Justice League of America #7 kicks off a new story with “Terrorstrike.” Is it good?
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Publisher: DC Comics
The main focus of the issue is on Atom and Killer Frost as they search for ways to treat Frost’s illness that requires her to feed on others’ heat energy. They go to the Museum of Unnatural History, talk about a dead child referred to as the Dorrance Glacier Boy, and ponder how the key to helping Frost might be found somewhere in the boy’s genetic code.
This whole segment of the issue feels underwhelming. Obviously this is a superhero comic book and any science found within it doesn’t have to meet real world standards of plausibility, but the segment still feels questionable. I was unclear on why Atom was so sure he could help Frost and then, after the first turn of events that didn’t go as expected, he became so sure that he couldn’t help after all. The awkward romantic tension between the two characters didn’t feel very believable or necessary either.
Thus far, this series has been marked by an inability to effectively utilize the potential of its cast and concepts. Unfortunately, that trend continues in this issue. We get Killer Frost threatening a villain here in a way that feels at odds with her attempted redemption, and the Atom is becoming a bit one-note in the way his anxiety is portrayed. There’s also a scene with Ray and Vixen where Ray comments on how the two of them haven’t gotten to spend time together outside of battle, but the scene ends as soon as he says that. The lack of interesting interpersonal dynamics hurts the issue, as does the forgettable villain, Terrorsmith.
We also get a brief scene between Xenos and Batman that disappoints. We get more foreshadowing of something major coming that Batman is preparing for, but the long-game just isn’t working well. Even though we know there’s likely some sort of major threat incoming, we’ve yet to be given much reason to look forward to it or ponder how the team will deal with it. It’s nice to see Xenos continue to get page-time, but there’s not much else that’s particularly praiseworthy character-wise in the issue.
The best part of this issue is definitely the art. We get yet another change of artist, and I hope this one sticks around for a while. Jamal Campbell delivers some of the series’ best visuals to date, with strong compositional choices and beautiful color work. The battle scenes are particularly pleasing to look at, especially as we get to see Atom shift sizes to dodge attacks. The changes in color palette across the different scenes also help to give each setting its own unique atmosphere. The characters’ facial expressions are inconsistent in how well they’re rendered, but overall the art here is enjoyable.
Ultimately, this issue is just average in quality. None of the script’s problems are terrible, but they’re still too frequent to forgive. The art has moments of greatness, but is not without its own flaws. The Atom’s fight scene is legitimately cool, but doesn’t make up for the rest of the issue’s lackluster elements. This issue’s not bad, but it’s not a must-read either.