Home > DC Comics > JLA #101

JLA #101

July 13, 2004

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Man of Steel (Pain of the Gods Part One)

A new hero arrives on the scene… but are good intentions enough?

Writer: Chuck Austen
Art: Ron Garney
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Bat Brosseau
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover Art: Ron Garney & David Baron
Publisher: DC Comics

No, your eyes do not deceive you, I’ve actually given this book a good rating, because frankly, it actually deserves it. Chuck Austen is the next writer to tackle the “rotating creative team challenge” of JLA with his “Pain of the Gods” story arc, six issues, each focusing on a different member of the Justice League, and Superman is up first.

Responding to a routine call at a burning building, Superman zips into the inferno to find a new superhero trying to help. But sometimes, superpowers and a good heart simply aren’t enough.

This Superman is bold and compassionate, not displaying any of the bravado or cockiness that has characterized Austen’s Action Comics run this far. This is Superman, simply put, the way he should be written. If I didn’t know better I’d never believe the two titles were done by the same writer. Except for an overly-dramatic temper tantrum at the end, this book handles big blue very well. If Austen wrote Superman this way in Action Comics, I would be far more charitable towards the title. He even ends with a nice little hint of where the story is going, which is actually a pretty good idea.

Ron Garney is at the top of his game this issue. I’ve been a fan of his since his Captain America days, and while he’s had his ups and downs since then, this is definitely an up. He nails Superman, which isn’t easy to do since so much of the issue takes place at night, in the dark. Superman is an inherently bright character, and it takes a skilled hand to make him look right while he’s in the shadows. Garney does it.

It seems a little superfluous to do a series of spotlight stories in the team book of a bunch of characters who have their own solo titles already, but for a start, this wasn’t bad. I may go so far as to say it’s the best Chuck Austen comic I’ve ever read. It’s certainly a step up from the mess of Joe Kelly’s last year on the title or the abysmal Peppy the Alien arc, although it hasn’t quite matched the very good run that other former X-Men creative team did for six issues. (Some people didn’t like the Claremont/Byrne run. I did.)

But overall, it was a solid issue. Trust me, friends, no one is more surprised than I am that I’m going to give this issue of JLA a thumbs up.

Rating: 7/10

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