If nothing else, James Robinson has done a superlative job of playing with all of the toys in the DC Universe sandbox during his run on “Justice League of America.” That’s evidenced by the appearance of Etrigan, Sebastian Faust, and the German Elite Guard (or the Rocket Selects). It’s not full-blown world-building, but it is the type of thing that most DC writers seem afraid of doing. Of course these selections seem all the brighter based on the roster of the JLA. Etrigan refers to this team as “The ‘League’ you say? I see but zeroes. Rabble more like substitute heroes.”
Those substitute heroes begin to work together more fluidly in this issue from their issue-opening training session in the Kitchen to their encounter with Etrigan. Robinson is still playing Donna Troy as a badass, which just hasn’t quite sunk in for the character yet, but the other characters are all finding their voices with Robinson.
The most dynamic shift in this issue, for me, was the art. Bagley’s seems less frenetic in this issue and is definitely more complete and not as sketchy. Apparently, the change is in no small part due to the addition of new colorist Ulises Arreola. Welcome aboard, I say. I hope we get to see the art continue to improve as we head into a JLA-JSA crossover. Bagley is still drawing a widescreen adventure for the story, but occasionally the storytelling shifts from across spreads to down individual pages, which then seems jarring.
From The Source revealing the variant cover for this issue to the solicits for June and July to James Robinson announcing his lineup at the Emerald City Con at the beginning of the month, the return of the “surprise” character is certainly no surprise to anyone who’s been plugged in. What is a surprise — and a pleasant one at that — is the journey that this issue takes to get to that character. As previously mentioned, this gives Robinson and his devotion to the DC universe a chance to shine.
This is still far from my favorite era of the League, but it is at least now on par with the Gerard Jones-penned era from the 1990s, if it hasn’t surpassed that team already. I’m befuddled as to why Robinson seems to have such free reign of the DCU while it appeared as though McDuffie did not during his term on “Justice League of America,” but there is no denying that the stories are growing in entertainment value.