Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Brightest Day Story Without Characters I Care About: Justice League Of America: Dark Things Flounders.

The Good: Moments of character, Moments of artwork
The Bad: Most of the characters are so obscure as to be boring, Story is light on plot, Some of the artwork is more sketch-like than I enjoy.
The Basics: Justice League Of America: Dark Things follows the Jade storyline in Brightest Day and disappoints even readers who like characters far from the mainstream.

I worked at a comic book shop earlier this year and in the three months I worked there, I am pretty sure we never once sold an issue of Justice Society Of America or, if there even is one, Justice League All-Stars. The only experience I had with the Justice Society Of America was through their tangent story in Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Vol. 2 (reviewed here!) and not knowing the hero set was a serious detraction to me for that book. That said, it ought to be noted that I have no aversion to tangent stories or characters who are not the frontrunners in the DC Universe. To wit, the last graphic novel I actually bought was Justice League: Generation Lost – Volume 1 (reviewed here!). And part of the appeal of Justice (reviewed here) for me is that the a-list heroes are taken out at the beginning, forcing the b-list heroes to rise to the occasion.

In other words, I was not inherently biased against Justice League Of America: Dark Things when I sat down to read it. I picked it up because Jade was part of the Brightest Day Saga and was one of two characters in that storyline whose tale I was completely ignorant of. Reading Justice League Of America: Dark Things changed that and I cannot say it was honestly worth the experience.

Batman and Donna Troy are helping to train Bill the giant gorilla and Starman when the orbital Justice League Watchtower is rocked. Not attacked, the Watchtower just happened to be in the way of a meteor of a glowing green material. When the meteor crashes to Earth, the near-dead Alan Scott floats toward it and the rock reveals Jade, his daughter. But their reunion is short-lived as Alan Scott is transformed by the rock, a large piece of the Starheart that the Guardians created, and disappears with Obsidian.

Soon, the Earth is rocked by natural forces out of alignment and metahumans like Power Girl going berserk. Under Batman’s guidance, the Justice League takes charge of the situation. While Batman takes the heroes least likely to be affected by the Starheart to Alan Scott’s new base on the moon, the others remain behind to try to keep Earth from tearing itself apart. Jade goes with Batman to confront her father and brother, deeply concerned that Alan Scott, even if only because the Starheart has possessed him, will destroy the world.

Justice League Of America: Dark Things makes a pass at character issues, as Jade finds herself jealous of the prior relationship that Donna Troy appears to have had with Kyle Rayner. Part of the problem with this, though, is that by the time Kyle Rayner entered the narrative, I had already lost interest. The book oscillates between repeating itself – as it does when the captured Justice Society Of America characters make an observation about who is truly in control on the moon – and feeling like it is skipping over important character or plot points.

Nowhere is the feeling that something important is missing more true than when the Brightest Day crossover occurs explicitly. Very near the end, Jade suddenly hears her mission again and within three pages does what she has to do. Part of the irksome aspect of this is that she did not talk about any of the problems or concerns she had in regard to having been resurrected prior to her suddenly becoming a White Lantern again. Sure, she whines about how she did not go see her father after she resurrected, but she does not have the sense of being a person on a mission. In other words, she seems pretty much oblivious to the Entity’s demands upon her.

Most of the artwork looks good, though there are several places – mostly big battle scenes – where characters look far too much like other characters, making it easy to become confused. By contrast, the coloring is rich and engaging and helps the story to flow well. The cover gallery at the end of the anthology book is quite nice.

But in the end, Justice League Of America: Dark Things suffers because of what it actually is and that is an ultimately pointless story. The Starheart is supposed to be an exceptionally powerful cosmic artifact and it takes over the character who is nicknamed the most powerful human alive. That being the case, the ultimate resolution between Alan Scott and the Starheart is vastly unsatisfying. Instead, the book just seems like it is mostly an excuse to fill up panels with a Green Lantern reminiscent of the artwork from Kingdom Come (reviewed here!). While I truly dug that book, it does it a disservice to have it tied to this, lesser, story.

For other Brightest Day works, please check out my reviews of:
Brightest Day - Volume 1
Brightest Day - Volume 2
Brightest Day - Volume 3
Brightest Day: Green Lantern
Brightest Day: Green Lantern Corps - Revolt Of The Alpha-Lanterns
The Black Ring - Volume 1
Green Arrow: Into The Woods
Justice League: Generation Lost - Volume 2


For other book reviews, please click here!

© W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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