Sunday, August 07, 2005

JLA CLASSIFIED #10

Well that was entertaining. In a completely and totally different way than the just-concluded Giffen-DeMatteis arc, but not totally dissimilar to Warren Ellis's recently concluded Ultimate Fantastic Four arc.

I thrill to anyone who can make Lois Lane and Clark Kent seem like two intelligent professionals who married each other for love instead of characters out of some perverse combination of I Love Lucy and The Taming of the Shrew. Ellis delivers, giving us a sharp and sassy Lois without completely emasculating Clark as either man or reporter. The Kents have chemistry, which is an overused word but an underrepresented quality in terms of actually pulling it off without looking like you're trying too hard.

Perry White is fantabulous. I don't care if he has JK Simmons' voice. I want to be so fearsome when I yell at my minions.

The actual plot is enough to keep me curious, too, and not just because it's a Big Three tale that doesn't involve Max Lord or random people turning into killer robots. It's a conspiracy story and Ellis always enjoys writing those. Something's rotten at LexCorp (this is set back in time when Luthor was still President and I have my suspicions why) with the spate of middle-management suicides that Lois and Clark just know is too convenient to be coincidental. Meanwhile, something else is fishy in Gotham, which is also backdated to the happy time when the GCPD wasn't ordered to shoot Batman on sight. Ellis curbed his technogeek-pseudoscience tendencies and left Bruce's detective skills offpanel, but it was an effective presentation.

And, oh, yeah, part of Themyscira, which Ellis cleverly uses as an academic retreat, just got blown up. Paradise Island is looking a lot like Vieques nowadays.

There was lots of fun stuff here, but the downside of this issue was, sadly, the Butch Guice art. When Guice is on, he is very, very good -- Ruse was a sumptuous feast for the eyes -- but when he's off, you start getting what Birds of Prey could look like in a bad month. This issue was definitely in the BoP mold, right down to the awesomely inappropriately dressed Lois -- what professional woman shows up to work wearing a midriff-baring shirt, capris, and a cutesy chapeau and expects to be taken seriously? Elsewhere, Guice ripped himself off by outright copying panels of Barbara Gordon and just coloring her hair black for Lois. (He also homaged the famous Alex Ross image of Bruce Wayne's horribly scarred back and gave Diana ridiculously thin arms, but that's less of a crime.)

Disappointing art aside, this was a solid and very enjoyable start to a new arc.

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