artists: Lewis LaRosa and Al Milgrom
it's a blessing that issue #75 of JLA did not end with
someone on the Watchtower asking, "what are we going to do
with 14 Justice Leaguers?" (Though also in hindsight, Gamemnae
ended up with a suspicious resemblance to the all-new all-different
X-Men's first menace, Krakoa, The Living Island…)
we must leave it up to #76 to answer that unspoken question.
Cleverly, though, Kelly begins it by answering one we all
forgot to ask: just where the heck is Plastic Man in all this?
broken up into a lot of mini-Plastic Mans, rookie, expert,
veteran, and sub-microscopic, all lying on the ocean floor.
For three thousand years since the second fall of Atlantis.
Many fans have wondered if the post-Crisis Plastic Man could
have been superheroing since World War II; Kelly didn't necessarily
answer the question definitively, but at least goes on record
as saying it's possible.
the cusp of also laying the groundwork for a Plastic Man far
more powerful than anybody dreamed, Kelly also has O'Brien
leave the team. Though his reasons are sound and moving, it
seems a little anti-climactic. Not even an upcoming one-shot
from Kyle Baker feels like enough room to really explore it.
Plastic Man isn't the only one to leave this issue. For the
first time in revised League history, the Martian Manhunter
takes some time away. Like Plastic Man, his reasons are sound,
and reading DC press releases makes it sound like J'onn's
j'ourney will be covered in future issues of this comic. In
Kelly's hands, it may prove more interesting than the Martian's
obviously, Green Arrow, too, takes a hike. And while you can't
disagree with the decision (unlike Batman, he does
work more effectively in a solo book), Kelly takes a cheap
shot at him involving Hawkgirl, Faith, and Wonder Woman's
lasso. This isn't the Oliver Queen currently appearing in
his own book; if Kelly had read the Smith run, he'd know that
his gamesmanship is for real.
who leave come as no surprise, just as, really, who stays
will not rock the foundations of this book. Manitou, Raven,
by any other name Apache Chief obviously has no place to go,
and Kelly doesn't have enough juice for a limited series on
the character. Yet. Ditto for Faith, a character who remains
largely a mystery, except that every time she makes an appearance,
I hear Stevie Nicks singing "Gypsy." Weird vibe. Go figure.
unfortunate decision regarding timing of publication, the
fate of Aquaman comes as a shock to his fellow Leaguers, but
not to readers who picked up his
first issue a couple of weeks ago. And he sure seems calmer
about it here.
much of this issue seems rote story-wise, the guesting art
team lifts it up a notch. LaRosa handles the conflicting styles
of the usual League portrayal and the long-forgotten "how
Plastic Man sees the world." On the latter style, in particular,
Milgrom proves a perfect match as inker. Though it would be
nice to see Mahnke and Nguyen back on a regular basis, this
is a far less painful pinch-hit than could have been.
very soon, we will see how effective the new team will be.
In Kelly's hands, it could be good, but for the first time
in this title's history, it won't have the core "Big Seven"
to anchor it. Once upon a time, it was thought that that was
why people bought the book in the first place.
your fingers crossed.