By Matt Kindt and Tom Derenick
For the past few months, DC has filled your local comic shop full of gimmicks. First, we got Villains Month. Now, DC is releasing a buttload of Forever Evil and Zero Year tie-ins. While this kind of big event marketing can be quite annoying, most of the Forever Evil stuff has been pretty great and Justice League of America is definitely one of the best.
The entire point of this issue is to establish Stargirl and give her a reason for being put on the JLA team, which Kindt handles brilliantly. She’s given an updated origin and right before saving Martian Manhunter’s bacon, he reveals her contributions to the team and why she is needed. This “mental prison” that numerous heroes are trapped in has no effect on Stargirl. The prison feeds on your fears and she doesn’t have many –she’s filled with enough hope and wonder to overcome this. After months of Stargirl not having much of a point, we finally get a reason to care about her in a way that we haven’t been able to since Geoff Johns’ pre-Flashpoint JSA run.
The only problem with the story is that everything that moved the overall plot in the previous issue is just reiterated, with not much of a progression. It’s a treat to see Stargirl and Martian Manhunter fleshed out for The New 52, but we receive it at the expense of any real story growth.
For this arc, Doug Mahnke and Tom Derenick will be sharing art duties and switching off every other issue. Both have different styles and this may hurt the story more than help it. Derenick does a decent job and everything looks sharp in a way that a superhero team book should. However, he doesn’t have that dark edge that Mahnke can tap into. With our heroes stuck in a prison meant to torture you, a dramatic flair would be nice.
Despite a few annoyances, this is still a solid issue. The rotating artists will be a pain, but if Kindt can move the plot along, it should be smooth sailing and a fun ride. In all corners of The New 52, Forever Evil is making for some compelling stories.