Justice League of America: The Tornado’s Path

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I figured the Justice League would get back together at some point. After all, in the DC universe, there’s always some wacko trying to take over the world or end all life as we know it.  A superhero response team is kind of a necessity.  Their return was inevitable. What was surprising was just how well-written their reformation was, and how it seemed to tie in perfectly to what’s been going on in other trades.

To sum up what happened, let’s look at the members of this incarnation of the League.

  1. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman – Yes, I’m lumping these three together because they only ever appear in-panel as a trio, and because they share a common story.  Their inclusion in the League was never even a matter of debate (at least for me).  These three are of almost mythological proportions, even within their own world; of course they’re going to be a part of the League.  That being said, their meeting to discuss potential members was incredibly entertaining, if only to help explain who they vetted out or who they believed was ready.  These three share a lot of history, and it made sense that they would have a decent amount of say in who joins a new JLA.  Also, they made sure to vote that they each wanted the others in, and that was just plain adorable. Even if they wanted to, try telling Batman he’s not allowed to be a member. Go ahead, see what happens.
  2. Black Lightning – He’s finally getting his moment in the spotlight. I admit to not being incredibly excited about his inclusion, but it’s nothing personal. I just don’t know very much about the character, so there’s not a whole lot for me to get excited about at this point. He has some cool points in the comic, but he feels like one of those characters who can be really interesting if well-written, but can just as easily fall into obscurity when paired with the likes of Superman or Batman.  We’ll see.

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3. Red Tornado – A bulk of the comic focuses on Reddy’s journey to becoming human. With the help of Deadman, his consciousness/soul is transferred into a human body, and for a few blissful days he knows what it is to be fully alive. Unfortunately, it was all a trick for Solomon Grundy to gain access to his android body. In the end, Reddy’s life is on the line and he has no choice but to be put back in his android form.  By the end of the storyline the status quo is returned, but the journey was exceedingly well done. Poor John wanted nothing more than to be human, and to have tasted it for so brief a time, only to have to sacrifice it to save his own life, must have been torturous.  The comic gives the story the weight it deserves, and left me caring much more about Red Tornado and his quest for humanity that I had previously.

4. Black Canary – She’s not the focus of the story, but she kicks major butt in every scene in which she appears.  Be it threatening bad guys or watching as Roy comes into his own, Dinah is a solid member of the League (and almost felt like another no-brainer, given how many incarnations of it she’s been a part of).  Even more impressive is that she’s name chairwoman of the League, a roll I can’t wait to see her fill.  I really, really want to see her put Batman in his place after he goes off on one of his snits and decides he knows what’s best.  Please tell me that’s in her future.

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5. Arsenal/Red Arrow – Roy was always sort of this ancillary character to me.  Yeah yeah, Green Arrow’s son, same trick shot schtick as his dad, etc etc.  Here though, Roy is given his own personality, making him fair more entertaining that he’s been in previous comics. Obviously filling the role his father once had not only as archer, but jokester of the group, Roy fulfills what can only be dubbed his birthright by finally adopting the name “Red Arrow”, paying homage to his father and becoming a legitimate hero in his own right. He doesn’t quite fully believe in himself yet, as is obvious above when he thinks his invitation to join the JLA is a joke.  His uncertainty is endearing, and provides a great foil to the otherwise excessively confident group.  Also, his obvious crush on Kendra is totally adorable and I want to read so much more about it, please and thank you.

6. Green Lantern – Hal’s inclusion seems like a no-brainer, but given his history I wondered if the League would be able to accept him as a member again (read: if Batman would be able to accept it).  Surprisingly, the two seem to have reached at least a minor truce, and Hal seems to be one step closer to redeeming himself in the eyes of the world.  He serves more as a mentor figure to Roy in this comic, rather than having any major plot points of his own, but that’s okay. Hal has done plenty in his lifetime, and just having him in the group makes a difference, even if it’s just to bring his tremendous amount of experience to the table.

7. Hawkgirl – Like a few other characters, Kendra doesn’t have much of a storyline here. She flirts with Roy and has a few one-liners, but the story was never centered on her.  Honestly, I’m just happy to see a few more women in the League, and I’d like to read more Hawkgirl storylines. My knowledge of the Hawk-family is sorely lacking, and if I can gain a bit of insight from the new Justice League comics, it’s all for the better.

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8. Vixen – Vixen is one of those characters who always pops up in random trades, enough that I know who she is, and yet I don’t really know much about her as a character.  This comic helped change that. Not only does brad Metzer writer her really well, helping explain exactly how her powers work without relying on her summarizing them, but she’s allowed to finally be one of the heavy hitters, taking out Amazo in the above panel after he all but wiped out the rest of the League.  Prior to reading this trade I never would have thought Vixen had any right being a member of such an esteemed group; now, it’s clear that she’ll be a valuable asset, and I’m hoping to learn more about her as the title continues.

This comic surprised me, not only because of how much I enjoyed the story, but because of how well-written all of the characters were.  There’s an inherent difficulty in writing a story with so many main characters, and I’d imagine it’s even more challenging given that the story is spread out over a number of issues.  Metlzer finds the perfect balance of including just enough scenes with the side characters, while allowing others to be the primary focus.  What’s more, he gives more page time to the characters that truly need it.  Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are great to read about, but we all know they’re going to be in the League, and we all know exactly who they are. A Justice League comic needs to introduce its lesser-known characters so that people will actually care about more than the core members.  In this Brad Meltzer succeeded, making me eagerly await the continuation of this series.

-Jess

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