RandoMonday: Justice League of America #11

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Justice League of America (2006) #11 by Brad Meltzer, Gene Ha, Rob Leigh, Art Lyon, Adam Schlagman, and Eddie Berganza, with cover by Michael Turner and Peter Steigerwald

This has always been one of my favorite issues of the Brad Meltzer written JLA. I first read this in the trade collection, and in large part because of this issue and that I loved the relaunch of this title so much, I went and bought all of the single issues. This is a gripping done-in-one story focusing on Red Arrow and Vixen. A building has collapsed and they are both trapped inside. A lot of the story is Roy Harper assessing the situation and convincing Vixen to use her powers to get them free. Vixen, unfortunately, comes across as the damsel in distress and is a disservice to the character, but it does also show that heroes sometimes have feet of clay. I just think they could have easily reversed the roles, especially because of Red Arrow’s past and his anxiety over orphaning his daughter, and the story would have been just as strong, though the ending would need to be tweaked.

Ha’s and Lyon’s art really worked well to convey the claustrophobic nature of the story. There’s a reference to smoke where they are trapped and the grainy way the colors are shown really accentuates that aspect. The pacing of this story is top notch. The first page is mostly black panels with jagged borders and dialog boxes with gray text to give us what happened before page one. As each panel progresses, we see more and more of Red Arrow on the right as they situation is revealed to us, and when you turn the page, there’s a two-page spread reveal. The next few pages build the tension as Red Arrow attempts to locate how close Vixen is to himself. Then there’s another reveal demonstrating just how bad things are for the characters.

The rest of the issue is mostly discovery: that Vixen’s powers have changed and is why she can’t call upon a burrowing animal to help them escape, and, in another full-page reveal, that they are trapped upside down in the rubble. The following page is again mostly black panels with text, but the dialog boxes start off upside down and turn as you read each panel, simulating the movement of the characters in total darkness. Of course, they finally escape, and the issue ends with them ascending in the water as the panels fade to black again, just as they issue started. The dialog of the people who spot them ends with, “Sure that’s them?” “Definitely them.” “The ones who saved us.” I like it when the heroic efforts of our costumed heroes are appreciated.

Finally, there’s a few Titans references Red Arrow throws out, further endearing me to this story, such as when Dick trained him to breath and focus in a crisis situation, just as Batman had trained Dick, and Red Arrow compares the trembling in Vixen’s voice to Gar (Changeling) when he lost Terra. I love when writers/artists throw in continuity stuff, thus building a larger narrative. It’s called the DCU for a reason! :)

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RandoMonday: Nightwing Annual #2

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Nightwing annual 2
Nightwing Annual #2 (2007) by Marc Andreyko (writer), Joe Bennett (penciller), Jack Jadson (inker), Phil Balsman (letterer), Jason Wright (colorist), Rachel Gluckstern (assoc. editor), Joan Hilty (editor), and Bennet and Jadson (cover)

You can probably guess that I like this annual. Batgirl and Robin are on the cover, and the whole story focuses on Bab’s and Dick’s relationship over the years. It starts off with Dick proposing during the Infinite Crisis. Nightwing gets hurt, and Barbara Gordon nurses him back to health. Along the way they reminisce about their adventures together, but the story focuses on their growing feelings for one another. In one scene, Robin confesses his love to a “sleeping” Batgirl. She admits to Dick later that she had waited too long to respond, and he ended up with Koriand’r. After she was shot by the Joker, Dick shows up at her place, they make love, and the Dick tells Barbara that he’s engaged to Kory. Needless to say, Babs isn’t pleased. Also, I know that Dick has had intense feelings for Babs, but to sleep with her when he’s engaged to Kory doesn’t strike me as true to his character–it comes across as a convenient excuse to tear these two apart for a long while. At this point in the story, Batman shows up asking Dick to accompany him and Tim Drake on a world-wide trip to regroup and reconnect (did DC ever publish a story detailing what the Bat family did on that year-long trip?). It’s then that Barbara gives Dick back the engagement ring, telling him to propose after he’s found himself again and when he can fully commit to them. He leaves her a letter and the ring, promising to return to her. The last panel shows Babs looking at the ring and saying that she’s going to hold Dick to that promise. Unfortunately, that never happened. My (dim) recollection is that TPTB at DC never allowed that relationship, and by extension, the marriage to go any further. More’s the pity.

The art on this book is above average. I think the way that they drew Robin was a little too goofy for my taste (and the whole scene of them being trapped in a safe and the resulting shtick of Robin hiding a boner with his cape–come on), plus Robin looked much older than he should have been in the timeline being shown. Barbara, however, is shown very nicely throughout, albeit seemingly one age as well. Perhaps I’m being too critical. After all, this timeline is only about three years from when the two are first shown together in the story and when Kory makes an appearance. I just wish most artists wouldn’t draw teenagers as adults all the time.

Podcast Episode 56: Heroes and Villains #21 (Dick Grayson)

This episode is a rebroadcast of the Heroes and Villains podcast where I joined host Bruce Leslie to talk about Dick Grayson, who is one of my very favorite characters in comics. You can find the Heroes and Villains podcast at http://heroesandvillains.libsyn.com/.

Please send your comments to longboxreview@gmail.com (or to Bruce: laundryroombruce@gmail.com), or leave voicemail at 208-953-1841. Please rate and review our shows on iTunes.

Thanks for listening!

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