Pain of the Gods

Author: Chuck Austen
Artist: Ron Garney
Titan Books
RRP 9.99
ISBN 1 84576 033 6
Available 22 April 2005

Superman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, and Batman each are forced to face a time when they were unable to save an innocent or prevent disaster. Like police officers and fire-fighters who share a bond only their brethren can understand, the JLA members must help each other process the pain and go on with their mission... and their lives...

Pain of the Gods is, I'm guessing, inspired by the events of 11 September 2001. The blurb above, which appears on the back of this collection, is the clearest evidence of this - not until after the collapse of New York's twin towers were the world's fire-fighters given the true recognition they deserved.

All of the JLA are put in no win situations, where innocents die. But I failed to see why this seems to get to them now - when this must have been happening to them for years. In a situation where a building is on fire, it is not possible to save everyone and those that are the saviours can just as easily be killed (yet another 9/11 reference) but would that really make a member of the JLA question what they were doing?

This collection really does go a little over the top - in that way that American's do best. Pushing emotional buttons is all well and good, but there should be a message underneath all the sentimental gushing. Sadly there isn't.

While this collection tries to tug at our heart strings, it fails in so many ways. The main problem is that some of the dialogue wouldn't have even made it into a amateur writer's work. When Wonder Woman tells Superman she is frightened of dying, he says: "If you did, I'd turn back time because I'd miss you so much." Another vomit-some Superman line is also spewed out when he is contemplating whether or not a man that has died was a good man: "He would have to have been, to inspire such love and devotion from such a wonderful family." Oh, please!

The sad thing is that there was potential to do something wonderful here. The JLA falling apart, because they all suddenly realise how helpless they are in certain situations, could have worked if there had been a stronger anchor. Sadly this all falls apart in a terrible mess.

Pete Boomer

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