Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials
JLA: Gatekeeper #3Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 4, 2002
Cover date: February 2002
Writer & Artist: Timothy Truman
"Gatekeeper" - Part 3 of 3
Reviewed by: Michael Bailey (Earth1Superman@aol.com)
Milissu, the daughter of Earth, walks along the beaches of the ocean Abzu. She muses over the fact that despite the fact that she was brought to Kurnugi against her will she has come to love the world and hopes that one day it will be free of Lord Nergal's control.
Aquaman's Quest: Beneath the waters Aquaman uses the local sea life to assist him in finding the Vase of Streams. The fish leave him at the gates of Eridu and after swimming on Aquaman is attacked by a group of Nergal's minions led by Kulullu and taken into custody. On the way to the prison another inmate attacks the guards through his cell window and Aquaman uses this as his opportunity to escape. The inmate turns out to be king Enki who was deposed by his son Enkimdu. Aquaman explains that Sala sent told him about Enki. At first Enki doesn't recognize the name but Aquaman tells Enki that he would know her by another name Istar.
Aquaman explains that he is there to find the Vase of Streams. Enki replies that he knows of the Vase and will lead Aquaman through the secret tunnels and passages to get to it.
Batman's Quest: Batman locates his objective, the Crescent Disc, but before he can obtain it bat creatures appear and attack him. After a vicious assault the bat creature's ruler, Samana appears and asks what his winged creatures have found. When he spies Batman Samana grabs the Dark Knight by the neck and demands to know why he is there. Batman replies that he needs something and drives both of his fists into the sides of Samana's head.
Batman's freedom proves short lived as Samana recovers quickly and resumes his attack. Pinning Batman to the ground Samana tells him the not only does he know why Batman is there but also that he has no hope of escaping as Samana is school in the art of pain. Batman replies with a flare to the face, escapes once again and grabs the disc before leaving. Samana watches him go while a shadowy figure tells him that he has done very well. Samana tells the stranger that he should have destroyed Batman and the stranger tells him that his chance for destruction will happen in due time.
Wonder Woman's Quest: While Green Lantern and Sala cut through the thick forest they discuss the fact that Wonder Woman has scouted ahead. Sala wonders why they let her go ahead and GL replies that Diana is an Amazon and can handle just about anything that is thrown at her.
Ahead Diana is locked in combat on her quest for the Winged Disc. After battling lowly demons a true warrior demands that she have her chance. While the two do battle the female taunts Diana about whether or not she is a true warrior. Diana settles the matter by chopping off the female warrior's arm. With a tear in her eye over her fellow warrior's defeat Wonder Woman enters a structure with a marking similar to her breastplate above the entrance.
Outside Green Lantern and Sala come under attack and just when it seems that they will be defeated Wonder Woman appears in an airship and rescues them.
Meanwhile Anu is reading from his writings when Lord Nergal discovers him. Nergal explains that his guards trailed the outworlders to Anu's house. Nergal takes him into custody to find out what Anu knows. Tiamat, Nergal's mother, wonders what Nergal plans to do if Anu doesn't talk but Nergal has faith that he will. Tiamat then brings Nergal up to speed on recent events and when she mentions that Batman managed to escape Samana Nergal actually appears afraid. When his mother calls him on it Nergal becomes enraged yelling that he fears no man. Tiamat lets it go and asks where Nergal's brothers are and as he replies that it doesn't matter the twins watch from outside.
Green Lantern, Istar and Wonder Woman's Quest: The three heroes find themselves at the Lair of Utu, the Lord of the Sun who possesses the Solar Disc. They are immediately besieged by giant golden statues, which attract the attention of Utu himself. Utu doesn't care why they are there and orders the statues to destroy them. Sala spots the Solar Disc on Utu's brow but before they can do anything about it one of the statues upsets the ship sending Sala to the ground.
Green Lantern catches her and uses his ring to grab the disc from Utu's head. This enrages Utu and his guard's attack intensifies. The guards seem to gain the upper hand until Sala summons the power of Istar and destroys them. After destroying the guards Sala falls unconscious. Green Lantern asks Wonder Woman what happened and Diana explains that Sala is not the woman he once knew and that she is now an immortal reborn.
The three heroes meet Aquaman, Enki and Batman at the rendezvous point where Green Lantern and Wonder Woman find that the others were successful. Sala recognizes Enki despite the fact that she shouldn't know him. Enki explains that she is Istar reborn and has all of that warrior's memories. He goes on to say that they should hasten to the Fire Lands because while Nergal is unwise he isn't stupid and will eventually discover their plans. Batman tells him that he thinks that Nergal already has because obtaining the artifacts was too easy. Looking at the battered form of Sala Green Lantern disagrees.
Wonder Woman says that one thing is certain and that is the final artifact is in the Land of Fire where Superman should be. She asks Enki if he knows where Superman is but Green Lantern replies that it shouldn't be too hard and points to a large track of destruction.
On the ground Assag once again faces Superman and spews fire from his mouth. The fire doesn't injure Superman like it did before which confuses Assag. Superman replies that he has a little help and opens his cape to reveal that he has been helped by the mage of the gnomes. Assag and smaller versions of himself increase their attack. After thinking that they have destroyed the two Assag celebrates. Suddenly Superman and the mage come out of the ashes and reveal that the Amulet of Anu as protected them. Superman takes Assag down.
The heroes join him and the mage sets the amulets out in accordance to the ceremony and tries to open the portal to Earth. He fails and while wondering why Nergal and his men appear revealing that they have custody of the unconscious form of Sala. Nergal reveals that the ceremony is incomplete because the final ingredient, the blackened blood of an immortal. Green Lantern tries to free her but Batman stops him telling GL that Nergal will cut her to ribbons.
Nergal them releases his mother's demons to attack the JLA, but Green Lantern destroys them all. Nergal claims that his victory was for naught and tells them that he has what he needs. The voice of Milissu stops him and she appears with Nergal's twin brothers and Samana. She explains that it has been her plans that brought everyone to this moment. She goes on to say that because of her immortality she is tired of the pain so she enlisted the aid of Samana and Nergal's brothers to bring peace and order to Kurnugi.
Milissu then entices Nergal to join her and rule at her side. Nergal's sister tries to stop her but Milissu smacks her, sending her flying. Milissu kisses Nergal and he cries out in pain when she bites him. The bite draws blood, which Milissu uses to complete the spell. The spell does its work on Nergal causing him to deteriorate. He runs to his mother and sister for help but that only causes them to be destroyed as well.
The death of their rulers causes the demons to flee. The portal begins to open and Milissu instructs the heroes to take Sala with them. Samana becomes enraged and demands that Sala is his. He knocks Green Lantern down and grabs Sala. Sala opens her eyes and drives her sword through his neck, killing him.
Sala drops to the ground and attends to the dying form of Anu and says she is sorry for what happened to him. Anu tells her that there is no need for sorrow because Nergal and his mother are gone and their world is free.
Doctor Fate stands at the gate's entrance keeping it open and tells his friends to hurry. Before they leave Milissu apologizes for her slight treachery. Green Lantern says that no matter what the reason was the deception would be hard to forget. Wonder Woman points out that Milissu having to kiss Nergal was punishment enough. The heroes wish Milissu luck with reclaiming Kurnugi. Milissu asks for Sala to stay, but she declines saying that she will come back one day but for right now she and Kyle have some catching up to do.
Story - 3: Thus ends JLA: GATEKEEPER and I can't say that I'm sorry to see it go. I'm not trying to be cute by saying that. It's just how I feel.
I will have to say that this issue was an improvement in some ways over the previous two. There was an old time feel to the story with the heroes splitting up to accomplish individual goals and regroup at the end to fight the main bad guy. It reminds me of the old Justice Society stories where this was the formula for nearly every story.
Unfortunately the pacing of the issue was so off that this minor bright spot was overshadowed. The whole issue seemed rushed like they were trying to get too much done in a very little amount of time. This might not be Tim Truman's fault. He had a lot of story to get through in three issues. It's possible that the original plan was for something other than a three-issue series and Truman did the best with what he had. If this is the case I feel kind of bad for him. On the other hand this series could have gone longer in a format other than Prestige. A four issue regular format series would have stretched the story out and might have improved the series.
Then again maybe not. The other problem I had with this issue was that the clichés were flying fast and furious fantasy wise. The scene where Sala recognizes Enki springs to mind as the prime example. Truman really hit us over the head with the "immortal warrior reborn" angle with this bit of dialogue despite the fact that Wonder Woman had mentioned it previously in the story. I found this sort of insulting because it suggested that Truman (or his editor) didn't think that the reading audience could have grasped this concept. The story and dialogue could have flowed smoother without Truman (or his editor) beating us over the head with things like this.
Another question is how did Enki, who was apparently a merperson, suddenly gain the ability to walk? One minutes he's swimming with Aquaman, the next he's hunched over Sala talking to her. A little clarification would have helped.
Overall I really disliked this series. I had written in my reviews of the previous issues that I feel that with some exceptions super-heroes and mythology do not mix. Unless it is ingrained into the character from the beginning, like in the case of Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Thor, having the genres mix usually spells trouble. The series is a good example of this. While the concept wasn't bad the execution was. There were too many things that had to happen for the story to happen. Truman fell into the trap of having Superman's powers messed up by the presence of a red sun instead of simply saying that the place was full of magic, which it was, and made it more of a threat.
Also the characterization was very weak, Green Lantern in particular. To me it makes no sense that Green Lantern would get upset at Milissu's deception since it was for the greater good. Kyle has been around the block enough to know that sometimes you have to lie to beat the bad guy. The only characters that were handled well were Aquaman and Wonder Woman, but this probably had more to do with the fact that the two heroes had origins steeped in mythology in the first place.
I'm just glad its over. Unless they decide to do a sequel, which they did leave a door open for. If this is the case I hope it's not another Prestige Format book. Five dollars an issue was a bit much to pay for this story.
Art - 3: I was still really disappointed in Truman's art. Usually he is a very skilled artist but this serious was a down turn. While the fantasy aspects were very well done the super-heroes left much to be desired. It seemed like more effort was put into the creatures and backgrounds than the Justice League. This could have been intentional. It is entirely possible that Truman doesn't like to draw super-heroes. If this is the case it was an odd choice to have the series feature the JLA.
Whatever the case I didn't like the art. It was good in some ways but bad in others, much the writing.
Cover Art - 3: Action packed but weak. The faces of the JLA were poor with the exception of Aquaman, who seems to be the only character with any kind of detail. I can see how this cover could entice someone to pick the book up but I don't think it was strong enough to make someone want to buy it.
Mild Mannered Reviews
2002Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.
- Joker: Last Laugh #6
-  Superman #176
-  Adventures of Superman #598
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #120
-  Action Comics #785
- Superman Adventures #63
- JLA #60
- Justice League Adventures #1
- JLA/Haven: Arrival
- Superman/Tarzan: Sons of the Jungle #1
- JLA: Gatekeeper #2
- Superman & Batman: Generations II #4
- Superman #177
- Adventures of Superman #599
- Superman: The Man of Steel #121
- Action Comics #786
- Superman Adventures #64
- JLA #61
- Justice League Adventures #2
- Just Imagine Stan Lee with Jerry Ordway Creating the JLA
- JLA: Gatekeeper #3
- JLA: Incarnations #7
- Adventures of Superman #600
- Superman #178
- Superman: The Man of Steel #122
- Action Comics #787
- Superman Adventures #65
- JLA #62
- Justice League Adventures #3
- Superman/Tarzan: Sons of the Jungle #2
- Superman #179
- Adventures of Superman #601
- Superman: The Man of Steel #123
- Action Comics #788
- Superman Adventures #66 [Final Issue]
- JLA #63
- Justice League Adventures #4
- JLA: Shogun of Steel
- Superman #180
- Adventures of Superman #602
- Superman: The Man of Steel #124
- Action Comics #789
- JLA #64
- Justice League Adventures #5
- Superman #181
- Adventures of Superman #603
- Superman: The Man of Steel #125
- Action Comics #790
- JLA #65
- Superman/Savage Dragon: Chicago
- Justice League Adventures #6
- Superman #182
- Adventures of Superman #604
- Superman: The Man of Steel #126
- Action Comics #791
- JLA #66
- DC1st: Superman/Lobo #1
- DC1st: Flash/Superman #1
- Justice League Adventures #7
- Superman/Aliens II: Godwar #1
- Superman/Tarzan: Sons of the Jungle #3
- Superman #183
- Adventures of Superman #605
- Superman: The Man of Steel #127
- Action Comics #792
- JLA #67
- Justice League Adventures #8
- JLA: Destiny #1
- Superman #184
- Adventures of Superman #606
- Superman: The Man of Steel #128
- Action Comics #793
- JLA #68
- Justice League Adventures #9
- JLA: Destiny #2
- Superman #185
- Adventures of Superman #607
- Superman: The Man of Steel #129
- Action Comics #794
- JLA #69
- JLA #70
- Justice League Adventures #10
- Superman/Aliens II: Godwar #2
- JLA: Destiny #3
- JLA: The Island of Dr Moreau
- Superman #186
- Adventures of Superman #608
- Superman: The Man of Steel #130
- Action Comics #795
- JLA #71
- JLA #72
- Justice League Adventures #11
- JLA: Destiny #4
- Planetary/JLA: Terra Occulta
- JLA/Haven: Anathema
- Superman #187
- Adventures of Superman #609
- Superman: The Man of Steel #131
- Action Comics #796
- JLA #73
- JLA #74
- Justice League Adventures #12
- Smallville: The Comic
- Superman/Aliens II: Godwar #3
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Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2002.