Just like Monday’s adventure with past and present Aquamen, this time two versions of the League get together.
From memory, Judd Winick’s run on GREEN ARROW in the early 00s was solid enough; I was never a fan of his heavy handed approach to injecting issues into the stories that he wrote – nothing against those issues, at all, rather just the unsubtle way he had of delivering them – but when he stuck to straightforward superheroics, he didn’t do too badly at all. For much of his run on GREEN ARROW he was helped by the excellent Phil Hester and Ande Parks art team.
One of his better additions to the Green Arrow stories was the introduction of Danny “Brick” Brickwell, gang leader and looking like the Thing in a suit, who as the issue starts, has had Green Arrow lured to a building which turns out to be a trap.
Needless to say, the trap doesn’t go according to the bad guys’ plan and Green Arrow takes out most of the goons with a flashbang grenade before resorting to some hand to hand fighting. Or maybe that’s hand to arrow fighting?
Despite the arrows and his fighting skills, he’s just one man against many more so is happy when backup arrives – or at least he is until he realises the backup isn’t Connor Hawke, his son, but Mia Dearden, his ward whom he and Connor have both been training.
Escaping from the bad guys, Ollie gives her a dressing down, saying she’s not ready for the role she’s taken on, and that she should grow up and have a real life, not one like his. Which ends with this exchange:
But that heavy subject is just handwaved away when Ollie realises she was wounded in the fight. Cut to some hours later and he’s talking about it with Connor – sure, we can bring up the subject of child abuse and pre-teen prostitution, but let’s not dwell on it, eh? The issue then ends with Brick launching an attack on a charity fundraiser, killing the mayor and the DA.
As I said, certain aspects of Winick’s run worked, others not so much. The verbal slap in the face from Mia simply isn’t addressed for the rest of the issue – it’s just there to stop Ollie whining before he goes into over-protective parent mode when he notices she’s been wounded. It comes across as a shock story beat . . . which goes nowhere.
Still, lovely art.
Martian Manhunter gets the spotlight in the five issue Ghosts of Mars storyline from JLA CLASSIFIED and converses with the ghost/spirit/memory of his brother Ma’alefa’ak who is imprisoned in J’onn’s mind. Along the way, he remembers how he met various members of the League and joined their ranks, all the while denying Ma’alefa’ak’s assertions that J’onn only hangs out with the humans because he is terrified of being alone.
In this issue, J’onn remembers the battle against Starro which, at least at this point in time, was the origin story of the League.
The caption boxes are Ma’alefa’ak’s, by the way.
There’s also a parallel story running through the issue where J’onn remembers speaking with Green Arrow in a bar after Arrow had been thrown out of the house by Black Canary for cheating on her. J’onn, disguised as a stranger in the bar, offers advice to Arrow.
It’s revealed that, rather than occurring during the Grant Morrison run on JLA, a telepathic link enabling the League to communicate with each other is set up by J’onn following the battle with Starro.
Back in the bar, there’s a news report of Dr Light causing havoc in San Francisco and both Ollie and “Ben” make their excuses to leave.
Did Ollie know Ben was really J’onn all along? I don’t think so, at least not at the start, but by the time that part of the story takes place, they’d known and worked together for a while so it was probably fairly quickly that Ollie realised.
As nice as it is to see one Leaguer helping out another, back at the conversation between J’onn and Ma’alefa’ak, J’onn’s brother points out something that it appears J’onn hadn’t realised: if J’onn’s able to converse with the spirit of his dead brother, why can’t he do the same with his long-mourned and beloved wife and daughter?
JLA CLASSIFIED could be a bit hit and miss, but this was one of the stronger tales, I think, both in terms of writing and the art. Plus always nice to see not only a Martian Manhunter story, but one which picked up on the world building and background developed in John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake’s MARTIAN MANHUNTER series.
Have Savage Dragon and Superman met up in the real world comics? I have a feeling Dragon would be able to give Supes a run for his money.
Against the whole Justice League, though . . . maybe not.