Over the years I’ve come to hate the way today’s comic writers slag off Justice League Detroit. They weren’t losers, they were heroes as much as any member of the JLA before them. And when their day in the sun was nearing its end, confrontations with two Silver Age villains, Despero and Professor Ivo, gave us some of the most powerful, dramatic JLA stories ever. The second of these also brought the deaths of members Vibe and Commander Steel.
And it’s Hispanic tremor chap Vibe who is our viewpoint character in this Blackest Night tie in, his memory download recapping his short history in the DC Universe. Happily, writer James Robinson doesn’t take the opportunity to knock the Detroit League, they’re presented as nothing less than a valid incarnation of the team.
While I’m not the biggest fan of corpses as villains, I like Vibe so much that I’m delighted to see him get some play here, going up against old teammates Gypsy and Vixen in the darkened Hall of Justice. We also meet Black Lantern Commander Steel and the campest-looking BL yet, Zatara. He battles daughter Zatanna in the daftest hero/villain confrontation in ages (Kcilc ot egralne): Neither combatant comes across as the brightest of buttons here . . .
My favourite scene in the book has Red Tornado unleash his full, as they say, elemental fury on Vibe, slashing him to ribbons. My least favourite sees the good Dr Light, Kimiyo Hoshi, come across her evil predecessor, Dr Arthur Light, licking the detached head of a character whom I rather liked – sure, I know she died last month in Blackest Night, but the paedo-necrophilia I can live without.
Kimiyo, by the way, must be missing Aquaman, as she refers to Arthur Light as (Arthur) Curry.
As a by the numbers Blackest Night drive-by cash-in, this is fine. but for some reason DC has packaged it as a 30pp issue for £3.99 and there just isn’t the story to merit it. For all the world it seems as if the decision to up the page count was made at a late stage and James Robinson’s script stretched out to fill the extra space. That might explain the very rushed-looking art job, full of needlessly large panels, and easily the worst work I’ve ever seen from penciller Mark Bagley. Look at this, for example: Now you can probably tell the human satellite dish at the bottom is meant to be Dr Light, but seriously, did you spot Gypsy? Bagley, here inked by Rob Hunter, is usually far better than this.
The ‘fun’ is set to go on for at least another issue. Don’t be surprised if it turns out to be an 80pp giant.