My assessment of the first issue of the JLA under the guidance of Robinson and Bagley may have seemed a little harsh but, as I said there, Robinson and Bagley are capable of better stuff. We start to see some of that this issue. In thirty pages of story — hence the extra buck to this issue’s price tag — Robinson shows us that this collection of heroes, while carrying some of the League’s history, is a far cry from being an actual Justice League.
Robinson’s writing is inconsistent in this issue. When the heroes are walking through the Hall of Justice, if the tails were clipped off of the word balloons, several of the characters would be indistinguishable. I was tempted to start keeping tally of the number of times Kimiyo said, “Yeah,” as the start of a sentence. Once the characters were pared down, though, they seemed more manageable for Robinson, as the individual voices were given more of a chance to shine through. Plastic Man and Red Tornado discussing the merits of Scooby Doo added a nice bit of interaction to the pair. The biggest out of character moment for me, personally, came with Red Tornado’s threat to “cut [Vibe] to ribbons!” It came across as Reddy trying to act like a gang-banger, and it fell flat. The actual scuffle between Vibe and Reddy was magnificently handled by Bagley, though.
The issue starts off with what my cohort, Jeffrey Renaud, affectionately refers to as “Vibe: Rebirth” — a tale very few comic fans would have requested. As a fan of the Motor City Justice League (or Justice League Detroit) from the days of fueling my comic habits with lawn-mowing money, I was quite pleased to see Vibe get some page time. The final “missing member” of the Detroit era also makes an appearance in this issue, setting up a must-read next month as the two dead Black Lantern Motor City Leaguers square off against Gypsy and Vixen — two-thirds of the surviving members from the Detroit years.
I find it to be rather telling that I am more interested in the Motor City Leaguers than I am in Plastic Man’s melting dilemma, the dual of Doctor Lights, or the magical melee between Zatanna and her old man. I’m hoping this is a slow ramping up for this creative duo rather than a glaring inadequacy. As I mentioned, this issue starts to show us some of Robinson’s and Bagley’s better stuff, I just hope they continue to build on it. This issue offers a great deal of potential, but needed extra pages to do so. I think trying to assess Robinson and Bagley on these two issues is premature.