Justice League of America v.2 #2
“The Tornado’s Path, Chapter Two: Tornado-Red/Tornado-Blue”
Writer: Brad Meltzer
Pencils: Ed Benes
Inks: Sandra Hope
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover artists: Michael Turner/Phil Jimenez & Andy Lanning
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US/$4 CAN
There are a couple of plot developments in this issue that don’t quite make sense to me. The disconnect between the big three iconic heroes and the rest of the case is frustrating, for example, and Black Lightning doesn’t seem to act in the most intuitive manner either. Still, there’s something fun and engrossing about this issue, and it’s the air of mystery Meltzer brings to the book. There’s a real sense of buildup here and a hint of an epic, larger-than-life threat that only a team of god-like heroes can combat. Meltzer’s script also adds credibility to the genre by creating a convincing super-criminal underworld that has an air of logic to it but also pays homage to the many stories that have come before this one. The story makes the most of the shared continuity of the DC Universe, but at the same time, the writer doesn’t allow minor details from the past to hinder the plotting. This Justice League relaunch is far from the next Watchmen, but it’s a solid super-hero yarn that will entertain longtime readers and newcomers to comics alike.
While Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman continue to discuss the formation of a new Justice League, Green Lantern, Arsenal and Black Canary are busy with the kind of work such a team would conduct, namely, tracking down the stolen android form of their one-time teammate, the Red Tornado. Meanwhile, Black Lightning is in St. Roch, trying to pinpoint the whereabouts of a number of unaccounted-for super-villains who may have a connection to a recent assassination. And elsewhere, the Vixen learns just why two of those missing villains lured her to a pub in Hub City.
I think there’s a definite effort on penciller Ed Benes’s part to capture the sort of iconic, dynamic energy that past Justice League of America v.1 pencillers brought to the book. I can see a hint of influence from such artists as George Perez and the late Dick Dillin, and the final, climactic cliffhanger scene in this issue boasted art that reminded me a great deal of Dan Jurgens’s style. It’s interesting to note that Benes favors a horizontal approach to the storytelling. It effectively conveys a larger scope to the story (though it makes finding a narrow, vertical panel that’s appropriate to scan for inclusion in a review). Overall, I think Benes turns in some inconsistent artwork but not so much so that it interferes with the story all that much. Alex Sinclair’s colors really pop, though, and I love the energy those bright colors bring to the story.
I know Black Lightning was envisioned as a loner kind of hero in the 1970s, but his actions in this issue seem foolhardy. Furthermore, Meltzer never takes the time to explain why he’s hunting super-villains across the country; it runs contrary to his usual MO when flying solo as a hero. Furthermore, the holy trinity of the DC Universe sitting idle for two issues, going over photos and voting seems a bit excessive. It’s almost as though we’re watching them ignore the work the League should be doing in order to re-establish the League. The selection process seems as though it’ll be a moot point, because the promised lineup appears to be made up of those heroes who just happened to stumble into the villains’ paths.
One criticism of Meltzer’s work that I’ve seen arise on several occasions is of his use of multiple narrative captions. I can understand why some readers find them so distracting, especially when we see them used for multiple voices in the same scene. Still, it’s also clear to me that in those instances, it’s done for the sake of clarity (caption colors distinguish among the speakers), and those captions that offer various characters’ internal monologues honestly don’t bother me that much. Meltzer is taking us inside these characters’ heads, and it helps not only explain the story but make these unreal figures seem more human.
Despite some stumbling blocks, this story was a satisfying one. I love that the villains are so organized while the heroes are left in the dark. Meltzer combines a traditional super-hero genre tone with a darker conspiracy that’s fascinating and entertaining. Furthermore, I enjoyed the characterization of the Red Tornado. It’s easy to relate to his excitement at having a normal life, just as one can understand why he might be feeling some regret for what he feels he might have lost in his effort to gain more important things. 7/10
Note: For readers who may missed it or for those who clicked on the wrong link, I’ve also written annotations of the second issue of Justice League of America. Click here to read that feature.