Justice League of America #9 Review

The Revolution has been completely enthralled with this current Justice League of America/Justice Society of America team-up. Of course, being a huge fan of the Pre-Crisis Legion of Super Heroes helps boost my interest in this story arc. There is no doubt in my mind that I’m going to love Justice League of America #9.

Creative Team
Writer: Brad Meltzer
Artist: Ed Benes

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

Synopsis: We begin with Mr. Terrific and Black Canary studying Wildfire’s belt. Evidently, Wildfire’s body is Red Tornado’s current body. Mr. Terrific comments that Red Tornado has been withdrawn since the conflict with Grundy. Mr. Terrific offers take a look at Red Tornado. Black Canary comments that Mr. Terrific only wants to do that to find out why Red Tornado can see Mr. Terrific even though Terrific is supposed to be invisible to machinery.

We cut to Doctor Mid-Nite examining the Legionnaires while Batman interrogates them. Karate Kid tells Batman that they arrived so soon after the Middle Crisis. Wildfire tells Red Tornado that things get better. That Red Tornado’s current body is just temporary.

Karate Kid thinks that the trigger word “Lightning Lad” was Brainiac 5’s fail-safe in case the Legionnaires were randomly thrown all across the galaxy. Batman responds that life is never random. Batman thinks that someone purposely did this to the six Legionnaires.

We shift to Africa where the team of Hal Jordan, Wildcat, Vixen and Jay Garrick arrive at Gorilla City. The King of Gorilla City, Nnamdi, greats the heroes. He says that the lone wolf appeared several months ago and that he is still here. Nnambi is then informed of the birth of Nzame, a white gorilla, who is a “holy one” which is an event that only happens once every thousand years.

The heroes then meet Timber Wolf. Vixen thinks how Timber Wolf has her old haircut, but there is no sign of recognition between the two of them. Hal Jordan then says “Lightning Lad” and Timber Wolf suddenly regains his memories. Timber Wolf comments that he doesn’t belong here and asks to leave now. Vixen thinks how each Legionnaire faced their own nightmares. Dream Girl was leeched. Wildfire was immobilizes. Timber Wolf was surrounded by people cut from his exact same cloth.

We cut to the Javelin headed to Thanagar. Red Arrow tells Power Girl that he doesn’t trust the Legionnaires. Hawkman comments that people only travel back in time for one thing: to change it. We learn that Hawkman has spent the past year helping rebuild Thanagar and has reinstated the Winged Police Force and became Thanagar’s first official cop.

Hawkgirl gives Red Arrow a set of wings and tells him to use them so he can keep up with the rest of the team. Red Arrow says he will do just fine without the wings. The two then trade some barbs back and forth as you can feel the sexual tension between the two of them.

Power Girl then pulls Red Arrow aside and tells him to be careful dealing with Hawkman and Hawkgirl. That there is a deep history between the two Hawks. Power Girl says that she has been on Thanagar for the past six months trying to help reconstruction and that Roy isn’t the only one trying to get a little tail.

We then see a panel of Hawkman smooching Power Girl. Of course, Hawkman eventually spurned Power Girl’s advances just like Hawkgirl will eventually spurn Roy’s advances. And that rejecting will hurt Roy more than any punch from a super villain.

We zip forward into some point in the future at Metropolis. We see Delores’ head cut open and the Ultra-Humanite’s brain removed. We see three shadowy figures. These figures say that they had to wait a thousand years for the height of the white gorilla Nzame’s power. His future plus the technology. The key was the timing. That with the Legion there and with travel to that era so unstable that strength ad to come form the past and the future.

We then see that the three figures are none other than Per Degaton, Ultra-Humanite (in white gorilla form) and Despero.

We cut back to present time in Thanagar. Our heroes are looking for the Legionnaire named Dawnstar. They come across a Thanagarian who has Dawnstar’s ring. She says that Dawnstar felt her friends. That she went to look for them. That Dawnstar promised she would come back for her. However, the girl says that she knows that Dawnstar is never coming back because she has found her friends and that means she is already home.

We shift back to the Hall. Dream Girl is excited to see Timber Wolf. Dream Girl asks the JLA and JSA members to give the Legionnaires a moment alone. The JSA and JLA members go outside of the room and watch the Legionnaires from a hidden camera and listen to their conversation. Mr. Terrific mutters that it is time for the Legionnaires to spill their secrets. Suddenly, the monitor screen goes fuzzy and the sound over the speakers cuts out.

We see the Legionnaires all touching hands. That there are give of them now and that is enough for the mission. Mr. Terrific calls for Batman, but Batman does not answer.

Dream Girl mentions that her visions say that one of them dies, but with the time shift who knows. Timber Wolf comments that Dream Girl still doesn’t remember. That Dream Girl was close. But, one of them dying is not a vision, it is the mission.

Timber Wolf then pulls off seven pieces of metal from the utility belt that popped out of Wildfire last issue. They all extend into small lightning rods. Dawnstar then enters the room. She says that she was drawn to this location and asks if she knows any of them. Wildfire then says “Lightning Lad” and Dawnstar regains her memories.

Dream Girl then says that she remembers. That they volunteered to sacrifice themselves to bring him back. Dawnstar says that they are here to save him. Dawnstar says she knows where they have to go. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Justice League of America #9 was another excellent issue. Meltzer continues to crank up the tension and the intrigue. We had several “wow” moments in this issue. First, it was cool to see Gorilla City. And Meltzer uses the scene in Gorilla City to work in two interesting plotlines. Evidently, Vixen’s powers are insanely amped up when she is in Africa. I know she is as fast as a Cheetah, but there is no way that is even close to how fast Jay Garrick can run. However, while in Gorilla City, Vixen can keep up with Jay. Now, either Vixen has received a massive power boost or her totem abilities just increase in ability since she is in Africa. I hope it is the latter and not the former.

The scene in Gorilla City also gives us the birth of a white gorilla. And doesn’t he look so familiar? Yeah, Meltzer takes this quick scene and then builds off it later in the issue when we see Delores Winters’ head cut as Ultra-Humanite’s brain has been transplanted into the white gorilla. Oh yeah, Ultra-Humanite in his white gorilla form. Very cool.

And to make it even more interesting we see Ultra-Humanite flanked by Per Degaton and Despero. Fucking sick! Talk about one insane collection of villains. These three villains are most definitely the definitive JLA/JSA villains. Throw Starro into the mix and these are hands down the ultimate JSA/JLA villains that exist. I never thought we would see an all-star villain line-up like this one. I cannot wait to find out more about what these villains are up to. Meltzer certainly has piqued my interest with this plot wrinkle. This should provide for one insanely entertaining storyline!

It was absolutely fantastic to see Timber Wolf and Dawny. It has been so long since I have seen these two characters. I don’t count the lame versions of Timber Wolf that we have gotten since the first Crisis. And we haven’t seen Dawnstar since the crappy Zero Hour storyline back in 1994. Yeah, that’s right; it has been 13 years since I have seen Dawny. God, it has been too long. What a sight for sore eyes.

I love that Timber Wolf is the Dave Cockrum version of T-Wolf. It is certainly the best version of Timber Wolf. And Dawnstar has always been my favorite female Legionnaire. Hands down. No contest. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a raven haired beauty.

I dig how Meltzer handles Timber Wolf’s character. Meltzer plays up the fact that Brin constantly fights against his animal nature. That Brin views himself as a man and tries his hardest to deny the animal aspect of his being. Meltzer gives Timber Wolf the proper tough, no-nonsense personality.

I love how Timber Wolf’s reaction to getting his memories back was radically different from the other Legionnaires. Where the other Legionnaires reacted in shock and amazement and proceeded to talk about their returning memories, Timber Wolf does not. He simply requests to leave Gorilla City immediately and that’s it. No more information from him.

The scene with Power Girl and Roy was fantastic. Meltzer drops a bomb on the reader by revealing that Power Girl and Hawkman hooked up with each other while Power Girl helped Hawkman rebuild Thanagar over the past six months. Sweet! I definitely didn’t see that coming. I dig the pairing of Power Girl and Hawkman. I think it makes sense that both characters would be attracted to each other. After all, Hawkman is the ultimate alpha male and is certainly one of the few men who wouldn’t even be remotely intimidated by Power Girl.

Meltzer does a great job using Power Girl as a warning to Roy as to what will happen to him if he tries to get romantically involved with Hawkgirl. I like that Meltzer plays up the mysterious and strong connection between Hawkman and Hawkgirl. That despite the current rift between Hawkman and Hawkgirl that their souls are forever intertwined. That these two characters are destined to be together. Roy is hard headed enough to ignore Power Girl’s warnings. So, it should be interesting to see how badly Hawkgirl ends up hurting Roy in any relationship they may have with each other.

Meltzer did an excellent job showing the subtle tension that lurks in between the JLA and the JSA. The members of these two teams are friends with each other. And there is mutual respect and admiration for each other. However, they are still two separate teams and you always have a bit of a rivalry that will exist. I dig how there is some tension in between Black Canary and Mr. Terrific that surfaces when they are talking about Red Tornado.

Despite them being friends, Black Canary’s ultimate loyalty lies with her teammates and she makes that known to Mr. Terrific in a very blunt fashion as she totally calls Mr. Terrific out for his true intentions behind him offering to take a look at Red Tornado. It is great to see Black Canary quickly growing into her role as the team leader of the JLA. And part of that is having unyielding loyalty to her teammates and always looking out for their best interests.

And what is going on with Red Tornado. We keep learning more new and interesting information about Reddy. We learn that Red Tornado can see Mr. Terrific despite that Mr. Terrific is invisible to every type of machinery. This lends credence to the belief that Red Tornado is more than a mere android and possesses a soul of some fashion.

We also learn that Wildfire’s body is Red Tornado’s old body. Very interesting. It appears that Red Tornado’s body is a very powerful elemental host. And even more intriguing is that Wildfire tells Red Tornado that his current android body is just a temporary vessel. Does this mean that Reddy is going to gain a human body once again? Or is he going to assume some other form of being?

We also get an interesting teaser when Karate Kid is talking to Batman. Karate Kid mentions how time travel always messes with your memories and it makes it even worse considering that they arrived just after the middle crisis. Now, which is the middle Crisis? Zero Hour? Or is Infinite Crisis the middle Crisis with the huge event that Countdown is leading up to being the third Crisis? Just how long have the Legionnaires been trapped in this current timeline? This was an incredibly intriguing line and I’m curious to find out more about this.

And we get one fantastic hook ending in Justice League of America #9. All six Legionnaires are re-united. They block out the JLA and JSA from secretly watching their conversation. Then the Legion’s plan is finally revealed to us. These six Legionnaires are on a suicide mission. They are here to bring back one of their own: Lightning Lad.

I geeked out when Timber Wolf took out the six small lightning rods. This scene mirrors closely the old Legion of Super Heroes story from Adventure Comics #312 published back in 1963. In that story six Legionnaires gather with six lightning rods to bring back to life Lightning Lad. The six Legionnaires in Adventure Comics #312 were Mon-El, Sun Boy, Chameleon Boy, Lightning Lass, Superboy and Saturn Girl. They stick the lightning rods up into the air during a lightning storm.

Their plan is that the lightning will strike one of the rods and the power of the lightning will kill that Legionnaire but bring Lightning Lad back to life. It turns out that Saturn Girl is the one whose rod gets hit by lightning. Saturn Girl dies and Lightning Lad comes back to life. Then it is revealed that Saturn Girl was really Chameleon Boy’s pet Proty in disguise. That Proty took Saturn Girl’s place.

The ending to Justice League of America #9, Meltzer has these six Legionnaires take out the exact same lightning rods that were used in Adventure Comics #312. What a cool touch. I am so impressed with Johns and Meltzer’s knowledge of the Legion and their willingness to dip way back into the long and storied history of the Legion for the source material for this current story arc. I am totally enthralled with this storyline and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Meltzer crafts plenty of wonderful dialogue. Each character has their own fully developed personality. All the characters have their own proper external voices. It is impressive how committed Meltzer has been at making sure each JLA member is nicely fleshed out through quality character work.

Meltzer’s fine dialogue and character development leads to some excellent chemistry between the various characters. No matter what the scene, all the characters work so well with each other. The interaction between the various heroes is realistic and makes the story even more dramatic and engrossing.

Ed Benes’ artwork is just gorgeous. And Benes knows how to draw one insanely hot Dawnstar! Dawny has never looked so good. Benes also draws a good looking Power Girl by wisely avoiding the middle aged soccer mom haircut that most artists saddle Power Girl with.

The Bad: I will readily admit that this current JLA/JSA story arc may seem rather slow to a non-Legion fan. Not much has really happened at all up to this point in this story arc. This story arc is most definitely designed to be wildly entertaining for old Legion fans, but I’m not too sure how enthralled non-Legion fans are going to be with this story arc.

Overall: Justice League of America #9 was another fantastic issue. Meltzer continues to impress me with his wonderful character work on the various JLA’ers. I love the use of the Legion’s glorious and long history that exists prior to the original Crisis. Meltzer and Benes are a wonderfully talented team. If you are a Legion fan, then you will certainly love this story arc.

6 Comments

  1. I fall within the group who started reading comics in this decade, so I have no idea what the hell is going on, or why I should care. Writing DC’s flagship title with an eye only to people who have been reading comics for 2+ decades strikes me as a very bad writing strategy; I’m a continuity junkie as much as the next fan (probably more than most, especially for Marvel continuity), but there’s a limit to how much of it is a good thing.

    Even outside that, there’s the recurring problem with Meltzer’s comics: characters talk, and talk, and talk, and talk… He’s like Bendis, but without the cutesy turns of phrase (and with a better eye for character voices). Characterization is fabulous (and Meltzer is usually good at it; Identity Crisis had numerous plot/logic problems and characterization nitpicks, but he made the whole thing seem natural, and made me care a great deal about minor characters like Ralph), but, to paraphrase Gail Simone, will someone please punch a monkey off a waterfall?

    My central problem with his run as a whole: he took six (count ’em, six) issues to introduce all his characters, despite the fact that most of them are icons, finally formed the team in the seventh, and so there are only what, five (now three) issues left in his run, several of which are crossover issues? Unless the next guy (whoever that is) decides to keep the whole lineup exactly like it is for a considerable period (which I somehow doubt), Meltzer wasted a lot of time detailing the formation of a specific lineup that he barely used.

  2. I only started reading comics about a year ago so I can say the this issue was entertaining but a bit slow at times. There was a lot of dialog there that would have been more captivating had I known more about the past. There were also a lot of characters that I had never heard of before like the three villains and the dead people on the table. Despite that, I am still really enjoying both the JLA and JSA stories and they have become my second favorite title just behind the 52/Countdown series. The writing seems to be better and have less filler but something about 52 just really grabbed me. I appreciate your reference to the old legion arc as that gives me more to look forward to. If legion is anything as good as these two titles, I’ll have to put that on my pull list as well.

    ps,
    what legion titles would you recommend? will the supergirl be leaving the legion crew anytime soon?

  3. Supergirl will be leaving the Legion eventually – we saw in the WWIII issues that she does come back at the end of the year, but that doesn’t say anything about how long she spent in the future. I happen to like here there, others don’t. But in the near future (our time), at least, she’ll be staying.

    The recent Showcase volume reprints the first several years of Legion stories, from their first story in 1958 up through the early 1960s. If you accept the inherent goofiness and storytelling of DC in the Silver Age as a given, you might enjoy these stories. I think it goes up to the point where Lightning Lad died and the Legion decided to sacrifice themselves to revive him.

  4. Michael, thank you for the advice. I’ll be picking that up on my next trip to the comic shop. btw, why was lightning lad so important? Was there some task that only he could complete?

  5. Ilan the Portlander Rebbe May 22, 2007 at 12:58 am

    You know what would Rock, Rokk? If the JLA, JSA and Legion joined forces with the earth that houses the super friends. Tell me that a Lighting Lad/Gleek team up would not be awesome.

  6. Awesome story arc going on here. I don’t know much about Legion, but I am getting interested fast.

Comments are closed.