Justice League of America #22 Review

The Revolution has been disappointed in the Justice League of America ever since Meltzer left this title. It is unfortunate, but it appears that DC views this title as nothing more than a vehicle to shill for stories that are to take place on other comic books. DC really needs to make a serious effort to revive their flagship team title. Hopefully, McDuffie can get this title back on track with Justice League of America #22. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Artist: Ed Benes

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Kathy at the Hall of Justice talking with Red Tornado. Reddy is in a bad mood as he talks about his endless cycle of being born, growing more comfortable with who he is and just as he begins to accept his own humanity something snatches it away from him.

Reddy says that he is often destroyed, but never dies. Reddy says that today his teammates are going to place him in his new body. Reddy comments that this is just another part of the cycle where he is reborn better than ever. Reddy asks Kathy how many times has he been destroyed. Kathy answers “eight.” Reddy comments that he doesn’t even remember all of them.

Kathy then confronts Reddy about acting as cold as ice lately. Reddy responds that one night he watched Roy and Kendra having sex. (Wow, Reddy, way to let your wife know that you are a total perv.) Reddy says that he thought about how he will never have what Roy and Kendra have no matter how many new bodies he gets. Reddy says he is not talking just about sex. That he is talking about his need to belong. About a family.

Kathy says that she and Traya are Reddy’s family. Reddy then says that they are a family of a sort, but that he would like to make that arrangement more traditional. Reddy then asks Kathy to marry him. Kathy tells Reddy that this is not the time or place to make such a big decision. Kathy says that they will talk after Reddy’s procedure.

We cut to the lab where Batman, Dr. Niles Caulder, Dr. Will Magnus and Zatanna are preparing Reddy’s new body for the transfer process. Batman then contacts Dr. John Irons and says that they are all ready. Irons responds that there is a problem in the lab where Reddy’s old body was being stored and for Batman to come take a look.

We shift to Detroit, Michigan where Bronze Tiger appears to be on a stakeout. Vixen sneaks up behind Bronze Tiger who immediately attacks the unknown figure. Vixen blocks Tiger’s blow and then Tiger realizes that it is just Vixen.

Vixen says that she came to talk to Bronze Tiger about her problem with her powers. She tells him how she now leeches powers off of metahumans around her. Vixen says that she thinks she is draining her teammates’ powers. Vixen admits that she still has not told this to all her teammates. Bronze Tiger feels Vixen is making a mistake by not telling her teammates. Vixen admits that she is endangering her teammates and is abusing their trust.

Vixen says she doesn’t know what to do. That the JLA is the most important thing in her life and that she doesn’t want to lose it like she has lost everything else in her life. Bronze Tiger then tells Vixen to trust her friends. Vixen thanks Bronze Tiger. Tiger replies that they know each other so well and that is why it never works out between the two of them.

We cut back to “The Kitchen” in the Hall of Justice where Red Arrow and Kendra are sparring. Kendra goes full bore and is not pulling her punches. Evidently, Kendra is mad at Roy and this is how she is going to work out her frustrations.

We shift to outside the Kitchen and see Superman and Hal Jordan walking down the hallway. Suddenly, Roy comes flying through the wall of the hallway. Kendra gets on top of Roy and asks if he wants his arrow back as she appears to be ready to stab him with it. Roy says maybe when Kendra is in a better mood. (Seriously Roy, there are much better looking girls in the DCU who have better personalities and aren’t nearly as high maintenance as Kendra. Move on, buddy. Plus, at some point Hawkman is probably going to kick your ass.) Kendra gets up and then stalks off.

Superman comments that Roy and Kendra have been fighting a lot lately. Hal says that bickering is bad for the team and that Roy and Kendra should call it off and stop seeing each other. Superman disagrees. Superman asks if it is possible that Roy and Kendra are fighting so much because the relationship is meaningful. Hal says that Superman isn’t making any sense.

Superman replies that Roy is acting just like Hal. That both of them meet girls and employ the “love ‘em and leave ‘em” approach to their relationships. After all, Roy has spent his entire life hanging out with Hal and Ollie who definitely act that way when it comes to women.

Superman suggests that if Roy has real feelings for Kendra that he should go talk to her about them. Roy responds that he has not necessarily admitted it to himself. Superman says that Roy should admit it and go tell Kendra.

We slide over to Irons and Batman looking at Reddy’s old body that is now completely repaired. Batman says that Magnus stated that Reddy’s old body’s self-repair functions were totally damaged and that the old body could not be fixed. Evidently, that is not the case and now Reddy has his choice between two bodies.

Batman inspects the body and states that Reddy complained of a “secondary program” running in this body. That it is possible that secondary program is what kick-started the self-repair function. Suddenly, we see Reddy’s old body spring to life. The body says that discover is imminent and a presumptive attack is necessary. Reddy’s body then grabs Batman by the throat and begins to choke him.

We shift to Vixen meeting with all the JLA members (except Batman and Zatanna). Vixen reveals her problem with her powers and that she has been leeching her teammates’ powers for some time. Black Canary says that the JLA bylaws are very clear about this sort of thing. Superman jumps in and says that he knew Vixen’s secret so if there is any punishment due then he is equally culpable. Roy adds in that he also knew, too.

Dinah retorts that she will not let Superman and Roy take the hit for Vixen. Dinah states that Vixen has admitted to losing control of her powers, stealing power form her teammates putting them at risk in battle and conspired to conceal all of these facts from the team at large. Dinah states that this cannot continue and that Vixen is to turn in her JLA credentials and com-link. That Vixen is off the team effective immediately.

Wonder Woman stands up and retorts that this is not the wisest course of action. That maybe Dinah should take time to reconsider. Dinah curtly responds that the decision is final and the meeting is adjourned. Dinah asks everyone to leave the meeting room except for Vixen.

Vixen tells Dinah that she doesn’t need to apologize. That Dinah did what she had to do. Dinah says that she was not planning on apologizing. Dinah says she has to run a tight ship. Dinah then says that she is also Vixen’s friend. Dinah then says why don’t they see if they can fix Vixen’s problems. Dinah then contacts Zatanna and asks if she can borrow her from Batman for just one moment.

We cut back to Reddy’s body choking Batman. Irons picks up a huge gun and is about to blast Reddy’s body. Reddy’s body lets go of Batman and races at super speed and punches out Irons. Batman then thinks how Reddy’s body has super speed and super strength. Batman thinks how he originally though that Vixen’s new ability to absorb super powers somehow came from Amazo. Batman realizes he was wrong. That Amazo still has his powers. And now Amazo has a body to use them in. Batman goes to alert the rest of the JLA, but Amazo knocks out Batman before he can do so.

We cut to Amazo in the lab where Reddy’s new body is and we see that he has knocked out Caulder and Magnus. Amazo then downloads himself into the new body. The new body stands up and the eyes crackle with energy as Amazo says “Amazo lives again!”

Comments
The Good: Finally! We get an issue of Justice League of America that actually concentrates on plotlines for the title itself. Imagine that. What a wacky concept. Justice League of America #22 was a solid read. McDuffie delivers a well paced issue that offers a nice mix of action and drama.

Justice League of America #22 was properly plotted. McDuffie crafts a focused story that addresses three different plotlines that actually only pertain to the JLA and not some other title. It was stunning and enjoyable to finally see some time and effort devoted for plots for the JLA rather than for other comic books. McDuffie constructs a well framed issue. The story has a nice flow to it and the scenes smoothly transition into each other.

McDuffie cranks out some solid dialogue. I have to admit that despite my initial reservations, that McDuffie is flashing quite a nice feel for the various personalities of the JLA members. Each Leaguer has a nice external voice and the characters are well developed. Each Leaguer acts true to their character. McDuffie manages to dial up some quality chemistry between the various Leaguers that has been noticeably absent as of late.

McDuffie does a nice job with Red Tornado’s character. I totally dig how McDuffie uses the opening scene of Justice League of America #22 to lampoon the tired plot device of “killing” Red Tornado during any large event. By having Red Tornado act so nonchalant and slightly dismissive on the day that he is about to receive a new and improved body, McDuffie is able to emphasis the fact that worn-out act of destroying Red Tornado has really lost any and all impact or meaning.

I like how McDuffie handled the strained relationship between Reddy and Kathy. I found it interesting that Kathy rejected Reddy’s marriage proposal. I am curious to see if this is a sign of trouble ahead for this couple.

McDuffie treats the reader to a great Batman. During his run on this title, McDuffie has continually impressed me with his handling of Batman’s character. McDuffie captures Batman’s personality perfectly. Batman is direct, blunt and no-nonsense without being a raging asshole.

McDuffie does a good job with the scene between Hal, Roy and Superman. It certainly makes sense that Roy would treat women the way he does considering that he grew up around Ollie and Hal. It was cool to see Superman giving out relationship advice. This scene shows how Superman plays a stabilizing role in the JLA and is a person that all of the Leaguers can turn to with their problems.

I loved how McDuffie handled Dinah in this issue. The reader gets a clear sense of Dinah’s unquestioned authority and extremely direct style of leadership. I dig that McDuffie even has Dinah rebuff both Superman and Wonder Woman during her decision to kick Vixen out of the JLA. This was a smart move by McDuffie that helps to elevate Dinah’s standing within the League and reaffirms to the reader that Dinah doesn’t back down from anyone and is a leader who rules decisively and confidently.

I also liked that McDuffie shows the caring side of Dinah we see her standing by her friend, Vixen, and offering to do whatever she can to help Vixen solve her problems. I think that kicking Vixen out of the League was the only realistic course of action before Dinah. And I have no problem if Vixen is dropped from the roster. Vixen is pretty much the only character on this title that I view as not being JLA worthy.

McDuffie ends Justice League of America #22 with an awesome hook ending. We learn that Amazo was the secondary program and that Amazo kick-started the self-repair function. Then we get to see Amazo take everyone out and possess the Red Tornado’s new and improved body. We should certainly be in store for plenty of action with next issue.

Ed Benes cranks out plenty of great artwork. I have always enjoyed Benes’ style of art. I thought that the new Amazo looked pretty bad-assed.

The Bad: The scene with Bronze Tiger and Vixen bored me. Of course, I will admit that neither character has ever held any interest for me at all. We learn nothing new in this scene and simply rehashed well worn information. This scene felt like a total time waster as McDuffie was trying to burn a few pages in order to stretch the story across the entire issue.

I like Roy. I like Kendra. However, I cannot say that the relationship between Roy and Kendra even remotely interests me. I find them to be such a weird pairing. This is one plotline that I could care less about.

Now, while I am glad that we are finally focusing on the JLA, I would still like to see more original plotlines than just rehashing what we just got a little while ago. The new plotline involving Amazo comes across as repetitious. It seems that McDuffie is simply recycling what Meltzer already gave us. Meltzer already dealt with reviving Red Tornado once again. Meltzer also already dealt with the JLA battling Amazo. Seriously, are there no other villains for the JLA to battle? It would be nice if McDuffie didn’t almost completely repeat a story arc that we just got a little over a year ago.

Overall: Justice League of America #22 was a solid read and the best issue that we have gotten in quite some time. Is it possible that McDuffie is beginning to right the ship and that the JLA will begin to return to form? It is too early to tell, but I certainly hope so. Even though Justice League of America #22 was an improvement, it is still too early for me to recommend that readers flock back to the JLA. Let’s give it another issue or two and see what happens then.

2 Comments

  1. Regarding the plot, since Meltzer left Red Tornado as a dangling thread in his final issue (same with Vixen’s powers, Geo-Force/Deathstroke, etc.), I think it’s proper that it be revisited (McDuffie originally announced that this arc would be about what we now call the Time Stealers, at which point editorial called up and belatedly said that Johns was using that plot in Booster Gold).

    Is Zatanna a Leaguer now? He gets a headshot, and she’s front-and-center on the solicited JLA cover for September. If so, rather understated, but then, people like her have such a history that it really wouldn’t be a big deal in-universe.

  2. We all knew the Red Tornado/Amazo conflict was going to come back to bite us in the ass again, but as yet another Amazo in Red Tornado’s body thing?

    I really hope that the fact that they removed Zatanna from the scene of the battle early on doesn’t mean that she’s going to end up saving the day by transferring Reddy’s soul in and having him take control of his body. That would be something of an anticlimax.

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