The Light of Vanity (Justice League of America #21 Review)

Justice League of America #21
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artists: Steven Bryne
Cover Artist: Steven Byrne
Colorist: Unlisted
Publisher: DC Comics

We catch up to the Light Speed hero the Ray, and his efforts to save vanity City from darkness.

What You Need to Know:
The Justice League of America is having a hard time keeping its members together these days. With Batman off fighting in Metal, that leaves the Leadership to Vixen and Black Canary. In his absence, Batman has left out details, and kept secrets in a classic Batman fashion. This has been weighing heavily on some of the Team Members. Most visibly the Ray, who has left for his Own Town The City of Vanity, of whom he is the protector.

Having been gone, Ray did not battle with Prometheus, which nearly killed the group, and he has not been answering his Communicator either. His boyfriend Xenos is concerned because he made a promise to the League and Ray is so distant, he doesn’t want to be a Part of it anymore.

What You’ll Find Out:

Ray is Concerned because the Criminals are getting taken out with “Ruthless Efficiency”, even faster than someone that can travel at the speed of Light can get there.

Xenos, is more concerned with keeping his promise to the League, and he activates the teleporter and transports himself away to The League Headquarters. Leaving Ray alone in Vanity.

While responding to a distress call Ray is ambushed by The Hero Aztek. This is a hero of Vanity City, that has been taking care of things since the Ray left to fight with the Justice League of America some time ago. She snared him by the neck as he flew past. Not an easy feat!


This version of Aztek is noticeably different than last we saw them. The previous Owner of the War Helmet of Aztek died, and the Helmet burst into the window of Software Engineer Nayeli Constant. She learned what the mission of the Helm was, and designed her armor based on the schematics and blueprints located inside the Helmet’s Memory banks.


She is angry that Ray left the city, and in his absence, the servants of the god Tezcatlipoca have been  causing destruction in their wake. It is her mission to battle them. She says that The ray is the Light that is supposed to protect Vanity City from the darkness, and since he left this was his fault. Ray didn’t buy it either Folks, but they Team up to tackle a Hostage situation.

Ryan (The Atom) is spending some time with Caitlin (Frost) back in Happy Harbor. He talks to her and wants to let her know that she could have talked to him.


She is worried about her place among the heroes, and that she will only belong with the Suicide Squad. Since she can not control her Impulses to drain the heat from Living beings.

What Just Happened?
A man in a very Aztec looking Skull mask carrying a War club holds a group of policemen captive. He is explaining to the head Officer that this is his responsibility. That they rode into town and killed his fellow members, and this is why they have him captive. It is apparent that they know each other as well. He explains that he is the Son of this Officer, and that he alone will pass judgment on them, as the Luminary of the Sons of Earth. He raises the Club for the death Blow and…

The light goes out! Even though it’s daytime. Pitch Black envelopes the room, and  Then a Bright Flash of Blinding Light. Aztek and Ray burst into the scene and attack the Sons of the earth. One of them explains that they killed the Former Aztek.

The twist is where we see the captain held hostage and it is the Ray who talks to his Son and explains that he understands the Anger and the emotion that he feels, but that it isn’t the answer to kill and cause wanton destruction. As he listens to ray, seemingly touched by a moment of empathy, The captain grabs the Pointed War Club and Dashes at his own son, with murderous intent. The Ray and Aztek stop him.

After the Battle Aztek and ray sit together on a Bridge and debrief. It is clear that the City of Vanity needs the ray. He knows that he is appreciated, and he has his place in the world, and Aztek could not be happier.

Caitlin and Ryan are sleeping in her room. Ryan takes the floor, because he is a gentleman, or because she will steal his body heat. Leaving him a desiccated Husk of a corpse. But I think it’s the Gentleman thing.

She is having a nightmare, and in this vision, a voice reaches out to her. She sees a world of Mirrored walls and follows the voice to her heart’s desire. Left with a message on her cellphone she awakens “The Might that has Cast beyond the Mirror left her Crystal Sister for all to fear”.

Caitlin wakes with surprise and bursts into the room with excitement. she yells “I’m Cured!”.

Rating: 7/10

Final Thought: With a solid Superhero story involving a lesser known hero, the Ray and the Origin of a new hero Aztek, this is a step in a better direction for this book. The plot and the story pacing is still a bit flimsy, and one tends to lose confidence in a book with a fill-in artist every other issue, but it is clear that for now, they are building to something. I liked a good amount of this book, and I like the artwork, specifically the coloring of the Ray and Aztek portions. Shame they did not credit the Colorist. Vanity City seems to be a very Metropolis-like clean city. With no tarnish whatsoever, and a very 1950’s retro vibe to it. I think this was a good way to separate the Ray from the team. The Struggle of the Star-Crossed Lovers will definitely be a key plot point and the most interesting part of this arc that I have read. I am looking forward to seeing what comes of Caitlin Snow and Ryan Choi.

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