DCAU #206: Now You See 'Em...

IN THIS ONE... A mysterious foe assembles a team of villains to fight the Justice League.

CREDITS: Written by Steve Vance; art by John Delaney and Ron Boyd.

Hey, I almost forgot Adventures in the DC Universe came out at the same time as Superman Adventures, etc.! The reason being, I sort of associate it with the Justice League cartoon, which is a ways off. But it's not. In fact, ADCU is something of an anomaly. It takes the mainstream DC Universe of 1997 and converts it into the DCAU art and story style. Aside from the characters that have already appeared on the shows, everyone is basically as they were in the comics, not redesigns, and so this series will contradict what is to come. It's sort of a side reality, the same the longer-haired Superman that appeared in Batman Adventures #25 belonged to. Can we agree there was an untold animated Crisis between the original Batman show and the New Adventures that's responsible for these changes? (Note Batman's yellow oval.)

The first issue stars the Justice League, and it's Grant Morrison's, not the later cartoon version. Using the JLA is a good idea, as it gets several characters on the page at once, heroes and villains both, but it's a lot to juggle, and the characters don't all get to shine. I'd even go so far as to say the story feels unbalanced. It seems to be a Flash story at first (more than 6 pages) with elements that later become completely irrelevant (all the stuff with the jerky communications mogul), before sending us to different heroes' stories, like the Martian Manhunter brushing off his fear of fire (3 pages), Aquaman vs. Major Disaster (2 pages), Superman fighting the Parasite for the umpteenth time (1 page), with Wonder Woman, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner and Batman each getting a single panel. That still only leaves enough time for the heroes to find their nemeses which had all teleported away in too quick a time, some mostly uninspired fighting (why don't the heroes trade villains to make it more exciting?), and the reveal of a new armored foe called Cipher that's to be continued... in issue 12, as it turns out! (Well, it does show up as a continuing subplot in intervening issues, I'll admit.)

So mostly disappointing. More a mission statement than a complete story. Not sure if Steve Vance realizes that a "cipher" is not a good thing to be in a comics story, though I understand it's a joke based on how his identity is a mystery. He's probably someone from the Flash bit of the story, like the "brains" of the company that got screwed by the big boss, but in 11 issues, are we even going to care? The "Injustice League" assembled by Cipher serves little purpose (the combat data could have been collected by Cipher's suit alone), and when you see them together, so many are gray and powder blue that they don't look like a visually dynamic group. Their link to the heroes they fight can be tenuous too, though I do think Major Disaster isn't a bad match for Aquaman. Blockbuster vs. Martian Manhunter though?
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: The JLA seen here is out of the comics; it's even based on the Moon. Cipher is an original character (or "original"), but the rest are DC staples. Interestingly, Gorilla Grodd goes by Super-Gorilla Grodd, which was his original moniker. Blockbuster, Dr. Light and Major Disaster sport looks they gained after Underworld Unleashed. Cheetah is, of course, Wonder Woman's most iconic villain. And Scarecrow and Parasite appear as they did on the animated series. The issue also features Linda Park as the Flash's girlfriend; both live in Keystone City as per Wally West's stories in that era.

REREADABILITY: Medium-Low - Too many characters leads to an incomplete story. If it had been a two-parter NOT separated by almost a year of comics, I believe we might be looking at a different score.



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