The last time we saw the Justice League of America, they were launching a full throttle coup against Havok and the Extremist’s regime, coordinated with the citizens of the Kravian resistance. This issue offers the resolution, with a timely message on what “fixing” problems actually entails.
As the members of JLA square off against Extremists, Havok has his hands full with Batman. Holding the Captain America-esque shield of a fallen hero named Crusader (not a subtle parallel at all), he withstands Havok’s blows and boldly declares that, unlike Havok’s former opponents, he won’t die. This issue continues with Havok espousing views that we’ve heard a lot in the media cycles over the last year or so. That Havok has everything under his control. That his way is the only way to fix things. He alone has the strength to save the world.
And yeah, he has Batman backed in a bit of a corner as he beats away at the shield with a giant ax. But Havok, in all of his boasting, has forgotten that Batman didn’t come in alone.
Vixen, not Batman, is the key to taking down Havok and helping the people of Kravia retake their country. Hold that thought, though.
In other cities of Kravia, the other members of JLA take down the Extremists one by one. Black Canary dispatches Gorgon in a motif that repeats itself with the other JLA members. Every member of the Extremist is baffled that the heroes of Earth aren’t joining them. They’re convinced their cause is righteous and that they’re saving far more people than they’re harming. And one by one, in isolation, each Extremist is taken down. Lobo’s takedown of “Mister I Have Unbreakable Blades” is particularly funny (and yes, unbreakable ain’t the same as unbendable), while Killer Frost and the Atom work together to defeat their opponent.
It’s particularly nice to see that while Lobo, Black Canary, and the Ray are going against their rivals in solo combat, Killer Frost can trust and be trusted by the Atom. It speaks volumes about her moving beyond her villainous past and the rapport she’s begun to build with her teammates.
The Ray is still trying to talk down “Lord I Control All of Time and Space” and again relates to him without resorting to violence. His past isn’t so different, and sometimes control is very overrated.
But back to Vixen.
She clobbers Havok from behind and corners him long enough for the rest of the JLA to come crashing in. Quite literally. Their tangled arrival knocks Havok off his feet in front of the people he’s just conquered, allowing the first seeds of doubt to creep in.
But Vixen’s not done. Oh no. While Havok continues his pontificating, she just keeps punching. And then, suddenly, Havok falters and goes down. He doesn’t understand, as his skin is armor and impenetrable. You see, Vixen already thought of that. It might be impenetrable to force, but it’s still his skin. And she’s channeling a highly poisoning tree frog and has been feeding him dose after dose of venom with each blow.
After he goes down, Havok can’t help but give another speech saying his way is the only way. Then he demands the leader of the Resistance kill him.
She doesn’t, though she does knock his bloviating ass out cold.
The people of Kravia decide to start fresh and build a new democracy. Batman is a little grumpy that Havok remains in their custody, but Vixen reminds him that they went to Kravia to help its people. And that helping its people means actually listening to the people about what they need.
The issue ends with a glimpse at Havok’s old world, and a character escaping that destruction, so we haven’t seen the last of Havok’s long reach. Oh yeah, Black Canary and Killer Frost totally don’t trust Lobo, but they seem to realize he’s got something after him, and resolve to be ready for it. So, sort of business as usual.
While this arc has been planned for some months, the timing is uncanny. Havok carrying Crusader’s shield and espousing ideals that a current Captain over at another publisher is currently living is almost eerie. But, it’s nice to see that a diverse group of heroes, along with a resistance force firmly held the line for what they were willing to tolerate in the name of “peace.” It turns out, there is no room for fascism in the Justice League of America’s world. With so many real world counterparts to compare Havok and his Extremists to, having a triumphant and inspiring pushback against that rhetoric is just what the doctor ordered.
And as to be expected, the vibrant artwork supports the story being told. The final cell alone is worth the price of admission. But beyond that, the flow of the storytelling fits with the lines and inks on the pages. There’s just enough brightness, and a slight grindhouse feel to keep the story from falling prey to a Batman vs. Superman grimdark landscape, which would have dragged this arc down and muted it’s more inspirational qualities.
Overall? Justice League of America is definitely worth the price to add to your pull list. They’ve had a successful first outing, and we’re excited to see what comes next.
Justice League of America #4
Writer: Steve Orlando
Penciller: Ivan Reis
Inkers: Scott Hanna, Joe Prado
Colors: Marcello Maiolo
Letterer: Clayton Cowles