Comic Name: JLA
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Joe Kelly/Rick Veitch
Artist: Darryl Banks/Doug Mahnke/Duncan Rouleau
# of Issues: 6
Release Date: 2004
Reprints JLA #77-82 (March 2003-August 2003). There’s a new JLA and the team is trying to find its new identity. With new members John Stewart, Manitou Raven, Major Disaster, and Faith, the JLA has a lot of rookies to train but Earth’s problems won’t wait! Be it a threat from a unit collecting information, a war in a far-away galaxy, or a stand-off between a super-human compound, the JLA’s problems keep growing, and they could become wanted themselves!
Written by Joe Kelly and Rick Veitch, JLA Volume 13: Rules of Engagement follows JLA Volume 12: The Obsidian Age—Book 2. The volume features art by Darryl Banks, Doug Maknke, and Duncan Rouleau and is divided into the stand-alone “Stardust” (JLA #77), the two-part “Rules of Engagement” (JLA #78-79), and the three-part “The White Rage” (JLA #80-82). The issues were also collected in JLA—Volume 7.
JLA started out strong…really strong. Despite being DC’s premiere team, the Justice League series never really seemed to hit the stride as much as something like New Teen Titans or even Legion of Super-Heroes did. Grant Morrison’s reinvention of the team is what the team needed, but by JLA 13: Rules of Engagement, the series feels like it is once again on autopilot.
I do admire the team. The new team was set up in the previous storyline “The Obsidian Age” and features a lot of non-traditional heroes especially surrounding a reformed villain in Major Disaster and Faith. John Stewart feels like a natural match for JLA, but Manitou Raven also provides an interesting twist (along with his wife Manitou Dawn). The exploration of these characters is a worthy storyline…but the stories presented in this volume are not.
There always seems to be a sense of detached confusion in the JLA title and this is true even of the Grant Morrison run. The issues seemed a bit piecemealed together and you sometimes end up going back to see if you missed something when the story jumps. The stand-alone “Stardust” definitely feels this way, but later issues in both “Rules of Engagement” and “The White Rage” also feel this way.
The art for the series is fine. It is pretty solid and tells the tales. I always run into a problem in volumes like this in that the art is good, but the story doesn’t hold up…leading to a lower rating when the art is strong. The art is a good hook for a title, but in the long run the story needs to hold up.
I will always stick with JLA despite so-so titles. Growing up Marvel, JLA was one of the closest things to Marvel when you read DC so I always have a soft spot for JLA series (also due to my childhood love of Super Friends). Unfortunately, JLA can be better, and it has been better. I hope that some of the future volumes catches the energy of the first run of this series, but reading some of the later issues, JLA is past its prime already. JLA 13: Rules of Engagement is followed by JLA 14: Trial by Fire (omitting JLA #83 from the collection).