Mild Mannered Reviews - Justice League Adventures
Justice League Adventures #10Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 7, 2002
Cover date: October 2002
Writer: Josh Siegal
Penciller: Chris Jones
Inker: Christian Alamy
"Must There Be A Martian Manhunter?"
Reviewed by: George O'Connor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A child shrieks as the Martian Manhunter saves him from death, but it is not out of fear of death that the youngster cries out, but instead at the sight of J'onn J'onnz. The mother attempts to apologize, but the damage is done. J'onn takes a deep breath and returns to combat.
Monsters ravage a downtown city and their presence is the work of a hideously deformed woman called Screamthief, who has abducted a young girl and used her fears to construct the abominations. The creatures tear through everything in their paths as the Justice League struggles to contain them. Superman shrugs off two werewolves to confront the Screamthief, but the girls' fears that Superman will fail are realized with the mystical formation of a "super-slaughterer". Screamthief uses the weapon on the Man of Steel and sends him to the pavement... where he lies perfectly still.
As the League rushes around their fallen comrade, Screamthief escapes and with her, the monsters her magic has brought about. But the trouble is far from over, the Dark Knight predicts, and in the coming weeks, Metropolis is plagued by crime. The League soon becomes bogged down with protecting Metropolis as every criminal, villain, and super-powered arch-foe begins massive crime sprees.
Superman, meanwhile, is encased in a tube in the Watchtower, where his comatose body struggles to stay alive. J'onn J'onnz, in the hope of putting an end to the Metropolis crime spree and to calm a panicked world, shape shifts into Superman. In the interest of preserving the act, the rest of the League hands out pointers on how to seem more like the Man of Steel and less like the quiet, stoic demeanor of the Martian Manhunter.
The world embraces the faux Superman's return but when the League arranges for "Superman" to address the world and reassure the masses of his return, J'onn panics and flies into the skies for a moment of solitude. The Green Lantern follows and in the deep skies he finds J'onn, reverted back to his alien form, contemplating silently. The Martian Manhunter speaks humbly, but pain is evident in his voice when he admits his reluctance to make a speech, believing it will be insufficient and unworthy of the true Superman. J'onn points out how he is barely tolerated on Earth while Superman - another alien - is cherished and adored.
John reassures him as best as he can, but the Martian Manhunter is undeterred by the reasoning. When the two return moments later, Batman informs them of the latest development: the return of Screamthief.
The League arrives in upstate New York only to come face-to-face with more of Screamthief's disruptions. This time, the arch-villain has kidnapped a young boy, whose powerful imagination brings to life giant clown-faced spiders, green monsters, dragons, serpents, and a spooky, man-eating tree. With a little assistance from the Justice League, the monsters are contained or destroyed, but the horror only multiplies when live television images of the monsters are broadcast to families all over the city; the citizens' own fears intensify Screamthief's powers and J'onn realizes that he must use his newfound celebrity status to stop her.
Addressing the camera, "Superman" delivers a passionate speech, encouraging strength from his listeners and confidence in the League's ability to put an end to the Screamthief. The words work where action wouldn't, but when the Screamthief turns her "super-slaughterer" on the false Superman, hope begins to drain as quickly as it swelled moments before.
J'onn takes a blast and for a moment, everyone thinks Superman is dead, but when the cloud clears, "Superman" is still there, prompting courage from the rest of the city. As the city's collective will strengthens, Screamthief's powers and her creations weaken. The League takes its advantage on the monsters and J'onn confronts the Screamthief who, by this point, can't even frighten the little boy.
The Screamthief desperately summons a giant sea monster to swallow Superman alive and J'onn realizes that the creature could only have come from the Screamthief's own fears. Letting the monster swallow him after Green Lantern rescues the child, J'onn then passes through the monster by becoming intangible. He confronts Screamthief as the Martian Manhunter instead of Superman and admits to her his own feelings of alienation... his own fears of bigotry and discrimination. The Screamthief breaks down emotionally and when there is not enough fear to sustain her, she breaks down physically as well.
With the threat averted and a recovering Kal-El in the League Watchtower, all seems to have ended well, but it is not till the young kidnapped boy seeks out the Martian Manhunter for an appreciative hug that J'onn J'onnz can grudgingly betray a smile.
Story - 5: The Animated books (Justice League Adventures, Gotham Adventures, and the recently cancelled Superman Adventures) are certainly filled with their share of heartwarming, happy-ending tales, and this is because the stories are designed primarily for kids. They are meant to be single issue stories that are less heavy on the blood and violence and more focused on fun stories and squeaky clean morals- in other words, they are there to fill the gap of what comic books once were. Of course, it's hard to do heart-warming without getting overly trite, cliched, and eye-rollingly mundane for the adult customers, which is why when an issue comes out like this - which is smart, clever, and poignant- it should be properly congratulated. J'onn J'onnz has more depth in this issue than in anything I've read in the adult-oriented JLA line and the topic of focusing on acceptance, loneliness, and how we should deal with feeling alienated is a real and apt subject, both for kids and adults. The story is solidly constructed, balancing character development perfectly with plot movement, and the dialogue is sharp and clever. "You're about as scary as O-Town," the young boy proclaims to Screamthief when she threatens to drop him hundreds of feet from the ground; man, talk about a cutdown!
Art - 5: The art here is top notch and serves its purpose perfectly: it stays consistent with the animated style while giving life and fluidity to the story. The character postures are dynamic and flowing and the battle sequences are varied and intriguing. Perspectives are well-used and everything is kept fresh, crisp, and stylized. Superman and J'onn J'onnz are especially well-rendered and the Screamthief looks like she was designed by Bruce Timm himself. Artists Jones and Alamy make a great team and I hope to see more of their work in the near future.
Cover Art - 3: I feel this is the weakest part of the issue by far. It's just a little too typical for an extraordinary issue. I'm sure I've seen this cover a thousand times before (most of them on old Amazing Spiderman issues probably). Each member of the League is well-drawn, but all the faces surrounding J'onn are hideous and somehow all look practically the same.
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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.