Justice League of America #12

The spinoff events from "Forever Evil" continue in "Justice League of America" #12 by Matt Kindt and a league of contributing artists, featuring the odd pairing of Martian Manhunter and Stargirl as they try to find a way to free the Justice League and save Stargirl's family. Oh, and Despero shows up to complicate things a bit. Even though the novelty of this team-up is wearing off, Kindt keeps things fairly intense with a pretty brutal fight against Despero and other events that culminate what's possibly a key turning point at the end of the issue.

What Kindt does well in this issue is prove without a doubt that Courtney truly is a heroine, despite her past missteps that led to tragic consequences for her family. What leads up to that, though, is rather one-dimensional; Courtney is torn between helping J'onn and saving her family, which is logical and believable enough, but the focus on her repressed memories is driven home a little too hard. It's no surprise that when this memory surfaces, it's not a pleasant one, and the idea that this revelation will give her the strength to presumably be victorious is rather predictable and a little contrived. Kindt then frustratingly ends things on a cliffhanger, but now that the linear events from this and past issues leading up to this point have played out, the story is now at the stage where anticipation for the next issue runs high. And it's capped off with J'onn in a final poignant moment.

Speaking of J'onn, his battle with Despero is especially vicious, and one-sided. It's almost painful to watch as he gets his backside handed to him, as Stargirl shows up too late to help. There's another somewhat painful moment for the reader that follows: the dreaded contrived flashback sequence, which comes from nowhere with the intent of providing the impetus for the remaining events throughout the issue. The whole scene seems to be a kind of Rube Goldberg-type setup to set up Courtney's big defining moment, but that could have been done by, say, having Courtney help save J'onn from a pummeling by Despero in the first place.

Despite the quintet of artists that were needed to illustrate this issue, it not only looks surprisingly consistent, but impressive. Despero certainly looks like he could go ten rounds with just about any other superhero, and Stargirl is plenty convincing as a teenage heroine. The aforementioned flashback might have seemed manufactured, but both of its pages are attractively arranged and at least are nice to look at, in no small part due to colorist HiFi.

"Justice League of America" #12 is a "Forever Evil" tie-in that has its moments, and ends on a promising note that bodes well for next issue, but also has a lot of soft spots that hold it back from being a truly worthy extension of the overall story. It's the kind of ancillary comic that many might have expected to be a lot worse, but easily could have been so much better.

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