Buy Now!

Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League of America #35

Justice League of America #35

Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 29, 2009

Cover date: September 2009

"Royal Pain!" - Chapter One: "Luck of the Draw!"

Writer: Len Wein
Penciller: Tom Derenick and Pow Rodrix
Inker: Marlo Alquiza, Rob Hunter, Walden Wong and Dan Green

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

The Royal Flush Gang attacks the Startopia Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and after taking out the casino's security force they hold the occupants hostage. Firestorm and Vixen are on the Watchtower when the news report comes through of the siege. They send out a call to the remaining members of the League and head to Vegas where they are joined by Dr. Light, Red Tornado and Plastic Man. After a minor tiff between Dr. Light and Plastic Man the Royal Flush Gang finally reveals their demands. Unless every casino on the strip pays them twenty-five million dollars they will start killing hostages. The League storms in and the battle begins. At one point the Red Tornado flies too close to a the giant pile of money that was on display for a poker tournament. His abilities cause the bills to fly apart and in the chaos the Gang manages to escape.

Afterward the League discuss what to do next. At the same time one of the hostages meets with King and delivers the proprietary nanotech the casino had been using on their slots and other machines to increase the odds of small wins while decreasing the chance of big wins, which had been the true purpose of the so-called hostage situation. King tells the young woman that Wild Card, their boss, will be pleased and that she has received a promotion from a Five to a Six. King informs Wild Card that they have the tech and Wild Card is revealed to be Professor Amos Fortune, who is playing a game with Roulette. Roulette is upset with the cards she has been dealt as her side in the fracas was the Justice League but Amos dismisses her concerns and suggests that they let their little game truly begin.

4Story - 4: Overall I liked this issue. "Royal Pain!" had enough twists and turns in its first chapter to let it transcend the place holding card style story that normally gets put into books between regimes and a lot of that had to do with Len Wein's writing. I have expressed my opinion of Len's writing in past interviews and he continued to impress me with this issue. He has an ability to work within the current writing style while retaining the feeling of the stories he wrote twenty to thirty years ago.

The story opened quietly but almost immediately the action kicks in and we are treated to a really solid fight scene between the Royal Flush Gang and the security at the Startopia Casino. This is followed by another quiet scene between Vixen and Firestorm where they discuss the current state of the League and we get to see how much the League means to Vixen and how even though they have been through some tough times the team always endures. It was this mix of action and character, which continued through the issue that made the story so enjoyable.

I was particularly impressed with the exchange between Dr. Light and Plastic Man. Wein has a good handle on Dr. Light and even though she grates on me as a character I like it because that is what she is supposed to do. She's the brash, somewhat overbearing one that gets on people's nerves but is good at what she does and is just like that. Plastic Man was the real surprise here. While his entrance was kind of...well I didn't care for the whole pretending to be Batman thing but while I disliked that I did enjoy him stepping up and reminding her and the rest of the team the sum total of his contributions to the League. The great part was that Dr. Light didn't back down. It was tense and well written and the highlight of the issue, punctuated by Vixen's response to the argument.

The new take on the Royal Flush Gang was another highlight. I liked that the team that attacked the Startopia was just one contingent of the Gang and that there was an organized structure to the group that in my experience was not there before. The fact that the Five was promoted at the end to a Six accentuated this feeling. The ending, where we find out the main villains are Amos Fortune and Roulette also piqued my interest and left me wanting more. Even though I was sure something was up beyond a simple hostage scheme I was still surprised by the big reveal at the end. Having a traditional League villain with a relative newcomer "team up" was a great way to end this first chapter left me wanting more.

So this was a great beginning to what will hopefully be an entertaining and engaging story. I am looking forward to what else Len has in store. This story is further proof that the League doesn't need to be composed of the magnificent seven for me to enjoy the book.

4Art - 4: Normally a team of inkers makes for uneven art, but that wasn't the case in this story. Tom Derenick and Pow Rodrix had a dynamic style and produced some really great page layouts and while the inkers weren't 100% on model throughout the issue it was consistent enough for me. My all time favorite shot was the expression on Vixen's face after the argument between Dr. Light and Plastic Man. She has this look of utter contempt and frustration and it really sold the scene.

4Cover Art - 4: The only part of this cover I really don't care for is the fact that they had the whole Batman shadow thing going on. It is obviously not Batman, especially with the goggles, but it put me off a little. Still it was a rather dynamic cover and I really like the way the Royal Flush Gang looks so there isn't too much to complain about.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2009

February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009

Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.

Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2009.