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JLA: Exterminators, by Christopher Golden
Genre: Superhero
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: 2004
Review Posted: 12/15/2004
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 10 out of 10

JLA: Exterminators, by Christopher Golden

Book Review by Fraser Ronald

Have you read this book?

Back in high school, I used to read the Justice League comics written by J.M. DeMatteis and Keith Giffen and drawn by Kevin Maguire. Those were great comics, filled with characterization and humour while maintaining a sense of excitement and adventure. I have occasionally dropped in on the animated TV series, which is pretty good. When I got the chance to review Justice League of America: Exterminators, I was hesitant but also excited. I have had some bad experiences with tie-in novelizations, but I had really great memories of the JLA comic books.

My fears were laid to rest quickly. Christopher Golden has an easy, casual style that drew me in and dragged me willingly along. The characters are iconic, yet Mr. Golden is able to give us a glimpse inside their heads, making them human. Superman, to my mind, has got to be the toughest character to write. How interesting is the white hat, the good guy to the Nth degree? Still, Mr. Golden presents us with a character, rather than a caricature. Is it a shaded and complex characterization? Well, not really, but it was enough to keep a character-driven reader (that would be me) happy.

The story revolves around a cluster of new meta-humans originating in the United Kingdom. Some are good guys, some are bad guys, and some just want to ignore the whole situation and be left alone. The sudden appearance of these various metas lead the JLA to investigate. When some of the metas begin to disappear, the JLA fears it may have a meta-human killer on its hands, or worse.

The plot moved along at a good pace. It didn't move too quickly to appear rushed, but also not so slow that it would lose the reader. There are a few curveballs throughout the story. Some of them are expected, some not, but all of them maintain the suspense. Since we have characters like Batman and the Martian Manhunter involved, it's important to have a good mystery with some detective work tossed into the mix. And since this is a superhero novel, there are plenty of fisticuffs and incredible feats of superhuman power.

I'm guessing this novel is based on current continuity in the DC universe. I say this because I had no idea who Kyle Rayner was, nor did I realize Aquaman had lost a hand. While these things made me pause, that is through no fault of the author. I had kind of expected the novel to follow the animated series. When I saw the cover, I figured it followed the comic, but Green Lantern looked very much like Hal Jordan. Other than that, the characters were exactly as I expected them to be, which is important for a media tie-in.

If you are a fan of the comic book or the animated series, I would strongly suggest you have a look at this novel. It has all the action and excitement of both of those incarnations of the JLA (though it certainly isn't as humorous as the first issues of Justice League and Justice League International) as well as having the kind of characterization that a novel can achieve much better than either a comic or a cartoon. It's a quick but enjoyable read. I would actually say this is what a comic book tie-in should be, offering the best of comics and novels in a single package.
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