Archive for Justice League of America

Working for the Weekend

I keep getting reminded of more great comics that have gone out-of-print lately. And it’s pretty depressing that this is one of them, because it’s one of my very favorite comics of the past decade.

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JLA: Welcome to the Working Week

This little prestige-format book came out in 2003, written by comedian and actor Patton Oswalt and illustrated by Patrick Gleason and Christian Alamy. It came at the end of the Morrison glory days of “JLA,” while the writers who came after him were still working hard to keep the brilliance of the series running at a high pace.

Our story is deceptively simple. The Justice League responds to an alien invasion of Portland by teleporting the entire population of the St. John’s neighborhood into the Watchtower. Once the invasion gets handled, the population gets transported back home — except for Marlus Randone, superhero fanzine writer, who sneaks off and enjoys a week of roaming the halls of the Watchtower and watching how the Justice League handles its off-the-clock time. Oh, there are a number of crises going on — Flash stops a hacker from launching a nuclear weapon, Green Lantern brokers peace between alien races, Batman solves plenty of crimes, and we get a number of ominous hints that something terrible is looming behind the scenes — and the whole thing ends with an attack by a team of powerful alien supervillains.

But by and large, most of the focus is on how the JLA spends their time when they’re not fighting evil, as well as Marlus’ observations, speculations, and memories of the DC Universe’s superheroes. Batman’s obsessions, Kyle Rayner’s and Wally West’s everyman qualities, Plastic Man’s fun-loving nature — it all gets examined in varying detail. Most of the story is pretty light-hearted, but everything wraps up with a series of lightning-fast super-battles, excellent insights, and inspirational moments.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The whole story is just great fun all the way through.

It doesn’t mean there aren’t moments that’ll make you scoff at everything going on. I can’t possibly imagine the Justice League letting Plastic Man throw a giant rave just to capture one supervillainess. I can’t possibly imagine Wally West being unhappy that Batman has gotten one of the Rogues to reform. I can’t imagine Wonder Woman inviting Lady Shiva, Killer Croc, and Cheetah up to the Watchtower to spar. I can’t possibly imagine security on the Watchtower being so lax that a guy can hide out among the world’s greatest superheroes for a week without getting caught. But frankly, that stuff didn’t bug me too much. Plas’ party is hilarious, Wally’s unhappiness with Batman is not particularly significant, and Wondy’s battle is one of the best moments of the book. And it’s so much fun watching Marlus spy on superheroes, it makes me think they should let people hide out here more often.

And everything else in the book is just so very good. If you just can’t stand light-hearted superhero comics, you probably won’t like this. But if you don’t like light-hearted superhero comics, you’re probably Dan DiDio and shouldn’t be reading comics anyway.

Marlus Randone is such an amazing character — hipster cynic crossed with gleeful fanboy, always with a great quip and observation, with his own interesting backstory and motivations. It’s really too bad we haven’t seen more of him in the DCU.

And Patton Oswalt’s writing is just so very, very good. Some of the stuff he writes here — about the Martian Manhunter, about Aquaman, about Marlus’ father — stands out for me as some of the best expository writing in comics. There’s one page toward the end with Marlus wandering around the Watchtower’s trophy room, musing on the nature of being a superhero, that still strikes me as one of the best descriptions of the superhero phenomenon, both in-universe and out.

Why is this out of print? I really don’t know. Patton Oswalt is still a pretty popular guy, both in and out of the geek community. DC should be waving this book from the top of the comic shops. DC and Marvel should be desperate to have him write more comics. I really don’t know why they’ve let this comic languish.

You can still find it, thank goodness, and you won’t pay a fortune for it. If you haven’t gotten to read it yet, shell out a little cash and enjoy it for yourself.

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Friday Night Fights: Brain Pain!

Alright, kiddies, it’s Friday, time for the weekend, and we need some comic book violence to get things started right. Let’s jump right into… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

This is one of my all-time favorites — possibly the most epic battle ever from Grant Morrison’s run on “JLA” — during the “Rock of Ages” storyline, we get a glimpse into an alternate future where the evil New God Darkseid has taken over the world. So from January 1998’s JLA #14 by Grant Morrison, Howard Porter, and John Dell, here’s the all-powerful Darkseid vs. a guy who shrinks and a guy who shoots arrows:

And the coda to that fight, just because it’s a great coupla lines:

Everyone have a great weekend — I’ll see y’all Monday.

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In Which I Fix the Problem of James Robinson and "Cry for Justice" Once and for All

I’ve been avoiding James Robinson’s “Cry for Justice” series — I read the first issue or two, didn’t like them, and decided not to waste my money on any more of them. I haven’t regretted it for a second.

And, well, we now know how it ended. Spoiler warning? Nah, who cares, I’m saving you from having to read it for yourself. Roy Harper, better known to DC readers as Speedy, Arsenal, and Red Arrow, gets an arm cut off by Prometheus, who later blows up a few cities and kills Roy’s five-year-old daughter Lian. Green Arrow kills Prometheus in retaliation.

Quite aside from Robinson’s increasingly hacktastic writing, this is an absolute giant metal vat of toxic, chemically-enhanced, acid-based crap.

As we’ve said multiple times before, DC wants to embrace its golden and silver ages, so we get Hal Jordan and Barry Allen returned to life, as well as promises of the “Brightest Day” series, but at the same time, they want everyone to think they’re hardcore tough guys. And because they’re immature morons, they think adult comics have to be drenched in gory violence and gratuitous sex.

I’m all in favor of sex and violence in comics. I’m in favor of sex and violence in all fiction, because they’re some of the prime motivators of human existence, and you’re completely mad if you try to bleed those out entirely.

But Robinson’s and DC’s creepy obsessions are quite a bit more than I want to read in a comic. I’m tired of reading superhero comics where the writers slaughter people and destroy cities to prove that their villains are unusually evil. I’m tired of comic writers who kill really awesome, cool, fun characters like Lian for the sake of cheap shock value. Lian’s death didn’t mean anything to Robinson — he needed something “shocking,” and his writing skills are apparently weak enough that the only way he knows how to shock or to motivate a character is with the tired, hoary cliche of killing off a supporting cast member.

Robinson’s “Starman” and “The Golden Age” are still some of the very best comics of the ’90s. But since then? Nothing but crap. Right now, if you pick up one of his comics on the strength of his past work on “Starman,” you’re going to get suckered into reading a bad comic book.

So here’s what I’m gonna do for you. From now on, everyone can safely consider everything that happened in “Cry for Justice” to be non-continuity. It never happened. Future writers may feel free to write stories in which Red Arrow has both arms, in which Lian Harper is still alive, in which Prometheus is still available to use as a character. “Cry for Justice” never happened, Robinson’s runs on “Justice League” or any other comic series never happened. Ignore everything he said, ’cause it never happened.

How can I do that, you may ask. How can I do that when I’m not a comic writer, when I’m not running DC, when I’m lucky to muster a hundred hits a day on the blog?

Here’s how I can do that: Because it’s the only answer that makes sense. In “Cry for Justice,” Ray “The Atom” Palmer tortures a guy by jumping around in his brain. In the mainstream DC Universe, he’s just been picked as an Indigo Tribe member because he’s compassionate. In “Cry for Justice,” Green Arrow gets the drop on Prometheus and plants an arrow between his eyes. In the mainstream DCU, Prometheus spanks Batman without that much effort. How do you reconcile “Cry for Justice” with everything else in the DCU? Pick the one that makes sense and decree that the other was just badly written fan-fiction. It’s a happy accident that picking the one with the non-jerkwad Ray Palmer and the non-inept Prometheus is also the one with the two-armed Red Arrow and the not-pointlessly-killed five-year-old moppet.

That, and it looks pretty likely that I’m a better writer than the current non-Starman version of James Robinson. At this point, we’re ALL better writers than the non-Starman James Robinson.

And that’s all there is to it, y’all. “Cry for Justice” never existed. Lian’s fine, Roy is fine. Go forward from that point from now on, and never pick up another comic by that hack James Robinson again.

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Friday Night Fights: The Old Changeup!

We’re gonna make this short and sweet tonight, just so we can get straight into our old favorite: FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s fight comes from 1999’s JLA: Foreign Bodies by Len Kaminski, Val Semeiks, and Prentis Rollins. Our set-up: It’s Batman vs. Kobra!

But wait, that’s not who our players really are — the Justice League’s minds have gotten swapped around, so actually, that’s Kobra in Batman’s body, and it’s Superman in Kobra’s body. Confusing? Well, yeah, it is a bit mad.

I always enjoyed this story — I’m a sucker for a good mindswap tale. I reckon I’m lucky to have gotten my mitts on this one — I doubt it’ll ever get reprinted…

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Friday Night Fights: General Mayhem!

It’s the end of another long and very cold week, and I reckon the best way to fight off the cold and get charged up for the weekend at the same time is to heat things up with some FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

This week’s brawl comes to us from January 2000’s JLA #37 by Grant Morrison, Howard Porter, and John Dell. It’s the middle of the epic “World War III” storyarc, and General Wade Eiling, wearing the shaved-bald body of the Shaggy Man, is having a minor disagreement with the Man of Steel:

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And that is how Superman got athlete’s foot fungus all over his face.

Hope y’all have a great weekend, and I’ll see y’all on Monday.

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Friday Night Fights: War on Christmas!

SpaceBooger is going to start up the next official round of Friday Night Fights next week, but why don’t we jump the gun with a little seasonal mayhem?

From January 2002’s JLA #60 by Mark Waid, Cliff Rathburn, and Paul Neary: Santa Claus puts the hurt on a bunch of demonic elves!

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You better not pout, you better not cry, you better watch out, I’m telling you why: Santa Claus is coming… to kick your ass.

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The Justice Stooges

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Justice Society of America #31

Holy bananas, how far this comic has slumped.

Wildcat and Magog get into a completely pointless fight that should’ve ended with Magog getting kicked off the team, but for some stupid reason, they let him stick around. Dr. Fate breaks it up by reminding everyone that Mr. Fantastic Terrific is at death’s door, and that everyone is required to line up to give blood — he’ll use his magic to make sure that it’s changed into the right blood type. The mansion security tapes finally reveal that Mr. Fantastic Terrific was stabbed by one of the new recruits, the All-American Kid, who still insists he didn’t do anything. The villains who attacked the JSA try to regroup, the other new recruit, King Chimera, acts like a jerk, and Magog acts like an even bigger jerk.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I’m pretty much stacking the blame for this one on Bill Willingham. He does outstanding work on “Fables,” but almost everything else he’s written lately has been a big fat bag of fail. Let Matt Sturges take over the writing full-time — he’s shown he has what it takes to handle high-profile writing assignments without embarrassing himself or screwing up the characters he works on. But this series, which used to be one of DC’s best, is in dire need of rescue, fast.

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Justice League of America 80-Page Giant #1

The Lord of Time has attacked the Justice League and has dispersed them throughout time. We follow Hal Jordan and Red Arrow to the Wild West (teaming up with Wild West gunslinger Cinnamon), Vixen and John Stewart (and the Shining Knight) to Camelot, Black Canary and Zatanna teaming up with the Crimson Avenger in the late 1930s, Firestorm and Green Arrow meeting up with the Bride in WWII’s Pacific Theater, Steel and Wonder Woman fighting Starro in the pirate-filled high seas, and Superman and Dr. Light running around 13th-century Japan.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A lightweight but cute story. Some of these stories are better than others — the best ones were Zatanna and Black Canary running around during the Golden Age, Wonder Woman masquerading as a pirate captain, and the WWII story, just because the Bride is such a wonderful character. Take it for what it is — a bit of time-travel fun — and you’ll get the most enjoyment out of it.

(Thanks, WizarDru, for corrections of my very, very silly mistakes)

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Wednesday on Monday

Well, first, I had some news to tell y’all back on Wednesday, and the LubbockOnline blogs went kerplooey just in time to make my post extra difficult to find. So if you ain’t heard my news yet, go read this.

Now that you’re up to speed on what’s been happening with me — yes, I’m safely moved in here, still working on unpacking my book boxes, sweating like a stuck pig every time I go outside, and starting my first day at the new job this morning. How do you tie a tie again? I can just use a square knot, right?

And now: Comics reviews.

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Wednesday Comics #1

This is DC’s new weekly series, and it looks pretty cool. When you unfold the comic-sized magazine, it’s as large as a newspaper, and the stories they have here have some outstanding pedigrees. You’ve got stuff here like Metamorpho by Neil Gaiman and Michael Allred, Adam Strange by Paul Pope, Kamandi by Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook, Supergirl by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, Hawkman by Kyle Baker, and Sgt. Rock by Adam Kubert and Joe Kubert. Let me repeat that last one for emphasis — the Kuberts on Sgt. Rock! That one little thing was what got me to commit to getting at least the first issue.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Too many stories to summarize here, but most of these are pretty good, and some of them are very, very good. But while this is a thumbs-up… I’m not planning on continuing to get the series. It’s an expensive weekly series where each story gets just one page per week — I can’t afford to shell out that kind of dough. I wish DC good luck with this, but I’m waiting for the eventual trade paperbacks for these.

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Justice League: Cry for Justice #1

So here’s James Robinson’s big “Justice League” story. Hal Jordan makes a big pompous speech and “quits” the Justice League, along with Green Arrow, so they can go look for justice. Or something. Elsewhere, the Atoms — Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi — beat up Killer Moth and his gang in Albuquerque, Mikaal Tomas, former Starman and supporting cast member of Robinson’s classic ’90s “Starman” series, learns that his boyfriend has been murdered, and Congorilla, an old Silver Age character, a white hunter who could switch minds with a powerful gold-colored gorilla (Because shut up, that’s why), must deal with the murders of his ape tribe, his human body, and even the African hero called Freedom Beast.

Verdict: A little from Column A, a little from Column B. I do have some very serious quibbles about a lot of this. I mean, isn’t Killer Moth a giant insect monster these days? Would Ray Palmer torture someone the same way his ex-wife killed Sue Dibny? And pretty please, with sugar on top, could Hal Jordan kindly shaddap? I don’t hate this as much as some people did — I am looking forward to seeing Robinson writing Mikaal Tomas again, and the Congorilla sequence really is outstanding. The bonus material in the back is also pretty nice. But definitely a very mixed bag…

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Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth #1

Marvel’s lunatic mercenary gets a second ongoing series here, starting out by getting launched out of a space station by the mad scientists of A.I.M. in an unshielded and very hot escape pod and crashing down in the Savage Land. He’s supposed to steal a package for A.I.M., but he doesn’t know what it is. He meets up with Ka-Zar, who directs him to a site where the local cavemen are building a giant statue that looks exactly like him. He meets up with Dr. Betty Swanson, a dishy A.I.M. agent, and his attempts to impress her end with both of them being captured by the cavemen. That’s when they discover what the package actually is — the head of Zombie Deadpool from the various “Marvel Zombies” series.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not sure if Deadpool really needed two different series, but I’m down for anything that involves a crazy wisecracking assassin lugging a zombified alternate-version of his own head around as a sidekick.

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Farewell to the Birds

Well, I was going to devote today’s blog to one of my rare sports posts so I could talk about the Mike-Leach-vs.-Texas-Tech thing. But Tech finally decided they didn’t want to deal with angry, torch-bearing mobs and gave Leach his contract. So in the absence of anything else, let’s hit some quick reviews.

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Birds of Prey #127

It’s the last issue of this comic, and they don’t send it off on a high note. The Calculator has new powers that let him control any machinery, and he’s invaded the Birds’ HQ with a giant scary robot. They manage to get away, but lose their headquarters in the process. They raid the last stronghold of the Silicon Syndicate and mash ’em flat except, again, for Calculator. So Babs has a crisis of confidence and quits the team to see if she can get the use of her legs back and become Batgirl again. Wait, what?

Verdict: Thumbs down. The story was far, far too rushed. The ending was forced. Characterization was almost nonexistent. And I really don’t get DC’s new craze for rolling back their clock to the Silver Age. They brought Hal Jordan back, they brought Barry Allen back, they’re somehow going to shoehorn Babs Gordon out of her completely awesome role as Oracle the computer guru and try to turn her back into one of Batman’s dull sidekicks again. Wouldn’t surprise me to hear that they’re going to de-age Nightwing to get him back in the Robin costume next.

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Justice League of America #30

The Justice League has managed to subdue the Shadow Cabinet, but they all get ambushed by the Shadow Thief, who’s managed to get a lot more powerful recently and has decided to kill both teams as a sacrifice to some unnamed god. They all have to fight shadow-versions of themselves. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Rocket shows up (Yay! Rocket!), schools Batman (Wait, what?), and reveals that the Shadow Cabinet has given Dr. Light (the female Japanese superhero, not the crazy evil barfbag villain) a new powersuit that lets her use her superpowers again. So they all manage to defeat Shadow Thief, but he has one last surprise — he’s created an evil shadow-version of the moon, and he’s going to crash it into the Earth. Superman manages to bash it to bits, but the Shadow Cabinet gets away.

Verdict: Thumbs down. I actually liked some parts of this — I still can’t get over how much I’m liking seeing the Milestone Media characters here in the DCU, some of the dialogue was quite good, and the Evil Shadow Moon was both cheesy and cool. But dangit, I just cannot take any comic seriously that tries to tell me that a halfwit dork like the Shadow Thief is a serious threat. And isn’t it about time they gave the superhero Dr. Light a new name?

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Everyone All Together

Justice League of America #28

It’s the Justice League vs. the Shadow Cabinet. For the most part, it’s a story about a bunch of super-people beating each other up, though the confrontation between Superman and Icon is… interesting. Very interesting.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yes, I’m still grooving on the return of the characters from Milestone Comics. But there is a lot of excellent fisticuffs going on here. I approve.

Madame Xanadu #7

Nimue is now in Victorian London, using her fortunetelling and spellcasting to try to protect people from Jack the Ripper. And of course, the Phantom Stranger appears, infuriating Nimue with his failure to act to save anyone. She offers to help the police, but finds her ability to see the future mysteriously stymied when it comes to discovering the Ripper’s identity. She lays mystic alarms around Whitechapel to alert her to any attacks, but will her spells be enough to stop the madman? And whose side is the Phantom Stranger really on?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Obviously, this isn’t nearly as heavy as Alan Moore’s classic Ripper story “From Hell,” but there’s some good stuff in here. Ripperologists will find several interesting tidbits to enjoy.

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