REVIEW - JLA #4
Title: Invaders From Mars
Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Howard Porter
Inks: John Dell
So we come to the end of the first storyline in Grant Morrison’s run on the JLA. Although this issue is entertaining, it doesn’t have the same feel as the brilliant previous three issues. Therefore, despite the comic having its fair amount of high points, it isn’t on the same level as the previous issues.
The beginning of the issue is the first of my problems. Last issue we witness Superman trapped by Protex due to kryptonite poisoning, and at the beginning of the issue Superman breaks free from its control. How does he do it? Well turns out it wasn’t even kryptonite in the first place, just a mind control trick by Protex due to him being a Martian. The concept just seems weak, and if Superman could just escape from sheer willpower alone, why didn’t he just do it in the first place? It just seems a rushed attempt to get Superman free and back into the action.
My other real big problem is the lack of explanation regarding how the Hyperclan are actually alive and free. We discover by now the Hyperclan are from the same planet as Martian Manhunter, and with the planet being destroyed it brings light onto why Martian Manhunter wanted to try and help the Hyperclan previously. That’s all ok, but when its explained the Hyperclan and the rest of the pale skinned Martians were banished to a place known as the “Still Zone”, things become confusing. If they were banished, how are they now suddenly free? Did the destruction of the Martian planet free them? And what of the other banished Martians? What happened to them? There is just so many things not properly explained, and with the excellent storytelling seen in previous issues, its a big let down.
On the other hand, the comic does have some great moments. The Martians altering their matter to change them into frightful monsters is a high point, and the battle that follows, in particular Superman against Protex, is brilliant. Another great thing is the comic gives Aquaman his little chance in the spotlight. Its often said Aquaman is the odd one out in the group, with people arguing what can he actually do? Well without even laying a finger on Zum, Aquaman eliminates him by tapping into the water part of Zums brain and giving him a seizure. Pretty cool stuff.
The ending I’m a little split on though, as its good and bad. In a good sense, it shows how the JLA construct their watchtower on the moon, which is memorable and sets up the premises for the teams base of operations. On the other hand, the epilogue of the issue is confusing. Shortly before, Martian Manhunter asks to be alone with Protex to punish him in accordance with his planets custom, but what ensues is left unshown until the epilogue. It shows a human called Bob getting ready for work as a firefighter, but it explains him having strange dreams as did 69 other people. The reflection in the mirror reveals Bob is Protex without his former memory, but it leaves you confused. So the great punishment is turning them into humans? If Protex had his former memory maybe it would be a punishment due him hating humans, but he clearly doesn’t have his former memory. Surely Martian Manhunter would have a greater punishment, maybe not kill, but still the concept seems to not make much sense.
The comic does shine particulary with the fantastic artwork by Porter. The fight scenes are crisp and full of life, and even Green Lantern looks a whole lot better in this issue. The artwork really shines in the Superman vs Protex fight though, with the menacing monster Protex drawn fericously while Superman drawn in all his greatness looks brilliant as always.
Overall then, maybe this issue isn’t the greatest ending to the storyline it could have been. Regardless, its still an entertaining read, and it isn’t going to stop me from reading more of Morrisons run on the JLA.