Justice League of America #27 is an excellent example of why I’ve loved this too-short run (just over a year and change). The team dynamics are once again complex and logical, giving careful readers a reward for their attentions. From the start, this incarnation of the JLA has been rife with incohesion, which is fitting due to it being a wildly disparate group, and writer Steve Orlando has expertly played out the dynamics that would logically develop.
Orlando really lives in his characters heads when writing, capturing subtle bits like—this week—The Ray boasting to Batman he was in control and Batman responding, yeah, good job, or Black Canary going out of her way to show Aztek welcoming kindness. We’ve previously seen The Ray questioning his worth alongside Canary or Batman, and it’s nice to see him act in a way that calls back to that while also demonstrating his growth. That's just one example, though. The book has many.
And it’s actually this idea of varied levels of hero experience I’ve enjoyed most in the JLA’s interactions, the ways younger and newer heroes like The Ray act around the vets. It’s really created not just a sense of past for each character, but for the current DCU, something inherently absent from the team books during New 52.
This idea of past especially shines with this issue’s villain: Chronos, David Clinton, the time-manipulating arch foe of the Ray Palmer Atom. As Ryan Choi tells us, “Chronos spends ages plotting an attack in what seems like seconds to us. He’s a high-tech thief with an old school grudge.” And how do you beat him? “You don’t do it alone.”
This may as well be a thesis statement for this issue, if not the entirety of Orlando’s JLA. Batman brought this squad together while acknowledging they weren’t the Justice League proper, not the A Squad, but were still needed to address a specific incident (see the prior arc!) while the heavy hitters were otherwise occupied. JLA #27—like every other issue in this run—stuck to that theme of teamwork over inexperience, while also incorporating the lessons and history from the team’s recent past. This may not be the easiest book to dive into, but if you invest, it more than rewards you for reading, and I’ve always been a fan of superhero complexity.
As for the art, I loved what Hego Petrus did with his page layouts, using inset panels with facial closeups to convey emotion during key moments. Petrus also did an annoyingly good job of making Chronus stupid face look smug (and punchable). I am far from a violent guy, but I must admit I fantasized about taking a swing at him in the final panel.
Best Line: “I don’t want them to get hurt because of me, but I’m not going to argue with Batman. Does anyone argue with Batman?” -Ryan Choi
Overall: Justice League of America #27 is another issue in a great run driven by the complexity of the relationships between team members with disparate motivations, levels of experiences, and emotional IQs. The villain in the story is a time manipulator, which fits wonderfully with Orlando’s foundational theme of overcoming experience and living up to legacy. Add to it Hego Petrus’ fantastic artwork—especially on detail shots and facial expressions—and you’ve got an issue that makes me sad this run is ending next month. 9.0/10
Zack Quaintance is a career journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.