JLA, vol. 6: World War III
Collects: JLA #36-41
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Howard Porter
By Doran Murphy
The problem with teams like Justice League, X-Men, Avengers, and Fantastic Four is that the supervillains must always get more and more powerful. The heroes always beat the bad guys, so what's the excitement in watching the Justice League take out the Joker, if they've already beaten Prometheus? How can Lex Luthor give them a hard time if the Justice League has defeated the Spectre? That's the trap of these superteams. The new enemy is always going to be the biggest threat they've ever faced. Eventually, you burgeon the membership of the team, and hypothetically, you use up all of your allies. What happens when the enemy is still stronger than all of the superheroes, though?
This is the idea behind JLA: World War III. The JLA is facing their most powerful threat ever (as per usual, but I digress) — from four different fronts. The new Injustice Gang, headed by Lex Luthor and consisting of Prometheus, the bee-armies of Mars and the General, the God-Killer Mageddon, the human race (including every supercriminal there is), and some of their own membership. All of this is connected by Mageddon; he, or rather, it I should say, is an all powerful being, capable of plunging the most pure of hearts into a valley of despair in their own mind. What good is Superman if he's shackled by his own sins?
So, after the Injustice Gang has plunged the JLA into disarray and nearly killed Barda, the team is forced to save humanity from immediate nuclear destruction — from itself. Such is the power of Mageddon — it doesn't exactly kill everyone, it lets everyone kill everyone else. It rests on the shoulders of the remaining members of the JLA to firstly, gather all the other remaining superheroes on the planet; secondly, unify them; and thirdly, destroy Mageddon. In the end, it takes no less than the armies of Heaven, the forces of Atlantis, the entire human race (gifted with superpowers) and the Justice League to thwart the evil. JLA: World War III also explains the presence of Orion and Barda in the JLA.
In this regard, it's written extremely well. Mageddon is the ultimate unbeatable bad ass. In that, they've built up a character from nothing into something truly spectacular. But they've painted themselves into a corner with this. I mean, the JLA has used up all of their possible allies, so what else can they do now? Each villain can hardly be taken seriously; it's a case of "Meh, the JLA has taken Mageddon — of course they'll fold these guys in half" with every new threat that faces the Earth. Either way, after this, it'll be tough to build enemies as powerful as this.
Visually, a solid comic. JLA: World War III has an insane array of characters, environments and scenes to draw, and the art by Howard Porter is nothing less than commendable. He gets better and better as the book goes along — especially as you meet more and more characters, see more and more environments, and, generally, as the world starts preparing for the apocalypse. It'd be hard to draw some of these things, I mean, how do you draw Heaven and its hosts of Angels? How do you draw the armies of Atlantis marching into Los Angeles? It'd be difficult for anyone to do, but Porter excels here.
All in all, JLA: World War III is a very good trade paperback. I have concerns about future issues of JLA (and given that I'm in the back issues, I'm talking about the present of JLA) but that doesn't affect World War III. Also, it has an appearance by the Spectre, so it's hard for me to say bad things about this — for some reason, I think the Spectre is the coolest character ever. Anyway, a fine effort from DC, and a good way to spend $15. See you next time.