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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA: Shogun of Steel

JLA: Shogun of Steel

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 6, 2002

Cover date: April 2002

Writer: Ben Raab
Penciller: Justiniano
Inker: Justiniano

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (baileyn@cc.wwu.edu)



A tale is told of feudal Japan. How, in the past, a great many warriors fought trying to restore freedom to the country by warring against the evil Shogun of Steel. For fifteen years, the rebellion shrank and shrank, until hope was almost lost.

The Japanese version of Batman (a female) and The Green Arrow scan a bar for a potential aid in their rebellion. They are in modest clothing.

A large man approaches another man, sitting at the table, and demands a sword won in plunder in the smaller man's possession at the table. He says he got the sword in a raid with the Shogun of Steel. The other man tears him and his cronies apart, leaving them battered all over the place, and offers that the sword belonged to his adopted father before being stolen. It is Superman, in another life.

Green Arrow and Batwoman (I'll use that term, but it's not what was in the book. Just for reference, as they are not named, yet) ask the Superman to join there rebellion. He refuses.

In the Shogun of Steel's headquarters, the Shogun questions a rebel. The rebels partner has escaped, and he needs information. The captured rebel is shown to know nothing when the Shogun uses a mind power to find out.

Soldiers return with reports of the man the Shogun calls Kal-El. He is living, and at full power.

"Superman" flies, enjoying the skies.

Manzo, a man with hawks, laments that flight was wasted on a man who refuses to do good. Kikuchiyo, the other rebel, emerges from the water after a long swim with a knife in his back (I assume this makes him the Aquaman figure.) He collapses with the knife of the Shogun's aide in his back.

On a boat, Hoshi (the Superman character) speaks with his father about his origin. A red dragon brought an egg with Hoshi in it, and his father found him just as the egg hatched, revealing the boy's home planet and his parents.

Soldiers of the Shogun torch the main village. Hoshi arrives on the scene, and helps the rest of the pseudo JLA to stop them. A father dies in front of a child, and Hoshi feels compelled to act.

The Shogun reveals to his aid some Kryptonite to be used if the Hoshi attacks.

The "JLA" are introduced to him. There is Blossom, the vengeful female bat who saw her brothers killed by the Shogun and vowed vengence. And there is Dokuya, the poisoned arrow, in green, an assassin for the resistance. Then there is Yohei, otherwise known as Inazuma, who runs and fights at amazing speed. And also Manzo, also known as Taka, a communicator with the Hawks. And finally Rikichi, a man who defies description (he is fat and slovenlyäno JLA equivalent I can think ofämaybe the brash Plastic Man? ≠Neal)

Hoshi takes the name of Tekkohito, the man of steel, and decides to fight for the resistance.

Superman pledges that he cannot take a life in a strategy meeting on how to approach the Shogun's Fortress of Solitude. As he does, Inazuma (Flash) and Rikichi come in with an automaton they have captured. It is shaped like a Brainiac ship, on a smaller scale, and is controlled by magnets. Manzo suggests the use of many magnets to combat the Fortress and its combatants.

The Shogun's aid show, apologizes for working against the resistance, hands them a map and walks away to commit suicide, presumably. Tekkohito (Superman) sees a prayer of hope in the map.

Hoshi arrives to find Blossom praying for success. He reveals that he has found out that Zunou is actually Brainiac, and explains the fall of Krypton at Brainiac's hand to her.

The next day, the assault begins.

The Shogun is handed a weapon forged of Kryptonite by his aide, who he kills for being a traitor. The attack begins.

The mechanical men are soon destroyed, but Brainiac shows, with a laser weapon. He tells the JLA that he has known about his aide's treachery, and he kills Manzo with his weapon.

Brainiac takes the rest of the League down by controlling their brains and forcing them to standstill, when Tekkohito shows, demanding vengeance in the name of El.

They fight well, then Brainiac pulls his sword, stripping Tekkohito of his powers. Dokuya readies an arrow. Brainiac reveals that his father is Jor-El, and that Tekkohito and he are brothers.

Brainiac is about to land the killing blow when Blossom places herself in the way. Dokuya fires his poison arrow and knocks the sword away, but not before it hits Blossom. Tekkohito takes Brainiac, in a fury, and launches him into the sun. He returns to find Blossom dying, and he eases her into death.

At her grave, later, Tekkohito welcomes the new way of life, and trusts in the future.

5Story - 5: Decent, original, and well done. Something most Elseworlds stories in the last few years have not been, with the exception of Dark Knight, obviously. The JLA was hard to distinguish at first, but once they were readily apparent, a lot of things clicked, and the story was much better. I also like the idea of a Brainiac Shogun. However, I do wonder why he didn't just annihilate the world and make a new Krypton. But it doesn't really take from the enjoyment of the story. It was fun, it was another culture without resulting to stereotypes, as these types of stories often do, and it didn't have extra stuff thrown in to fill space, like a lot of Elseworlds pieces have had in the past.

5Art - 5: Really nice, given the subject, and the way that this could have been done very poorly. The action scenes in particular are really well done and amazing. Get this person on Batman, and get the artist there, now!

5Cover Art - 5: Well done, representative of the elements of the story, and it doesn't resort to a gimmick to pull in the cover. I am thoroughly impressed with all of the elements of this comic book, and this cover was a nice capper.

1Price - 1: 5 of 5 on all fronts. A great ish. But almost nothing is worth seven fifty, save the best in comics, period, like a Dark Knight, a Watchmen, or a Kingdom Come. I don't like having to pay so much for specials. In this case, however, it was almost worth even this price. Take the gloss off the cover and make it five bucks, DC!


Mild Mannered Reviews

2002

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

January 2002

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