A cover and several pages from James Robinson’s run on Justice League of America, which ran from issues #38 to #60, and Justice Society of America #41-43 and features art from Mark Bagley, Brett Booth, Miguel Sepulveda, Daniel Sampere, Wayne Faucher, Andrew Dalhouse, Rob Leigh, Rob Hunter, Norm Rapmund and others.
I passed on this run when it originally came out. Despite Robinson’s Starman being one of my favorite series of all time, I wasn’t especially keen on his then-recent work with Superman and Bagley’s stuff never had much appeal. But now that the new 52 has pretty well wiped away everything I enjoyed about the old DCU, I was curious as to how the last ‘real’ Justice League book wrapped up. Turns out it’s a seriously flawed but endearing celebration of the DCU that manages to end on an appropriately touching note, as seen in the last page above.
To get the bad stuff out of the way first, Robinson’s dialogue is often clunky and oddly crass, he relies far too much on the ‘teammate gone bad’ trope, and the art is annoyingly cheesecakey and downright amateurish throughout, especially during Bagley’s part of the run. He’s much sloppier here than he was on Amazing Spider-man way back when. I also think the individual story arcs go on a bit too long.
All that said, there is much here for hardcore DC nerds to enjoy. Robinson put an interesting team together, had it editorially dismantled immediately, and then assembled and even stranger group featuring the likes of Congorilla and the blue alien Starman. Relatively obscure characters like Shiloh Norman, Blue Jay, and Zauriel are used effectively in guest spots, and fan faves like Jade, Obsidian and Robinson’s beloved Golden Agers in the JSA almost get as much page time as the League. He really does a good job incorporating characters from all over the DCU, giving the book a welcome Justice League Unlimited feel. What’s more, the central leads are all women. As we now bemoan the lack of female-led books on the stands, it’s frustrating that DC erased this version of their world, wherein Jade, Donna Troy and Jesse Quick could anchor a book. Heck, those characters don’t even exist in the new paradigm. We also get more of the Dick Grayson Batman, a concept which still had so much life in it when Flashpoint reared it’s ugly head.
There are some fun villain ideas here too, including a cadre of shadow powered foes led by Eclipso, and a mysterious gang of evil New Gods dopplegangers.
I think the appeal of this run will be limited, ultimately, but those with an affinity for the history of the old DC universe might want to have a look, especially if you can find it in the dollar bin like I did. Despite all the flaws it provides a fitting end to the Justice League, with a host of former Teen Titans and Infinity Inc.ers stepping up to carry on the legacy of the world’s greatest heroes.
On top of all that, there’s a scene where Cthulu wrestles with a giant golden gorilla.