Books Of Justice: The Injustice League & Sanctuary

justice league of america injustice league Justice League Of America: The Injustice League (DC)
Written by Dwayne McDuffie with Alan Burnett, drawn by Mike McKone, Joe Benitez, Ed Benes & Allan Jefferson
Collects Justice League Of America Wedding Special #1, Justice League Of America #13-16

After reading through the two Brad Meltzer Justice League Of America books, it just made sense to keep going and re-absorb Dwayne McDuffie’s run on the book which makes up four trades. While my negative memories of Meltzer’s run were somewhat vague, I had very specific memories of why McDuffie’s bummed me out. First and foremost, it went with the “a group of villains getting together” story which had been done plenty of times before and after. Then you had the fact that it seemed like there were editorial mandates that just kept coming down which truncated some arcs and interrupted others. One arc ends with a “Huh?” because it had to lead into Salvation Run while another reintroduces the Tangent characters for seemingly no reason.

At the time these books were coming out, I remember thinking that all of this just seemed wrong. The Justice League should have been the book steering the good ship DCU instead of feeling like something that was being back seat driven by someone other than the book’s writer. So, when getting back into these stories I tried to forget everything I knew — which turned out to be a bit easier than expected — and actually read this book as if it was in charge. How’d the work out?  Continue reading Books Of Justice: The Injustice League & Sanctuary

Justice Trade Post: JLoA The Tornado’s Path, JSoA The Next Age & The Lightning Saga

justice league of america the tornado's path Justice League Of America: The Tornado’s Path (DC)
Written by Brad Meltzer, drawn by Ed Benes
Collects Justice League Of America #1-7

The last time I was really excited about mainstream comics was the lead-up to Infinite Crisis and everything that went on up until about Countdown. It seemed like DC had done a great job of keeping their universe well organized, using several quality creators to not only tell stories that were unique and fun in and of themselves, but also lead up to something much larger. Sometime during the Infinite Crisis event, I actually started working at Wizard, so I had more of an inside track on what was going on. To be honest, as cool as that can be, it’s not always a great thing and can taint how you feel about different books. It’s the age old bit about seeing how the sausage is made. Sometimes it’s interesting and enlightening, other times it’s pretty gross.

Hit the jump to keep reading!  Continue reading Justice Trade Post: JLoA The Tornado’s Path, JSoA The Next Age & The Lightning Saga

Casting Internets

Awkward Jayden Smith “freestyle” aside, this video of his dad reuniting with DJ Jazzy Jeff and Alfonso Ribeiro is a wonderful thing to behold. I bust out the Fresh Prince theme song, no kidding, at least once a week much to the chagrin of my wife.

Brian Cronin attacked one of the weirder arcs of comics I’ve ever read in his Abandoned Love column on CBR about the Justice League Task Force character Mystek who was apparently in the process of being sold by writer Christopher Priest to DC. when the deal went south and he killed the character. That’s all news to me!

 

I am very much looking forward to the July 10th premiere of Camp on NBC.

 

Chris Columbus directing a big screen version of Patrick Jean’s short film Pixels sounds like a fantastic idea. Plus, writing that last sentence lead to me rewatching Pixels which is, in and of itself, a fantastic idea. (via Collider)

THR reports that Paramount and Warner Bros. made an interesting deal recently. To get Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Interstellar fully under their roof, WB gave Paramount their share of a potential South Park movie and the Friday the 13th franchise. Hopefully this means a new chapter in the Jason Voorhees series.

escape-plan

It was fun seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone together in Expendables 2, but that movie’s a little goofy. I’m hoping Escape Plan is a bit more serious. The poster I saw on Collider is pretty rad.

Whoa, Amazon created something called Stroyteller, a program that allows you to upload your screenplay and create storyboards. I wonder how my slash script would turn out?

 

Stephen Merchant has a new show coming out on HBO called Hello Ladies. This is a good thing for humanity.

batman 1972

Francesco Francavilla‘s Batman 1972 – -dubbed Batploitation, though I personally think it should be Batsploitation — is amazing. This should be the next series of DC Nation shorts!

Books Of Justice: Justice League America By Dan Jurgens

Justice League America JurgensJustice League America By Dan Jurgens
Written and drawn by Dan Jurgens with Dan Mishkin, Dave Cockrum, Sal Velluto,
Collects Justice League Spectacular #1, Justice League America #61-77 & Annual #6 (personally collected and bound)

The Justice League was a different animal when I started reading comics. Back in the late 80s/early 90s, the team tended to consist of one major league character and then a lot of others that the writer was able to really grow and change. Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis were the guys who really took this idea and ran with it post-Legends. And, while that run on the book is beloved by many (including me) the rest of Justice League America does not seem to be fondly remembered by many people up until the time that Grant Morrison relaunched the concept with the Big Seven in JLA.

However, I am not one of those people. I’m sure it’s at least in part because my very first JLA line-up included Superman, Fire, Ice, Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Maxima and Bloodwynd. Plus, between his run on this very formative run for me and his hand in the Superman books of the day, Dan Jurgens became a very important creator for me.

At some point in my collecting career, I decided that I wanted to get every issue of every Justice League series from the time frame between Crisis and JLA. I’ve set my mind to collect many series’ like this, but the Justice League books are the only ones I’ve ever completed. While reading through some stuff in the past year or two, I came to the Jurgens issues and was really happy to find that I still enjoyed these stories. So, with all that in mind and a few extra bucks in my pocket I decided to get Jurgens’ run on Justice League America bound.

To give a little context, Jurgens picked up the book after a huge storyline called Breakdowns that essentially toppled both Justice League America and Europe, things were never really the same after that, partially because Giffen and DeMatteis departed at that time. With Batman and Martian Manhunter both leaving the team for various reasons, Superman reluctantly decided to lead the team. At this point, Superman was still in his late 80s/early 90s mode of “very powerful hero” but not the nearly unbeatable god he eventually became.

These issues find the League facing off against the Weapons Master, Starbreaker, Eclipso (in the annual), Doomsday, alternate reality versions of the Satellite Era League and of course each other. I don’t know if I’d call any of those stories — aside from the Doomsday stuff — classics, but I did still find them enjoyable. I like how Jurgens doesn’t always have them winning one particular way. In one adventure, Beetle uses his smarts to get them all out of a jam, in another case it’s all brute strength. As much as I love Morrison’s run, it feels like so many of those stories ended with “And Batman beat them because he’s super effing smart” (or maybe that’s just how my memory remembers it).

In the wake of Superman’s death, the team got several new members, many of whom are considered Z-Listers, but I thought Jurgens did a good job of making them interesting, something he did with each and every member. We’re talking about Agent Liberty, the then-new Black Condor and the kid version of The Ray. Oh and Wonder Woman became the de facto leader.

At this point in Jurgens’ run, he did a really cool alternate reality story called Destiny’s Hand, a four-parter that envisioned a world where the JLA started taking on more and more power and became more like fascists. Part three of this story was actually probably the first JL book I ever read and re-reading it brought back crazy memories. I remember facial expressions, story beats and panel layouts from this issue, I must have looked through it a million times after getting it in a random multipack. Anyway, I was super confused by this comic back in the day and had no idea what was happening, but it reads a lot better all together.

Before leaving the book, Jurgens also told the origins of Bloodwynd, a character I still probably don’t understand 100%. Actually, I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on him now, finally, but I liked that he finished that story thread before leaving the book.

I guess there’s no real question about whether I liked this book or not. Hell, I made the thing myself, didn’t I? But, in addition to the huge nostalgic factor for me, I like these comics. Jurgens did a good job continuing on the sense of humor that characters like Blue Beetle and Booster Gold featured in the Giffen/DeMatteis run. He also did some really fun superhero stories with villains that, to this day (as far as I know), aren’t overly used. Sure, these aren’t the kinds of threats you’d see in a JLA comic these days, but you’ve got to remember that, if one of those kinds of threats popped up in the mid 90s, you’d have yourself a crossover, not an arc.

So, yeah, I like these comics. Heck, I might be in love with a few of the issues, having known them longer than almost everyone in my life. But I also think they’re good comics, the kind that you might be able to pass to someone, though you’d probably have to answer a lot of questions.

Picking Up The 52 – Everything Else

As I said over in my more in-depth reviews of DC’s relaunch titles Huntress, Batwing, Hawk & Dove and Deathstroke #1s, I came upon a stack of books from the relaunch and read them in the order they were piled in. I was going to spread these reviews out a bit longer, but first I got a little behind in posting and then I got my hands on even more comics I want to talk about, so let’s get these out of the way, shall we. Overall, I’m still not sure how successful the issues I read were at either roping in new readers with familiar stories or  giving existing fans interesting things to sink their teeth into. I found myself really enjoying the weirder books, things like Deathstroke or Frankenstein or Justice League Dark, basically books that could be taken out of DC, tweaked here and there and feel like new, original creator owned concepts. There are a few revisions of existing franchises that I liked and one particular one that failed. If you’re curious to see what I thought in a few sentences for each issue, read on! Continue reading Picking Up The 52 – Everything Else

Binding My Justice League Comics

Ever since I got the first 20 issues of Peter David’s Aquaman and the non-collected issues of HERO bound, I’ve been hooked on the idea. As I said in a previous post, I am far more likely to go back and read my comics if they’re in a handy book instead of in single issues. Even if you get past keeping all your issues in bags and boards, it’s just more of a hassle and they’re harder to store as floppies. The two things keeping me from getting everything bound sooner are cost and not actually having full access to my collection (most of my boxes are back home in Toledo). But, I do have my entire post-Crisis Justice League collection in one box and decided to bind some of them. Since DC is already collecting the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League International stuff, I figured I’d be safe if I went for the first two post- “Breakdowns” waves. So, I read through them again to make sure I still wanted them and got ready for binding.

The first step was figuring out exactly what to collect in my custom hardcovers. It worked out well that Dan Jurgens’ run on Justice League America ran a fairly concise 17 issues (#61-77), so that just made sense. Meanwhile, Justice League Europe only went up to issue #50 after “Breakdowns” before turning into Justice League International, so that also made sense. So, I put together Justice League Europe #37-50 and Annual #3 to make a nice book. I also happened to have two copies of the Justice League Spectacular one-shot that lead into both runs, so one of each went into the beginning of each volume. With the issues decided, I then figured out I’d go through the Houchen Bindery. The place I used previously actually shut down and Houchen gives you the opportunity to create your own cover, so I was sold. Plus, their pricing is pretty good at $17.50 per book when you do 2-4 volumes plus shipping. I then got to work making the covers based on a template and some notes I downloaded from Houchen’s site. This actually took quite a while because I’m not very well-versed in Photoshop, but I think they turned out great. I tried to get good team shots from actual issues and scanned those covers. I then used some cloning tools to get rid of things like the company logo and creative team lists. After that, I got an interesting image for the back, did some silhouetting, created the spine text, chose the colors and was good to go. The part I had the most difficulty with was the spines because I originally wanted to use the actual logo, but I couldn’t find one online that was big enough and I couldn’t get one clean enough with Photoshop. I discovered that Impact Bold font is actually pretty close to the Justice League logo of the day, so that worked out quite well. That last element is what I was most worried about in the finished version, but wound up looking pretty good. I packed up the issues and put a PDF of each cover on a cheap memory stick (which they returned) and sent them off. The whole thing took about a full month, maybe five weeks, but I think that’s because I sent the books out around Christmas and things got backed up. I got the invoice and paid and all that was fine, but waiting for them to actually get here was the hardest part. Every day last week, I hoped they might come, but didn’t. I was bummed. And then, last night, after dark, the doorbell rang and the UPS man was there with a box from Houchen. I was giddy. The books turned out great, if I do say so myself. I was worried the typed stuff would look really crummy or my cloning would look glaringly obvious, but both turned out well. I was also a little worried about gutter loss, but the only thing I noticed was that you can’t read some of the issue numbers on the covers. But that’s it and you can see them in the indicia if you need to figure out which issue is which.  What I like most about getting comics bound is how customizable the process is. If you wanted to include the four issue Elongated Man miniseries that lead into Justice League Spectacular, you could. If you want to do one huge book with all of the DC One Million issues in there, go for it. That’s one of the reasons I want access to all of my collection before really getting into binding some books because I organized my collection alphabetically, so if there’s a Green Lantern crossover with someone and the other book is in another box, I can’t put things together just yet. Like I’ve said before, I don’t feel the need to get everything bound. There’s a fuzzy line in my head between comics I have an emotional attachment to that I want to keep even if in a slightly altered form. Newer books, I’m cool with just getting trades.

My only complaint about the whole process is how much they charge for shipping which was $17.85 for the two books combined. I appreciate that they want to ship via UPS, but when I did my books from the other place, we did media mail and it was much cheaper. I gotta say, being charged essentially what it would cost to get a-whole-nother stack of comics bound is a deterrent. As much as I liked Houchen’s work, I am still always looking for a local bindery that might be interested in doing the same kind of work but closer so I can save on shipping back and forth. Anyone know of one in the Orange County New York area?

Casting Internets

Sam Sarkar’s The Vault is a pretty interesting book, check out the story I did on it over at CBR. Same goes for All Nighter, Mysterious Ways and Shinku.

I also did some goodness for Marvel.com about the upcoming Black Panther Point 1 issue!

The hilarious and awesome Rob Bricken of Topless Robot fame did an excellent FAQ based on the never-to-air Wonder Woman pilot.

In the last year, I’ve discovered I’m a big fan of gin, so Esquire‘s Summer Gin Guide was quite informative.

I thought John C Abell’s post on Wired about how eBooks are falling short right now was a fun read.

Ed Brubaker’s Criminal has never really lit me up, but his recent interview with Tom Spurgeon definitely has me curious about this new mini.

I’m linking to my buddy Ben‘s post about Batman being the worst JLAer not only because he name checked me in it, but also because it’s a convincing argument.

This might be a little creepy, but I actually wished I had these kinds of video glasses when I worked in the city because, as David Cross said, when walking the streets of NYC you’re constantly deciding whether to look at the most beautiful woman in the world or the craziest guy in the world. I also would have settled for simple camera glasses. (via Wired)

Anyone interested in comics, regardless of what kind, should be reading Jim Shooter’s blog. It’s fascinating. Take the one about the origin of the Dark Phoenix Saga as an example. I love this kind of behind the scenes stuff.

Speaking of behind the scenes comic book stuff, check out Ron Marz’s latest CBR column where he discusses what went into his decision to leave Witchblade. If you just thought “Pfft, it’s Witchblade, who cares?” I recommend checking out the first trade, it’s good stuff.

Wow, Jimmy Page came out to reprise his role as session guitar player for Donovan’s Sunshine Superman in London. I hope someone recorded it. (via Rolling Stone)

The Red Hot Chili Peppers will have a new album out on August 30th called I’m With You with new guitar player Josh Klinghoffer. Their most recent records have been musically amazing, but not necessarily the most interesting records. Hopefully this one brings back more of the funk. (via Rolling Stone)

I’ve never been so interested in a headline and then immediately worried by a subhed as I was with this Rolling Stone.com example: JACK WHITE MAY RECORD MUSIC FOR ‘SCHOOLBOYS IN DISGRACE’ MOVIE Film version of Kings concept album is being developed by Bobcat Goldthwait.

Dig this crazy skate park designed like a pinball machine! (via Wired)

Kinect Star Wars looks exactly how I want it to. Can’t wait.

Speaking of lovely time wasting video games, Spider-Man: Edge of Time sounds pretty rad too. The fact that it’s written by Peter David is awesome. I’ve still got to get my hands on Shattered Dimension, but have plenty to keep me busy until the used price drops a little lower. (via CBR)

I’ve listened to and really enjoyed Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi records in the past (she’s an amazing vocalist), so I’m happy to see their new band Tedeschi Trucks Band got a good review for their first record on Rolling Stone.

Casting Internets

Nick Spencer was a peach and responded with super speed when I asked him to list his Five Favorite Avengers for Marvel.com.

I also talked with David Baxter about his upcoming Image book Marksmen for CBR.

USA Today got the official scoop that DC is revamping their universe. The part that makes me cringe the most is that they want to “reflect today’s real-world themes and events.” Blech. Real world comics are boring, guys.

I’m developing a strange fascination with abandoned amusement parks. This one of a Six Flags in New Orleans that closed before Katrina could be a little less art schooly, but it’s still kind of amazing. (via IHC)

Tom Bondurant’s latest Grumpy Old Fan discusses the importance of Robins in DC continuity, basically stating that Robin acts as a kind of mile marker for Batman, showing how old he is. I never thought of it like that.

Have you ever heard of old timey NYC hoarders the Collyer Brothers? I heard them mentioned on an episode of Puck Nuts or Tell Em Steve Dave and then spent a good deal of time reading their Wiki page. “Langley had been crawling through their newspaper tunnel to bring food to his paralyzed brother when one of his own booby traps fell down and crushed him.” WHAT?!

This Wired piece about football players reacting negatively to the new safety standards for the game really got me thinking. If the people that a rule is supposed to protect think the rule is ridiculous, what is the point of said rule? Can’t the players’ union take a vote on whether they think these things are necessary with the implication that a vote against the new rules will also translate into a clause that says said players can’t sue if they do get injured? I know people look down on football players, but is treating them like ignorant children who don’t know what’s good for them really the way to go? Maybe it’s time for the XFL to make a comeback.

Over on Rolling Stone, Jay-Z writes about song writing. Fun stuff.

I read Rolling Stone so I don’t have to keep up with various Twitter accounts. Tiring that. Anyway, I’m glad to hear that Green Day is working on new songs.

Brian Hibbs’ latest Tilting At Windmills is filled with comic book math that makes a lot of sense to me. Yet, companies still tend to disregard the things he brings up, so who knows what’s really going on?
I absolutely love Zach Bellissimo’s Vincent Price piece. I would like it on my wall in the future. (via The Autumn Society)

Books Of Justice: JLA Deluxe Volume 2

JLA DELUXE EDITION VOLUME 2 (DC)
Written by Grant Morrison, drawn by Howard Porter with Val Semeiks, Arnie Jorgensen, Gary Frank & Greg Land
Collects JLA #10-17, Faces of Evil: Prometheus #1, JLA/WildC.A.T.S. #1
As with the previous volume, I was once again surprised with how much Morrison packed into so few issues. I remembered the Injustice Gang story, the one where GL, Aquaman and Flash travel to Wonderworld and then to a possible future where Darkseid has taken over, but did not realize they were all happening at the same time. This is one helluva yarn to unravel and that’s before we even get to the Prometheus story. Wow, so much going on here. All other comic book writers–especially ones who want to write big time superhero team comics–should take notes for reference instead of throwing out yet another boring retread of old villains without much new thought or spark.

While a group of super villains coming together to put an end to the heroes might not have been the most original idea of all time–and seems even less so after the past few years of that being the go-to plot for villains–Morrison twisted it just enough by putting Lex Luthor in charge and having him use hostile takeover (read: business) tactics to destroy the JLA. He also, thankfully, didn’t just go with whatever Super Powers lame-os that seemingly everyone else who does this story. I fully expected to see Cheetah instead of Circe, but Circe makes so much more sense. As it turns out, the Injustice Gang series acts as a kind of book end for the other stories I mentioned. Kyle Rayner really gets to shine in an issue before Morrison moves the spotlight over to Aquaman. He does such a good job of giving everyone their due diligence.

But, my favorite aspect of this story is the Darkseid Is possible future. I am a sucker for these kinds of stories because they really get to play with our heroes in ways that just can’t be done in modern comics. Superman’s dead, Batman has been forced to kill, Flash is a fat guy, GL’s a zombie, but more interestingly, Argent has become a hero! Most of you might not remember Argent, but she was one of the characters in Dan Jurgens’ relaunch of the team in the late 90s. Seeing a guy like Morrison show her in such a cool light made me really re-think that character and reinforced the idea in me that there are no bad characters just bad takes on them. Apparently, no one else was paying attention because she hasn’t done much since Devin Grayson’s Titans book (I think).

And then the JLA disbands…but not really. It was a hokey trick that didn’t need to be there. Besides, it wound up just being a restructuring that brought in new members. And you know what? Morrison didn’t put the team together by having our heroes looking at pictures and weighing their options or all meeting up by happenstance and deciding to join forces, THEY WERE JUST THERE! I’d like those potential super hero team writers to take note of this too. We don’t need to see how the team is put together. It’s boring. Just put them together and if questions arise (or better yet, if mysteries abound) answer them as you go. I don’t want to see how next season’s Steelers come together, I want to see them play football! Wow, I’m punchy today, but I think it’s because this stuff all seems to basic and obvious and yet we’re inundated by boring and bad team books all the time.

Anyway, we’re introduced to a brand new villain named Prometheus thanks to his one-shot that then carries right into the next issue that introduces the new team. Prometheus might be one of the greatest villains of the 90s with his ability to download everything from building schematics to marital arts moves into his brain, but I do have one question, how did he get their moves on camera, especially Batman? Ah well, maybe he used his Cosmic Key. Like Zauriel, Prometheus has been mostly mishandled, but I think he could use an upgrade and come out swinging. He had the one-shot not too long ago, has he appeared since? The whole “he doesn’t have VILLAINS programmed in his brain” conclusion is a little Silver Agey, but wound up being fun anyway. I’m still not clear if Catwoman being there was her own idea or Batman’s but that sure was good luck if not planned.

The book ends with a comic I’ve never read before, but enjoyed: JLA/WildC.A.T.S.. I’ve gone on record several times as being a fan of the Wildstorm Universe, so seeing the ‘Cats interact with the Big Seven and written by one of my favorite comic writers is a treat. However, this book won’t blow you away. It’s kind of your standard inter-company crossover, but with Morrison’s crazy brain working on the reasons why they’re crossing over. Even so, I’m glad it’s included in the book to make sure everything he did with the team is collected.

Reading this book not only made me want to get the other two volumes of the JLA Deluxe series, but also get all of the DC 1 Million issues and read the whole thing as one big epic. It would be nice if DC put something together with all the one-shots in the correct chronological order with the main miniseries, but since I haven’t heard anything about that, maybe I’ll just put my own together and bind that shiz up. I’m going to keep my eye out for them as the con season heats up and will maybe get to them after getting my Justice League collection bound.

Books Of Justice: JLA Deluxe Volume 1

JLA DELUXE EDITION VOL. 1 (DC)
Written by Grant Morrison with Mark Millar, drawn by Howard Porter with Oscar Jimenez
Collects JLA #1-9, JLA Secret Files #1
It might seem like I’ve decided to read through my Grant Morrison trade collection since I’m talking about the first two JLA Deluxe Edition books after talking about his Vertigo mini Vimanarama last week. It’s actually a coincidence that has spawned from a different reading project I’ve been doing over the past month or so. Before Lucy was born, I decided to dig out parts of my post-Crisis Justice League collection and give it a read. I decided not to go all the way back to the beginning, but instead picked up right after Breakdowns, which ended the classic Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire run. I had already recently read Justice League Task Force and Extreme Justice, so I just stuck with Justice League America and Justice League Europe/International, reading JLA first up until the Judgement Day storyline, then hopping over to Europe and then reading all the way through to the end of JLA. It was a really interesting experience, especially because I hadn’t read these comics in order when they came out. At some point in my collecting past, I decided to collect all the post-Crisis Justice League books and I’m only an issue or two off by now (a pair of annuals are keeping me from a full run). I’m sure I read most of the issues as I got them, but they were mostly out of order, so the stories were like puzzle pieces in a massive picture of the League in my head put together over several years. It was a lot of fun and I’m planning on getting all the books bound, but after reading through the final issues of Justice League America, I was really curious how Morrison picked up the threads left behind by that and the A Midsummer’s Nightmare. It was pretty great.

Before jumping into my review (this is one helluva long intro, sorry) I want to give a brief history of my relationship with Morrison’s JLA. I remember the exact situation in which I found out about this comic. It wasn’t online or at a comic shop, but in my local mall’s Walden Books. I’d been reading comics for a while, but mostly just stuck with Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and a few others. I got my comic news from the ads in comics, the occasional talk in comics shops and free hand outs. But, at Walden Books, I found this magazine called Wizard. It was issue #57, the Captain America/Iron Man cover by Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld. I was blown away by this thing. Not only was it telling me that Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman were all being put on the same Justice League team, but also explained to me this thing that would be called Heroes Reborn and something else called Kingdom Come. Thus started my long-time readership of Wizard that eventually turned into a career. But, my point is that, a half-page (I believe) news graphic in the front of the mag about the new JLA line-up is what drew my attention and captured my imagination. I HAD to read this book.

Okay, time for the actual review! I love JLA. Not only because of some nostalgic pull, but because it’s just a damn comic that burned itself into my memory as a kid. I remembered all the twists and turns, but I also had a really good time on the ride. I’m not sure what it is about some stories that still seem fun and interesting even when you know all the beats and others don’t. When re-reading Alan Moore’s Top 10, I was bored. I think it has something to do with there being enough meat on the bones of the ride to enjoy that keeps you distracted enough so you’re not just sitting there, waiting for the good parts.

Anyway, the most impressive aspect of Morrison’s JLA run, to me, is how fast-paced it is. These stories are all living somewhere in my mind, so stories like the Hyperclan one, or the Zauriel intro or the Connor Hawke fights alone one all seem like these huge, widespread epics, but in reality all of those stories take place over 9 issues. I’ve read the Hyperclan stuff the most, probably, but even so, I liked reading how Morrison handles the characters, how badass he made Batman and especially how he handles Kyle Rayner. I loved Kyle’s ongoing, so it was nice to see another writer treat the character with respect, but also understand that kind of “I’m in awe of all this” nature he had while hanging out with the Justice League. And, of course, Howard Porter has never been better than he was on JLA. Just as the stories themselves have been absorbed in my memory, so have his panels, pages and poses. There’s something so unique and yet iconic about the way he drew these heroes that it’s almost hard to move from one panel tot he next without trying to drink it all in.

From there we get the recruitment drive/Tomorrow Woman story which I kind of forgot about, but still liked it (I wish they would have included her one-shot even though I don’t believe it was written by Morrison, but ah well). That moment where Hitman says he only went there to use his x-ray vision on Wonder Woman is fantastic. After that it’s the Zauriel stuff, which was fascinating and really showed how tough this new League was: they’re fighting angels. Which reminds me, just as his run was kicking off, Morrison had to deal with Electric Superman and I’ve got to say, he retained the character’s general awesomeness, made him a little bit more vulnerable and unsure of himself, but really exploited the powers well. I know it might not be saying much to some people, but I bet these are the best Electric Blue Superman stories around. I mean, he grapples with a freaking angel, you guys. The angel stuff gets picked up again in a later volume which I’m looking forward to getting my hands on, but this was a great intro to Zauriel a character that has fallen to the wayside since Morrison left the book. And we close out the book with the wonderful tale of Connor Hawke fighting the Key and his robots in the Watchtower after the villain has already captured most of the League using only his father’s goofy trick arrows. My only problem with this story is that it’s another one of those “the superheroes are living fake lives with similar but different histories” stories. Having just read something very similar in the pages of A Midsummer’s Nightmare and this being one of the kinds of stories I’m generally getting sick of in comics, I just looked at the pretty pictures and moved on.

Then we get the weird Starro-ish story from JLA Secret Files co-written by Mark Millar back when he and Morrison used to be boys. I do not like this story, but mostly for fanboyish reasons. At least half of this team has experienced a Starro before, so I’m not sure why it all seems so new to them. That bothered me. And then–and I remember having this problem the first time I read the story–the Spectre (who showed the JLA what might happen if they attack this creature with super powers) makes a big deal of them getting their powers back at the end or something. At no point in the reading of this tale did I ever think “Wow, the JLA might lose their powers forever…in a Secret Files story…that’s set before the team even formed.” Stakes like that just don’t work in this kind of story, so that added element of melodrama just didn’t work for me. Plus, it muddied the transition from the previous Justice League America to JLA which was a bummer because I thought it was handled pretty well in those initial issues. Ah well, maybe I’ll just skip that one on my next read through.

Well, that proved to be a lot more involved than I had originally planned, so I’m going to review the second volume in another post. Stay tuned!