Justice League of America #27
Justice League of America #27, by writer Steve Orlando and artist Hugo Petrus, is the first part of the Dawn of Time arc and this new story couldn’t come fast enough.
Coming off of a two part story that was a bit of a slog, this change of pace is very much welcomed. As the League works to rebuild their Happy Harbor base, they are attacked by Chronos, the time traveling enemy of the Atom. In his quest to destroy the Atom and his comrades, he has discovered a hand imprint from “Ahl, the God of Superheroes,” who apparently started the trend of metahuman heroes when he arrived millions of years ago. This far out concept, plus the addition of the full team being back in action, finally puts this book back on the right track.
Orlando chooses to spotlight Chronos as the villain in this issue, and he does it well. This old nemesis of Ray Palmer (the original Atom) has never been a major threat, but Orlando sees the potential of a time traveling villain and puts him to great use. From the idea that he is obsessed with the Atom to the concept of him being a thief of time, manipulating it in battle against the League, Chronos proves to be a major threat that no one should be taking lightly. He even shows up with some of Darkseid’s old lackeys in tow, just to use them as a distraction for the League so he can get what he really wants. As the new Atom, Ryan Choi, points out, Chronos could literally have been planning this attack for years, thanks to his chronal powers, so he has had as much time as he needed to out-strategize the Justice League. Some of the old cheesiness of the character remains, such as the clock hands on his face, or the use of dials to manipulate time, but nobody ever said Chronos was supposed to have good taste in fashion or accessories, so these details can be forgiven.
Orlando also highlights Ryan Choi in this issue, as it’s the first time he’s had to go up against any of Ray Palmer’s old enemies alone. With Chronos proving to be particularly dangerous, Choi really has to step up and push himself to his limits. The reader gets to see the Atom deal with not being the most physically able of superheroes, pushing past an asthma attack and burning muscles while in pursuit of Chronos, which is a refreshing take for a Justice League member because it reminds everyone that being a hero isn’t all about having big muscles.
Another character given some extra time on-panel by Orlando is the new Aztek. She’s shown to be full of herself, but she backs it up with skill and even ends up being one of the more useful members of the League against Chronos. Her suit’s 4-D battery, which renders her immune to the villain’s time manipulations, allows her to actually surprise him and get in a few good hits before he gives the entire team the slip. She is shaping up to be a very fun character, so, hopefully, she’ll get a little more time to develop than the last iteration of Aztek.
The only real weak spot in the storytelling this issue comes with the concept of Ahl, the God of Superheroes. Orlando used this idea previously in the JLA/Doom Patrol Milk Wars crossover, but if you haven’t read that story, you will be lost. Instead of a flashback scene explaining Ahl and where he came from, he’s presented as a new character for Chronos to attack, that just happens to be the most important figure in the history of the DC universe. The League doesn’t seem to be aware of who he is, so maybe the confusion is intentional, but Orlando should have provided at least a little more background, or a mention of his ties to the Milk Wars event to fill in the gaps for the readers.
The art of Hugo Petrus is solid and his action scenes are clear, easy flowing reads, but some of the faces on his figures look a little off in close-ups. His redesign of Chronos’ suit, while an improvement on the original (anything would be), is still a little gaudy, but, as mentioned earlier, that could just be considered the villain’s style. Hi-Fi’s colors are as impressive as always, elevating the art with bright, shiny effects that liven up any scene.
Overall, this was a solid read that really showed what is possible when an enemy with the power of time travel sets his sights on destroying the League. Chronos should have always been a big threat, and Orlando seems intent on proving that. Odd introduction of a superhero god aside, this was a promising first issue of this arc that should leave readers wanting more.