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Location: Lancashire
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Subj: Justice League of America #7 - The Path to Glory.
Posted: Sun Jan 31, 2016 at 08:40:06 am EST (Viewed 579 times)

The last time I looked at Bryan Hitch's Justice League of America It was with the considered verdict that despite its lack of any originality it would be unjust to overly criticise Hitch's efforts when all he was doing was channelling the formula that had powered the Justice League of America for much of its six decades of publishing. As the seventh issue hits publication then that conclusion has not changed, Hitch's JLA is an impressively dense reading experience that channels the classic Justice League formula of earth under siege from beyond, the team splitting up to tackle the problem, and all wrapped up in a very modern sheen that is entirely of todays direct market distribution and with both eyes on the trade collection. This formatting and heavy decompression is the one thing that serperates the Church of Rao storyline from any one of dozens of such invasion yarns from the Newsstand era and the JLA' peak commercial success. Admittedly too by the time issue #7 here concludes one cannot but reiterete the observation that Bryan Hitch's story when taken on its own merits is quite well told despite the overly heavy decompression of it all and is filled with neat ideas - just not necessarily his own neat ideas... \(yes\)

I must congraulate Hitch as he is that rare thing in todays comics - the writer/artist handed his own book to work with. Only Dan Jurgens springs to mind as being considered able and wworthy of this honour. And while critical reaction to JLA appears somewhat subdued I cannot say in the end that this is at all a poor book, its main drawback is that it is just too slow in pace and lacking originality.
With its focus on the nature of faith and religious worship Hitch treads rich ground for discussion, JLA is not the place for anything approaching introspection and philosophising but Hitch does offer a strong context for thought as he has a God arrive on earth from the stars above and all of earths problems quickly melting away. What happens when the people cease to have their day to day problems and crises to wrestle with and test them? When someone else, an allpowerful all-wise God, is there to solve every one of them? When every niggling question and doubt fades into irrelevance...? Of course though this is a classic JLA formula, the great Rao is offering salvation and everlasting bliss, but as we and the League learn is in truth just another predator from the Stars taking advantage of human faith and need in order to offer them their ideal - heaven on earth. But with a hidden price. With the Justice Leaguers scattered across time and space only Batman remains on earth, with Cyborg, to plot a counter strategy against Rao and his disciples. With Earth all but converted and Superman a prisoner on Rao's ark who can save the day but Batman.

Credit to Hitch then. The Church of Rao is a storyline that is rather plodding, stretched out, but still well written and with a lot of sincere effort put into its production. I find then I cannot be too critical as I appreciate such effort, this is Bryan Hitch's first major Writer/Artist project and as such it means a great deal to him, he is trying. As a tale It borrows most heavily from Grant Morrison, this issue has a neat Superman moment first seen used in John Byrne's 1986 reinvention, there are rather puzzling but intriguing hints of time travel paradoxes to come, and in the end Hitch manages to give every one of the Leaguers equal attention and an important place in the unfolding plot. Rao is a rather fascinating character whom we are being slowly invoved in, a man who started out with the finest of motives but is corrupted over time by power and self-preservation. There is still a ways to go in discovering his origins, and for this storyline, but again, I find I cannot be overly critical on it all as Hitch is working hard and in the end all he does is deliberately channel the classic JLA spirit and formula with a modern sheen put to it. In this sense then this is the most faithful and traditional Justice League book seen in the New 52, it has confidence and a heart, and certainly despite its flaws it is one which I am enjoying considerably more than Geoff Johns' rather more half hearted efforts elsewhere....

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