Rating: 3.5/5 – Nostalgia-Fueled Fun for Fans of the Giffen/DeMatteis League
by ComicSpectrum reviewer R.C. Killian.
When Giffen and DeMatteis started this new Justice League book, I was admittedly unaware. Heck, I didn’t realize the two of them were writing together again until I was out on the Wednesday Issue 12 came out and I saw Ted Kord as Blue Beetle for the first time in ages, right there with Buster—er, Booster Gold. The two of them stand on one of my shelves, in Justice League International-tribute fashion, so that cover, and looking closer to see those two names made my ears perk up. Well, my eyes, I suppose—but you get the idea.
While the book was initially an entirely separated story about cloned core JLA members (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern) with skewed personalities and incomplete memories a thousand years from now, issues 11 and 12 started to subtly turn JL3K into a backdoor continuation of the old Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League books. It’s only gotten more apparent, of course: Tora “Ice” Olafsdotter returned in #13, and now, in this, we see the return of her best friend Beatriz “Fire” da Costa. The armies of Etrigan the Demon have been mounted to take the isolated castle Ice built, and the highly dysfunctional future-Justice League has set itself up to protect it. In an amusing flip, the reduced strength of the core Justice League members—and Superman still just cannot remember that he can’t fly—allows them to be relegated to less impressive auras than the now ancient Ice and the demonically-influenced Fire. It’s almost as if we’re setting up the members of the JLI (and Keith and J.M. just can’t resist actually name-checking that team) as more powerful than this time’s “Trinity”.
Returns, then, are the order of the day in this issue–beyond, sadly, more Ted and Booster, though I imagine that’s coming. We’ve got the reduced power of the future JLA and their strange story slowly merging with the more…peculiar fare that made up the JLI of yore. But that’s not all that returned: Howard Porter, after an issue’s absence, has returned to bring the book back to its familiar look, after the jarringly different Andy Kuhn in #14. Porter, enhanced by the appropriately bright colours of Hi-Fi, puts in a lot of fiddle-y detail and expression in the characters, though it’s not a Kevin Maguire-like focus on figures and faces, and he does lean a bit on open mouths, particularly with Teri-Barry-The Flash. Now, prior to this, when last we—by “we” I mean readers and writers of Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League, as neither pre- nor post-New 52 Fire and Ice continuity is followed—left the two of them (as Ice referenced in issue 14), Fire had foolishly become Orpheus to Ice’s Eurydice, turning back to confirm she was leaving Hell with her and Guy Gardner, back in I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League! from JLA Classified #4-9.
And here we have the problem-slash-joy: this book is rapidly becoming of primary interest to fans of that old series (like myself!) but it’s difficult to imagine that, even though much of this is comfortably relayed to readers here, it will be appreciated in anything like the same way. Man, it’s great fun to watch these two completely ignore whatever rules and not-rules the New 52 and even some earlier stories created and just blithely continue the story they’ve worked on intermittently for the last 20-some-odd years, and Howard Porter’s pencils keep it engaging, but it might be a bit lost on newer readers, and it still seems to be cementing its identity, for now. Worth it for standing fans, take pause if you don’t know these stories—and at least go read the old ones!
Reviewed by: R.C. Killian
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