By Jonathan Edwards
Y'know, there actually is a reason I keep coming back to review this book despite my nigh constant condemnation of it. Actually, if anything, it's because I'm so vocal about how bad Justice League of America is that I want to be among the first to recognize it if I ever end up being wrong and this series does eventually get better. Now, is that the case here? Eh, kind of I guess? Personally, I'd only describe this as the least bad issue in a long time. Issue #10 may have been more substantial, but it still had its glaring problems. Justice League of America #12 on the other hand is bland, but it technically still functions. At least as far as structure is concerned. It's also the first issue of the series to properly follow-up on something that happened in the prequel one-shots. And no, Vanity, Caden, and Ray's mom showing up in the previous two issues don't count. Aside from that being a bad story full of holes in logic and other problems, the Might Beyond the Mirror wasn't introduced as a concept until issue #4 or #5. Anyway, Panic in the Microverse: Part One.
We start with Batman meeting Lobo away from the JLA, the latter complaining about still having to be on the team, and the former responding that he needs Lobo for some prospective fight. This is not the first time we've seen this scene. In fact, it keeps popping up in one form or another every couple of issues, and I don't understand why. I get that Orlando is trying to set something up here, but they literally always play out the same way and never incorporate any additional information. It wasn't subtle, nor was it particularly interesting the first time it happened, so it's even less so each successive time it's included. The only people that would benefit in any sense from it would be those who haven't read the previous issues. And if the goal is to facilitate new readers, great. As Stan Lee says, "every comic book is someone's first." However, you still have to do it in a way that isn't entirely redundant to returning readers. Granted, at least it's been relegated to only a single page here.
After that, we get brief check-ins with the rest of the team. Vixen and Black Canary save some sort of submarine. Killer Frost has an incredibly short fight with the villain Afterthought. Ray and Xenos drink wine and watch a movie. And, you know what? For the first time, we are shown each member of the JLA in a format that actually feels functional. Opening with a short and sweet montage flows infinitely better that interjecting other story fragments that barely go anywhere throughout the issue. And when the main story starts, we actually stay focused on it until the end. The plot itself isn't anything special, but at least it's structurally cohesive enough that it's not a chore to get through.
Ivan Reis is back, so the art is all pretty good. Although, I do have one fairly big gripe. The Microverse itself looks like a generic alien planet, and the inhabitants of the Microverse (because, that's apparently a thing) look like equally generic aliens. If I didn't already know it was supposed to be the microscopic foundation of the universe, then I wouldn't be able to tell just from looking at it. With so much raw aesthetic potential, to not do anything unique and/or meaningful is disappointing, downright boring, and frankly weakens the overall story.
I'm not going to beat around the bush. I still don't recommend picking up this book. Yes, it's nice to finally have a focused issue without any terrible philosophical "debates" or half the shit happening offpanel. But at the end of the day, that's what JLA isn't doing. What it is doing is nothing that's really worth your time or money.
Justice League of America #12