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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA #94

JLA #94

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 10, 2004

Cover date: May 2004

Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciller: John Byrne
Inker: Jerry Ordway

The Tenth Circle - Part 1: "Suffer the Little Children"

John-Paul Zito Reviewed by: John-Paul Zito

Manitou searches his new world for the source of a new evil he feels surfacing. Before he can do anything about it, however, he's smothered by rabid mystical bats.

Speaking of bats... In Gotham City Batman helps the police in the investigation of a young girl whose body is found in an alley. She appears to be originally from outside the neighborhood and one of many missing children reported lately, but the first to turn up dead.

Meanwhile in Metropolis Superman is taking a quick sweep through the city when he comes upon a bunch of back alley teenagers freely entering an armored van. He swoops down for a closer look when he's suddenly attacked by a monosyllabic brute in a purple robe named Grunt. They engage in fisticuffs but a young girl, with the power to apparently control minds, stops Superman and turns him into a mindless slave. The children rush onto the van and speed off.

The Flash reports to the Watchtower after investigating a missing girl in Central City but only discovering a strange symbol drawn on a piece of paper. The JLA mobilize and share information.

On an island jail head quarters what appears to be the new (Old?) Doom Patrol bicker about fighting to get into the fray of super heroics involving the missing children but their mysterious wheelchair bound leader forbids them from doing so.

Wonder Woman and J'onn head out to find Manitou in the desert but all that's left of him is his seeing stones. Wonder Woman Snatches them up and returns to the Watch Tower so that the Atom can examine them.

A couple hours outside Metropolis the Armored van pulls up outside a mansion. The children exit along with Superman and are greeted by the Crucifier, a vampire. He's so pleased to see the mindless Superman that he turns Superman into a vampire in order to ensure his eternal servitude.

Later Superman arrives in San Francisco where Faith is going about her daily life. When Superman attacks her she tries to fight back but she's no match for the man of steel. He makes short work of her and returns her to his vampire leader.

To Be Continued...

2Story - 2: This was disappointing. The much anticipated reunion of these creative giants had many fan boys salivating. But instead of the magic these two created in their character driven X-men work from many years ago they fall into the problems so many creators do when handling DC's big guns. They use plot driven stories where the vibrant and wonderful cast are reduced to little more then game pieces moved around a board to simply act out exposition.

In this case the plot of this "plot driven story" is very weak. Missing children, possibly metas, are being abducted by a vampire with an under-cut hair do. On top of that now Superman is his vampiric slave. Not to be a fan-boy myself but Jeph Loeb already covered Superman and Vampires in a very clever issue of Superman a few years ago. In it the vampire is vaporized as soon as he tastes Big Blue's yellow sun powered blood.

Add to this the strange and out of place guest appearance of the Doom Patrol as if they had never met before and you have a pretty shoddy piece of work. I'm confused by this but news that John Byrne has a new Doom Patrol series in the works doesn't surprise me. It sort of cheapens the reunion to know they only got together to promote a new book.

2Art - 2: I must confess I first noticed a decline in John Byrne's work during Spider-Man Chapter One, so long ago. His once realistic style has actually regressed into a inky mid-70's style with very little dynamic about it. There is no bigger fan of John Byrne's Man of Steel mini-series than me. I own several copies all of which have been read so many times they're terribly worn out. But now some 20 years later I find his style bland. Maybe the coloring techniques or the inks are off, but John Byrne's characters don't have the impact they once had.

Now I understand the need for an artist to explore his figures and style. I respect it and in most cases I enjoy seeing the progression of the work. The same situation with Christ Bachelo, where he morphed styles almost over night, was exciting to me as he became more interpretive and experimental. However, what I feel we have here is a style that not only accentuates the banal nature of the story line but is also a regression of sorts for one of my favorite and most beloved Superman artists of all time.

2Cover Art - 2: The comic is about vampires and purple robed runaways. Why aren't they on the cover? Superman being a vampire is a bigger deal than the Man of Steel throwing down with newbie Faith. You'd think it would get more attention on the rack as opposed to Superman's fight with a virtual unknown.

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

January 2004

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