DKN Spotlight Review: Justice League of America #18

“Surgical Strike” Part One

Justice League of America #18

 

Writer: Steve Orlando

Artist:  Hugo Petrus

(Major spoilers ahead)

The Justice League of America open up their HQ to the media in the hopes of gaining public trust. Unknown to them one of the visitors has plans to take out the League in their very own home.

 

This issue is an odd beast. It spends the whole issue trying to build suspense and attempts to be a mystery of sorts. However the front cover actually tells you who the villain is, so it instead of a ‘whodunit?’ it becomes more like a ‘when will he?’

I was truly looking forward to this storyline. Prometheus is a fantastic character, almost an ‘Anti-Batman’ and I was hoping this issue would bring me back on-board with this Justice League of America.

The problem is that Steve Orlando is trying to emulate a writer you should never try and compare yourself to, in any way.
Grant Morrison.

His JLA run is seriously legendary and when you draw comparisons between them Orlando really doesn’t stand a chance. That is not an indictment on Orlando, Morrison is simply THAT good. He is also doing himself no favors by making this issue a rehash of Morrison’s JLA #16, right down to the visiting media trapped within the JLA headquarters.

I am willing to concede that my view may come down to the fact that I hold the original story in high regard and have revisited it a few times over the years. However as much as I would like to say it’s me, I don’t think it is. There are just too many similarities between this and the original material.

It doesn’t feel like a homage, it just seems derivative.

The main difference between this story and the original is not a great one, in fact it is one of the main failings of this story. Batman is missing. Orlando just didn’t seem to realize infiltrating the Justice League of America without getting past Batman takes away the best element of the original story. Sure, it makes sense that this moment is when a villain would and should strike, I get that, but for the reader it is so rare that anyone makes an end run around Batman these days it would have been great to see it happen. 

This version of Prometheus even calls on Afterthought to battle Lobo and Canary. Really? The point of this character is that he can take all these guys out himself. No back-up, no henchmen, pure Prometheus, otherwise what is the point?

On the flip side, the art of Hugo Petrus is honestly a true wonder. Buy this book for that alone. Every panel on every page is beautiful. He takes full command of this issue and his use of angles as the League is talking to the camera is honestly amazing. This is an artist that is truly worthy of gracing the pages of any Justice League book. He could have followed Kevin Maguire or Adam Hughes. His lines are clean, his panels uncrowded, whatever the writing is lacking the artwork is not and I will be picking up anything with his name on it.

There are some positives in the writing. The character interactions give some explanation to the motives of some of the team. We even get a sense of why some are even a part of it. Prometheus manipulating the League and feeding on their issues as a team was well done. Finally the scenes between Lobo and Canary give us a little more insight into what he is even doing there.

Conclusion

This story is a step up from ‘Microverse’ and is better than any of the previous six issues. The problem is that it lends itself to being compared to a much better version of the same story. I want to give Steve Orlando the credit he deserves for bringing his writing up but I feel that much of what works is being pulled from Grant Morrison’s original story.

There have been many instances within Rebirth where a writer has been able to reintroduce a concept or character to the DCU, many in a much stronger or more original way than this. Justice League of America #18 is a pale imitation of a much better story.

Images Courtesy Of DC Entertainment

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Steven Conroy

Steve has an uncanny skill to remember any film or TV show he has ever seen and recall it with amazingly annoying detail. This is a skill that has proven to be incredibly useless in the real world. Steve is also simply the greatest person you will ever meet.... according to his Mum.