Justice League of America #31

Story by
Art by
Sandra Hope, Shane Davis
Colors by
Pete Pantazis
Letters by
Rob Leigh
Cover by
DC Comics

This book comes at a very odd time. As fans are clamoring for this book to be the title it has been and "should be," the Justice League of America is falling apart. As an interlude to the current storyline, this issue brings the JLA into 2009 -- following the results of "Final Crisis", "Batman: R.I.P.," and "New Krypton," the League has shriveled up to a pitted husk of what it started as under Brad Meltzer three years ago. This issue sets up the upcoming "Justice League" title written by James Robinson, but does so in spite of itself.

Dwayne McDuffie has been burdened with sidebar and crossover one after the other during his run on "Justice League of America" and here he delivers yet another "non-League" tale. Hal Jordan challenges Black Canary to recall what the League has done since reforming, and she, like many readers, is stymied by the lack of depth in accomplishment. While no action occurs in the making of this issue (save for a punch delivered to Green Arrow), the book is a summary of where this title stands following all the DC Universe activity that went on around it.

Shane Davis' work is breathtaking. Aside from a major script misinterpretation that somehow flew past everyone and got printed ("Dinah" is mentioned in the script, but Diana is shown) Davis should be on a premier book like this for DC. His artwork is detailed and distinct, stylistic and strong. It would be very interesting to see what he could do with a full cast in action. Pantazis' colors are a fabulous match for Davis and should be remembered for Davis' next assignment.

On the whole, this issue seemingly accomplishes nothing, but upon closer inspection, it delivers the League to a new place in their history. Unfortunately that place feels eerily equivalent to the left turn that led to the formation of Justice League Detroit. For the record, I fondly remember the JLD days, but this title is too young to be putting all of the major characters out to pasture. By the end of this issue, the only characters from Meltzer's original crew are Vixen and Black Canary.

While I appreciate what McDuffie set out to do -- clearly define this era of the League as a snapshot in time -- and I like the artwork Davis handed in, I just cannot justify rating this issue much higher than two stars. This is "Justice League of America." It needs to be big and bold, bombastic and exciting. Sure, character interludes are necessary -- especially for characters without their own titles -- but there should still be some action.

It's a shame that McDuffie has been the consummate team player during his run on this title without getting much in return. He has now even lost all of the big guns on the team. Hopefully, McDuffie has some ideas how to rejuvenate this title before it slips further into four-color morass.

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