Monday, December 15, 2008

JLA: Salvation Run

This is a book about super-villains being sent off to a global prison filled with creatures trying to kill them. If you were asked what was wrong with DC Comics under Dan DiDio, and you didn't have copies of Countdown, this trade would be an excellent alternative summation. It seems like writer Matthew Sturges, with bait & switch opening chapters by Fables' Bill Willingham, was given a premise and series of plot points he had to fill in with journeyman investment. Perhaps on a later page he was supplied with a cast of characters, each with a one line description from which he based his usage. It isn't like there's much indication he knows or cares for most of his cast, as they're mostly a concern for artist Sean Chen.

Poor Mr. Chen is forced to draw one massive crowd scene after another, requiring all sorts of reference, whilst Mr. Sturges can rarely be bothered with the briefest of character sketches. Little wonder the lion's share of the focus is on the painfully overused Joker and Lex Luthor, characters readily familiar to any person exposed to popular culture over the last forty years or so. From there, you just go for the most violent and obvious option. If a villain has an exposed vulnerability, smash it to bits, regardless of any other consideration (like matching a powerful telepath against a goddamned clown.) If there are two intelligent apes, have one beat the other to death, because the other is surely superfluous. If things get stale, throw in a super-hero, who'll serve no actual story purpose whatsoever. Like every character and situation in the book, be stupid and brutal, and hope that alone entertains the audience.

Despite my earlier sympathy for Sean Chen, his art is not good. Everything looks sketchy and rushed, lacking depth. The story is awful and threadbare enough to distract from how ugly the pictures are, until, Joe Bennett steps in for a chapter, and puts all other parties involved to shame for wasting his talent on their association.

This book is shit, and it is easily discarded. So too is much of DC's "output." Avoid like the rubbish it is.

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