Torture porn comes to comics– a look at Justice League of America #11

Justice League of America #11
I think I can commend Brad Meltzer and Gene Ha for doing something different with the Justice League of America #11 but ultimately that issue is going to have to be considered a failure of style over substance. Here’s the short of it: Red Arrow and Vixen are trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building. That’s it; that’s the whole issue. But what the creators attempt to do is elevate the danger to the level of realism with Vixen claustrophobically going into shock and essentially worthless while Red Arrow tries to brace the ceiling with shards of glass in his neck and back and a chunk of rebar piercing his hand. Meltzer pulls no punches on the torture he puts these two characters through for 22 pages. Gene Ha and Art Young lavishly illustrate their danger. There’s no denying that in and of itself the artwork is fantastic. Ha continues to grow and develop as an artist and Young’s approach to coloring is far removed from the flat, primary color approach that has recently developed into overworked computer colored effects.

The problem with this issue is the tone, which I was going to say is totally against everything that Meltzer has established in this book of SUPER heroes but that I now realize isn’t. After all, this is the writer that had Solomon Grundy pull the arm off of a humanized Red Tornado and proceed to eat it like it was a turkey drumstick. While not as realistically depicted, it’s the same shock mentality that Meltzer used to make Identity Crisis the hit it was. But up until now, Justice League of America has been about comic booky super heroics. That’s why you get an artist like Ed Benes who, while not everyone’s cup of tea, is a solid enough mainstream super-hero artist. JLA has been built around comics, from the time-period jumping #0 to the montage of Dick Dillon artwork to show Red Tornado’s history to even the goofy and messed up “Lightning Saga” that was jumping through hoops of past continuity to confuse and confound. All of that is thrown aside this issue so that Meltzler can present a “real” story, an “important, groundbreaking” story.

Everything about this issue screams “look at me.” Well, everything except for the cover which is probably one of the best covers that Michael Turner has done. Personally when Meltzer returns to comics after his next novel, I hope he does something new. I’d like to see him play in a world where he can set the ground rules and run with it. It could be fun to see but I also hope that he stays away from established DC superheroes.

Justice League of America #11

“Walls”
Written by: Brad Meltzer
Drawn by: Gene Ha
Lettered by: Rob Leigh
Colored by: Art Lyon

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1 comment for “Torture porn comes to comics– a look at Justice League of America #11

  1. Scott Cederlund
    July 25, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    Well, it won an Eisner tonight so what do I know?

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