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Justice League of America #21 Review

Justice League of America #21 review by Hugo Bravo

Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Art by Carlos Pacheco

It may seem like comic-book event overkill for the last few years, but DC has promised that the Final Crisis will (finally) end all Crises. With Grant Morrison at the helm, you know that this won't be the typical 'good vs. evil, good prevails' event. Morrison is describing Final Crisis as 'the day evil won', and evil gets its first minor victory in this issue. The DC editorial staff has labeled certain issues in the upcoming months as 'Sightings', a sort of keyword that will mark important events in Final Crisis; not completely necessary to follow it, but will add an extra bit of depth and explanation to the main story. This issue has the first signal, and gives a small glimpse into the main villain of Final Crisis, the mysterious Libra, and the plans to assemble his army by giving each of his soldiers their deepest heart's desire.

Dwayne McDuffie was the lead writer for the successful Justice League Unlimited cartoon, which informed audiences that DC's lineup was more than just the heroes that had starred in movies or 70's TV shows. McDuffie's TV writing skills are definitely in play here, with half the issue dedicated to an exchange between Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman that seems lifted right out of JLU. What may seem boring and forced with any other writer, McDuffie makes enjoyable by giving his characters a sense of wit and playfulness hardly ever seen in them. Particularly amusing is Batman, who uncharacteristically teases Superman on why exactly he was caught sharing a kiss with fellow team member Vixen. Hopefully Kurt Busiek can recreate this kind of bonding between the DC top guns in his upcoming Trinity.

The second half of the book examines a low-level bank robber by the name of the Mike Miller, known to himself and few others as the Human Flame. Lacking in resources and originality, he clumsily robs a bank with his home-made flame thrower, cursing to himself the name of Jonn J'onnz, the Martian Manhunter, the hero that arrested him 8 years ago (in DC years, of course. ) After barely putting up a fight with Justice League members Red Arrow and Hawkgirl, Miller is rescued by Libra, and introduces him to the new Injustice Gang, reluctantly made up of some of DC's biggest and baddest. A good start to Final Crisis, but I wasn't too thrilled that the conclusion of this book kind of spoils the ending to Salvation Run. We see villains who not too long ago we're battling each other for survival in the prison planet, and now they're here, brought together by Libra? With the conclusion to Salvation Run a few weeks away, it's a bit disappointing that a simple scheduling conflict spoiled the ending to one of DC's most entertaining miniseries.

Pacheco draws Superman's and Wonder Woman's faces a bit too stiff in this issue, but aside from that, his work is on point, particularly in the cover and the spread of the Big Three's meeting room. He's an adequate fill-in for this issue, but I look forward to seeing Ed Benes return next month.

McDuffie has me hyped for both Final Crisis and Trinity. That's impressive, considering he's not even their writer. This issue serves as a great introduction to DC's big event of 2008, though I'm still a bit confused on who the heck Libra is and what his role will be in the big picture. Still, this issue is a good intro to upcoming books, and gets us a bit more familiar with a relatively unknown hooded figure from the past that will play a very big part in the future.

Rating: 7

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