JLA #121


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JLA #121


  • Words: Bob Harras
  • Art: Tom Derenick
  • Inks: Dan Green
  • Colors: David Baron
  • Story Title: Call to Arms
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.50
  • Release Date: Oct 26, 2005

The Justice League is in splinters but a few members struggle to rebuild from the rubble. Can they succeed or will they only drive the world’s heroes farther apart?

In the aftermath of the "Crisis of Conscience" story arc, Aquaman has reopened the JLA’s first headquarters in the caves of Happy Harbor and gathered a core group of Green Lantern John Stewart, Black Canary, Green Arrow and Manitou Dawn. The little band makes recruitment first priority and decides to start with Batman’s first protégé, Nightwing.

Seeds of trouble are already sown within the group, though, as Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Dawn struggle with the ramifications of their past relationships. Even worse, Dawn’s magic has seen a looming danger. Indeed, an old JLA foe with new powers is already wreaking havoc and this time the League may be too fragile to stand.

With the events of Infinite Crisis beginning to spin throughout the DC Universe, Bob Harras has a difficult task. He is having to shepherd one of DC Comics’ oldest superteams through one of the lowest points in the characters’ histories. He is also given the unenviable task of having to deal with a lot of ‘outside’ story elements, such as the aftermath of Geoff Johns’ and Allan Heinberg’s "Crisis of Conscience" arc, the four Countdown to Infinite Crisis miniseries, and Infinite Crisis itself. It is a tribute to the skill of his writing that he is able to juggle all of these different elements and weave them into a coherent story that flows smoothly and logically.

There is a problem with the story, however, which has nothing to do with Harras’ writing and everything to do with DC’s recent editorial direction. This title, among many published by DC in recent months, is mired in darkness and dysfunction. The heroes have become largely self-righteous, selfish, petty, devious, arrogant, and argumentative. While this can be fun to read in the short term, it has been going on for months now and it has become wearing.

I also do question Harras’ wisdom in using Manitou Dawn, one of the characters from Joe Kelly’s JLA and Justice League Elite series. I enjoyed seeing the character again and was pleased to see Kelly’s work remembered and referenced but readers who didn’t pick up Justice League Elite may be surprised and confused.

The art team for this issue makes for a surprising contrast to the generally dark tone of the story. Tom Derenick’s pencils have a bit of a ‘comic book’ look to them that hearkens back to the best of the 1980’s. The lines are clean and uncluttered and Dan Green’s inks provide the perfect emphasis.

Rounding out the art team is David Baron with colors. For this story he has provided the perfect, bright, traditional comic book colors to complement the art. The results are stunning, particularly on Aquaman. These three men give the Sea King the heroic and regal bearing the character deserves.

I hope to see Harras doing more work for DC in the future as he does a good job with the difficult task he’s been given with JLA. In the end, though, neither he, nor the art team, can save this title from the DCU’s heart of darkness.

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