Justice League of America #19 – Steve Orlando, Writer; Hugo Petrus, Artist; Hi-Fi, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: Good Characterization
Ray: As Prometheus descends in the new Justice League of America’s headquarters, this issue becomes an intense locked-room thriller that allows Steve Orlando to show off his talent for tense, character-driven storytelling. The issue opens with Afterthought challenging Black Canary and Lobo in a two-on-one match – and thanks to the villain’s time-manipulating skills, the heroes are essentially outnumbered. This is a good segment that shows how an effective villain can use a super-strong hero against their own teammates. But the main showdown is saved for Vixen vs. Prometheus, as the mad anarchist aims to take down the Justice League by putting them in a devil’s bargain. Endangering the citizens trapped in the HQ with the heroes, he attempts to prove that the heroes will always choose themselves first. Probably not the best bet in the DCU.
However, what really sells this issue for me is the segments away from the main battle. The very first arc of this series introduced us to the Extremists, but the strange, cosmic Dreamslayer seemed a lot more conflicted than his fellow villains. That’s finally borne out here, in a segment that also introduces a familiar figure from one of the more obscure League runs. The odd friendship – and maybe more – between Atom and Killer Frost takes center stage here, as they’re both brought low with Atom trapped in a state between worlds and Frost with her powers out of control. Even with a creative, action-packed battle segment, it’s the characters who shine in this series and make Orlando’s take on the Justice League easily the best one right now.
Corrina: I love Orlando’s take on these characters and how he’s also provided ways for them to grow in this short JLA run. The rookies, however, have received more screen time than the veterans. Rarely has the spotlight been turned to Vixen or Black Canary. Black Canary might be forgivable because she’s in two other books but we definitely could have used more Vixen to this point. That we haven’t seen much of Mari makes the scenes between her and Prometheus lower on tension than they should be.
Indeed, Prometheus himself is somewhat of a mystery here, at least his skill set. If you hadn’t read any stories with him before, I’m not sure he would work as a villain. All that’s clear is that he’s good at sounding smug and sure of himself but why he has managed to become such a problem is unclear. There’s been no foreshadowing that he’s after this team, and very little build-up as to why he’d make this move to attack them. Similarly, the setup that the civilians aren’t safe within the confines of the superhero headquarters is hard for me to buy simply because it’s such an obvious point and it makes the heroes look stupid.
Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy the issues–I did–it’s just that a creative team this skilled and this good with characterization should be able to pull this together with a somewhat better premise.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.