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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA #98

JLA #98

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 12, 2004

Cover date: July 2004

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

The Tenth Circle - Part 5: "Convergence"

John-Paul Zito Reviewed by: John-Paul Zito

This issue picks up just before the end of the last one when the JLA rush to the secret headquarters of the New Doom Patrol. There they meet up with Nudge and Grunt before infiltrating the control room for the super hero headquarters. Once they arrive they make quick work of the introductions and pool information.

Meanwhile the Crucifer continues to enslave the small town and absorb the essence of its inhabitants. He channels that same essence into the mysterious demons that seem to be bank rolling his evil plans so that they may become corporeal.

The JLA and Doom Patrol team up now to rescue the Atom from within Manitou's seer stone. Elasti-Girl shrinks herself down and enters the stone where she finds Atom and the strange antibody peoples who live inside the pocket dimension within the stone. Atom leads her to the tabernacle that conceals the hidden glowing object that seems to shock everyone who sees it. Apparently the Crucifer has used this pocket dimension to transport from place to place and the contents of the tabernacle may have been left behind by him.

Now that the whole town has been enslaved and their essence is being channeled into Crucifer's demon master there seems to be no hope. It would appear as though the Crucifer has won. But just when everything seems lost, the JLA and the Doom Patrol arrive to save the day.

To Be Continued...

1Story - 1: This issues is trying to build up to a grand climactic team up between two super-teams. Fair enough, many a blockbuster comics have come from team-ups and crossovers. Series like Superman/Batman are predicated on that whole premise. However, the revamped/clean slate origin applied to the Doom Patrol, the lack of the big guns on the JLA's end, and additions of undeveloped and uninteresting characters like Grunt or the Crucifer kill the hype. Instead of a bombastic surge of things to come when the cliffhanger arrives, I can barely muster a shrug.

While I have the opportunity I figure I might as well comment on this "new" Doom Patrol. I'm not much of a continuity nut. I like the very "bare bones" idea of continuity in my stories. Superman is a strange visitor from another world, disguised as Clark Kent he works as a reporter for the Daily Planet using both idenities to fight for truth, justice and the American way. Bam. There it is, that's all the continuity anyone should need to know to read/enjoy a Superman story. However, I understand the need to have everything you know about a character add up into a nice linear history. As a customer who spends $2.50 a month on your comic you want acknowledgement of the history you've invested in. At the same time a hundred writers have all put their personal stamp on your favorite character and sometimes those interpretations are in conflict. This obtrusive history makes marketing the comic to new readers difficult who find it too daunting to jump on board. And this is where the nessessary evil of revamps arrives in the equation.

I don't particularly enjoy revamps either. They just build more dated continuity on top of old dated continuity. The 1986 Superman revamp was great for 1986, and the 2004 reimagining is great for 2004. But eventually it'll be 2020 and the automated helicopters, laptops, and fashion styles depicted in Birthright will appear ancient to new readers and someone will have to come along and revamp the origin once more. Little nuances will change and maybe Clark's relationship with Krypton will be a little different than it is now. None of this will matter, or should matter, to the loyal reader more interested in "what will happen next?" as opposed to "what happened before?" If every issue of Superman opened with that minimalist continuity recap I mentioned above then we wouldn't need to keep revisiting the details of his origin so a new artist can update the look of the Space Ship Constitution (which was dated before it was ever in print).

This continuity obsession over retelling origins has resulted in sloppy revamps like this Doom Patrol fiasco. Here we have the reintroduction of already established characters that have affected widespread DC continuity for many years. Their sudden wipe and rebirth here angers the die-hard continuity contingent and bores the rest of us who already know who they are and could care less to see their origins retold. Byrne hopes that by adding new characters like the psychic girl and the four armed gorilla, interest in these character's will be reinvigorated and spark sales when the ongoing series premieres. However, the new characters don't fit the "survivors" style origins that the rest of the team shares and unites them. Now when all this is over we'll have more muddled continuity that'll make it that much harder to sell a Doom Patrol series after Byrne's fails in the coming month. This revamp will be ignored or re-re-vamped. In this case the continuity contingent and the Moderates are united in their anger for having their time and money wasted on a bad story.

I think I speak for everyone when I say I would be more inclined to buy a Doom Patrol series that began its first issue "Outcasts, loners, shunned by society because of their freakish abilities Robot Man, Negative Man & Elasti-Girl unite under the guidance of The Chief to fight for a world they are forever estranged from!" Bam. All the continuity you need. No one needs to worry about tying up loose ends from Grant Morrison's series, or their origional series in which they all died in 1968, or whatever else happened between now and then. Instead the Doom Patrol repeat in JLA, a six issue arc that won't count for anything because it hinges on an unimaginitive, unnessesary revamp that'll have to be discounted next time they decide to revamp Doom Patrol.

1Art - 1: I honestly can't say anything new about Byrne's art. The colors are still flat, the poses are sloppy, and now the pacing of the pages seems off too.

2Cover Art - 2: The cover is alright. I'm biased against it cause that silly looking monkey is on there. Look I'm all for crazy monkey characters in comics, and if you're gonna give them four arms I say more power to you. But it just feels so out of place on this team I'm resentful towards him. If nothing else I will never forgive John Byrne for making me hate a monkey comic book character.

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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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