Waiting For The Trade – Retro review – JLA: Riddle of the Beast

Writer: Alan Grant
Penciller: Carl Critchlow, Simon Davis, Glenn Fabry, Jon Foster, Rafael Garres , Doug Alexander Gregory, Hermann Mejia, Jim Murray, Alex Horley, Andrew Robinson, Liam Roger Sharp, Greg Staples, Saverio Tenuta, John Watson, Martin T. Williams
Letterer: Ken Lopez

It’s not often that I review something where the list of artists is in serious jeopardy of being longer than the review. However unlike a lot of books that get passed about through creative teams due to creative or sales problems, in this instance it’s entirely planned. This 2001 OGN is in the now-ignored DC Elseworlds line, where well-known DC characters are set in an alternate universe, often with a twist. In this instance our story introduces us to a young lad called Robin Drake, the soon of a Goodman and subject of the fantasy land of Haven.

When Robin visits the seer Riddler he hears a prophecy which sets him on a journey of the DCU through a Tolkien lens, from Amazonia to Gotham Crags and Kryptonia to the Falls of Apokalips. His mission is to unify the people of the world to fight the titular Beast. Along the way he encounters familiar DC characters all of whom are delivered in a variety of painted styles by the artists listed above.

This painted look adds to the books classic feel and largely the artists stay on model and while the transition isn’t seamless I don’t think you’d expect it to be.

It’s a slight shame that the story isn’t quite as strong as the art, there’s nothing bad about it as such but it doesn’t really manage to either capture the epic scope of fantasy literature or the twisted genius of some other Elseworlds. I think in part this is because in very little page count you’re asked to cover a massive number of DC characters so the only one that gets any depth is Robin, and as he’s our everyman he’s a little bit of a cipher.


Reviewer: Dave Williams

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