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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA-Z #3

JLA-Z #3 (of 3)

Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 5, 2003

Cover date: January 2004

Writer: Mike McAvennie
Penciller: John Byrne, Jim Lee, Jerry Ordway, and Phil Jimenez, etal.
Inker: Tom McCraw (except where noted)

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

Issue 3 of the alphabetical listing of heroes, places, and moments in time relevant to the JLA finally covers Superman. Also covered are the Martian Manhunter, Metron, Mongul, Parademons, Parallax, Phantom Stranger, Plastic Man, Red Tornado, Royal Flush Gang, Snapper Carr, Spectre, Starro, Steel, Teen Titans, Totems of Power, Vandal Savage, Weaponers of Qward, Weapons-Master, Wonder Woman, and Zatanna.

1Story - 1: In my review for the second issue, I said something about screaming loudly if Mxyzptlk and Lex Luthor weren't included in issue 3. They aren't. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Lex Luthor is a principal adversary of the current Justice League and has been since Grant Morrison's "Rock of Ages" storyline. The absence of Superman bad guys when the book covers B-level baddies like the Parademons (who could've been covered in a sentence under Darkseid's listing) and the Weapons-Master is inexcusable. And why is Hal Jordan covered under Green Lantern, Parallax, AND the Spectre, with the latter two both confusingly in this third issue?

The Superman text isn't anything special. In fact, the marketing component of a series like this becomes evident when the text writer makes a point of mentioning "Smallville" in Clark's listing with no mention of Metropolis or Lois Lane. In the 1970's, every Superman story began the same: "Rocketed from the doomed planet Krypton..." In one short paragraph, this introduction was able to mention Superman, Clark, Krypton, Smallville, Metropolis, the Daily Planet, and WGBS. Ultimately, this book's writing is geared toward the Marvel market.

2Art - 2: Of the three issues comprising this miniseries, this issue has the most consistent art; unfortunately, it's consistently poor. Most of the art is abstract and makes no attempt to capture the particular listing's artistic and iconic substance. For instance, the Phantom Stranger looks like a character out of the animated universe as drawn by Chris Jones and Mick Gray, which is completely contrary to his more realistic depiction during the 1970's when he was an active JLA reserve member. Jimenez's Teen Titans page looks like he simply lifted images off of Perez's Titans posters and/or Jimenez's own JLA/Titans crossover of a few years back.

Superman is drawn by Jim Lee and Scott Williams (with color by Alex Sinclair). This is supposed to be a preview of the big changes coming to the Superman books in April 2004 when Lee begins drawing Superman as part of Kal-El's new editorial team. I know Superman, Jim, and that's not him. Take a tip from Christopher Reeve, who downplayed Superman's appearance in favor of letting the costume speak for itself. Artists have been using Superman's flash-red eyes to make Superman look "tougher" for too long and it needs to stop. Superman is not grim and gritty and he shouldn't look that way. Especially when Clark has such nice blue eyes that should be seen.

And it would have been nice to have a full on view of Superman's "S" icon in his listing.

3Cover Art - 3: Ultimately, what is most disappointing about the triptych cover now that issue 3 has been released is what is usually disappointing about "event" covers; it overwhelms the content of the books in terms of quality and disappoints in that scores of heroes on the cover don't appear in the listing. Given that the series is a sister book to JLA/Avengers and largely designed to make the DCU reader-friendly to Marvel zombies, the cover just ends up being confusing. I won't deny it's pretty to look at, but ultimately, it would have made a better poster than a triptych set of covers.

Finally, given that this is the issue in which Superman's biography appears, it's ironic that the purple matte on issue 3 makes Jimenez's Man of Steel barely visible (and his head's cut off by the book logo!).

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2004

February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004

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