Justice League of America #13 Review

For the most part, The Revolution enjoyed McDuffie’s Justice League of America Wedding Special #1. I didn’t find it as satisfying as Meltzer’s version of the JLA, but it was fast and entertaining. I’m sure that we will get more of the same with Justice League of America #13. I expect a fast and fun read. Let’s hit this review for Justice League of America #13.

Creative Team
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Penciller: Joe Benitez
Inker: Victor Llamas

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 Batman in a straight jacket. It is the kind that only the Joker has escaped from. And if Joker can do it so can Batman. Batman dislocates both shoulders and slips out of the straight jacket. Batman thinks how his willingness to take pain is a specialty of his.

Batman then finds where the Injustice League is holding Wonder Woman captive. Batman wants to free her first since Wonder Woman is the best melee fighter in the world. Unfortunately, Lex, Joker, Cheetah, Dr. Light and Gorilla Grodd appear on the scene.

We cut to John Stewart, Black Canary, Superman, Hawkgirl, Red Tornado, Black Lightning and Vixen planning their next course of action. They decide to split into two teams. Superman, Black Canary and Vixen go to the crime scene. John, Red Tornado and Hawkgirl go to the hospital. Black Lightning stays at the Hall of Justice in case it is attacked.

We shift to John, Reddy and Hawkgirl arriving at the hospital. We get some banter between John and Black Lightning about Lightning’s old afro and his current bald head look. Thankfully, Killer Frost, Fatale and Shadow Thief appear on the scene to kill that conversation. Hawkgirl and Reddy are taken down. But, not John Stewart who gains the upper hand on Fatale. Then Poison Ivy appears and viciously takes down John.

We slide over to Superman, Black Canary and Vixen searching the crime scene. Black Canary walks off to investigate a bit. Superman takes the opportunity to tell Vixen that he knows she has lost her animal powers and has been leeching off her teammates’ super powers. Superman tells Vixen that she should be honest with her teammates. That between all of them, if there is a cure then they will find it.

Black Canary walks back over and says she hasn’t found any clues. Suddenly, Gorilla Grodd, Cheetah and Dr. Light teleport onto the scene. And we have another brawl. Our heroes get the upper hand on the villains until Parasite suddenly appears and takes down both Vixen and Superman. Cheetah attacks Black Canary. Black Lighting suddenly shows up and blasts Cheetah. Parasite, still holding Vixen’s unconscious body, teleports himself, Vixen and the villains out of the crime scene.

Black Lightning tells Superman that he lost the com-link with Superman’s team and with John’s team. Therefore, Black Lightning came to investigate what was going on. Superman comments that the villains now have capture eight Leaguers. Black Lighting comments that Flash still hasn’t called in. Superman wonders what they should do next.

Suddenly, Lex Luthor appears and answers “I’m glad you asked…” End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Justice League of America #13 was another fun read. McDuffie delivers a quick paced issue that makes for a fast and enjoyable read. I loved Meltzer’s run on this title, but his issues were definitely more lumbering and plodding. McDuffie has a clear direction and purpose with his storyline and is not wasting time unfolding it to the reader.

I am impressed with the McDuffie’s tight plotting. The storyline is well constructed. McDuffie is laying a solid foundation for what should be a very fun ride.

McDuffie also provides tons of action in this issue. The reader doesn’t have to go more than a couple of pages between fight scenes. Many people complained about the general paucity of action during Meltzer’s run on the JLA. Those readers should be more than happy with the two fisted action that McDuffie cranks out in Justice League of America #13.

Another common complaint with Meltzer’s run was a lack of any real villain during his run, especially during the Lightning Saga story arc. Well, that is definitely not going to be a problem with McDuffie’s JLA.

We get tons of fantastic villains in this story arc. McDuffie is unleashing a very colorful collection of villains. This Injustice League is an extremely entertaining plot device. These villains are all rather cartoonish and outlandish in nature. And that is part of what makes this story so much fun.

The Injustice League reminds me of some of the one-dimensional and campy villains from the 1970’s. McDuffie chooses to eschew giving the reader villains that are complex and full of different shades of grey. Instead, McDuffie gives the reader very black and white heroes and villains. While I definitely prefer complex and nuanced villains, this approach by McDuffie with the Injustice League actually works very well with his much more simple and straightforward approach to the JLA.

I did like how McDuffie employed Poison Ivy’s powers in her fight with John Stewart. That was a cool and unique way for Poison Ivy to defeat a character in John who, on the surface, seems to be much more powerful.

I dig McDuffie’s take on Batman. McDuffie’s Batman is a serious bad-ass and definitely a classic tough guy who has the necessary take-no-shit attitude that his character requires. However, McDuffie doesn’t make Batman a dick and actually has him display a sarcastic sense of humor.

McDuffie’s Batman is a nice balance between the touchy feely wimp Batman that Robinson gave us in the One Year Later storyline and the hard-ass psycho that Frank Miller gives us on All Star Batman. Personally, I like my Batman to be more of a dick, but McDuffie’s Batman is sure to have mass appeal.

McDuffie ends Justice League of America #13 with a solid hook ending. I’m definitely excited to see more of the Injustice League’s conflict with the Justice League of America. I have a feeling that McDuffie hasn’t even come close to showing us the real fireworks that are going to happen in this titanic battle.

I love the artwork of Benitez and Llamas. They create one beautiful looking comic book. Their artwork is eye-catching and extremely dynamic. The action practically leaps off the page at the reader. This style of art is a great match for McDuffie’s fast paced action. And I absolutely love how Benitez draws the Injustice League. Benitez’s Gorilla Grodd is evil! This is the coolest rendition of Grodd.

The Bad: McDuffie’s dialogue and character work continue to be the two weak links in his writing. McDuffie dishes out some pretty unimpressive dialogue. None of the characters have much of a unique external voice. Everyone speaks in either a generic voice or a stereotypical voice. Some of McDuffie’s dialogue was rather hackneyed. Particularly groan inducing was dialogue such as John shouting “You want some, come get some.”

There is scarce character work with this issue. McDuffie’s characters are one-dimensional and continue to be more caricatures rather than actual fully developed characters. I had hoped to see a bit more character work on this issue than what we got on the wedding special one-shot. Usually, one-shot tie-in issues don’t boast great character work. Unfortunately, McDuffie fails to deliver any character development with Justice League of America #13.

McDuffie’s storyline is not deep or complex at all. The story isn’t as mature or as developed as what we got with Meltzer. The story is a bit shallow and continues to read like the comic book version of the JLU cartoon. And since we already have a Justice League Unlimited comic book, I don’t really want that experience over here on the Justice League of America title.

Overall: Justice League of America #13 was a fun read that put a smile on my face once I was finished. Do I still think that this title is one of DC’s premier titles like it was when Meltzer was the writer? No. It isn’t up there anymore with DC’s other top flight titles like Green Lantern and Justice Society of America. However, McDuffie’s Justice League of America is a solid second tier title and still delivers an entertaining read.

If you were less than pleased with Meltzer’s run on the JLA, then you will love McDuffie’s version of the JLA. And if you were a fan of the Justice League Unlimited cartoon or if you simply like fast paced titles with plenty of action then you should certainly check out the Justice League of America. You won’t be disappointed.

2 Comments

  1. Really, you liked the art? I thought it was a poor fill-in for DC’s flagship title (the only one that sells over 100,000 and comes out with any consitency).

    Other than that, it’s a fun issue. McDuffie’s telling a fairly straight take on the old “Superfriends” cartoon, complete with intentionally 1D badguys.

    My main problem is DC’s decision to tie this all into the wedding, since it saddles the story with a rather tight timeframe (the actual Wedding Special doesn’t make any mention of this despite it logically taking place on the preceding day), and McDuffie, in order to use only the actual team, has to send all the other guests home, which really makes no sense in context.

  2. “You want some? Come get some!” is one of the things that John Stewart says in the Justice League Heroes video game. I am sure that exclamation was an homage to that game.

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