Review: JLA: Justice League of America — “Power & Glory,” Parts 1 and 2
Writer/Artist: Bryan Hitch
Inks: Daniel Henriques, Wade Grawbadger, Andrew Currie
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Colors: Alex Sinclair
The first two issues of the new title, JLA: Justice League of America, engulf readers in an engaging new story with familiar characters from the “New 52” lineup of Justice League — Superman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Batman, and Cyborg.
JLA #1 launches Part One of the story arch, “Power & Glory,” with images of a battered and bruised Superman and sprawling images of destruction. Could this be a glimpse into an apocalyptic future?
The story shifts to the Daily Planet, as a formal invitation from the mysterious Infinity Corporation arrives for reporter, Clark Kent — much to the chagrin of one, Lois Lane! It is soon discovered Clark’s invitation was a veiled summons for Superman. But, how could they know his secret identity? Superman arrives to see a pile of more than 60 deceased bodies — all of which are his! Readers learn The Infinity Corporation is working to save Superman from his impending demise.
Aquaman is shown addressing the United Nations, assuring the world’s leaders of Atlantis’ disinterest in surface-dweller affairs. We meet other heroes — Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Batman, and Cyborg — who, like Superman, respond to an invitation, and arrive at the New Metropolis Clean Energy Power Plant. While there, Batman discovers an obvious trap — an out-of-place prisoner transfer unit. Soon after, the hungry Parasite emerges from the unit! Intrigue remains — who set the trap, and why?
The beautifully rendered battle with Parasite is eventful. By the end of JLA #1, three heroes are missing and Metropolis is visited by mysterious figure in the sky, surrounded by light — none other than Rao, a Kryptonian myth/god, who comes proclaiming, “I am the great god Rao…and I have come to save you.”
JLA #2 continues the “Power & Glory” storyline with Rao’s arrival in Metropolis. His prophets are healing all the hospitalized citizens of Metropolis. This draws awe and praise from many — and ere from others. Through Rao’s arrival, readers see characters in an interesting light. Superman, filled with hope, embraces his fellow-Kryptonian fully, speaking on his behalf and arranging introductions with world leaders. Aquaman, filled with doubt, represents a more atheistic view, claiming he and Atlantians have given up on belief in gods long ago. Batman, filled with skepticism, remains vigilant in trying to uncover the true purpose behind Rao’s arrival and the location of his missing comrades.
The first two issues of JLA are strong. Hitch’s story grabs readers’ attention and asks questions that demand answers. The art is beautiful and the colors burst from the page. For being a “team” book, the first two parts leave our heroes in disparate states — some with burgeoning hope, others with mistrust, and still others missing and in peril. Fans of the Dark Knight will appreciate Bruce Wayne in cape and cowl, with his familiar quirks, wit, and no-nonsense approach to the team. Hitch’s JLA is unquestionably out of continuity with the rest of DC’s mainstays, but in my opinion, serves only to make it more accessible.
Perhaps most potently, the first two parts of “Power & Glory” ask grand questions about faith, religion, hope and trust. Will Superman’s hope in Rao bring true peace and healing to the world? Or, will Batman’s suspicions be confirmed? Ongoing, it will be interesting to discover how a team with such diversity of belief (or lack thereof) will manage to overcome differences and work well together.
As with the start of any new story arch, the true value of the first issues will be made or broken in hindsight, through the lens of what’s to come. Here, Hitch sets the bar high. Only time will tell whether subsequent issues will hold up to the sweeping narrative put into place with these first two installments.
That said, my combined verdict for JLA #1 and #2 is a solid 7 of 10.