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Mild Mannered Reviews - Justice League Adventures

Justice League Adventures #34

Justice League Adventures #34

Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 4, 2004

Cover date: October 2004

Writer: Stuart Moore
Penciller: Tim Levins
Inker: Mick Gray

"Past Tense"

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

Just after Bruce Wayne's parents have been killed, a female hand reaches through a portal and steals a shell casing (though, in the story, it's said to be a bullet).

And after young Kal-El has arrived on Earth, that same feminine hand reaches through time to tear off part of the rocketship's hull.

The hand belongs to Wonder Woman, who now belongs to a very, very old Lex Luthor. The villain has somehow controlled Diana's mind and is putting together a magical spell that will eliminate the Justice League. Luthor only requires a single artifact from each of the heroes' pasts in order to drain off their life forces and grant that power to a brainwashed Wonder Woman.

When Superman and Batman track down Luthor and Diana, they learn the truth: Luthor has gone back in time to eliminate the heroes; this time he has decided that, instead of science, he will use magic.

But when Wonder Woman attacks the weakened heroes, her willpower overwhelms the spell. Though she attacks Superman by picking him up and throwing him, she hurls him into the magic shrine, thus crippling the effects. The aged Luthor escapes through a time portal just as a younger Luthor, cozy in his prison bed, considers new plans to take out the Justice League.

Later, Superman is surrounded by his friends from the Justice League as he adds a new trophy to his collection - a piece of the rocketship from Krypton.

Meanwhile, Batman's memento is hurled into the depthless abyss of the Batcave. As he puts it, he doesn't need any more reminders.

3Story - 3: Normally, a story like this would warrant a 2. Just on narrative merits alone, it falls short. There are gaping plot holes. For instance, if Luthor can travel through time, why does he choose to attack at a moment when the League is fully formed and operational? Why not take them all out before he lost LexCorp? And if he can send a brainwashed Diana through time, why not have her just reach her hand through a portal and snap Bruce's and Clark's necks? And if he can drain the life forces of the League members, why take the chance of granting them to Diana when he could just give them to himself? I could go on and on, but the story isn't the strong selling point for this issue. Rather, it's the dialogue and the interaction between Batman and Superman that's considerably well-done. From a structural point of view, the only thing that works is the framing of the two characters at the beginning and end of the story. It's especially effective in cutting to the core of these characters and revealing their fundamental differences.

4Art - 4: It's a nice looking book. Levins and Gray make a good team. While there aren't many opportunities for gorgeous action spreads, the layouts have strong and coherent storytelling. The old Lex Luthor looks really creepy, and Superman and Batman are really flip sides of a coin in posture, reactions, and positioning on the page. Solid artwork like this strengthens a feeble narrative and adds that extra zing to good dialogue.

3Cover Art - 3: Not good, not bad. Absolutely middle-of-the-road. Very ordinary and simple looking but not ugly. Can I say "mediocre" any other way?

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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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