Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

JLA Volume 4 Review

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It’s time to look at another Justice League volume! It’s certainly not quite as solid as the first one, but it gets the job done. We have some fights with Batman and Superman while also letting the other members have a chance to prove themselves. What hurts this volume a little is how quickly it jumps around and the fact that it almost feels like a side series at some points. That’s still not enough to keep a good Justice League story down though?

The Justice League stories have always been interesting in how they handle the issues. This collection brings around 15-20 different comics, but each issue feels a little shorter than usual. It’s still a big collection that will last you a little while, but the issues aren’t really standard size. At least we still get some good arcs in though. Some iconic ones and some average ones, but they all play a part here.

The collection starts off rather peacefully with Huntress defending Gotham city. The US has apparently decided to just abandon it so many villains are taking this opportunity to have some fun with it. The Justice League can’t go in to help with the situation due to the political issues at work here. That being said, Huntress is really all that they need for the job right? I’m assuming that this situation was set up in an earlier JLA comic or maybe in a Batman series. Either way, it’s an interesting premise.

It’s interesting to see Huntress as one of the main characters. She makes for a good member of the team, but she starts to forget what it means to be a hero as the volume goes on. She nearly crosses the line and Batman calls her out on it. You can bet that he won’t be forgetting such a thing for a long time, which means that she will likely never be back on the League. She had her chance though and Batman does have a point.

Another story features the return of the White Martians. One of them impersonates Bruce Wayne so Batman tells the team to try and take him down. It’s more difficult than you would expect, but they end up accomplishing the task. Another one shot has Hal Jordan return to haunt everyone inside of their nightmares. He shows the heroes that the Joker has a very nice and peaceful part of his mind while all of the heroes have big doubts that plague them. Superman handles his rather well, which is good since he has had a lot of time to dwell on them. Other characters have a tougher time and they remind Hal that he’s supposed to be a good guy in the end. It’s sad for Hal since he used to be such a great hero, but is now confined to being…The Spectre! At least he gained powers beyond comprehension, that’s no small positive.

Next up was one of the big arcs. Lex Luthor has decided to bring together a new team. He has Prometheus, The General, and Queen Bee on his side. Together, the 4 of them plan to bring down the Justice League and wreck chaos throughout the world. Lex chose a bad time since a powerful being has also showed up to take care of the multiverse. The League is split up and facing many different enemies, but we know that they can still come out on top as long as they put on their game face!

We got one more one shot as the JLA had to fight off a race of micro beings who were inside a kid’s brain. In the end, one of them becomes the last survivor of his race, much like Superman. The final arc was the famous Tower of Babel. Someone is systematically taking down each member of the Justice League and the villain is using Batman’s plans to do it. Can Batman outsmart…himself!? The League hopes so because they may be doomed with a capital D otherwise!

The series has had a cosmic element to it for quite a while now. During this arc, the angels decided to forget about this universe and focus on creating another one once everyone is destroyed. The Presence is name dropped as well, which shows you how large scale the threat is. That being said, the cosmic beings are almost inconsequential at this point. Superman can probably defeat them anyway and there are bigger fish to fry. Superman being overcome with doubt and despair is a little much even if it is the villain’s ability. At least Superman managed to snap out of it although I don’t think that it should have been much of a problem in the first place.

While the big boss was fun, the most enjoyable part was certainly the fight with the Injustice League. Although, Superman fans will not be pleased with the fact that he was losing to The General. The General had the clear edge although it was the kind of fight where both opponents couldn’t really manage to deal any damage. The General was just landing more hits. As for Lex, the plot didn’t end well for him as he underestimated the true enemy, which really threw him for a loop. You could say that he never really got an ending to his plan or his own fight. Queen Bee looked decent, but it’s hard to consider her as big of a threat as the other three members. Although, she could certainly beat Lex Luthor or maybe even Prometheus in a true fight.

Prometheus has always been a really interesting character. I like his gimmick of copying fighting styles and he has had many fun fight scenes through the years. That being said, I never got to read a full comic with him so this was my first opportunity. He loves to brag about how he beat Batman, but it seems like an accident has messed with his mind a little. While he is still dangerous, he’s not as focused and Batman uses this to his advantage. Prometheus definitely had the edge initially, but Batman can fight dirty when he needs too. It may not be as satisfying as winning in a normal fist fight, but that’s why they call it…Prep Time!

It’s fun to compare the arc to Justice League Doom. As expected, I have to go with the comic over most of the film’s changes. Most, but not all. The strategy for dealing with Wonder Woman was similar in both versions, but having the fights inside of her head certainly makes more sense so I give the comic props there. Green Lantern’s attack is much more inventive and realistic as well while dealing with Batman is less risky than in the film. I have an issue with how Superman is taken down in both versions to an extent since he’s Superman, but the comic version was likely more effective. The movie did succeed in the fact that we got a big final battle with actual villains and that Superman gave Batman the kryptonite in the end. Having Batman just vanish would have been sad. Superman also felt more understanding in the film.

Of course, you can sympathize with both cases here. It’s no fun to fight alongside an ally who is constantly focusing on ways to defeat you. I wouldn’t be able to trust someone like that and you can say that relations with Batman are already frosty at times. Batman is right in the sense that the heroes do tend to get mind controlled fairly often so we need a backup plan. My problem is the fact that Batman just put these plans in a computer where anyone could steal them. He should have just memorized the strategies in his head. Had he done that, I would have been completely okay with what he did. Still make the tech necessary to stop the League, but throw it in the vault with the thousands of other gadgets and don’t label them. We know that Batman is smart enough to pull this off and everything would be all right.

I liked Batman and Superman’s portrayal. Batman did make a risky call that backfired when he made plans on the other heroes, but I can understand and agree with his intentions. He also made sure that Huntress did not cross the line. Superman seemed to be a little agitated at times and perhaps he let the politics get to him a bit much, but he’s still the Man of Steel that we are used too. There’s not much to say about Kyle or the Flash as their roles were small, but they are good heroes as well. I do think that the Flash really overreacts whenever someone mentions Hal’s name though. It can be a little irritating. Wonder Woman is certainly upset at Batman’s decision and she can perhaps be a little too arrogant, but she’s another good hero. Having someone break your trust can certainly put you in a bad mood.

Orion and Big Barda are around for a little while and they prove that they can be just as tough as the other League members. Still, if I was the JLA, I wouldn’t trust them all that much. They are heroes, but New Gods first and politics could make them oppose the League. Aquaman is openly hostile towards them and I’m glad that he doesn’t back down from Orion’s threats. I would certainly be rooting for Aquaman in a fight and it’s safe to say that this was the original hardcore depiction of Aquaman. As intense as he is in the New 52, he was every bit as gruff and commanding here. Plasticman is still the weak link of the team by far.

If I had to even name a negative for the comic, it is definitely Plasticman. He’s seriously not funny and he’s a weak link to the team. Plasticman is also against Batman’s decision and being broken to pieces also made him revert to his serious form for a little while. Plasticman’s facade of innocence and laughter simply couldn’t hold up forever. At one point he shape shifts into someone’s clothes for them to wear and that’s the kind of thing that really crosses the line and should have gotten him ejected from the team ASAP. I already didn’t like Plasticman and this portrayal of him did not help matters at all.

As for the art, I definitely like it. All of the heroes look larger than life and their abilities have never looked so impressive. You can instantly think of this as one of the big Justice League runs. That being said, the characters are constantly posing, which can be a little odd. One of the big examples of this is when Batman jumps out of a portal with a few other characters saying “Get me tactical.” I looked for the image to post it here, but it proved to be a difficult challenge so I’ll just wait until you read the volume. It starts to get a little hilarious and that’s one of the reasons why this series has been so entertaining. I encourage you to read the first volume so see more examples of this. I’m more than satisfied with the art and it works well for action scenes and dialogue ones.

Overall, This was another fun volume of JLA. The battle against the Injustice League was easily my favorite part of the collection. I also liked the famous Tower of Babel of course. I could have used a little more action, but the writing and art are strong enough to keep the volume interesting regardless of how much action is inside. Morrison really understands the Justice League and I am really liking this portrayal of them. For starters, they are super professional. All of the heroes (Minus Plasticman) are fairly experienced and mature so they can execute team work with ease. The League feels powerful and they can really handle any threat. I feel like they are the Avengers, but physically and mentally superior so they can handle tougher threats. Losing a certain member at the end will hurt them though and I wonder who they will replace the guy with. Of course, this isn’t here to bash the Avengers, but I’m just showing you why I’ve always liked the Justice League. They’re essentially the ultimate team and these comics continue to prove it. I just wonder how the comics will manage to keep the intensity up. Hopefully it’s not at the expense of replacing more members with some weaker ones as that wouldn’t be cool. This is a must read for all DC fans and you won’t regret doing so. Now, if only a film could adapt this series one day and play it straight. I’d love to see a good Batman vs Prometheus fight someday.

Overall 8/10

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