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JLA #7 is a Decent Table Setting Issue with Some Good Fight Scenes and Characters

JLA #7 is a Decent Table Setting Issue with Some Good Fight Scenes and Characters

Writers: Geoff Johns, Jeff Lemire
Penciller: Doug Mahnke
Inkers: Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Doug Mahnke, Marc Deering, Walden Wong
Colorists: Nathan Eyring, Pete Pantazis, Gabe Eltaeb
Publisher: DC Comics

After the events of last issue which was full of conflict between different superheroes and involved a lot of switching teams, JLA #7 decided to slow down the pace. The last third of the comic moves the plot quickly and sets up an even bigger conflict that the earlier ones. But JLA #7 is mostly characters wandering around and reaching dead ends. However, Jeff Lemire and Geoff Johns use this traveling time to explore different characters in “Trinity War” that haven’t been fleshed out. Element Woman, Atom, Martian Manhunter, and Simon Baz are the recipients of this character development. Even though five inkers and three colorists are credited on this issue, Doug Mahnke gets to draw a few beautiful spreads and fight scenes. The last four pages are perfect and really raise the stakes of “Trinity War”.

The plot of this comic barely moves on past the ending of Justice League Dark #22 where Superman and his team searched for Dr. Psycho, Batman’s team went to look for Dr. Light in heaven, and Wonder Woman’s team looked for Pandora’s Box. Batman’s team doesn’t get much to do in this issue, and only Wonder Woman gets a line of dialogue on her team. However, the scenes with the actual “Justice League of America” are interesting and contain most of the action, characterization, and funny dialogue lines. There is also a bit of debate about the League itself which wasn’t established for the most ethical reasons. Amanda Waller, who founded the Justice League of America and Suicide Squad, will definitely be a major factor in “Trinity War” going forward. However, if it wasn’t for the last four or five pages, this would be a pretty boring comic.

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The strength of JLA #7 is the insights into some of the side members of the various Justice Leagues. Even though he doesn’t have much to do except hurl Simon_Baz_with_gunconstructs at the House of Mystery, the reader gets to see the gigantic chip of Simon Baz’s shoulder when Flash compares him to Hal Jordan. He has gigantic shoes to fill and doesn’t want to embarass himself in front of heroes, like The Flash and Batman. This issue also offered at a small glance into the character of Martian Manhunter. He is basically a pragmatist with a heart of gold who isn’t afraid to go into people’s minds if it means protecting Earth. However, J’onn realizes that some heroes, like Superman, can’t cross these lines and wants him to leave when he interrogates Dr. Psycho. Justice League newcomers Element Woman and Atom share a poignant conversation about their friendship showing how sometimes being a superhero divides one from the people that they love. These personal moments give “Trinity War” bigger emotional stakes as the event moves forward.

Doug Mahnke finally gets to cut loose in JLA #7. Some of the pages in this comic showed his skill at depicting epic fight scenes with an ensemble cast of superheroes. And it isn’t just the big splash pages, but the subtle things, like Simon Baz’s constructs, Martian Manhunter’s psychic powers, and Firestorm defusing a bomb. He gives each character something to do in these scenes, which should be reused as storyboards for a Justice League film. However, his work isn’t perfect. Some of his faces are a bit off, especially Lex Luthor and Dr. Psycho. This probably has to do with all the inkers that outlined his figures. Having multiple inkers also means a lot of blank backgrounds. The House of Mystery doesn’t have the dark charm that it did in Mikel Janin’s Justice League Dark work. Despite its slow moving plot and artistic flaws, JLA #7 has enough epic splash pages and character development to make it a slightly above average read.

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