A few months ago, I looked at Dwayne McDuffie’s “Justice League of America” and was startled at how the book hadn’t lived up to its potential, feeling like it was a dumping ground for tie-ins to other events, and dealing with dangling plot lines from other writers. The bad news is that the dangling plot lines are still being dealt with. The good news is that this is the most entertaining the book has felt all year.
If you read Brad Meltzer’s “Justice League of America” run, the current storyline will seem awfully familiar, as Amazo attacks the League in a series of events involving a new body for Red Tornado. It’s McDuffie cleaning up the debris left by Meltzer’s departure, finally wrapping things up so the book can move forward. But this time, I’m actually more entertained than I was the first go-round.
Maybe it’s because of how McDuffie uses Amazo here, making this regular threat to the Justice League feel that much more powerful and dangerous. Or maybe it’s because McDuffie is making the android creepy, from invading the Firestorm Matrix to actively planning on killing the most dangerous member of the Justice League. This doesn’t feel like a character who is out to just beat the superheroes; this is a deadly fight for survival from all parties.
That said, though, I was actually much more interested in the subplot involving Vixen and her powers still being in flux. Sure, it’s the other big dangling plotline from Meltzer’s run that McDuffie is cleaning up, but McDuffie is upping the ante here, having it become an important part in the fight against Amazo, as well as promising an entertaining guest star in the story’s resolution. It feels like McDuffie is making that upcoming story his own rather than something handed to him, and I’m all in favor of that.
The biggest let-down with “Justice League of America” #23, though, is Ed Benes’s art, which continues to be inconsistent and muddled. On one page, a headshot of Zatanna, Black Canary, and Vixen is well composed and crisp, a nice piece of art. Turn the corner, though, and John Henry Irons’s forearms are now sizably larger than his head, and Superman is so over-muscled that it’s laughable as you gawk at his barreled-torso. And that’s how the book continues; wondering how Wonder Woman’s spine would allow her body to curve that much, puzzling at the lack of backgrounds, and laughing at Vixen’s butt flying through the air with the rest of her body trailing behind her. For such a flagship book, “Justice League of America” deserves better than this.
Still, three months after my last examination of “Justice League of America” we’re already seeing a slight improvement. In another three months, who knows? This could finally be the book we were all expecting when McDuffie was announced as the new writer. Here’s hoping for the best.