue and come away from it as a huge fan of Roy. You don’t need mind boggling impressive super powers or a huge action scene to make a character cool. This issue makes the reader realize what a total bad-ass Roy is. And at no point should a reader dismiss Roy as just Green Arrow lite.

I dig that Meltzer makes a point of Roy mentioning how he draws upon not just his training from Ollie, but from the impressive training from the Batman that Roy learned from Dick Grayson. I guess it all comes back to the Batman when it comes down to learning the necessary skills to survive against all odds. I like that while trying to build up Roy’s character, Meltzer has Roy give the respect to the heroes who served as mentors to Roy’s generation.

While not to the same degree as Roy, Meltzer manages to do a good job showing what a fighter Vixen is as well. Despite the fact that Vixen doesn’t keep her cool like Roy does, Vixen still displays the fight inside of her soul that all true heroes need.

Even though the vast majority of this issue is pure filler, Meltzer does deal with one continuing plotline when he drops the bomb on the reader that Vixen no longer has her animal powers. My jaw hit the ground when Vixen admitted this. What a time and way to find out something like that! It is pretty cool how Meltzer hinted at Vixen stealing the powers of those around her with the scene where she was as fast as Jay. You knew something was up when someone who can normally run as fast as a cheetah is now keeping pace with Jay Garrick.

I dig this twist on Vixen’s power. I’m curious to see how long Vixen power leaches off super powered humans rather than animals. It certainly gives her a serious power upgrade. As long as she is around another JLA powerhouse like Superman or Wonder Woman it will make her a real force to be reckoned with during a brawl.

Gene Ha did a fine job with the artwork in this issue. I’ll readily admit that I have never been a fan of Ha’s artwork. His style is far too dull, muddy and sketchy for my taste. However, Ha’s style was perfect for an issue where the main characters are trapped in a dark and dank area. Ha does an impressive job with the layouts and the size of the panels slowly getting narrower and narrower as the issue progresses in order to really convey to the reader the sense that the rubble is closing in more and more on our heroes. Ha certainly made me feel claustrophobic while reading this story.

The Bad: Without a doubt, that outside of the revelation of Vixen having lost her animal powers, this issue was pure filler. Meltzer signed on for a twelve issue run and only had enough material for two major story arcs. That left issues 11 and 12 that Meltzer will have to give us some filler issues in order to waste time until McDuffie takes over the writing duties to the JLA.

Overall: Despite being pure filler, I still found Justice League of America #11 to be a fun read. Meltzer turns in a well delivered story and makes me an even bigger fan of Roy than I was before this issue. If you dig Roy then you most definitely need to get this issue.