The Great Comic Book Cull Of 2010/2011 Part 17: DC Comics – The Last of The Justice League!

Ok, I know I said that the last post was the last Justice League post, but I may have been lying. Or drunk. But I pinky swear this is the last of the Justice League.

Justice League The Lightning Saga and Tornado’s Path

 

Justice League - This Time It's Personal!!!

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, the Justice League’s Magnificent Seven years started out well, but eventually fizzled out, as these things often do. A new direction was launched, with Brad Meltzer and Ed Benes at the helm.

 

Although it seemed to start with a bang, I felt upon rereading that the series underwhelmed me a bit. Brad Meltzer gives us some nice character moments here, and Ed Benes always does a nice job. And while it’s definitely a readable story, this never really seems like “THE JUSTICE LEAGUE”. This incarnation isn’t out patrolling or saving the world, they’re essentially dealing with their own personal drama and letting the bad guys come to them. That’s fine for groups like the X-Men and the Teen Titans, which only exist because of interpersonal conflict. But the JLA isn’t supposed to be about personal drama, it’s supposed to be about gods fighting over the earth.

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Justice LeagueThe Injustice League

 

As a wedding present, we're going to act a lot dumber than we normally do.

So the biggest thing that Dwayne McDuffie accomplished with his run on the League was to get me to STOP buying JLA comics after a decade of faithful service. Yep, that’s how crappy this is. In fact, I haven’t bought a JLA trade since. The biggest problem I had with this was the complete lack of editorial guidance. To clarify: At this point, DC had decided to marry Green Arrow and Black Canary, and writer Dwayne McDuffie decided to make his first arc about their bachelor/bachelorette parties being invaded by a group of super villains. The heroes fight off the villains, and then decide to get married later on the Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special. But if you actually read the Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special, you will notice that some of the very same super villains attack them AGAIN, but with no mention of the previous attack at all. DC, if you don’t even read your own books, why should I? Not to mention how dumb Lex Luthor’s plan is, which seems to be summed up like this: Us attack heroes. Us kidnap heroes, drawing other heroes to our base. Heroes come, and we attack them, hoping beyond hope that we will beat them this time, even though we’ve been trying dumb shit like this for decades and it never works.

 

Anyways, this was the book that made me realize that the JLA wasn’t going to get any better. This was an inane storyline by a writer that I have a lot of respect for.  If I think about it, this (and a lot of the other stuff that DC was doing at the time) was actually the start of my major disillusionment with superhero comics.

CULL

Next up: Finally, no more Justice League!

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The Great Comic Book Cull Of 2010/2011 Part 16: DC Comics – Yep, still more Justice League

Justice League Justice Vol. 1, 2, and 3.

You can tell that when Alex Ross and Jim Krueger put out their ambitious Justice project, their goal was to produce the greatest non-Silver Age Silver Age DC story of all time. However, that honor goes to Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier, and although I hate to be flippant about a book that looks as good as Justice does, I really can’t help but put it in the “just ok” pile. It does have an interesting concept going for it:  DC’s supervillains get visions of their heroic counterparts destroying the planet, and team up to stop them.

Alex Ross’ art is as gorgeous as always, and seeing him apply his love of the DCU to the Silver-Age versions of these characters is a lot of fun. But while the story has potential, the plot is overly complicated with FAR too many characters to keep track of, and it quickly gets bogged down by it’s own cleverness. It doesn’t take long for it to become  a fairly straight forward simple punch ‘em up. The whole thing is entertaining however, and the only real awful moment of the series comes when Alex Ross decided to pick up a call from DC’s toy department, which resulted in all of his heroes wearing suits of armour for some godforsaken reason.

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Justice League JLA & JSA: Virtue & Vice

Thanksgiving, super-hero style!

Team-ups between the JLA and JSA have become fairly common over the years, to the extent that DC has made it canon that the teams spend Thanksgiving dinner with each other every year. Now, you may argue that someone who spends 364 days a year dressing up like a loon and fighting crazy people might want to spend the holidays with their actual families, rather than the same fetishists they spend the rest of the year with. You’d be mistaken however, and since the idea has produced some entertaining stories, who am I to judge?

Virtue & Vice is a pretty standard team-up book, but it’s a VERY well-crafted standard team-up book. Though it would never go on my list as one of DC’s truly influential or important graphic novels, it’s definitely one of the stronger JLA/JSA stories in the canon, and Carlos Pacheco’s penciling never looked better.

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Justice League JLA Vs. The Avengers

Every single superhero fights each other for no reason at all

There have been numerous cross-overs between DC and Marvel over the years, and for the most part they’ve been about as readable as a Tea Party manifesto. This four-part epic featuring comicdom’s two greatest supergroups teaming up for the first time ever, is one of the few exceptions. Quite simply, Kurt Busiek and George Perez put together the greatest cross-over story most fans could possibly hope for.

Note that I said “most” fans. The problem with a story like this is that you will NEVER please everybody, and as thanks for your efforts will probably end up pleasing no one. So although there are scenes here that caused “controversy” (“Superman is stronger than Thor.” “Is not.” “Is too.” “MOM!!!!”) at the time, Busiek’s emphasis on characterization ended up making this a home-run for me.

That’s not to say it’s without it’s faults. To say that’s it’s overly complicated and dense would be an understatement. Keep in mind, some pages feature dozens, if not hundreds of characters, with the characters often changing costumes multiple times in a single page. This book is NOT for the superhero rookie, and even I had a hard time keeping track of what any of the characters were trying to accomplish. Usually that would be a turn-off, but in this case  it simply served the grandiose nature of the story that Busiek was trying to tell.

George Perez is one of the most critically acclaimed artists in the comic industry, and while I’m not really sure what motivated him to produce what ended up being the best work he had done in 20 years, I’m glad that he did. Although Perez has done some fine work since this came out, I think this will end up being being a fine epilogue to an amazing career.

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Next up: The Justice Society!