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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League Elite #11

Justice League Elite #11

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 4, 2005

Cover date: July 2005

Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Tom Nguyen

"Eve of Destruction" - Part 2

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

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Manchester Black discusses with Eve his belief that man is, at heart, a damaged and broken species that would use any excuse to partake in their baser instincts as the Justice League rushes to the chaos that is London. Superman believes that since the worlogog responds to the will of the person wielding it that all they need to do is take down Manchester for it to be over. J'onn informs the Flash that Green Arrow is on "the line" and wants to be teleported to London to give them a hand. The Flash refuses to speak with him and due to the Flash's opinion of what Oliver did he tells J'onn to advise Green Arrow that he has done enough.

Elsewhere Green Arrow throws down his communicator shouting that Superman is too emotionally involved and begs J'onn not to shut him out. In her headquarters Batgirl clutches a note from Batman that reads that she should stay away from London as she watches news footage of that city burning.

In Seattle, Washington, Booker deals with the news from London by punching a mirror in a diner where he was having coffee with a friend from his AA meeting.

At the Pentagon, Al-Sheikh briefs members of the military on Vera Black's weakness, which is a kill code that is Kasparov encrypted based on Earth telemetry. He explains that it is fired on a microwave burst and will shut down every piece of circuitry in her body, including life support. As one of the generals gets patched through to SATCOM Al-Sheikh, in his own language, pleads with God to not have to do what he has been asked to.

Meanwhile, at The Factory, Manitou informs his wife that he never meant for her transformation to be painful, but they are out of time. Dawn hovers over the ground holding Manitou's Medicine Stick as energy swirls around her. Manitou explains that the world is about to be cleaved in half and since they are the ones who set the storm in motion they are the ones who must restore the balance. Dawn asks what is happening to her since she is literally feeling everything. Manitou replies that she has set foot on the Stony Path and she is simultaneously cursed and blessed as she becomes one with the medicine of the world.

Dawn cries out that she can't stand the weight of it. Manitou insists that she will and must bear it. Dawn begs him to make it stop and apologizes for everything she did to him. Manitou tells her that he knows she is, but it doesn't matter. He explains that fate is the river, but their hearts steer the canoe and those hearts, broken as they are, have brought us to this moment.

In London, Superman goes on the offensive, much to the surprise of the Justice League. Manchester stands on the toilet he had been sitting on waiting for Superman to collide with him. The explosion is massive and it appears that in the wake of the explosion a large group of people died. Superman immediately begins to feel remorse and insists that he didn't see the civilians.

Meanwhile, Manitou contacts the rest of the Elite through the spirit world. He tells them that it was the weakness of their "tribe" that has spawned a great evil and only they, who walk in the shadow, have any hope of undoing it. He explains that Vera Black is sick and that she is not really Manchester Black. Manchester is an aspect of her mind that has been given life and armed with the worlogog her sickness knows no limits and projects foulness that infect all within reach. After his death, Manitou has been able to understand what has occurred but cannot affect them alone. He knows that the Justice League will fail, but if they act together they may be able to seal the gulf. He tells them that perfection will not win the day and that only humanity will bring dawn to the darkness.

The Justice League continues their battle with Eve and Manchester as Manitou attempts to contact Vera. He tries to lead her to the light, but the Manchester aspect of her mind fights back.

At the Slab Batgirl, in her Kasumi persona breaks Coldcast out of his cell. Before they leave Coldcast vomits and a large number of Menagerie's bug come out of his mouth. Suddenly, Coldcast remembers Menagerie inserting some of her bugs into his ear and telling him to kill the President of Changsha. Batgirl quickly breaks him out of his trance and the two leave.

In London the Justice League fall prey to Manchester's influence of despair. Batman figures this out and knows that Manchester is fighting them with the worst of themselves. Manchester agrees, but adds that it could be that this is who they really are when the capes and fancy pants are taken away, except for Batman, who seems immune. Batman tells him that he has been through despair Manchester couldn't begin to fathom. Again, Manchester agrees and threatens him with his morphing cybernetic arm.

From behind Dawn calls out Vera's name and orders her to stop what she is doing. Vera, as Manchester, gives them one chance to leave, but Green Arrow, Coldcast, Dawn and Batgirl stand their ground. Manchester mocks the group and announces the sins they have committed before briefly assuming the form of Vera. Manchester thinks of the group as one big family and shouts long live the Elite before atomizing Batman before their eyes.

3Story - 3: What does it mean when at the end of an issue Batman is vaporized?

It means that next issue most of everything that happened this issue will be undone, that's what.

Okay, lousy joke, but it was my first instinct after reading the end of this issue. Now I present the commentary portion of our review.

I came to the conclusion about halfway through this issue that twelve issues is a long time to make one single point.

Don't get me wrong, I have grown rather fond of this book as it has progressed. I still hold to the theory that Joe Kelly has created and developed some very solid characters. Coldcast, Vera and Al-Sheikh were my three favorites, but the rest of the team grew on me as well. I even started digging the concept and thought that maybe Kelly had cracked the code on how to make a dark hero team book work in the DC Universe.

But there's enjoying a book because of the trappings and then there's ignoring a revelation that pretty much flies in the face of what you like about comics and what you know about certain characters.

A few years back I was talking with one of the guys at the main comic shop I frequent about the DOOMSDAY: HUNTER/PREY prestige format series from 1994. The guy made the point that one of the flaws of HUNTER/PREY was that Doomsday took down Darkseid so easily. His point was that it was a cop out for writers to have a new character take down one of the biggest, most powerful villains just to prove that the new character is one tough customer. At first I disagreed. Not that I am the biggest fan of HUNTER/PREY, but I thought the Darkseid beat down worked within the context of the story.

Then I got to thinking about it and I realized that, for the most part, he was right. It was a cop out, to a certain extent and I believe that is what Joe Kelly has done here.

The Elite had probably one of the best launches of any Justice League spin-off. JLA #100 was given a lot of ink in DC's house ads as was the first issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE ELITE. So it seems kind of disingenuous to me that Joe Kelly would use JLA as a jumping off point and then to make them look bad to make his new team look good. Throughout the series the Justice League has been portrayed as the angry big brother who keeps watching and waiting in anticipation of the little brother to screw up. They, as a team, are made to look bad or wrong so that the Elite can look good or right.

I don't think Kelly is trying to say that the old Justice League is outdated, but he crafted a story where the only way to solve the problem at hand is to have the rough and ready version of the League be the world's only hope.

Manitou says it all, "The Justice League will fail against the cancer in Vera's soul... but we... broken soldiers... we may seal the gulf if we stand together as one. Whole. Please. Believe. Perfection will not win this day. Only humanity. Imperfect. Beautiful. To darkness... bring dawn." That bit of dialogue suggests to me that Joe Kelly needs to sacrifice the dignity of the Justice League of America to make the Elite look good.

Now some of you reading this may think that I am being something of a fanboy with this opinion and I can see where it might be a little extreme, but DC and a host of writers over the past four decades have done their best to make sure that any incarnation of the Justice League is the best of the best and that they can handle just about any problem. Even the current situation with the revelation of Batman and J'onn's mind wipe, which is going to put the League through its paces, will end with the group coming together to take care of whatever needs taking care of.

So, yeah, I have a problem with the concept that someone like Manchester Black (or Vera Black as Manchester Black) and the worlogog is something the League would have a problem dealing with, but the Elite can because they are not the perfect, I guess white bread team. They have faced worse in the past and come through so it really stretches the required level of willing suspension of disbelief that they couldn't win out here.

Then there is my problem with how Kelly has treated the characters that I thought were highlights of the series. I didn't really like the concept of Coldcast being the killer on the team, but I accepted it because, in a weird way, it made sense. Coldcast, to me, was a character that did what he felt was right by his own code of conduct, so it worked that he would kill a despot. To have him controlled by another characters makes for a great reveal in terms of story, but takes away a lot of the ground that has been developed for the character.

The same with Vera Black. I would have accepted Manchester coming back from the dead and taking over Vera because Manchester was a very strong character and I liked the thought of the two of them fighting in her mindscape and when Vera eventually won it would have made her a stronger character. Having her suffer from a multiple personality disorder, while interesting in a way, doesn't work for me. It's not that I don't think people who go through something like that are "weaker" and it is very dramatic to have someone overcome that type of adversity, but it doesn't sit well with me as far as Vera is concerned.

Despite all of that, I did enjoy this issue. As much as I disagree with what Joe Kelly has done he has done it well and the writing was still up to par with the last few issue. I will wait until the last issue before handing down my final verdict. Until then, the jury is out and costing the tax payers a whole heck of a lot of money to feed and keep sequestered.

4Art - 4: Despite a weak opening the art improved over the course of the issue. For someone who disliked Mahnke and Nguyen's art to begin with I'm surprised at how much I have enjoyed their work, especially on BATMAN, where, as mentioned last review, they have surpassed anything they have done in the past.

I thought the shot of the Justice League on page three was their weakest bit of art from this issue. They didn't look as good as they have in the past few issues. More detail was put into Manchester Black and Eve on page four, but maybe this had more to their emphasis wanting to be on Manchester and the Elite rather than the League. Before the League was drawn dynamically, but it seemed to serve a purpose. I don't know if the softer approach was intentional, but that's the way I saw it.

After the first few pages the art really begins to take off. Some highlights include:

The Booker sequences. Quiet, but they worked. It really served to illustrate his desire to get his life together while wanting to help his teammates.

The Dawn and Manitou sequence beginning on eight and nine and the Manitou spirit image on page twelve were great as well.

Page nineteen was a wonderful splash page. I'd pay money for the original art, no joke.

Overall a good issue, art wise. I am looking forward to the art in the final issue.

4Cover Art - 4: This wasn't a bad cover. I liked it. The image of Dawn rising in the flames behind Eve was strong and the foreground image of the Justice League after getting the end all, be all of smack downs was interesting. This wasn't the best cover of the series, but not the worst either.

This cover gets a eight out of ten on the 2005 Edition of the Grab Me Meter.


Mild Mannered Reviews

2005

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

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