Justice League of America #51

Story by
Art by
Mark Bagley, Norm Rapmund, Rob Hunter
Colors by
Letters by
Rob Leigh
Cover by
DC Comics

Any story that starts off with a large cross-section of the DC Universe pantheon of heroes teaming up to try to defeat a foe is going to pique my interest. Drop in a roll call of the members of the titular team of the book and I'm sold. These notions are throwbacks to my formative comic-reading years, and James Robinson can bring a throwback like no one else in the industry, save Mark Waid. Robinson ratchets up the teamwork between the League members in this issue with Batman giving the fighting orders. It may not be the JLA that every fan wants to see, but this book is certainly starting to feel like a classic JLA story.

Robinson introduces the Omega Man (not to be confused with the Omega Men) in this issue. Omega Man is the result of a horribly botched, sabotaged attempt to resurrect Darkseid. This new character isn't as patient as Darkseid, and Robinson quickly distinguishes the between the two. Where Darkseid plots, Omega Man acts. His assault upon the JLA - and the Crime Syndicate - is unreserved and fitting for a book that occasionally struggles to find foes fit to the task of offering a challenge to the team comprised of the world's greatest superheroes.

Bagley's Omega Man is a character ripped straight out of the Image launch of the early 1990s, but scrubbed up with a fresh coat of modern sensibility. Omega Man just flat-out looks scary. He's not as visually intimidating as Darkseid, but Bagley isn't working in the same era as Kirby did. The rest of this issue is standard fare from Bagley on this title: some great moments, some odd panel construction, some not-so-great moments and some needs improvement-type moments. Many of Bagley's figures are starting to slip into cookie cutter similarities. Bagley is doing a better than average job, but I'd love to see a killer artist working with Robinson on this book.

Hi-Fi's colors really hit the spot and punch up the heroic ambiance of this book, just in time for the heroes to have to step up their own game. The range of emerald hues alone that Hi-Fi uses helps define sides in this battle. I'm hoping we continue to get Hi-Fi colors on this title going forward.

"Justice League of America" has been an up-and-down roller coaster ride for me lately. Some months it is dead on, reminding me of yesteryear while building up the future and other months it fails to remain memorable. This issue - and to this point, this story - is certainly one of the former. Robinson is crafting a nifty adventure here that promises to offer a lasting impact on the DCU.

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