Pros: The pre-Crisis Legion of Super-Heroes is back; artwork is great
Cons: Main story feels unfinished and a bit scattered
One of the most honoured traditions has always been the Justice League and Justice Society team-ups. This was quite evident when the Multiverse was intact pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths. Ever since the worlds merged and a single universe was formed, these team-ups have taken on a different meaning. Somehow, writers Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns and found a way for it to have great importance in Justice League of America, Volume 2: The Lightning Saga by making it a three-way team-up including the Legion of Super-Heroes. This hardcover edition collects Justice League of America #0 and #8-12 and Justice Society of America #5-6.
When the captured Trident turns out to be Karate Kid from the Legion of Super-Heroes, lots of questions are asked as the both the Justice League and Justice Society learn that several members of the Legion are in this time period. Unfortunately they are scattered all over the world and even in different planets with no memory of why they are situated in the 21st century. It isn’t until when Superman recognizes one of the lightning rods that he realizes what they are doing at the cost of one of the Legionnaires’ lives: someone has to die in order to save another. In the end, the return of one hero is a surprise to all, even though it was never the Legion’s mission in the first place.
Meltzer and Johns collaborate on this tale within their respective titles with artwork provided by Ed Benes, Dale Eaglesham, and Shane Davis. What this story arc does is re-introduce the pre-Crisis Legion of Super-Heroes to current continuity. It also re-establishes the fact that Superman was part of this legendary team when he was a boy but lost contact with them for years. A lot of the Silver Age ruminations are resurfacing in this post-Infinite Crisis world. While it’s great for longtime fans such as myself, as indicating by Meltzer and john’s love for this time period, it’s very confusing for new readers. This Legion, the one I grew up with, is a welcome back story for me but it doesn’t help that there are two other versions of the Legion concurrently in place as well. Which is the real Legion of Super-Heroes? What isn’t known at the time that there is a plan to rectify this situation. The Legion’s plight is later continued in Action Comics with the story arc titled “Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes” and later concluded with Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds.
While I the fanboy in me loved the concept, I was also a bit frustrated with the story. This isn’t very accessible for those not familiar with the history of Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes because in the end they are the central characters with both the JLA and JSA serving as the supporting cast. Plus, there are some many subplots going on that do not make sense at all. One in particular deals with Ultra-Humanite, Per Degaton and Despero forming a team. From the way it is setup, one would think this is a future plot point for another JLA/JSA team-up. This is such a red herring because the resolution does not take place in either titles at all. If you are a Geoff Johns fan, then you will realize that this dastardly trio ends up becoming antagonists in the new Booster Gold series. So why was there such a build up in this title when nothing else occurs? That really confused me.
Other stories are also included in this collection. Justice League of America #0 focuses on how this new team started to form itself in the wake of Infinite Crisis with Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman at a roundtable discussion on who should be on the team. Justice League of America #11, with art by Gene Ha in a stand-alone issue, focuses on Red Arrow and Vixen as they have to try to find a way to escape after being buried under fourteen floors of a hotel. Justice League of America #12 takes a look at the lives of the League members in a story titled “Monitor Duty.”
The artwork by main contributors Ed Benes, Dale Eaglesham, and Shane Davis provide exciting layouts and dynamics. Gene Ha definitely steals the spotlight with his one-issue fill-in and solidifies his place as one of the best illustrators in the business. I’ve followed this man’s work since the beginning so it’s wonderful to see the progression.
Justice League of America, Volume 2: The Lightning Saga isn’t bad by any means but I think the main story falls short with a lot of ambiguity that will leave new readers scratching their heads. Meltzer definitely emphasizes on character development, which is always welcomed, but there are times that it sometimes gets in the way of a cohesive tale. To me, the whole “Lightning Saga” ordeal felt unfinished in terms of any clear-cut resolution despite the excitement it invoked with the return of my version of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Format: Hardcover, 224pp
Publisher: DC Comics
Pub. Date: January 2009
JLA/Avengers by Kurt Busiek and George Pérez
JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice by Geoff Johns, David S. Goyer and Carlos Pacheco
JLA: Earth-2 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
JLA: Liberty and Justice by Paul Dini and Alex Ross
JLA: Salvation Run by Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges and Sean Chen
JLA: Secret Origins by Paul Dini and Alex Ross
JLA: That Was Now, This Is Then by Roger Stern, John Byrne and Mark Farmer
JLA: Tower of Babel by Mark Waid, Howard Porter and Drew Geraci
JLA: World Without Grownups by Todd Dezago, Mike McKone and Humberto Ramos
Justice League: The Nail by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer
Justice League of America, Volume 1: The Tornado's Path by Brad Meltzer and Ed Benes
***This is part of my 2012 Funny Pages Write-Off. Let your inner geekdom out. You have until the end of July.