Pick of the Week

April 23, 2008 – Justice League of America #20

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 3.8
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 3.5%
Users who pulled this comic:

Size: pages
Price: 2.99

In this, the newest issue of Justice League of America, Dwayne McDuffie asks the questions that a lot of us have had since Wally West was brought back from seeming death (really the future) in the pages of this very book.

The story begins with The Flash stopping a raging forest fire with a tactic that has some unforeseen consequences that put some firefighters in danger. His ass is saved by Wonder Woman and the two go off to have a chat. Just like a lot of the current (or former) readers of The Flash, Wonder Woman wants to know just what the hell is up with The Flash since he came back. He’s been acting all weird. He, of course, cites the kids and the disorientation of coming back from the future. Wonder Woman then verbally bitch slaps The Flash (but gently, because she is Wonder Woman, after all) telling him that he is shirking his responsibilities and acting in ways very unbecoming a hero of his stature. He ignored a JLA distress call from Superman for pete’s sake! The conversation between the two felt very cathartic for not only the characters, but for me as well. The Flash has been odd since he’s been back and I’m glad that someone is finally acknowledging it. Also, Wonder Woman recounting Batman’s contribution to the JLA internal discussion about The Flash had me laughing out loud.

The story then shifts gears to Wonder Woman and The Flash running (heh) off to fight H.I.V.E. and after all the crime busting is said and done, The Flash realizes that he not only has responsibilities to his family, but also to the League, his friends, and to the people he has sworn to protect.

I’d like to, if I can for a moment, give it up to Dwayne McDuffie. First of all, he has, with this story, taken a giant step towards the redemption of Wally West in my eyes. He has always been a character that I liked a lot (even though Barry will always be my favorite Flash) and he has become almost a non-entity in my eyes for the last few years. It’s been really sad. I can’t even remember the last story featuring Wally West that I really enjoyed. I’d have to go back to Infinite Crisis. This one, I really enjoyed. This felt like Wally West was finally back.

And now I’ll circle back around to Dwayne McDuffie. This was the kind of issue I was hoping for when he came on board as writer. As someone who so obviously knows the spirit of these characters so well from his days on the Justice League cartoon, you’d hope for these kind of character exploring issues from a guy like that.  Because of editorial dictates or crossovers or whatever, McDuffie hasn’t been able to gain any traction on this book. I am hopeful — so damn hopeful — that this is a first step. I know that Final Crisis looms large on the horizon (eee!) but McDuffie is the solo writer on at least the next two issues (if DC’s solicits and be believed, and you never know with those things) so my fingers are crossed. Justice League of America is a book that has felt very uneven since it was relaunched by Brad Meltzer and I just want, more than anything, for it to get back on track again. I have no doubt that McDuffie is the man to do it, the only question is — will he be allowed to?

If strong characterization and clever action aren’t enough to convince you to go out and grab this book let’s talk about the art. Ethan Van Sciver may not be fast enough to put out a monthly book but I’ll be damned if his art isn’t worth the wait. Anyone who read the “Sinestro Corps War” storyline over in Green Lantern knows what I’m talking about here. He excels at drawing big action packed pages, of which there are a lot here, and he handles character moments well too. He really is one of the top guys working today. It’s just too bad that, like most of the other top guys, we can’t get more work out of them. I would love it if he could somehow be cajoled into being the regular artist on Justice League of America. I’d even be okay with the book coming out every six weeks. That is how much I’d want Van Sciver over the return of Ed Benes (which is coming!).

I’m not going to go so far as to say that Justice League is back. One issue does not right the ship. But I’m hoping that this is a big first step. Because we all know that a journey of 1,000 miles yadda yadda one step. If you’ve been yearning for some good Justice League action I’d urge you to go out and pick this one up. It’s written in such a way that you don’t have to have any back story — everything you need to know is in the pages of the book. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s funny and the art is spectacular. At the end of the day, that’s what we want from comics, is it not?

Conor Kilpatrick

He’s slower, but we can count on him to show up.

Did you read Justice League of America #20? Add a comment and tell everyone what you think!


  1. Conor delivers as per usual.

    I had a feeling all week that Justice League was going to come back around. When I found out Van Sciver was drawing a wholly McDuffie story…well, let us say I skipped happily to the LCS this morning.

    Great issue. Sweet Lord, did it feel good to have my JLA back.

  2. Well, that was surprising. I’m only getting my comics on Friday but I can’t believe a book that has been as horrible as JLA has been, an issue or three aside, pretty much since its relaunch is your pick of the week. I was planning on dropping it after next issue but is it possible that I might I have been jumping the gun? I guess we’ll see.


  3. Now I *really* can’t wait to pick this up after work!

  4. Meltzer’s Justice League was very good. A bit slow at the start but that was a smart and well-written run. With issue #11 being one of the best comics of that year.

    No. Meltzer was aces.

  5. Reading comments on the site, I almost picked this up even though I haven’t read a Justice League story more recent than Morrison’s run.  Now I’m intrigued (but still hesitant to jump on any DC books until Final Crisis has blown over).

    I didn’t have a lot of books this week, but I loved them all — Mighty Avengers, and Uncanny X-men (which I didn’t expect to love), and the two awesome First Class books.  Maybe it’s just happy NYCC hangover, but it feels like a good week to be a fan.

  6. huh, Conor picked a DC title?! I didn’t see that coming!

    Seriously, glad to hear JLA may be coming back to quality…I’m not ready to return to the title, but I’m keeping my eye out at least.  

  7. Sorry, while I think Meltzer has the potential to be a good comic writer, he really needs to learn how to pace the things first. 13 issues and pretty much nothing really happened. Even the characterization was pretty weak.

    His run was basically a cross between Morrison’s classic superhero stories and Giffen/ Demaittes’ more character driven run but without the interest, depth and humanity of the latter or the epic imagination and fast paced action of the former.

    Issue 11 was aces though and I did really like #0 as well for some reason. 

  8. Yeah, this one was my pick of the week too..I was excited about a page into the story, cause I could tell immediately that the Wally I remembered was back, if only for an issue. great stuff!

  9. I didn’t pick this one up, but I know how a good JLA comic makes Conor happy.  My stack was small…like The Atom small (gotta love DC references with the DC POW).  Of my THREE books, I loved, loved, loved Ultimate Spider-Man.  So, so good.

  10. So, I’ve been pretty vocal in my dislike of recent JLA issues. NOT because of McDuffie, but because of everything that wasn’t McD. Namely, editorial directives.

     Thus, I’m stoked to read Conor’s review today. McDuffie’s a talent, and he’s been misused. He was only an interim writer on the FF while Millar geared up for his run, and his JLA run has been…marred. I expect things to get a bit wonky with Final Crisis, but I really hope he gets the chance to strut his stuff again after all the events are over. Don’t let me down, DC! This is a good, first step. 


  11. Hands down pick of the week.  I only had five books, and I thought Batman might contend for it, but this blew ’em all away.  This one book totally restores my faith in Wally.  This is the guy I’ve been buying that ‘Flash’ book for.  This is the guy I want to see.  Oh how I’ve missed him.

    McDuffie and Van Sciver hit it out of the park! 

  12. Meltzer’s JLA was fantastic. Even Meltzer’s issues of the Lightning Saga were the good ones.

    I’m suprised this was pick of the week, but it was even more surprising that the issue was much better than the book has been since issue 12.  I’m glad.  I agree that editorial directives seem to be the issue with JLA; DC really need to just let a really good writer loose with the book. 

  13. Can’t wait to read this. I was getting ready to drop it. Glad to hear it is coming back.

  14. Ditto.

  15. This issue must have been amazing to beat out Mighty Avengers, which was one of the best comic books I’ve read in years.  YEARS.  Too bad I dropped JLA at the rebooted issue #3, for reasons of suckage.  Still, good to see them acknowledge that Flash has been messed up since his return (altough they’ve basically thrown the current run on "Flash" under the bus to do so.)

    Still — Mighty Avengers: POTW, hands down.

  16. I picked this up on Conor’s say so…. it was actually the only thing I bought this week. So, Conor, I guess you’re my pusher now. I liked the start of the book, when done right the FLASH is the bomb. 

  17. This is hands down may favorite cover of the year thus far.  Why? I don’t know. Like some far-too-clever chum once said, "Writing about art is like dancing about architecture" (or something like that {who can remember?})

  18. totally!  Good review Conor.  This was the first issue of this relaunch that felt like the characters were speaking in their right "voices."  And not too many gratuitious ass-shots for a change. 

    Actually, I don’t know how i feel about that..

  19. Best issue of the current run, hands down – no crossovers, no Brad Meltzer . . . OK I’d have preferred a JLA story rather than something that could have fit in an issue of Flash, Wondy or Brave & Bold, but this was good stuff, and there was an actual JLA villain in there, along with Black Lightning.

    It’s a shame they didn’t hang on to this story until issue 23, then it would have echoed 23 of the first series, right down to the ‘Drones of the Queen Bee’ cover blurb. Not that this was a homage, the story was its own beast, and very good it was too. Wally came across as one smart cookie (I loved the explanation of how Flashes put out big fires – Science Says You’re Wrong If You Believe That . . . what you read in Silver Age Flash on the subject was true), not the sleepwalker he’s seemed of late, while Diana was a supportive pal.

    I didn’t, though, enjoy seeing yet another JLA intervention as regards Wally. For goodness’ sake, they should cut the guy some slack – there can’t be a member who’s not missed the odd mission when things in their personal life get on top of them, and Wally does have a lot on his place at the moment. Probably he should take a leave of absence, and let another speedster sub for him (OK, I know Impulse is comics-dead and Max Mercury vanished and Jay busy and Jesse not currently a speedster, but still . . .), but meanwhile, the JLA could be a tad more understanding. Black Lightning came across as a right arse in his cameo.

    Ethan’s art was great throughout, though the page where Wally and Diana were in silhouette didn’t work for me – it was as if the deadline was crunching and he needed to save time. Never mind, there were plenty of beautiful, Bolland-esque images in there, and the storytelling was top-notch.

     More issues as well-crafted as this, please, DC – just put more members in there.

  20. Dwayne is the man and always will be. He’s doing the new Ben Ten show on CN now. However Mighty Avengers was breathtaking and explosive even when it was completly silent.

  21. Mighty Avengers was my pick if the week and having read JLA as well, I can’t believe that it is the iFanboy POTW.  I never realized how much I liked the character of Nick Fury until I read this issue.  Anyway, Bendis and Maleev are just too good a combination…and adding Nick Fury to the mix makes this issue a bonafide winner.

  22. @Mart – It’s quite common to have JLA stories that feature only one or two members.  They’re called "spotlight issues".  I personally loved the silhouette page.  🙂

  23. Hi Conor, yeah, I’m old, read most every JLA issue since the early Seventies and loads before that. I get the spotlight issue thing, but as I said, this particular spotlight could have gone into either of the character’s regular titles. If we’re going to highlight JLA-ers it should be members without their own book. Black Lightning, for example: what’s the story with all these kids showing up? Vixen, how’s she doing with her power situation. Or it could be members we’ve not really seen interact one-on-one, such as Wondy and Vixen. But this, while enjoyable and very nicely crafted, had no ‘I really wanted to see this’ factor – heck, Flash and Wonder Woman teamed up only a year or two back.

    And how often in this current run have we seen a traditional JLA story in which the whole team works together to take down a big threat? That’s what I want to see (which is why I loved the recent JLA Classified story by Roger Stern and John Byrne so much – did you read it?).

    The JLA’s unique selling point was that it was the world’s greatest heroes teaming up, and that’s where the character development should fit – among the battles, fought by a group of heroes – not a duo.

    As for the shadows thing, it was done nicely in a recent Gail Simone WW issue, 15, by, Terry and Rachel Dodson.

  24. (PS – did you notice my photograph at left? I am, in fact, a drone of the Queen Bee, hence the giant insect behind me, and my wearing stripes.)

  25. @ghostwriter – "WORD!"  Yeah, I’m all for Bendis’s S.H.I.E.L.D. book all of a sudden… featuring fury, dum dum, contessa, spider-woman, black widow…. and… AGENTS OF ATLAS!!!

  26. @gat0rl1vebeatz – A S.H.I.E.L.D. book by Bendis (or Rucka or Brubaker or Fraction or Parker) would be unbelievable.  Fury mixing it up with the Agents of Atlas would be a stroke of genius.  Their mini was the most underappreciated series in recent memory.

  27. I’ve actually been enjoying the full run of Justice League, but especially since McDuffie got on board.

    Bringing back the Legion of Doom (Injustice League), the whole Black Canary Green Arrow wedding, and the Lightning Saga (Meltzer and Johns work), I think the other commenters have forgotten about all the fun this title has truly been. Granted the first storyline was a little slow, but it really worked to humanize Red Tornado and helped illuminate a character I really wasn’t that familiar with.  It took too long, though, I agree to go anywhere.

    I’m hooked and I’m staying on this title. 

  28. I was a fan of Meltzer’s run and McDuffie has been hit-or-miss with me.  This has been my favorite issue of his so far.  I definately agree with how nice it is to have a good Flash story again, but I wonder, given everything Wally brought up in this issue, how he’s going to justify joining The Titans too.  Maybe he ends up with some extra free time because the kids are going away!  we can only hope!

  29. Wow. 

    That was genuinely really good. It felt more like an issue of the Flash or Brave and the Bold but between the great art and writing, it’s easy to see why it is your pick of the week. 

  30. This was a great Flash story very well done.  Van Sciver does some killer art.  But I totally agree that it really felt like a story that should have been in the flash or the brave and the bold type of book.  Because of that I was a little disappointed, I feel like JLA could and should be an awesome read with big team ups.  Plus I have no interest at all in the Queen Bee.  This series has been ok but definately excited to see if mcduffie can turn these stories around.  I did Definately enjoy the whole adressing how the flash blows right now though.  Hopefully this will be a turning point for the flash too, maybe I will start reading it again… 

  31. Awesome issue, but like you guys have said, it seemed like it should have been in the Flash’s solo book. Also, from a purely selfish point of view — I would rather have seen Van Sciver draw the entire JLA! This dude hardly ever does interiors, so it woulda been sweet to see him draw the whole team.

    I totally agree with what Conor said about Wally being a "non-entity" lately … it seems like this is the first story that’s "really" him in a very long time. Probably since Geoff Johns was writing the Flash’s title.

    It was good to see him written (& drawn) so well! 

Leave a Comment