Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA/Haven: Anathema

JLA/Haven: Anathema

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 18, 2002

Cover date: November 2002

Writer: Ashley-Jayne Nicolaus and Matthew P. Schuster
Penciller: Ariel Olivetti
Inker: Ariel Olivetti

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey (GarrickMcNider@aol.com)



In the crashed landed city of Haven the members of the city's hero team, The Alliance, prepare for the impending invasion of the despot known as Anathema. Siv, the scientist of the group, experiments with DNA in the hope of outwitting Anathema. Katalia and the United States Alien Ambassador Nicole Stein discuss what their strategy should be if Anathema makes her way to Earth. Above the city the oldest member of the Alliance, Valadin, flies over the city scanning the sky for any sign of the storm to come.

What none of them realize is that Anathema has already arrived on Earth and that the storm has already begun.

The first strike comes when Superman and J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter, question Army General Norville about why he and his troops have not left Haven in the 24 hour period given to evacuate. After trying to talk his way out of the situation, Norville punches Superman and orders his men to attack. As the soldiers pile on the two heroes Nia, another member of the Alliance arrives. J'onn assumes that she is there to help, but is proven wrong when Nia uses her crystal staff on the Manhunter rendering him unconscious. Superman cries for his friend, but is attacked from behind by Anathema, who finally makes her presence known.

Anathema commends Nia on her performance and orders her and Norville to find and release two of her minions, Mavaar and Ivas, from the Alliance's prison. She also suggests that they kill any members of the Alliance that they come across on the way to their objective. The two leave, giving Anathema time alone to study Superman and J'onn's DNA.

Meanwhile Katalia is in communication with Wonder Woman about the fact that the JLA lost contact with J'onn and Superman. Katalia begins to tell her that she will launch a search when Nia and Norville arrive. Nia savagely attacks, throwing Nia into the communicator screen. Valadin arrives on the scene and tends to his ally. Nia hands her staff to Norville and tells him to finish off Valadin while she continues on her way to release Anathema's minions. Nicole Stein blocks her path, but is quickly defeated.

While Norville assaults Valadin with Nia's staff Katalia regains consciousness and telepathically warns Siv that Nia has turned to Anathema's side. Nia arrives at Siv's lab where Siv informs her that he had been expecting her and that he may have found a way to cure Anathema's treatment. Nia tells him that she doesn't need curing and that Anathema is life. With that she kicks Siv in the head, which reveals that the Siv she has been talking to was a simulation. This angers Nia and she demands that Siv show himself or she will cave in Stein's head with her fists. Siv appears and tries to reason with his former teammate. She refuses to listen and once again attacks only to find out that once again it wasn't the real Siv.

Norville arrives and asks what is going on. Nia angrily orders him to free Ivas and Mavaar. He does so and the group returns to report to Anathema. Meanwhile Siv and Katalia revive Valadin who finds himself surrounded by the Justice League. They explain how the JLA helped them escape and how they have found that Anathema arrived on Earth months before through a long distance teleportation system that was one way and only for a small payload. Norville found her and out of greed and desperation agreed to help her. Over the past months Anathema has been augmenting Norville's men with her system and gathering information and technology through Norville and Mavaar. After conquering Haven Anathema will spread to the rest of the planet and take over the Earth.

Valadin then asks how she plans to get her troops from Competalia to the Earth. Katalia explains that Norville's men will provide the massive amount of energy to transport the troops. Valadin then asks why Nia turned against them. Siv replies that Nia underwent Anathema's treatment just days before Haven left Competalia and Anathema didn't have time to exert her control. Because of this the treatment didn't set and left Nia's DNA in a state of flux which could make her potential limitless if she learned to control it. Anathema knows this and is putting the knowledge to work.

Meanwhile Anathema continues to study Superman and the Martian Manhunter. Ivas begs her to allow him to hunt her enemies, but is dismissed quickly. She explains that if they conduct the proper events the Alliance will come to them since they are simple creature and easily manipulated.

At the same time Siv is briefing the remaining members of the JLA on how he plans to fix what Anathema did to Norville's men. After they are cured Siv feels that he has an ace up his sleeve (or arm as he says it) because in the time before he turned from Anathema he experimented on various DNA samples, including Anathema's own. Siv is convinced that he has a sample large enough to revert Anathema to her original form. Wonder Woman asks how fast he could decrypt the soldiers' DNA to which Siv replies that he will know when they get him a few.

Anathema and her minions surround the teleportation unit that will bring her soldiers to Earth when the Alliance arrives. Norville wants to attack, but Anathema tells him to let Valadin make his little speech. Valadin warns that if she wants to a fight she will have to battle the entire city and demands that she surrender and leave Haven. Anathema scoffs at his threat and tells him that her army will soon arrive. Siv directs her attention back to the portal and Anathema turns to see that the Justice League has destroyed her portal and taken Nia into custody. Wonder Woman demands that Anathema release her teammates or suffer the consequences.

Anathema orders her minions to kill them all. While the Justice League takes on Anathema's forces Siv begins his attempt to cure the soldiers. Valadin and Katalia attack Anathema on two fronts with Katalia telekinetically throwing her into a wall. Anathema laughs telling them that it was perfect and for them to prepare to witness her rebirth.

Valadin and Katalia look on as Anathema attaches herself to a machine that imbues her with Superman and J'onn's DNA. Norville decides that he wants some of the power for himself and tries to absorb the DNA as well. The Flash interrupts him, which causes the machine to self-destruct. J'onn and Superman are released and their first act to knock Norville out. While Nia manages to break free from Green Lantern's grasp Wonder Woman defeats Mavaar only to be shocked at the appearance of Anathema in her new form.

During all of this Siv continues to attempt to cure Norville's soldiers. Nia finds him and Stein and attacks. Anathema presses forward with Ivas goading her on. Ivas makes the mistake of saying this in English and is eaten by Anathema.

Elsewhere Siv manages to convince Nia of the error of her ways. At the same time the soldiers begin to come around, cured of Anathema's treatment. Back at the battle with Anathema Batman telepathically tells his comrades that she needs to be shut down now. Valadin quickly brings Siv and Nia into the group and tells them what needs to be done. With that Nia attacks distracting Anathema so Siv can inject her with the DNA that will devolve her. Anathema begins to grow uncontrollably catching everyone by surprise. Siv suggests that the Martian DNA she absorbed from J'onn has made her DNA too fluid and is adapting to his nanites. He tells them that she is weak but not beaten.

Valadin has Katalia to use her powers to allow him to speak to everyone in Haven. He pleads with the citizens of Haven to come together and help defeat her from within and without. Anathema begins to feel the effects of the telepathic attack and devolves claiming that they cannot hold her power. Siv tells the now helpless Anathema that he begs to differ. Siv then has Anathema put into a tube where her power can be used to provide the city of Haven with power, which solves the city's energy problems and frees it of the threat of Anathema.

Some time later Nicole Stein watches the news from her quarters and finds that General Norville has been brought up on conspiracy charges and that he not only allied himself with Anathema but stole technology from Haven and sold it on the black market in Keystone City. Valadin and Katalia arrive and ask if she is going to return to Washington. Nicole tells them yes leading Valadin and Katalia to offer her a new position as Chancellor of Haven. Nicole accepts saying that her government has a lousy 401K plan anyway.

From the Oval Office President Luthor watches the celebration musing on the loss of yet another advisor. He also has another bill to propose, one to make Haven part of the United States.

3Story - 3: I have to admit that I did not read the entire HAVEN maxi-series. I managed to get the first six issues, but dropped it due to financial reasons. Because of this I really can't give as thorough a review as I would like to. On the other hand coming into this book "cold" may help my objectivity and give me a better basis to review this book from the perspective of a reader picking this book off the rack on a whim.

In any case I really didn't care for this ending. I enjoyed the set-up and the issues I did read were good from a characterization stand point, which made up for the fact that nothing much was happening as far as action and story development. Despite this the ending to this story was rushed and haphazard at points. The book is so rushed at times that events make very little sense.

The biggest drawback to the story was the fact that Anathema was set-up from the beginning as this great and terrible villain but when she is revealed to be your average, run of the mill dictator bent on conquering the world. From the previous Haven stories I got the sense that Anathema was going to be a true threat. The writers did their best to prove this, but in the clichd manner of having her take down two of the most powerful heroes in the Justice League. If you ever want to prove how much of a bad guy a villain is always have them take on Superman and win.

In the end, though, Anathema is defeated rather easily. Even with the added DNA of Superman and the Martian Manhunter she is taken out with veritable ease. The writers fall into another clich here with having a telepathic cry to the citizens of Haven to draft them into helping beat the bad guy. I've never liked this type of ending. Sure it goes to prove how important the common man is and that while the metahumans are powerful and have saved the world time and again it is the little guy that is the true hero. It's not that I don't agree with this viewpoint. I mean I'm a big believer in the common man but when you set up a group of characters as the heroes of the piece and then not have them be the ones that defeat the big bad guy it is a let down. I had the same problem with RETURN OF THE JEDI.

The change in Nicole Stein was a bit of a shock but at the same time expected. I didn't read the story where she made her change from alien hater to alien ally so I don't know how it happened. The change of heart was a shock considering how the character was originally presented but after thinking about it for a little while I realized that this was the attention all along. Most stories of this nature have the character that hates the aliens but befriends them in the end so I guess I should have expected it.

Overall I didn't hate the story. It was a great effort and I liked the concept. The execution was a bit muddled and clichd, though, which took away from the story. I would like to see more done with Haven and look forward to see how the characters interact with the DC Universe.

3Art - 3: I was slightly disappointed with Olivetti's art in this issue. While I liked the figure work more than I have before the pages lacked the power that they had in the passed. The work seems rushed and in some places the action isn't made clear.

As mentioned, though, the figure work showed some improvement from the last special. Olivetti's art improved by the issue with the maxi-series, but loses a bit of its punch here. Anathema was Olivetti's weakest link especially when she absorbs Superman and J'onn's DNA. Instead of threatening, she looks silly.

Overall I can't say that I hated the artwork, but it wasn't Olivetti's best.

2Cover Art - 2: There wasn't anything exciting or eye catching about this cover. It's the JLA fighting a big ugly monster. While the figure work is okay it doesn't stand out and doesn't have that "grab me" quality that makes a good cover.


Mild Mannered Reviews

2002

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

January 2002

February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002

Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.

Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2002.