Alan Grant,
JLA: The Stone King
(Pocket, 2002)

The Stone King is the first in a series of books based around the Justice League of America, and if the rest are as fast, powerful and confused as the first, they should all prove to be a quick fix for fans of DC's top superhero team.

The Stone King is hard to pin down in a few words -- it is geared towards the young adult crowd, and its central plot feels very similar to the one in Ghostbusters II (save that the names have been changed to protect the innocent), and there is nothing wrong with that (even the Tardis from Doctor Who makes a small, unnamed cameo here). But Alan Grant then takes his story into Thomas Harris country, a la Silence of the Lambs, where we are treated to violent acts, brutal ritual killings and major disasters that befall both the Earth and mankind (not to give too much away here -- but by the end of the book the author clearly states that "millions" of people have been killed all over the world at the conclusion of the adventure).

It's all a heady, rich mix that will leave you both bored and breathless all at once. Batman is the focus here, and I was hoping that this adventure would be more central to his personal world, but as this is also a JLA novel it means that the threat has to be a global concern, and thus The Stone King is. While riddled with clunky lines and an overly familiar plot, it is also touched by striking moments coupled with some serious adult action.

While The Stone King is geared for the serious fan, first-time readers will still get a jolt from the unexpected twists and turns, if not a few lurches in the gut from the violence and action.

- Rambles
written by T.E. (Bob) O'Sullivan
published 9 July 2005

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