GRAPHIC NOVEL
JLA
Trial by Fire

Author: Joe Kelly
Artists: Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen
Titan Books
RRP 7.99
ISBN 1 84023 928 X
Available 22 October 2004


A creature of unimaginable power and anger has arrived on Earth, decimating the ranks of the JLA. The surviving members unravel its secret and fight to prevent it from unleashing World War III. Batman finally determines that a former member is the key to salvation, but Plastic Man has no memory of his super-heroic life. A champion is forced to make a choice that affects the fate of the world...

Set against this backdrop is the private struggle the Martian Manhunter endures in an effort to conquer his fear of fire. What he didn't expect was to fall in love with his teacher, the villainous Scorch. And since he did he's not been acting himself - his temper seems short and he offers to leave Lex Luthor in a coma. It's not long before the other members of the JLA are questioning his relationship.

Trial by Fire is an interesting release. Never seen Batman smiling? He does in this collection. In fact, one of my favourite panels in this graphic novel is the scene in Arkham Asylum. Here Joker, Two Face, and all the other inmates, are inexplicably conscious of the wrongs they have committed. I loved the way that Joker's trademark grin is replaced by tears and a look of pure misery.

Doug Mahnke's art slightly elevates this above the normal JLA collection. Nowhere is this more evident in his twisted renderings of beasts from other dimensions.

An interesting addition to the series.

Nick Smithson

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