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Justice League of America #4

Posted: Thursday, December 14, 2006
By: Bruce Logan

"The Tornado's Path (Chapter Four: Being Human)"

Writer: Brad Meltzer
Artists: Ed Benes (p), Sandra Hope & Mariah Benes (i), Alex Sinclair (colors)

Publisher: DC Comics

This is probably not a good way to start a review, but four issues into this relaunch I cannot help but say that a few years down the line, the only "fame" that this opening arc/run of Brad Meltzer will have to show for it will be that it was the first arc/run of the first Post-IC League. Moreover, I also cannot avoid bringing up the comparison (and I bet I am not the only one) between this story and the first storyline of the previous JLA series by Grant Morrison. Compared to the nuclear blast that was the White Martian storyline, this series first arc comes across as a festive firecracker show. It might have the living daylights publicized out of it (which it has), and DCís biggest names on it (which it does), but at the end of the day, it will be as memorable as last yearís Independence day (for Americans), Canada day (for Canada), or the festival of lights (Diwali for Indians), just one in a line of many. Sure, it will dazzle you visually and titillate your senses, but what it wonít do is make a "unique" place for itself in the readersí memories.

Just in case anyone is having doubts about my blind allegiance to the name of Morrison, I suggest checking my views on Morrisonís ongoing run on Batman to know that even at four issues in, I am down to counting the months and issues until he gets done, wraps up his show and leaves. In addition, even though it might not be one for perpetuity this story is still an enjoyable, if slightly uneven in its pacing.

With Black Lightening and Hawkgirl showing up in the cave, DCís Uber-Trinity finally gets off their reverent behinds and actually does something worthwhile, even if Wonder Woman is still little more than a background dressing, a pale shadow of her Pre-IC self. (Interestingly enough, the same way she was in her appearance in issue #3 of the Martian Manhunter mini, and even more in her own title.) With Superman trying to remove and getting a surprise at the "Starro" on the back of Tridentís neck, Batman gets a chance to parade out his Bat-gadgets, all while playing Big-Daddy-Bat to Hawkgirlís "This place is real?" star struck self. By the way, this quoted line isnít from this monthís issue.

Elsewhere, en route to Ivoís secret hideout-lab, the now human Red Tornado converses with his wife. However, as with Vixenís single page appearance, his part here too is just a "hand raiser" to show his attendance in this issue.

As with the last issue and the even the ones before that, it is the trio of Green Lantern, Black Canary and Arsenal that gets the most action. Carrying on with the fight started two issues back; the three now go against the next level of Ivo lackeys: Electrocutioner, Plastique and Dr. Impossible. As with Batman and party, Hal and the others also discover that these three too are under the influence of the same "new and different" Starros. Just in time too, for just as they have finished apprehending Ivo and the others, the three heroes get taken down themselves, by someone, something that has them not believing their eyes.

I wonít spoil the identity of the "being" that defeats them or even the one who does the same to a newly arrived Red Tornado and is revealed on the final page as the mastermind behind the whole shebang. However, I will say that although this is a big surprise (just one of them, the other was clear enough), I do not think that it would have had the same effect without the excellent art accompanying it. Even if the inks and colors did seem on the darker side, especially in the cave scenes, the sheer detailing is, to say the least, impressive. That said, the placement of the Bat-ears that Benes gives to Batman still rubs me the wrong way. Ears that long just donít work that much to the front. They are fine when viewed from the front or rear but when in profile, they are even further front than Bruceís real ears.

Conclusion: Rather than my usual closure, I will end this review by revealing the name of the new (and possibly the eleventh Leaguer) hero appearing this issue. This is a warning for anyone not wanting to have this characterís identity spoilt for him or her, please STOP here.

The new character who appears in this issue of Justice League of America and who could possibly be the eleventh member of this new league is..., well..., he is an ex-colleague not only to Black Lightning but also to Batman, as also to other original and current members (Katana, Metamorpho) of the team that he was once a member of. A founding member of that team, born prince and now king of his country, this royal even had familial ties to the Teen Titans. Who is this? Well, in case his identity is still a mystery to anyone reading this, this character is Brion Markov, ruler of the fictional DC country of Markovia, the "gravity manipulating" superhero Geo-Force.

You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at

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