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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League of America #36

Justice League of America #36

Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 19, 2009

Cover date: October 2009

"Royal Pain!" - Chapter Two: "Shuffle Up and Die!"

Writer: Len Wein
Penciller: Tom Derenick
Inker: Mario Alquiza, Dan Green and Walden Wong

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

The Royal Flush Gang attacks a Diamond Exhibition in Midway City only to meet resistance in the form of the Justice League. Wonder Woman arrives to help and when she tries to use her lasso to get some intelligence on the Gang's recent activities the lower level Gang members all die from an electrical charge that was engaged when they started to talk.

Somewhere on the Mississippi River Roulette and Amos Fortune discuss this recent event before Amos tells his "partner" about how the Royal Flush Gang was formed.

Back in the Watchtower Wonder Woman and Vixen discuss recent events when an alert is sounded. The Royal Flush Gang is attacking on a number of fronts and after Vixen splits the group into smaller teams the heroes rush into action.

4Story - 4: I'm giving this a four because taken as a whole the second chapter of "Royal Pain" had some really neat moments. In fact the only problem I had was the flashback but I will get to that in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

What made this issue so enjoyable was taking in the new version of the Royal Flush Gang. Wein has elevated them from standard Justice League enemy to a force of criminal nature. I really enjoyed the opening scene because of that, especially since we got to see the grunts of the organization in action. It was also a rather solid action scene though the banter was spotty. I understand that Vixen wants to keep the team together, but that's all her character seems concerned with. I'm not complaining, mind you. It's just a thought that popped into my head while reading the issue.

Wonder Woman showing up was a definite plus as well and I thought her presence brought some weight to the overall theme of is the Justice League the true Justice League without the big seven in it? Her scene with Vixen at the end served that theme well before the news came in about the R.F.G.'s latest attack and interrupted them.

The main problem with this issue (though problem might be too strong of a word) was the flashback to the updated origin of the R.F.G. The scene itself was fine. I liked it a lot actually. There was a lot of depth in the characterization and as a guy that spent his teenaged (and adult) years on the chunky side I could definitely relate to what Amos went through. The thing is the scene brought the issue to a screeching halt in terms of pacing. Wein even hints at this with Roulette's line about the fact that none of Amos' flashback was getting the job done.

Other than that I liked this chapter of "Royal Pain" quite a bit. Dr. Light was her abrasive self, Plastic Man was amusing and it even had an old school ending of the heroes rushing off to battle. Len Wein has taken what could have been a simple fill-in arc and given us an engaging and fun story. I have a good feeling about the next issue. I really do.

4Art - 4: The art was very strong again this time out, especially in the flashbacks. The level of detail Derenick and crew put into the characters and the backgrounds really paid off and led to some solid storytelling. There were some pages that were weaker than others, such as the last page of the League rushing off into battle that didn't seem to have the same amount of attention paid to it as previous sequences, but overall I was rather impressed with the art.

5Cover Art - 5: Wow, what an awesome cover.

Seriously. This thing is sixteen pounds of cool stuff into an eight pound bag. The blood on the playing cards, the black background and the bone hand cause this cover to go off the charts on the Creepy Meter. Personally I think DC should have made a wallpaper of it for their weekly update. Sadly they didn't.


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