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Justice League of America #13
posted October 20, 2007


Creators: Dwayne McDuffie, Joe Benitez, Victor Llamas, Pete Pantazis, Rob Leigh
Publishing Information: DC Comics, comic book, 32 pages, September 2007, $2.99
Ordering Numbers:

I found this comic slightly unsettling on a couple of levels. The first is the cover I have doesn't match up with the one above, which I take to means the book has two covers. This means that they're pulling cover stunts on a healthy, top of the charts title? A brief look around the Internet indicates that this is common practice. I don't know what it means when a company like DC feels the need to pump up bestselling titles when the bottom is falling out of the other end of the market, but it can't be good. The second thing I found odd about this comic is that I couldn't tell right away why on earth they would make a special point of sending this around to C-list review sources like this site. Apparently, this is the first issue of a new creative team, featuring among other talents veteran writer Dwayne McDuffie. There's little to no sense of anything new in the comic, however. Not just since prose author Brad Meltzer's departure. More like since 1978.

imageJustice League of America #13 is basically a 1970s superhero comic of the "DC reacts to Marvel's new formula not as well as Marvel does it" variety, only with DC's patented early '90s rubbery-looking art and a series of oddly inappropriate-seeming butt-shots. The story consists almost entirely of two different teams within the Justice League going to two different locations and having two very calm, controlled fights with two groups of bad guys from a team called The Injustice League. (The bad guys in the DC Universe harbor no illusions about being bad guys.) The fights and the other scenes in the issue -- a kidnapped Batman grunts and disobeys his way to an implied off-panel ass-beating, still-free members of the JLA have a multi-page, watching the paint peel talk about the strategies they'll pursue, Superman acts like a swell fella of the Andy Taylor variety to another member of the team -- all take place in generic locations with no people in them, like the smoothed out corridors of a video game. Sometimes the world drops away altogether (see page below). This might be okay if the figures that were therefore thrust into focus were doing anything interesting, but the physical confrontations play out like a strategy card game: one team presents its members, other team presents its members, members start trumping each other in succession until the people that have the best card in reserve trump everything and win. It's not quite that simple, but it's not much more complicated, let me assure you.

In the end, this is a comic book whose most memorable moment is a radio conversation about Black Lightning's afro, and even that was hardly one for the ages. There are funnier exchanges to be found in re-runs of Becker. The dominance of empty backgrounds combines with the grim, plodding progression of the fight scenes to suck what little life one might guess remains in a super-team formula 65 years or whatever since its inception. The whole exercise seems tired. I can't work up any excitement about the return of the Injustice League, and it's been about 30 years since I've seen them. God help the more regular reader who's probably seen them seven or eight times in their reading lifetime. It looks like DC has created yet another comic where the narrative beats depend on an unbelievably high interest in seeing various characters strike a pose and march through their paces. It offers little more than a series of pin-ups where even a karate kick to the face depends on knowledge of recent DC continuity. What a weird book.