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Synopsis "Out of the Ashes"
JLA #38 opens with a desperate Blue Jay (remember him?) weaving his way through the Justice League trophy room. He is trying to evade an unseen attacker, but despite his agility, the villain’s blasts finally catch up with him and it seems that it’s the end for Angor’s last son. Meanwhile, at the JLA’s original base, the Cave in Happy Harbour, Rhode Island, Vixen has called together the surviving members of the current League (Plastic Man, Dr Light, Red Tornado, and herself) to debate their condition. Their recent encounter with Prometheus (Cry For Justice, which hasn’t been published yet) has left them battered, bruised, and demoralised. Vixen had promised Superman that she’d keep the JLA name going, but she now doubts whether there is any point in continuing when they’re so under resourced.
As if to prove how underpowered they are, the quartet suddenly come under attack from Despero. He carries the unconscious Gypsy with him and taunts them that his attack on her was just the warm up. Despero tears though them and overwhelms the weakened League. Even with Gypsy’s help they don’t stand a chance against a villain of his class. Despero’s reason for attacking them isn’t clear, but he does quote quid pro quo at them (latin “something in return”) suggesting that he’s operating for somebody else. Zatanna’s equally sudden appearance promises to even the odds, but Despero vanishes in a puff of smoke and Zatanna confesses that his departure was not her doing.
Zatanna had actually come to warn Vixen and co. that the dead are rising from their graves (Blackest Night #1-3). The issue ends with Zatanna teleporting them all away to face whatever is occurring at the Hall of Justice.
Brian Cronin @ Comics Should Be Good numerates the editorial challenges facing this issue and then concludes:
Luckily, Robinson acquits himself pretty well – he tells an engaging story with a lot of strong action (Mark Bagley is particularly good on the art for the book). If it weren’t for those obstacles which are mostly outside of his control, I think this would be a comic I might even recommend, which is a big improvement over Justice League: Cry For Justice.
J. Caleb Mozzocco @ Blog@Newsarama takes the apparent sacrifice of Blue Jay as a sign of a dark conspiracy with the DC offices.
DC Comics have long been full of dark and evil gods, constantly making trouble for our heroes and heroines. But as bad as Darkseid, Ares and their ilk might be, you know the comic book gods that really scare me?
The ones some of DC writers seem to worship.
Now, the existence of a secret cult that meets in the basement of 1700 Broadway on the nights of full moons, their identities hidden even from one another by ritual cloaks and hoods, to chant in a secret, blasphemous language and bow before a profane, obscene stone idol of a hideous monster-god is just a theory of mine.
I have no actual proof of it, other than the suggestion that surely there must be some reason so many writers have begun their new series or new story arcs with a blood sacrifice, as if it were part of a ritual beseeching some entity for success.
Doug Zawisza @ CBR is damning in his assessment of the new team despite acknowledging the challenges facing them.
Robinson and Bagley are thrown into the deep end, having to set up a “Blackest Night” tie-in while trying to determine and set their own direction. Maybe my expectations were too high, but this is the “Justice Leaggue of America” not “Justice League Task Force.” This comic needs to be DC’s shining gemstone –- the one book that everyone who loves DC Comics should look forward to each and every month. Instead this issue is just hollow and lackluster.
Mart Gray ends a generally positive review with the note that,
One final, trivial word, though – if you’re giving us a new era for the JLA, DC, jolly well put the proper logo on the cover!
seventhsoldier @ Read/RANT! confesses to be their resident James Robinson fan, but wasn’t so impressed with the writing. His views on Mark Bagley’s art are more positive and are generally representative of what I’ve said elsewhere:
Mark Bagley, recent superstar of DC’s Trinity, does a fine job on the art. His style is extremely traditional – impossibly thin, curvy women and enormous, muscle-bound men – but that hardly hurts the issue. The action segments flow smoothly and he keeps the dialogue-driven scenes running well, too, most notably because of Plastic Man, who looks increasingly as though he’s about to fall apart as the issue progresses.
Joey Esposito @ Crave Online‘s review is balanced and well written sums up what a lot of us are thinking:
I have no doubt that Robinson’s run on Justice League will be, in the long run, epic and perhaps even legendary. However, this is the issue that will be looked over when it comes time to form a definitive collection of his run, or when you are pulling through your longboxes to re-read it as a whole. But, I’ll be damned if I’m going to pass up more Plastic Man action.
Excluding Dan Philips @ IGN who absolutely hated this this issue (“This is a bad comic.”), I think the general trend in the reviews I’ve read is towards the positive. There is, however, a general feeling of disappointment, maybe it’s better to call it frustration, that this wasn’t a massive event, flash-bang, launch issue, but it was never going to be that. There is certainly annoyance that yet another character appears to have been killed off (see the Twitter quotes above), but a lot a reviews recognise Robinson’s skill as a writer (despite the requisite cheap shot at Cry For Justice) and people suspect/hope that things will improve once we get beyond the crossovers.
Personally I think this issue, and probably the next two, should be seen as a prologue or warm up to the real relaunch of the Justice League that comes in January. If you’re a completest or are interested in the Blackest Night cross over then you should stick around, but if you’re thinking of picking the book afresh you may want to wait for JLA #41 when the title should hopefully be into clear water.
|Reviews Portal||Comic Book Resources||Doug Zawisza||2/5|
|Reviews Portal||Comics Bulletin||Shawn Hill||3/5|
|Reviews Portal||IGN||Dan Philips||4.5/10|
|Community Reviews||Comics Vine User Reviews||Av. of 3 reviews||2.83333333333333/5|
|Community Reviews||iFanboy||482 Pulls||3.1/5|
|Character Site||Superman Homepage||Michael Bailey||2 (story) & 4 (art)/5|
|Reviews Blog||A Comic Book Blog||Wayland||65/100|
|Reviews Blog||Comics Per Day Reviews||Timbotron||Average|
|Reviews Blog||Major Spoilers||Matthew Peterson||2/5|
|Character Site||Captain's Justice League Homepage||Jason Kirk||2/5|