JLA: League of One |
by Christopher Moeller, Bill Oakley
(DC Comics, 2000)
This rather basic but still entertaining story spotlights Wonder Woman's role as a member of the Justice League and a brilliant tactician unto herself. When the Oracle of Delphi warns her that her teammates will be killed if they go into battle against a powerful dragon that has surfaced in Europe, Wonder Woman decides to take matters into her own hands and fight the dragon alone, thus sparing her teammates an untimely death.
There are two stories taking place in this old-fashioned sword-and-sorcery tale. One is about the nature of trust when working a part of a team, and the other is about the nature of true heroism -- namely, the sacrifices Diana would make for her friends as much as for herself. Both situations together test her resolve to the limit but it's not hard to guess who will triumph in the end. It's a fairy tale, after all.
The story is not unique but the characterization has never been better. Not only does everyone on the team look incredibly good, they are nearly pitch perfect when it comes to characterization. Their camaraderie and affection for one another is palpable, and it's easy to see why Diana values her friends so highly. She herself comes off as a warrior completely dedicated to both her teammates and her mission to bring peace and halt chaos.
While there is no questioning her motives or any fallout from her somewhat morally ambiguous choices, she emerges as a loving and loyal hero who literally die for her friends. Her devotion gives her depth and a clear if somewhat stiff sense of purpose. It's impossible to hold a grudge against such virtue, especially when it might save the world from a real, live and angry fire-breathing dragon.
The painting is highly iconic, playing with light and shadows as a means of illustrating Diana's state of mind. There is a full-page painting of her emerging from the heat of the dragon's fire that is the most visually stunning painting I have ever seen of this character. This is some of the most superb artwork DC has ever published. It's easy to forgive the lightweight story and let the eyes feast on the rich colors and full-blooded action sequences that leap off the page. It does the impossible task of being perfect for every scene, even strengthening the weak spots. Christopher Moeller shows as much as tells when he uses light and shadow to highlight Diana's inner struggle to live up to her own high standards and remain true while taking on her friends and disarming them one by one. It happens a bit too easily but it keeps the story moving along at a good clip, and isn't entirely unbelievable, given Diana's instincts as a warrior, which are beautifully showcased all throughout the book. All in all, League of One is one to have.