Justice League of America continues to be nothing more than an average read. Considering that this title is DC’s flagship team title, I have higher expectations than I would for your average comic book. I am surprised that DC is content with their premier super team being such a run of the mill product. Maybe Burnett and McDuffie can crank it up with Justice League of America #18 and get this title rolling in a positive fashion. Let’s go ahead and do this review for Justice League of America #18.
Writers: Alan Burnett & Dwayne McDuffie
Pencils: Ed Benes & Jon Boy Meyers
Inks: Sandra Hope, Mariah Benes, Ed Benes, Victor Llamas & Serge LaPointe
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Amanda Waller getting the alert that a group of metahuman villains just broke into the Hall of Justice. We cut to the Hall of Justice, where the JLA’ers are stunned that such heavy hitters like Polaris are willingly turning themselves over to the JLA.
The Key states that the Hall of Justice shares the same diplomatic privileges as a foreign embassy. That the JLA can grant the villains asylum. The Key explains how Blind Faith stayed in telepathic contact with her boyfriend Iron Cross after he got captured by the Suicide Squad. That Iron Cross told Blind Faith that they were preparing to transport him somewhere. Then suddenly, Blind Faith lost all telepathic contact with Iron Cross.
Blind Faith claims that her power can transcend time-space, but that now it is as if Iron Cross never existed. However, every night, Blind Faith would dream of Iron Cross screaming bloody hell. The Key says that the government has created a prison planet and that none of the villains have any desire to end up on that planet.
Red Tornado interrupts the heroes and tells them that Waller is on the phone. Batman snaps for Tornado to tell her that they will call her back. Superman suggest that they keep the villains in the holding cells in the Watchtower. Batman tells Vixen and Hawkgirl to stand guard at the Hall of Justice.
We see the villains being placed in their holding cells in the Watchtower. Batman is about to place one of the villains in his cell when he suddenly yells that he doesn’t care what the Key says he can do and that he isn’t willingly letting himself get locked up. The villains tries to get past Batman. Big mistake as Batman kicks his ass and throws him into the holding cell.
Batman thinks how the Key must have promised the other villains that he could get them out of their holding cells at any time. That once the JLA solves their problems, the Key will immediately open all of their cells and they will be back on the street. Batman smirks that he has studied the Key well and that he made sure that the Key would not be able to open any of the holding cells. That the Key is as powerless as the rest. We see the Key suddenly realizing to his horror that he cannot free anyone from these new holding cells.
Suddenly, Vixen and Hawkgirl radio the Watchtower to inform them that the Suicide Squad has arrived at the Hall of Justice. The JLA’ers beam back to the Hall of Justice and Superman announces that the JLA has given the villains asylum. Bronze Tiger spits that this is a mistake and that Waller is going to have issues with this.
Red Arrow then inquires if the Suicide Squad knows anything about Cheshire. Bronze Tiger snaps for Red Arrow to ask Waller. The Suicide Squad then leave the Hall. Hawkgirl looks jealous and mad that Roy asked about Cheshire.
We cut to Waller meeting with Commander Flag. Flag says that the Hall of Justice does enjoy diplomatic immunity. But, that the Watchtower does not since it is in space and that the farther you move from Earth the less its laws apply. Waller says that she has arraigned a meeting with the big guns of the JLA. That at that time Flag will have the Suicide Squad attack the Watchtower.
We shift to Batman talking with a mole that he has working within the government. The mysterious person informs Batman that they should have the coordinates of the prison planet by tomorrow.
We cut to the Suicide Squad attacking the Watchtower. They take down Red Arrow. Vixen then powers up and takes on Bronze Tiger and the rest of the Suicide Squad. We cut to Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman meeting with Waller. Batman suddenly says that this is wrong. That Waller is wasting their time and that she never wastes time. Batman then states that the JLA must be under attack.
We cut back to Vixen holding her own against the Suicide Squad. Vixen is effectively using the powers of all the Suicide Squad members against them. Unfortunately, the General finally gets a hold on Vixen and the tide turns. Suddenly, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman arrive on the scene and begin to kick ass.
Bronze Tiger tells the Suicide Squad to back down. Bronze Tiger says that Waller will label the JLA as traitors and have them all taken to the prison planet. Batman then says that no one is going anywhere until the JLA gets to inspect the prison planet. Batman then adds that he just received the prison planet’s location and for Bronze Tiger to let Waller know that it isn’t a secret anymore. End of story.
We get a Red Tornado back-up story. We see some of the most brilliant minds working together to create a new body for Red Tornado. They consist of Batman, Will Magnus, Niles Caulder, John Irons and Zatanna.
Red Tornado thinks about how much he misses having a body. That all he wants to be able to do is to hold his daughter. To kiss and love his wife. The feel the wind flowing through his body.
Batman informs Red Tornado that his new body is going to be vastly improved over his old one. That the new body will be completely human. It will mimic basic physiological functions. Reddy will be able to sweat, breathe, blush, eat, etc. even though he doesn’t actually need to do any of these things. That the new body will be able to replicate all five human senses.
That the new body will be many times stronger and more resilient than human tissue. That Reddy will be together than almost anybody. And on those rare occasions that he does actually get hurt then his body will be fully self-repairing.
That Reddy has a couple of weeks before the new body is ready. Batman tells Red Tornado that he needs to decide to risk his life in the process of being transferred from the JLA computer to his new body. That it is a difficult spell that Zatanna has to cast to move Reddy’s soul from the JLA computer to his new body. That Reddy could end up dead or as a soulless golem.
Red Tornado is then left alone to discuss his decision with his wife and daughter. They urge him not to risk his life and to stay in the computer. Red Tornado disagrees. That living in the JLA computer is not being alive. That if he can’t hold his child and make love to his wife then he doesn’t want to live.
Red Tornado tells Batman of his decision to try and move his soul into his new body. Reddy thinks to himself how this is going to succeed and that he is going to fight against beside his teammates, kiss his wife and muss his daughter’s hair once again. End of issue.
The Good: Justice League of America #18 was a fun read. I had an enjoyable time zipping through this issue. Burnett delivers a well paced story that moves along at a crisp pace. The plotting is well done as Burnett clearly has a purpose in mind with this story and is methodically building up toward his conclusion.
Burnett hammers out some solid dialogue. It isn’t anything special, but it is more than serviceable and has a pleasant flow to it. Of course, Batman gets the majority of the best lines. The banter between Vixen and Bronze Tiger was well done. I had no idea that Vixen and Bronze Tiger had a history with each other. However, Burnett did a good job getting that point across without having to employ any flashback scenes. Instead, the tense dialogue between the two characters clearly showed the raw feelings of a two ex-lovers.
Burnett properly utilizes Batman and Superman in this issue. Burnett employs Batman as the brains and attitude of the JLA while Superman acts as the authority and power of the JLA. The two characters play off each other wonderfully and create a powerful effect while dealing with Waller and the Suicide Squad.
Batman comes off as a total stud. He is ready for just about anything and everything. Burnett has Batman figure out the Key’s plan. Then Batman gets to show off his relentless preparation that enables him to never make the same mistake twice by neutralizing the Key’s abilities with the new holding cells. I dig that Batman shows off his cocky attitude in shutting down the Key.
Batman also is the one who figures out that Waller was distracting the big three of the JLA while staging an attack on the Watchtower. And Batman is also money in the bank as he uncovers the location of the prison planet through a mole in the government.
Burnett gives us a Batman who may lack the raw power of the rest of the JLA’ers, but is clearly the teammate who drives the ship for this team. Without Batman, the JLA would be all muscle and no brain.
Superman is well handled as well as Burnett places Superman in the role as the big stick and voice of authority for the JLA. In each of the showdowns against the Suicide Squad, it is Superman who takes the lead and speaks as the voice for the JLA. And it is Superman’s imposing power that enables him to stand down the Suicide Squad with impunity. This is a role well suited for Superman.
Burnett delivers plenty of action in this issue. We get some quality battling between the Suicide Squad and the JLA. It was particularly cool to see Vixen flashing her new abilities. Vixen being able to mimic any metahuman abilities of those around her certainly makes her quite a formidable opponent.
Burnett ends the main story with a great hook ending. Batman drops the bomb on the Suicide Squad that he now knows the location of the prison planet. I am excited to see what happens when the JLA heads off to the prison planet. This should certainly provide for an interesting story.
McDuffie serves up a great back-up story. I have been critical of McDuffie’s generic dialogue and one-dimensional characters during his run on this title. However, I have to give him praise for what was a well written back-up story. McDuffie crafts some fine dialogue and pulls off some incredible character work with Red Tornado.
After being virtually ignored since Meltzer left the JLA, Red Tornado finally receives some much needed attention. Red Tornado has either gotten no panel time at all or has been treated like a glorified answering machine. McDuffie does a fantastic job dipping into Reddy’s mind and showing the reader his feelings for his wife, kid and life in general.
Red Tornado’s desire to be with his wife and child as well as what he considers to be a life worth living was actually quite touching without being too over the top or cheesy. McDuffie impressively captures the views that a man has of his wife and child and how he is willing to risk everything to be with his family. This is what makes Red Tornado a true man.
I dig this new body that has been created for Red Tornado. I dig that this new body will finally end this continual cycle of Red Tornado being torn apart and then having to be put back together once again. This new body will definitely give him a power boost and make him one of the JLA’s heavy hitters.
Benes supplies us with plenty of excellent artwork in the main story. John Boy serves up plenty of cool manga inspired artwork in the back-up story. All in all this was a nice looking issue.
The Bad: Burnett’s story seemed just a bit rushed and disjointed with how he framed this issue. Also, the main-story is not a terribly deep, complex or dense story. Readers who like tons of depth and substance in their comic books may find Justice League of America #18 to be a bit of a thin read.
Overall: I found Justice League of America #18 to be a rather fun read. The main story offers up plenty of action and adventure while the pleasant and nicely done back-up story offers up an enjoyable character study. I think this issue will appeal to comic book readers who enjoy classic action and adventure stories.