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Location: Lancashire
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Subj: Justice League of America #3...
Posted: Mon Aug 31, 2015 at 03:52:26 pm EDT (Viewed 832 times)

Alas I have been planning to do a full review of the latest Bryan Hitch issue since Friday but just have not had the time, and will not have the time. So to get the monkey of my back and commend Hitch on a reasonable installment I shall go with cliff-notes...

*After an initial two issues of occasionally perplexing characterisation and plotting Bryan Hitch delivers a third installment which brings the various events more into focus and in the process delivers an issue of JLA that is so unwaveringly traditional in is plotting and flow I must take the stand and salute it.
I salute it not because it is some post-modern take on The Authority as some might have expected from Hitch and his greatest success, not because it pushes the League into radical new territory, and not due to any cutting edge artwork. No, I salte it for the fact is there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, that is at all original or fresh in Bryan Hitch's Justice League of America. No attempt to reinvent the wheel so to speak. Just a charming commitment to delivering a traditional by the numbers Justice League of America adventure.
From the very beginnings the Justice League of America has been a book about earths greatest heroes defending us from devious invaders from outer space and beyond who want to deceive us, conquer us, own us. And often just feed on us... Whether that be dear old Kanjar-Ro, Starro, Starbreaker, Despero, Nekron, The Overmaster, or White Martians. A long long procession of ne-er do well conquerors have come for us and found the Justice League to contend with first. And Bryan Hitch now adds Kryptonian God Rao as the latest entry to that ever growing encyclopedia. So, far from being "groundbreaking", or "epic" Hitch's delivered result is a tale so familiar and predictable I would see it as perfectly at home in any era of the original series' heyday you care to imagine.

*Artwise Bryan Hitch illustrates a competent production, but by competent I mean Pleasant enough to look at, but below his usual high standards. For a project launched as a creators own unique vision Justice League of America #3 shows us this isn't the same Bryan Hitch who lovingly illustrated Warren Ellis' scripts for The Authority, not is this the Hitch who bowled us over with his original tenure on the JLA in the mid-90s with Mark Waid.
If there is a love of the book and a desire to do the best work of his career for his debut as a writer/artist it is not at all apparent here. The panel arrangement is noticably subdued, full or double page spreads seem wholly random in choice and rushed padding. The figurework is generally fine but strangley Hal Jordan is given a body-type that is peculiar indeed to look upon... more 'Brother Power' than man of action Green Lantern has the look of what might be that of a mannequin, with plastic limbs and plastic skin his deformity is hard to ignore on the page.

*There is a neat opening segment where Green Lantern and Flash arrive uncerimoniously through a wormhole into the midst of what looks to be a war on a strange alien desert world. Immediately the two friends are doubled up in physical strain and caught in the effects of the massive gravity of this world, and this is a nice touch from Hitch as very rarely do writers acknowledge and show such radically different environments when taking their cast into outer space. Despite this hardship The Flash is still somehow able to stand and run, and Green Lantern is informed by his Power Ring that they are in fact in the far past and on ancient Krypton! Hence the high gravity, and so as the Flash dissapears Green Lantern is escorted to see Rao. Who assumes might be a deliberate choice of villain for his opening arc as a part of Hitch's tribute to the Silver-age of Starro, Despero, Eclipso, and every other 'O' who crossed paths with the Leaguers.

*What to make of Rao? Well, what indeed. A mysterious visitor to earth who is here to solve all our problems and proceeds to do so. Rendering the whole concept of the Superhero and a Justice League redundant in the process - God has arrived. There is nothing new here, Geoff Johns did this storyline with Gog back in his Justice Society days, Grant Morrison did it in his own JLA debut with The Hyperclan descending to help us to a better world. Proving the popularity and appeal of the plot Johns played the card yet again in his recent Superman/Ulysses storyline with John Romita. Here for his debut as a writer & Artist Bryan Hitch adds nothing new to this well worn plotline, Kryptonian god Rao is such an enigma it is all but impossible to pass much of a judgement on him. Even as he and his prophets effortlessly end famine in Africa and wave away the existence of the rival warlords and people trafficers who would continue to make the vulnerable suffer, we, the reader, know he is too good to be true. Bryan Hitch is not the writer that a Warren Ellis or Mark Waid is, when he had Rao converse with Father Michael and his helper the case for Rao to intervene in local hardships is barely laid out by them, and Rao's response to their points never remotely comes close to acknowledging that probems like Famine and human nature are a part of the way things are in life. To Rao there are no problems, not when he can literally wave his hand and those problems cease to exist. But surely it cannot be that simple, to wave and have reality reordered to fit a preffered ideal of paradise?
An overfamiliar story premise such as this one is not necessarily something to be criticised, what matters is the route the writer takes and whether the questions at hand are sufficiently engaging as to be entertaining and intriguing. And so far Hitch just about gets the balance right in his story content. While this storyline is too unoriginal and unambitious to ever down as one of the greats it can still win its immediate battle for validation by simply being engaging to read right here and now. Thus while Rao appears before good hearted aid workers to discuss how one might solve the world's food shortage and lack of relief for the war-torn of the third world, the realities of these peoples day-to-day politics and the troubled countries infrastructure that keeps peace-on-earth and goodwill-to-all-men at bay become mere dust to be wished away by what is God come to earth. And Superman it appears is a willing participant in reinforcing Rao's right to act as God on earth.
A fact Batman is naturally remonstrating with him upon...

In summation: Arriving at chapter three here I found myself unable to be critical of Bryan Hitch's writing debut, as despite its near complete lack of any original content or ideas it IS readable. It is also about as traditional a Justice League of America tale as one can get, the story of an alien force come to earth and the League's coming together to question and stop that ill-meaning force. As a book the JLA has used this story formula since its very inception, and if it was good enough for us then it has to be good enough for us now... So thus I found this an acceptable and reasonably entertaining opener for the new title. The flaw in the book lies in the hype not being true to the reality... but one cannot blame Bryan Hitch for what the company decides to bill his tale as. It is simply a reflection on the reality of how earnest marketing in the modernday has become. \(coffee\)