Justice League of America #19 Review

The Revolution did enjoy the last issue of Justice League of America. However, this current story arc had better not turn out to be nothing more than an advertisement and jumping off point for Salvation Run. I’m getting tired of the JLA being reduced to nothing more than a jumping off point for stories to be delivered on titles outside of the JLA. Hopefully, Justice League of America #19 will prove to be a satisfying read. Let’s hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Alan Burnett
Pencils: Ed Benes
Inks: Sandra Hope, Mariah Benes and Ruy Jose

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with the JLA prepping their space shuttle to blast off for the prison planet. We learn that the prison planet is Cygnus 4019. We cut to Batman and Superman talking in private. Superman is pissed that Batman kept it a secret from everyone that he sent Martian Manhunter to the prison planet disguised as a villain. Superman comments that Batman complains about Amanda Waller, but the fact is that Waller is nowhere near as secretive as Batman. Batman responds that Superman does not need to know everything. That the fewer people who knew about Martian Manhunter’s mission the better. Red Arrow then interrupts the conversation to tell them that the shuttle is ready.

We see Amanda Waller and Commander Flagg arriving at the Hall of Justice. Waller tells the JLA to take Flagg with them since his knowledge of the prison planet will be invaluable to their mission. Waller then reveals that there are no cells or walls or prison facilities on Cygnus 4019. That the planet itself is the prison. That the treatment of the prisoners has always been moot. That once they were transported to Cygnus 4019, they were on their own. That the Quarantine Bill is not about imprisonment, it is about deportation.

We cut to the JLA members loading up the shuttle. Kendra pulls Red Arrow to the side and comments that this mission is about rescuing Martian Manhunter and not Cheshire. Roy says that he knows that. If they don’t run across her then fine. That Cheshire left his life a long time ago. Kendra replies that Roy says that, but Cheshire is always in the room with them.

We shift to the JLA’s ship landing on Cygnus 4019. The ship’s computer doesn’t pick up any signs of the villains. It is as if the villains have disappeared. The JLA members split up and begin searching the planet. We see Vixen, Hawkgirl and Red Arrow suddenly getting attacked by a giant lizard creature. They take out the creature. Suddenly, Roy thinks he sees Cheshire and begins to chase after the shadowy figure.

We cut to Wonder Woman and John Stewart flying about and suddenly spying Gorilla Grodd. They give chase and suddenly Grodd disappears. Out of nowhere two blue energy beams grab tightly our two heroes and pull them off to some unknown location.

We slide over to Batman and Superman hearing the Joker’s laughter. Suddenly, the same blue energy beams appear and wrap up our two heroes. Batman comments that someone who knows the JLA is playing them.

We hop back to Hawkgirl and Vixen seeing Cheetah. Suddenly, Cheetah disappears. Then the same blue energy beams appear and wrap up Roy, Vixen and Hawkgirl. Hawkgirl manages to break free from the blue energy; however Roy and Vixen are carried off. Hawkgirl heads back to the JLA’s ship when suddenly it explodes in a huge ball of flame. We see the same blue energy beam holding Flagg captive. Hawkgirl follows the energy beam back to its source.

We cut to an underground chamber where Kanjar Ro is holding the members of the JLA captive. Kanjar Ro reveals that he had been monitoring Earth when he leaned about the details of the villains’ transfer to Cygnus. Kanjar figured he would enslave the villains the minute they showed up, but they never appeared. That the transported beam from Earth was intercepted by a second transported beam and rerouted the villains to another location. Kanjar Ro could not figure out the location.

Kanjar then intercepted Batman’s transmissions with Martian Manhunter, Kanjar realized he could truck the JLA to come to Cygnus so he could capture them and then sell them at an intergalactic auction block.

Suddenly, Hawkgirl appears on the scene. Something about Hawkgirl’s Nth element makes her immune to the powers of the Kanjar’s weapon. Hawkgirl frees the other JLA’ers. The JLA then quickly takes out Kanjar with very little effort.

We see John making a bubble for the JLA members to stand in as John flies them home. Batman says that he should have never sent J’onn on this mission. Superman says that Batman had a good plan and that they will find J’onn. Batman says that the villains could be planning to return to Earth and if they are then there will be hell to pay. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Justice League of America #19 was an average read. However, there were plenty positive aspects to this issue. Burnett delivers a well paced story that never drags and moves with a purpose. This is a well plotted issue and the story unfolds nicely. Burnett treats the reader to a nice compressed story which is an enjoyable break from all the decompression that writers love to give us on most of the titles on the market.

Burnett dishes out some good dialogue. My two favorite scenes were the ones between Roy and Kendra and the scene in the beginning between Batman and Superman. I found it interesting to see the tough warrior woman in Kendra flashing all too human emotions of jealousy with regard to Cheshire’s presence in Roy’s life. This was a nice move by Burnett to give Kendra’s character a bit more depth and a more well rounded emotional character.

I dig how Burnett handled the simmering conflict between Batman and Superman. Burnett gives this scene just the right amount of tension without going overboard with it. Burnett effectively plays off the past history with Batman’s secretive plans that lead to the constant threat known as Brother Eye and the OMACs. Superman is understandably upset with Batman once again pulling off secret missions. And Superman’s calling Batman worse than Amanda Waller was a cheap shot, but certainly had a kernel of truth in it.

Batman’s response that Superman doesn’t need to know everything was perfect. Batman knows that at times the fewer people that know about a secret mission then the higher the success rate of that mission. And honestly, Batman works better on his own than he does when he has to report back to a group of people like the JLA.

Burnett provides for enough action as the JLA knocked heads with Kanjar Ro kept this issue a lively read. The appearance of Kanjar Ro was certainly unexpected. Kanjar Ro first appeared way back in Justice League of America #3 in 1961. I found this to be a pretty cool use of a relatively obscure old character from the JLA’s past.

I appreciated getting all of the new information that we got about the Salvation Run storyline. I liked the unexpected twist of the Quarantine Act not being about imprisonment, but actually being about deportation. I also liked the wrinkle that a second teleportation beam grabbed the villains and took them to another unknown location.

I have enjoyed the Salvation Run mini-series so I am certainly looking forward to finding out who was responsible for the second teleportation beam and what their motivation for abducting the villains is. I’m also curious to see if the JLA ever finds out the location of the villains and how J’onn is going to get himself out of his current sticky situation.

Ed Benes turned out plenty more of his usual fantastic artwork. I am a huge fan of his dynamic and stylish looking art.

The Bad: I found the plotline with Kanjar Ro terribly contrived. Out of all the planets in the universe, Kanjar Ro decides to eavesdrop on Earth? And just how does he do that? That is some serious tech. And his plotting to enslave the villains and then trying to dupe the JLA to come to Cygnus just so he could sell them was just a bit goofy and random for me. This plotline felt just a bit too forced for my taste.

Now despite the fact that I enjoyed the new wrinkles that we learned about the story going on over in the pages of Salvation Run, I have to say that I was disappointed that once again the pages of the JLA are served as a jumping off point for a story to take place on another title. The fact is that Justice League of America #19 was just an advertisement for the Salvation Run mini-series.

It is absolutely bizarre how the Justice League of America has been used as nothing more than a jumping off point and an advertisement for stories to take place on another title. We already just had to suffer through Justice League of America #16 that was an issue long ad for the new Tangent: Superman’s Reign maxi-series that just came out this week. We also had the Justice League of America used as the kicking off point for the story arc involving the Time Stealers over on Booster Gold.

DC really needs to get a big name writer on this title and invest in trying to establish quality plotlines for the JLA and not being just a starting point for stories that are then carried out on another title. JLA is the flagship title for DC and right now it doesn’t even remotely feel or read like a flagship title. The JLA isn’t even the best team title that DC publishes. I’d place the JLA a distant fourth behind the Legion of Super Heroes, Teen Titans and the Justice Society of America.

Overall: Justice League of America #19 was simply an ordinary read. If you aren’t a fan of Salvation Run then you will certainly be disappointed with this issue. Despite its flaws, I did enjoy Meltzer’s run on this title. However, ever since Meltzer left, this title has rapidly declined. Justice League of America is in desperate need of some interesting plotlines. Right now there is practically nothing going on this title. I would only recommend this issue to anyone who is a big fan of either the JLA or Salvation Run.

2 Comments

  1. I don’t really think a change of writer is needed, just give the current one some creative freedom; I stopped reading after the first arc, with the nothing-but-tie-in future solicits, but I’m really looking forward to next issue, a Wonder Woman/Flash story written by McDuffie with art by Ethan Van Sciver. After that is, le sigh, a Final Crisis tie-in.

  2. What I found most annoying about this issue was the whole Black Lightning gonna stay on earth cuz we already got John Stewart. It felt really forced and random especially since Black Lightning is the guy that started this story arch off in issue 17.

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