Justice League of America:
Pains of the Gods
Reviewed by Munawar Mobin
Collecting issues of the JLA from #101 to #106, Pains of the Gods is one of the those comics which show us a much darker side of being a superhero; the flip side of the coin, where the responsibility of so many people gets too much to handle and fatal mistakes are made. Coming from Chuck Austen and Ron Garney, this book holds one of the most honest superhero stories ever written.
At one point or another, we've all wanted superpowers, haven't we? Some of us have gone so far as to make costumes and special powers; those who were less imaginative stuck to the usual towel-at-the-back-as-cape but regardless, we've all wanted superpowers.
However, as goes one of the most famous comic book lines in history, “With great power, comes great responsibility”. No one ever wonders about the flip side of the coin to being a superhero. Fighting crime and superlords, flying off into the sun, smashing down speeding bullets, lifting cars and trucks with no effort all sounds like a lot of fun; but when you think about it realistically, no superhero can ever be at too many places at the same time. This brings out the inevitable case in this story, where not everyone can so easily be saved by one superhero (which is very rarely shown in most comics). To think that Superman will be able to save everyone on the planet is not a stupid thing to think, but it is very unrealistic, even with all his super powers and friends.
That is exactly what happens in Pains of the Gods. We see a special bond form between the superheroes of the JLA. Like police officers, fire fighters and other people in the service sector, the individual members of JLA come a little closer when they all fail to protect the life of innocent citizens in each separate incident. Deaths which, just like in real life, could have been prevented had the superheroes made a different choice.
The story sounds good, but it doesn't live up to the potential it had. Quite literally, the losses of innocent lives is placed one on top of another, in each issue, with Superman losing someone in the first, Flash losing someone in the second, and so on. With a better structure, the novel would've stood out and been one of the best, due to its brilliant message and amazing artwork. Even though the negative aspect of this book is quite frightening, the book is still a great read.