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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

JLA: Classified #27

JLA: Classified #27

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 13, 2006

Cover date: November 2006

Writter: Howard Chaykin
Penciller: Kilian Plunkett
Inker: Tom Nguyen

"Secret History... Sacred Trust" - Part 2 (of 6)

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Footage of the Justice League standing by its vow to not interfere with the metahuman development in the countries of Santa Bertriza and Del Canto plays on several news broadcasts and stations across the country and world. The truth of the matter is that the only two Leaguers that are actually dealing with the various disasters are Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter, who is using his shape changing abilities to mimic the members that have secretly infiltrated the two countries. Aquaman is not thrilled with the idea and while the Manhunter understands he is also convinced that this is the only way to curb the potential atrocities being committed.

The rest of the League makes use of their real identities to infiltrate the higher echelons of Santa Bertriza and Del Canto. Bruce Wayne meets with the President of Santa Bertriza to discuss business. Clark Kent interviews President Blasco of Del Canto for the Daily Planet. Kyle Rayner snoops around a science fiction convention. Wonder Woman assumes the guise of a wealthy woman who wishes to spend enough money to double Del Canto's gross national product. Wally West's end of the operation is a little less exciting as he visits a Patty on a Bun. Bruce and Clark get the most intelligence as they overhear both Presidents discussing an altercation between two metahumans at the border of both countries.

Later Wally meets with Faith at that same border. Metahuman operatives from Del Canto spot them and mistake them for their counterparts in Santa Bertiza. They open fire and draw out the actual operatives from Santa Bertiza and a full scale battle erupts. From a distance Wally and Faith watch the war begin and contact the Martian Manhunter to inform him that they have a problem.

5Story - 5: This was another well written issue. Chaykin displays his talents as a writer and storyteller by recapping the events of the previous issue without bringing the story to a complete halt. Sure the use of news reports to shape the exposition is not exactly new but at the same time it is a decent tool and given the fact that CNN, FOX NEWS, MSNBC and other such channel's round the clock reporting I would go so far as to say that it adds a bit of realism to the overall story.

Howard Chaykin did two other things that I thought were rather impressive the first of which was having the Martian Manhunter impersonate the other members of the JLA to show that they are abiding by the United Nations Security Council decision. This was a good use of J'onn's abilities and was rather sneaky as well. These scenes also show how dedicated Aquaman is to his teammates by participating in the ruse while not entirely agreeing with it.

Of course it brings up how scary powerful J'onn really is, but that isn't something that most writers either think of or want to deal with. I mean this guy can not only look like Superman but also is just as powerful and has the added abilities of a shape shifter and telepath. I honestly don't blame writers who just don't want to deal with him on that level.

The second impressive act of the issue was Chaykin's use of the League's secret identities. This isn't something that JLA writers of the past ten years or so have played with. Sure Mark Waid did a neat little story and occasionally J'onn would impersonate Clark Kent during a League press conference but otherwise the stories revolve around the heroes in their costumes. There's nothing wrong with this but the fact that Chaykin decided to bring in Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne and whoever the heck Wonder Woman was pretending to be sets this story apart from the last few arcs that have we've been given. Chaykin obviously put some thought into who would go where, though some were more exciting than others. Clark is a reporter, so obviously he can get access to the President of Del Canto. Bruce Wayne is an internationally known business and social figure, so even if all he wanted to do was drop a huge amount of cash playing golf and entertaining local women he would still be allowed to see the President of Santa Bertriza. Wally and Kyle kind of got the short end of the stick with eating at a fast food restaurant and attending a convention respectively. They may not have gotten the juicy intelligence that Bruce and Clark did but at the same time it showed some local color so it was well worth it.

The ending of this issue took the story into a direction that I really didn't see coming. I mean it looks like Faith and Wally set off a serious international incident. It wasn't their fault, mind you, because tensions were already high, but the fact is they were there on a secret mission and ended up starting what could erupt into a full blown war. That's not something that I usually expect from a JLA story, which further separates this arc from the last few. Chaykin is dealing with some interesting themes and while there are super-heroes involved it is hard to miss the connection between this story and current events, especially in the Middle East. I'd even say that you could go back a decade or so and compare the United States' actions in certain South American countries, and the events in this story. Again, I really don't want to get too deep into that type of analysis. Not only would it take way too long to do the research to get my facts and opinions right but I don't believe that a comic book review is the proper venue for political editorializing.

4Art - 4: The art was really solid in this issue. Tom Nguyen's inks continue to set the tone, which isn't a bad thing and reminds me of the excellent work he and Doug Mahnke did on Justice League Elite. The style that the combination of Plunkett and Nguyen's (not to be confused with the film Plunkett and Macleane) art produces has a rough quality to it that suits what is going on. It has a natural feel to it as well and the scenes with Bruce and Clark and the others work just as well as the scenes with J'onn and Aquaman. At the same time they also produced some stunning images of Superman and company in costume as well even if it was really J'onn. This has been one of the first arcs in quite some time where the art and writing have come together so well and I hope this continues to be the case as the story continues.

5Cover Art - 5: This is a fantastic cover. The split screen effect is wonderful and it actually has something to do with what is going on inside the book, which to me is always a plus. The only thing I don't like is the figure of Aquaman swimming in the background, but that is such a minor problem that it didn't have an impact on my enjoyment or the overall rating.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

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