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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA: Another Nail #3

Justice League of America: Another Nail #3

Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 28, 2004

Cover date: September 2004

Writter: Alan Davis
Penciller: Alan Davis
Inker: Mark Farmer

Part Three of Three

Michael (George) O'Connor Reviewed by: Michael O'Connor

The unmentionable has hit the fan.

Time and space are spiraling out of control.

And our heroes are deep in the middle of it.

Batman and Batwoman contend with a reborn Joker who possesses all the powers of a demon from Hell. For once, the Clown Prince of Crime has the physical advantage over his mortal foe, changing his body into whatever weapon he can imagine and utilizing the full power of the darkest underworld to bludgeon the Caped Crusader.

Wonder Woman and Aquaman battle off dinosaurs and sea monsters even as the odds stack against them. Fortunately for the two heroes, the Legion of Superheroes show up with their time machine and rescue the Amazon and Atlantian. Ultra explains that the time stream has become so sensitive that when the Legion tried reaching Wonder Woman's and Aquaman's present, they were thrust, along with the two heroes, into the past.

Eclipso prepares to use Lois Lane and Ma and Pa Kent as hostages against Superman. But Lois decides she's had enough. A judo throw and a shovel blow later and Eclipso is being hogtied as Superman watches in utter astonishment.

The Doom Patrol happens upon the base of Star Sapphire, Black Orchid, and Power Girl and, with Green Lantern as back-up, put up a pretty good fight until Black Canary announces her arrival with a kick that sends GL reeling.

On an alternate earth, the Crime Syndicate press the Flash and Atom for answers as to what's happening to the time stream. When the storm outside blows open the windows of the headquarters, the resulting debris frees the Atom from Power Ring's prison. Quickly freeing the Flash, the two heroes take off, Barry Allen using his speed to carry him through different dimensions and times that are quickly closing and merging into one.

As the realities combine and coalesce, the Justice League (comprised of J'onn J'onnz, Firestorm, Halo, and Astral Mage) run into Hawkgirl and Zatanna. The heroes meet as chaos erupts around them and scratch their heads as to what they can do about it. But then Barda and Scott Free arrive with the answer.

Are you ready for this?

Okay. So what looks like a giant space worm is absorbing all the energies from the dimensional planes, which, in cause, has been drawing them together and breaking the bonds between different times and spaces. Unknown to the parasite, it will end up destroying the universe if it is not stopped.

Darkseid, of course, saw all this coming a long time ago, which is why he built a "doomsday device" that would destroy the amoeba... of course, his version would have also destroyed most of everything else and left him with the power of a God.

With some minor New Genesis tweaking, the doomsday device has been altered just enough so that it will only destroy the space worm... but first, they need "The One" that Darkseid was looking for - a being powerful enough to enter the creature and set off the bomb.

So, The One is Superman, right? Nope. Supes gives it a shot, but even he's not mighty enough.

No, the only man fit for the job isn't really a man at all. It's Amazo.

But let's step back a few moments in time... Green Lantern is fighting with Black Canary when she reveals the plan set in motion by the Phantom Stranger. Choosing a dying Oliver Queen as a subject, the Stranger convinced Canary to gather Star Sapphire, Black Orchid, and Power Girl to kidnap Amazo and the Doom Patrol's Dr. Caulder. Using Queen's brain to power the android, Amazo would become a vessel for immense power.

Now, Amazo Arrow arrives at the scene of the storm and, absorbing all the power of every superhero around him, leaps into the beast's gullet with the bomb.

As the creature explodes, the energy it has siphoned off returns to where it belongs, reinforcing the foundations of the universe and setting things right again. In fact, just as the Joker is about to pull Batman into a final hell, he is whisked away by a bright light and returned to the realm of the dead while a ghostly specter in the form of Robin offers Batman a hand that restores him to his place among the living.

With the conflicts resolved, and Batman's own demons banished to Hell (both figuratively and actually), the Dark Knight decides it's time to come back into the light and rejoin the Justice League. His proclamation is greeted with joy as the heroes of the DCU gather together for the next new journey... the next new adventure.

3Story - 3: From Davis' stint on the last Nail series, I had a sneaking suspicion that the end of this series would be similarly anticlimactic.

And it was.

While Davis is terrific at taking all the toys out of the box, creating an ambient mood for mystery, action, and suspense, and developing cherished characters by taking them in radically different directions, the truth is that in both Nail and Another Nail, he's given us endings which feel hurried, convenient, and a bit too pat.

The resulting sensation is akin to watching a movie that's tremendous until the last thirty minutes. At that point, the story is suddenly manhandling cliches to get characters out of corners that it boxed them into and you're realizing that what you thought was the focus of the movie actually had nothing to do with it.

In the latter case, let's speak briefly about Superman (since this *is* the Superman Homepage). The Man of Steel turns out to be a dud. A complete red herring. Not only is he not "The One," but he really serves no purpose in the story. In fact, if you took him out, nothing would have turned out differently. Big Blue briefly loses his powers, does some soul searching in Kansas, gets in the way as Lois beats the crap out of Eclipso, and fails to take out the killer amoeba. For a sequel to the series that argued that the DCU would be a total wreck without Superman, this story didn't do a very good job of reinforcing its predecessor.

Rather, it serves up a bland aftertaste to what could have been a great meal. In closing, I won't harp on the plot holes about the energy absorbing amoeba except to make these two points: 1) how would such a creature come to be? And 2) why wouldn't it have torn apart reality a long time ago?

Instead, I'll point out that as this was an Elseworld's tale, Davis had the opportunity to end the series anyway he liked, and I would have been all for something a little darker, a little more unresolved, and a little less reliant on a space amoeba tearing apart the universe. In the end, it came down to the same thing that all these end-of-the-world stories come down to - the noble hero who takes one for the team by jumping into the creature's mouth and delivering the coup de grace.

And that old shtick just bores me now.

5Art - 5: But the art? Who could get bored of Davis' art? It continues to amaze. Just check out that two page spread where all the universes have coalesced into one (you know the one I'm talking about)... Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I've covered the bases before on my love of Davis' half-cartoony, half-realistic rendering, so you already know that for my money at least, you can't do much better than Davis on pencils and Mark Farmer on inks. It's solid, strong, seductive work and it's probably the best of Davis' career. In fact, it's so good that it doesn't really matter that the issue's plot is subpar. I'd recommend this series to anyone solely on the merits of the art, and for a guy who constantly argues that the comic book's story is more important than its art, that's saying something.

5Cover Art - 5: Great cover! Eye popping, unsettling, and unusual. Much better than the previous two covers, which were much more conventional.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2004

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