Friday, December 7, 2007

JLA #15 Review

For the past two issues, plus the JLA Wedding Special which he wrote, all had some great dialog but little of the amazing action or stunning twists in the plot that made his work on Justice League Unlimited so great. With this issue, that has changed and Dwayne McDuffie has seized control of Justice League of America and made it his own. Oddly, he's done this by doing something that few DC writers and editors seem to bother with anymore; acknowledging past characterization and continuity.

Case in point: it has also been noted that despite being voted JLA Chairperson during Brad Meltzer's run on Justice League of America, Black Canary's "leadership" was limited to a bit of con-fabbing with Power Girl during The Lightning Saga. We also frequently saw Dinah playing second-fiddle to Superman, Batman and even Black Lightning in books such as Amazon's Attack and Countdown in situations where she should have been field-commander of the JLA during a combat situation.

McDuffie, however, does not make this mistake. And while I should note that every character is given a chance to shine throughout the course of this story, it is McDuffie's portrayal of Black Canary that really stood out in this issue. For the first time since Gail Simone left Birds of Prey, we have been given a vision of Dinah that not only suggests that she be leading The World's Finest Heroes - it demands that she do so.

Here's the panel-by-panel list of just how Black Canary kicks ass and how much Black Canary SHOULD kick ass when properly written.

Kick-Ass Moment #1 - Dinah is using her signature super-power, The Canary Cry. Old-school comic fans might remember her having this ability. The Canary Cry is a sonic attack capable of disabling or unbalancing most beings. Black Canary frequently used this power at the start of battles in order to weed-out the weaker foes so she can focus on more dangerous targets.

Kick-Ass Moment #2 - Dinah is a mentor. Even as she is trying to rip off Cheshire's head, she always has a moment to give a less experienced hero advice on how he may better aid his comrades.

Kick-Ass Moment #3 - Black Canary giving Wonder Woman orders. Like a leader.

Kick-Ass Moment #4 - Dinah is portayed as being smart, competent and funny. She knows she can't fight Giganta on her own terms and makes light of the fact. She then uses her martial arts knowledge, albeit on a larger scale, in order to dislocate the thumb of her enemy in order to win a temporary distraction.

Kick-Ass Moment #5 - The bigger they are, etc. Despite facing a relatively over-powered enemy, Black Canary wins using her wits, experience and substantial skill.

Kick-Ass Moment #6 - Dinah stares down Batman after he disobeys her orders. Rather than waste time arguing the point with him there, she says only that "we'll talk about it later". From the dialog and even the art, it is clear that by no means is Batman off the hook and the the only reason she doesn't give him the ass-kicking/tongue-lashing he deserves is because they have bigger concerns i.e - a group of unconscious baddies to lock-up before they wake-up.

Even Ed Benes' usual cheesecake work can't diminish the greatness of this comic. I think it's more than fair to say at this point that Dwayne McDuffie has finally restored Justice League to the high standard set by Mark Waid and Grant Morrison.


  1. About #6: I also think she's well aware that Batman has issues with Joker well beyond most superhero/villain spats. So she's going to cut him a little slack.

  2. Oddly, of the people who's taste I respect, I think you're the first one to give this issue a positive review...

  3. I'm as shocked as you are.
    Sure, McDuffie has done a lot better and this isn't quite as good as his JLU work. But I'm cutting him a lot of slack because...
    1) he had to sandwich this whole storyline into the wonky time-line for Countdown AND The GA/BC Wedding Special.
    2) by editorial mandate, he had to let enough villains escape in order for them to do another attack... hours later... at the wedding itself.
    Then again, I don't care. Because no matter how uneven the fights may be and no matter how deus ex machina it is to have Firestorm save the day, at least stuff is happening in this comic again. Unlike all of Brad Meltzer's run which was mostly talking heads and the occasional fist or foot connecting into the talking head.

  4. Oh, no doubt. But I still want to see this scene.
    Batman: If you had ordered me to stand still and then a child was about to get crushed by a piano, would you want me to stand there and let the child get crushed rather than disobey your little orders?
    Dinah: *one shot punches Batman*
    Guy Gardner: Wow! One-punch!
    Dinah: (scowls) Who let him in here?

  5. I do get the major complaint most have. Which is the art. EVERY panel you've scanned has a butt or boob shot. EVERY one. Which makes me wonder if ANY of the panels in the comic are lacking them...
    But yeah, competent Dinah is nice...

  6. I liked the comic simply because it was exciting, people are acting as they reasonably should, it had fun dialogue, and, even if you didn't like it, I thought Benes' art was at least easy on the eyes.
    I don't know what the haters were looking for. This issue beat any of the ones in Brad Meltzer's run in my book.
    "With a ballpoint pen, I can pick the locks of Fort Knox."

  7. I'm not saying Benes art isn't easy on the eyes or - for the most part - competent. The man just does so much gratitous cheesecake!

  8. Yeah. I'm not too happy about how Dinah's practically in a thong rather than the more sensible boy-shorts outfit she had in Birds of Prey. Diana's looking a bit more "cheeky" than usual too.
    I dunno. Dr. Light (the male one) and Firestorm have some well-developed butt shots too. But that doesn't come anywhere close to balancing even the cheesecake shots of Black Canary.
    On the other hand... blonde in fishnets makes the Starman happy.

  9. There were good things in this book, I won't disagree. But there were a number of points that didn't sit well with me. Many of the panels and pieces of dialog were really stilted I felt, with things just moving too fast. There was also a great deal of Deus Ex Machina with Firestorm, which is fine, and Waller which came out of nowhere.
    Finally, we seem to have Batman back to being a bit of a dick, especially to firestorm. More importantly, Diana and Clark go along with Batman essentially revoking Firestorm's rights. I dunno ... a lot of things just didn't flow well for me.
    However everything with Canary was gold. And I noted all of this stuff in my review over on SBC (when it is put up I"ll post a link). I saw the Canary Cry and almost did so myself.