It’s a fairly old tradition at this point, the team-up between the Justice League and the Justice Society. James Robinson is tackling the latest iteration starting this month, as a crossover between the two titles and handled entirely by him and Mark Bagley. The good news first: it’s probably the best thing Robinson’s done on “Justice League of America” to date. The bad news is that it’s still not quite up to par.
The parts that Robinson does right stand out fairly quickly. Who would’ve guessed that the breakout character in his character line-up would turn out to be Congorilla? Robinson accomplishes this by making him a jack-of-all-trades of sorts, having been everywhere and done everything over the course of his extremely long life. It’s so matter-of-factual, though, that it’s entertaining. Some of the family interactions here are also good, and it’s fun to see some slightly obscure characters getting dredged up.
It doesn’t make up for Wildcat being written as a jerk simply for the sake of doing so, though, or some truly wooden dialogue by almost every character in the book. They’re speaking in exposition half of the time (“Let’s not forget what an amazing scientist you are, after all.” “Back from the dead, you and the other ten.”), and considering how great the dialogue was for some of Robinson’s other books (“Starman” and “The Golden Age” in particular) it’s slightly frustrating to read. (We also see that once again, the far side of the moon is now mysteriously the dark side of the moon, a condition that really doesn’t last more than half a day.) Some of Robinson’s strengths are starting to show up, but the weaknesses have yet to subside.
Bagley’s pencils are also, as with the rest of his “Justice League of America” run, all over the map. The double-page spread of Jade and the Green Lantern is fairly impressive thanks to the way he draws the Green Lantern logo and the arcs of energy pouring out of the lantern. There are still a lot of missing backgrounds, though, and on some early pages the background characters are poorly rendered to the point that it can be hard to tell who’s who.
Still, it’s an improvement over the last six pages of the comic. It’s sad that the best thing about the backup story, “Cogs,” is the logo (presumably created by Rob Leigh) as a series of interlocking cog letters. Pow Rodrix’s pencils vary between stiff and distended, and the story itself is a cross between an unimaginative fight scene and huge chunks of exposition being dumped on the reader. Never before have I found myself yearning for filler in the form of headquarters layouts and profile pages of random characters.
“Justice League of America” is no longer a “must skip” book, but it’s also yet to find its footing. I’d like to see the book stop rushing from one “event” to the next (“Blackest Night” tie-ins! New line-up! Replacement new line-up! Crossover with the JSA!) and just take its time a bit more. I feel like Robinson and Bagley have it in them to make a stronger book, but so far it’s not getting to that point.