A year or so later, I feel like Dwayne McDuffie’s run on “Justice League of America” is finally hitting its stride. If you look back at the book since he took it over, it’s easy to see why; with his early issues either being editorially mandated tie-ins to other books, or wrapping up loose ends from Brad Meltzer’s time on the book, McDuffie’s hardly had time to move the comic in a direction he had in mind. Now that all of that’s over, though? Well, this is my favorite issue that he’s written to date.
Most of the attention paid to “Justice League of America” #27 will probably have to do with the introduction of the Milestone Media characters into the DC Universe, but that’s not the only thing that stands out here. There’s actually a lot of good character bits going on; Black Canary’s confrontation with the “Trinity” characters, for instance, or some real movement regarding Red Arrow and Hawkgirl’s relationship. McDuffie’s having fun with keeping Firestorm in the rookie position, and Zatanna having quietly slid back onto the team’s roster a few months and clearly sticking around are two great additions to the book’s line-up as well.
But it’s more than just that, when it comes to McDuffie and characterization. I actually found myself laughing at how Batman and Zatanna discover an imposter, or Iota and Hardware’s conversations in the Hall of Justice gift shop. It’s funny, some writers try to give glimpses into characters through brief snippets of conversation and fall flat on their faces, but with McDuffie it just feels natural. He does a good job of bringing most of the Milestone characters to life here (for both old and new readers) with just a quick line or two, and it really makes me hope that other writers take as much care with these characters. Matt Wayne’s run on “Shadow Cabinet” is probably one of my all-time favorite super-hero comics, and seeing most of those characters in a comic again just reminded me how good those were, as well as being thankful that McDuffie can write them with the same amount of skill.
There’s actually a lot going on in “Justice League of America” #27: the return of the Milestone characters, the search for a corpse of a recently-deceased villain (and please, let him stay that way), the return of an old Justice League member, and a leadership shake-up. And this is just the first part of a multi-part story, no less. If “Justice League of America” could just end up with a stronger artist on board (Donner and Blitzen’s chests on the final page of the issue are a crystal clear example of everything that doesn’t work for me with Benes’ art), I’d be over the moon. As it is? I’m really happy. Welcome back, “Justice League of America,” welcome back.