Justice League of America #8
Written by: Matt Kindt
Art by: Doug Mahnke
Cover Price: $3.99
If you haven’t been keeping up with the happenings of the current DC Comics Universe-wide mega-event Forever Evil, you’ve missed way too much to cover in any sort of depth in this review. Basically, The Crime Syndicate has taken over the earth and, as far as any of us were led to believe, The Justice League, save at least one or two, were *gulp* DEAD! Of course, no one in their right mind actually thought DC would kill off a huge chunk of A-list heroes, at least not in one fail swoop, but this did, however, continually beg the question among fanboys: Where the hell is The Justice League? Well, JLA issue 8 begins to paint the intriguing answer to that question, while raising a few more of its own.
Before I get into the meat of the matter I have to give some credit to Doug Mahnke’s art in this issue. While the art was generally consistent throughout, stunning panels sporadically leap from the pages with every other flip of the book as different members of The Justice League are seen emotionally distraught to the point of relative paralysis. This terrific work on pencils drives an equally interesting story as we discover, via the unlikely team-up of Martian Manhunter, Stargirl and the Jason Rusch half of Firestorm, other members of The Justice League trapped in a prison that preys on each of their greatest qualities in the context of their weakest moment. Wonder Woman struggles against her own honor and mortal/immortal duality; Captain Marvel is set loose in a playground of destruction without consequences that only a super-powered child could fully appreciate; Flash sits motionless as the thought of being fast enough to do ALL things hinders his ability to do anything else; Superman seeks justice for a murder he himself committed as he is consumed by his enormous guilt. This prison is yet another example of just how sinister the Crime Syndicate truly is, and I can’t think of any worse sort of jail than one that causes a constant mind$%^& for those inside. The issue tried to answer a few more questions, but I’m wishing writer Matt Kindt plays the same sort of mind$%^& with his audience, and hoping these “answers” are anything but. There’s definitely room for plenty of cerebral twists and turns in this story, I just hope it doesn’t end up being the same straight line this issue ended up being.
Although we got some “okay” answers to some pretty important questions, that’s just about all we got: Straight-line story from end to end, no twist, no hooks, just revelation. Such an important question that surrounds a huge moment in the overall event (i.e. The Justice League’s surmised death) deserves something better than “Oh, Martian Manhunter and Stargirl aren’t affected by the prison.” Maybe there’s more to it than that, and I certainly hope there is, but as of this issue there are big and obvious holes in an otherwise perfect and insidious plan carried out by the Syndicate. My gut tells me this is too big of a ball for DC to drop, but it’s an observation worth mentioning and worth worrying about. Those holes, which may in fact not be holes at all, are still not wide enough to ruin an otherwise fascinating story surrounding a fascinating way to subdue The Justice League. While I don’t particularly care for the way Doug Mahnke draws Martian Manhunter, and his quality tends to waver a bit depending on the angle of the characters he’s drawing, these are minor nitpicks at best and do nothing to take away from the overall enjoyment of the issue.
If you are reading or thinking about reading DC Comics’ Forever Evil event this is a worthwhile grab. While it may not pan out to be everything it could potentially be, it has the potential of being THE book for seeing The Justice League get their stuff back together and move toward taking the fight back to the Crime Syndicate. If you’re not reading Forever Evil, however, this book is going to be a major waste of time and money. There’s nothing here that isn’t inherently Forever Evil, and someone looking for a good, run-of-the-mill Justice League story is going to be very disappointed. It’s a really good event tie-in issue, answers some questions, brings up some others, has a ton of potential and does exactly what a book like this is supposed to do: Get me to buy the next issue. Which I will, without a doubt, be doing.