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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA #91

JLA #91

Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 24, 2003

Cover date: February 2004

Writer: Denny O'Neil
Penciller: Tan Eng Haut
Inker: Tan Eng Haut

Extinction Part 1: "The Coming"

John-Paul Zito Reviewed by: John-Paul Zito

Plastic Man is alone on monitor duty when the watchtower finds itself caught in the middle of some temporal space storm. The outer hull of the watchtower breaks apart and despite Plastic Man's distress message help is late in arriving. Plastic Man uses his own body to seal up the breaches until the rest of his team can arrive.

Just as the Superman, Jon Stewart, Wonder Woman and the Atom arrive at the Watchtower to lend a hand the storm clears up. Suddenly a rift in space opens up and an organic space craft passes through into our galaxy. Superman and Jon Stewart venture out to make physical contact with the ship. Before they can, however, the ship lashes out and attacks them. Despite the space craft's powerful weapons the two heroes manage to make their way into the ship's interior.

Once there they discover the craft's sole occupant, a lonely chimp. No ordinary chimp though, this one can speak and even shape shift. The chimp alters its form to a composite of Superman and Jon's features and identifies himself as Peppy. Peppy is on a mission to observe the progress of a particular earth monkey known as the silver mask.

After an apology on the accidental attack and the space storm caused by his transportation to our galaxy the JLA are only too happy to help Peppy find his monkey. Unfortunately the Silver Masks are very rare and endangered but Batman locates a possible habitat in South America where there still might be some. Unfortunately this habitat is under demolition and has already been 99% leveled at the expense of all the silver masks save one which Superman locates with his X-ray vision. But just as he's about to rescue the helpless creature the final blast goes off killing it.

Superman returns to Peppy empty handed and with the sad news that the silver mask may forever be extinct. Peppy is enraged, he shape shifts once more to his chimp-like state and grows three times bigger than Superman and ready to do battle!

To be continued...

3Story - 3: This is the start of the rotating creative teams on the JLA and rather then weigh in on the new format I figure it best to just judge each arc as it comes. So here goes...

Denny has crafted a fun 20-plus pages of JLA that has a distinctive silver age feel to it. Like a big budget action flick there's action every few beats to keep the audience locked in. Add to that a friendly space invader without all the modern day sci-fi jargon and you have yourself a pretty good comic full of excellent characterization and spot on dialogue.

However, I'm not really sure where the story is going right now. We aren't told much about what the significance of the silver masks are, or why they are important to Peppy and why their extinction is so detrimental other then for the obvious. As a result the silver mask's death at the end of the issue isn't as stunning as it could be.

I don't particularly like the narrative captions either. Maybe that's a little subjective to be grading on but in the last few years the narrative captions have slowly faded away in favor of a more cinematic style of letting the art move the story along in the transition moments. This isn't true for everyone, of course, Claremont still uses them to enticing effect. Unfortunately its sparse usage here drew me out of the story.

But like I've said before the first issue in JLA arcs are always a rough start because of their over-the-top-adventure nature.

4Art - 4: I really enjoy Tan's style. Just the form of his pencil work is so interesting to me. I love the flat nature of the boots and the exaggerated foreshortening. His frantic Plastic Man was a treat and set a wonderful pace for the rest of the issue. He has a great eye for knowing just when to remain as minimalist or as detailed as needed. I know the style might throw some off but its an interesting departure from what we normally get on this book.

Although the transitions were a little off. Sometimes a scene would end on a page and he would start the next scene with space for only one panel remaining on the page. This made for some awkward progressions but I'm not sure if that was really Tan's fault or Denny's so I won't harp on it.

3Cover Art - 3: It's a bit funny, seeing the JLA cautious of an otherwise harmless monkey. But there's no power, no punch to it. While the average and even occasional JLA reader might find it to be a job well done (as I do) the cover doesn't catch the eye of any novice browsing the racks. And with a new creative team on the book, who clearly have a pre-existing fan base of their own, it might have been a better idea to make this more fetching.

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

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