Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Justice Leagues: JLA #1

Justice Leagues: JLA #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 31, 2001

Cover date: March 2001

Writer: Tom Peyer
Penciller: Justiniano
Inker: Ken Branch

"Dawn's Early Light"

Reviewed by: Jason Czernich (

The story opens with a roughed-up Hector Hammond recounting why the Justice League of America is forgotten by everybody on planet Earth. It leads into the present where Advance Man has just welcomed his employer, the alien conqueror Plura, to Earth. Before he can hatch her people to take over her new "home" the JL of Aliens and the JL of Air attack her. Before they can put an end to her plans, the Advance Man teleports her to the safety of the ocean. There Devilfish watches over her while Advance Man tries to coerce a hospitalized Hector Hammond over to his side once more.

Meanwhile, Superman, and the leaders of five of the Justice Leagues; Flash, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman meet on Manhunter's satellite to sort out the mystery of the multiple Justice Leagues. Superman finally has the answer reminding them all that the 'A' in JLA stands for America. This sinks in for real when Batman arrives at Hammond's bedside to stop Advance Man and reverse his global JLA mindwipe.

Uniting in the Watchtower with Plastic Man, the League decides to track down Plura and stop her plans for global domination. A telepathic link with Hammond helps the JLA reach victory and both Advance Man and Plura are teleported off planet.

2Story - 2: This story's conclusion was hurried and somewhat flat, a disappointment in light of the fact that Tom Peyer also writes the superb, yet underrated, Hourman monthly. He gave this story such a decent start too. Maybe he needed more than the standard twenty-two pages to finish off this fifth-week event because the pacing was too rushed.

The argument between Superman and Martian Manhunter that occurred on page seven was very out of character for both of them. They don't remember their JLA experience but they have worked together many times outside of their League experience. Not only is it out of character, it is just plain absurd for two characters who show wisdom and maturity to bicker like a married couple.

When Alfred jokes that he should summon the Joker to Batman, it is awkward that the trusted manservant doesn't put more of a biting edge to it. After all Batman made a major mistake and pointless decision to team with the murderer of Jason Todd, someone who Alfred was also butler to for a while. If someone killed a close friend of mine and my boss went into business with my friend's killer, full well knowing what this killer took away from me, I'd probably leave my boss's employ instantly.

Batman saves the day by tracking down the Advance Man and reverses the damage. Well, that was what usually happens but it was nice that this time he had the assistance of Hector Hammond who narrates the story's opening recap. On the last page, when Hammond cries at the fact that he helped save the world it was a nice sympathetic use of the character and here's hoping we can see more ways of doing this character in the future by methods that are not as laughable as prior appearances of this villain have been.

3Art - 3: I'm sorry but Justiniano can't really do it for me here. He is by no means a terrible artist but I can't help but wonder if his pencils would shine better in an uncolored format. It's detailed. It's dynamic. It's even fluid at some points (Check out page twelve's panels of the JL of Amazons and the JL of Atlantis). How come I can't get into it? Maybe because this was a team book and the team was the JLA. His Orion and Batman interpretations were nicely done but Justiniano's Superman never clicked for me. So, in other words some characters worked in his style and some just didn't.

The first part of this whole Justice Leagues tale had a sharper look to it. It was more precise in nature and easier to follow. Justiniano's pencils with Ken Branch's inks seemed to be a tad more wavy. There's nothing wrong with that in general but it just isn't right for a story where all of the main characters aren't accustomed to that style. Justiniano can be more flexible when he handles a Titan's assignment but it just doesn't work out here.

Also, everything seemed so packed in. Character, scenery, and technology almost always seemed crammed into the panels. Some artists like Alex Ross, George Perez, Steve Rude, Dave Gibbons, can load a panel too, but they usually put more organization and reason behind it such as; separate background happenings, subtle cameos, entrances, etc. They also don't overload every single one of their panels. They know when to isolate characters, such as for the purpose of close ups and separate focus, and when to isolate settings to establish scene and setting. To sum it up, they can pace their space.

The first part of this whole Justice Leagues event had a sharper feel to it. It was more precise in nature and easier to follow. Justiniano's art seemed to be a tad more wavy. There's nothing wrong with that in general but it just isn't right for a story where all your characters aren't accustomed to that style. Someone with more neutral pencils like Brent Anderson or Norm Breyfogle could have been better for this issue's art chores.

5Cover Art - 5: You have the clean and bold style of George Perez racing off the cover at you. All the JLA members present on the cover display distinctive poses and characteristics; Superman is positioned central and flying straight ahead, Green Lantern has his ring pointing at you and it twinkles beautifully, Flash is streaking lightning behind him, Aquaman is in a diving pose, Batman's immense cape weaves into the background, Martian Manhunter looms over them all, showing that he is the soul of the League, while above him Wonder Woman's lasso of truth encircles the League like a halo.

Fine details fit wonderfully into this cover like the texture of Aquaman's beard. The hairs on his arms, or the veins on Martian Manhunter's arms further convey Perez's attention to detail. This would definitely make an excellent poster or print. Too bad the story inside wasn't as good as the cover. It would have been nice to see Perez at least ink the inside. The story and interior art on Justice Leagues: JLA #1 wouldn't necessarily make me want to buy this book, but the cover alone may just make me not want to take it back to the store.

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Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic was on sale.

January 2001

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