By Jonathan Edwards
As of the writing of this review, I have read and reviewed every single issue of DC’s post-Rebirth Justice League of America. This includes the five one-shots released the first issue of the main series, which I liked. Justice League of America #1 and #2 were disappointing after that, but it wasn’t until about the third issue that I started being entirely outspoken about why the book and why it continues to suck. And in my review for JLA #12, I explained that having such consistently heavy criticism for it is why I don’t drop it. Not because I like hating it, but because I think it’s only fair for me to stick around to formally acknowledge it finally getting good if that were actually to happen. Certain moments throughout its run have been less bad, functional, and even decent, but the majority of the issues those appeared in were still boring or crap or both. So, why do I bring this all up? Because this annual marks the first time JLA has been an overall enjoyable read since Justice League of America: Killer Frost Rebirth #1.
The premise is simple, and thank God for that. Lobo wants Black Canary to accompany him into space to track down and take out “the worst person in the universe.” Why Canary? Because she’s tough, capable, and willing to get her hands a bit dirtier than the others. Okay, fair enough. Why does Lobo want to get this guy? Because he’s responsible for slaughtering multitudes of space dolphins, and Lobo loves himself some dolphins. Justice League of America would be such a better book if the regular issues are more like this. Small team-ups doing specific things for specific characters, and build up to the big baddies that require the full team to take down. Instantly there’s more time to focus and develop the characters that’re present, and as readers, we’re spared continuous exposure to empty, over the top villains with no redeeming qualities and espousing shallow pseudo-philosophies.
All that being said, Justice League of America Annual #1 is not without some problems. For one, it’s longer than it needs to be. There’s a scene of Lobo and Black Canary at a bar that adds absolutely nothing to the story. And, we do get some unnecessary backstory regarding how Lobo ended up on Earth, joined up with the Suicide Squad, joined the JLA, and why he loves dolphins so much. Although, it’s really the dolphin bit that’s the most excessive. I mean, do we really need a reason? Isn’t it enough that Lobo, the “main man” and big bad bastich himself, likes dolphins just because? Isn’t that the whole joke?
As for the art, honestly, it’s the worst I’ve seen from this book and Kelley Jones. The environments all look pretty good, but an absurd number of faces looked rushed and distorted and inconsistent and just plain bad. Some of the bodies are as well, but it’s to a much lesser extent. Really, I should probably rate this lower because of the subpar art. But, I don’t know. I kind of got used to it, and it just didn’t bother me so much when the writing wasn’t mostly trash for once.
There you have it. It took an annual for Justice League of America to get another decent issue. Is it good enough to recommend? No, not really. In the context of JLA, it’s an accomplishment. But when compared to the broader spectrum of quality, it’s still not very high. If you’re going to pick up anything DC this week, there’s nothing, and I mean nothing, better coming out than Batman: Creature of the Night #1. It is absolutely exceptional and more than worth your time and money. In conclusion, does this mean I’m going to stop reviewing the main JLA book? Nope. It’s still in the middle of a particularly awful arc, and for all we know, this annual is an isolated incident. No, I don’t think I’ll be done with this book until we get a full arc that’s acceptable or it gets canceled. And, I still think the latter is the far more likely option.
Justice League of America Annual #1