JLA Classified #10 - DC (2005)


Warren Ellis wrote this story (entitled "New Maps of Hell") in 2003 and it is set in the DC Universe of that time. Lex Luthor is president and Brad Meltzer is still just writing novels. Three seemingly unrelated situations are pointing towards a common cause.

Lots of LexCorp employees have been committing suicide lately. Clark & Lois are on the scene of the latest one. Their banter is reminiscent of the Tracy/Hepburn movies. It's light on the surface but the subtext shows the depth of their relationship. Butch Guice nails these characters. Clark is clean-cut, strikingly handsome and no-nonsense. Lois is beautiful, a little wicked-looking and there is intelligence in those eyes. This is some of the artist's best work.

We get to see the journalists (mostly Lois) doing real journalist stuff. I like that a lot. The only part of the newsroom scene that didn't work for me was Perry White's dialogue. He comes off sounding too much like Spider Jerusalem and that doesn't fit with my idea of the Planet's editor-in-chief. Despite that, he gets some great lines.

The second scene begins with Batman's transformation. A lot of comics shorthand the steps of the secret-identity-to-superhero switch. We don't need to see it every time but it's nice when it shows up. Ellis knows when to turn off the dialogue and let the artist interpret the story. When you've got Guice drawing your script you're in good hands. Stately Wayne Manor looks great. Bruce looks like a driven, intensely-focussed man. Gotham and the Batcave both have the proper sense of dark spaciousness - opressive and bigger than life.

Wonder Woman is next. She's meeting some academics on Themyscira and the character design on Wonder Woman is the best of the bunch. Instead of the swimsuit, Guice has her in a looser version of her usual costume. Diana's introduction to the plot is the most dramatic. Huge explosions rock the island and that's where we leave the story.

I don't know if we're just getting the Big Three on this one or if more JLA members will show up. I'd like to see Ellis and Guice work with the Martian Manhunter or one of the Green Lanterns but if it's just the Triumvirate of Justice, that'll be fine, too.

This is a JLA story through and through. Those of us who have read a lot of Warren Ellis comics can see his fingerprints on it but, so far, it's a straight-up superhero tale and it's off to a great start.

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