Writer Geoff Johns welcomes Brett Booth to “Justice League of America” #4 by giving him the debut of the Invisible Jet, an appearance from Doctor Arthur Light and the official addition of Green Arrow to the team as they try to track down the “secret society” of evil. Backing that up is another Martian Manhunter story from Matt Kindt with art from Andres Guinaldo that presents a pseudo-origin for the New 52 version of the Manhunter from Mars.
Johns continues to put down the foundation for this new team, which already seems to gel like a well-oiled machine. The group gathers together to track down Catwoman, who has infiltrated the alleged secret society of evil. Developments with that collection of cons brings Dr. Arthur Light in to assist A.R.G.U.S. and gives Johns a chance to establish a new origin for one of DC’s most deprived villains. Another villain pops up to rationalize the attackers in the previous issues of this series, but that appearance is not as surprising, given that many readers already made a deduction to his identity. Most of the story is talking heads on muscular bodies doing a slow motion walk into battle. It makes for a sleepy story, which Johns decides to spice up with a sensationalistic kill at the end of the issue. Given the fact that the Internet is still intact, I think it’s safe to say readership is not devastated by the death, but it certainly does come as a surprise.
Brett Booth is no stranger to Justice League books, having worked on a large part of James Robinson’s run pre-reboot. However, Booth’s artwork doesn’t quite shine in this issue. There’s a lot of detail, but not a lot of polish. That detail helps Booth to distinguish his characters, but the artist draws the same noggin on all of the characters in this book. The noses vary a bit, but Amanda Waller’s facial structure is the same as Catwoman’s and Stargirl’s. Furthermore, Booth’s animated style makes Steve Trevor’s armor look silly, but the artist does redeem himself with the detail he places on the Invisible Jet.
The backup from Matt Kindt and Andres Guinaldo delivers an almost origin for the Martian Manhunter. This story gives us the most information about the Manhunter’s life prior to his time on Earth, but stops short of providing a defined timeline. There is an appearance by a Sinestro Corps member, which sets me to thinking that maybe this Manhunter wasn’t snatched from the past of Mars as much as a more contemporary version of the planet. The story has nice art from Guinaldo, which is complemented by Wil Quintana’s colors. The coloring in the backup is more dramatic and deliberate than Dalhouse’s color work seemed to be in the feature story.
“Justice League of America” #4 is just another issue of paced-out story; setting up future developments, tinged with extreme story beats in the form of character death. Although a character is killed and another revealed, this issue just feels like it doesn’t deliver much. The story is simply hollow. It’s unfortunate that as we near “Trinity War,” this title seems to be taking a cue from “Justice League” by making the backup story more interesting than the lead with tales that simply mark time and keep the seat room temperature.