Some of this Morrison reading project has been fairly heavy going. The Filth, The Invisibles, and Seven Soldiers of Victory are meaty lumps of sequential narrative. On top of that, the modicum of research some of my posts have necessitated has felt a tiny bit like work here and there*.
So I’ve been saving up Morrison’s JLA for when burnout beckons and I need some simple 4-colour superhero fun.
That moment has arrived!
JLA was my introduction to the mainstream DCU. Even though the stories weren’t designed to be read in conjunction with the rest of DC’s output at the time, reading about these central characters each month gave me a good handle on where the DCU was at back then. I loved this incarnation of the team. Morrison’s deft handling of these characters in their team book and his portrayal of them as a group bound together by mutual trust and respect allowed them to have a strong presence when they appeared as a team in other books, or when other writers borrowed the reins.
Because I have a fondness for this period of DCU history, I’ll probably be taking side-trips to appearances of the JLA in other comics during Morrison’s tenure as chief custodian. Such was my fanboyish enthusiasm for the JLA that I eventually bought many of those appearances, including events like JLApe and Day of Judgement. These summer crossovers might have been knocked at the time, but they are veritable models of restraint in light of DC’s publishing practices since DiDio took over.
Here is a chronology of Morrison’s JLA and the storylines that intersected with it. I’ll be using it to decide the reading order and possible side-trips. Let us know if there are any glaring errors on it. I’d love to read through every appearance of the JLA during 1996-2000, but unfortunately, most of them are amongst the comics I had to leave behind when I made my big move. If you would like to chime in with commentary on JLApe, Paradise Lost, Day of Judgement or any of the other stories in the chronology, be my guest.
JLA was stratospherically popular back when it hit the stands, so it’d be good to hear what you all thought of it at the time and how you think it reads now.
If possible, I’d like for all the early posts to focus on the first 2-3 storylines rather than ranging too far ahead. Not really for SPOILER reasons, but just to keep the discussion from getting too general. I don’t think we have to worry about spoiling later developments, though, as most of us have probably read this series already.
Given I’ll be branching out to the work of other writers, it seems right to begin the discussion with Justice League: Midsummer’s Nightmare, written by Mark Waid and Fabian Niceiza.
*Ironic, given where I wrote most of them…
(1224 - 240113)
After J’onn, Batman is the first to realise that they are in fact up against White Martians. I have to say, this was the one bad note for me the first time I read this story. I was coming to the DCU pretty fresh, and because of the way Morrison was dancing around issues of continuity that would have bogged down other writers, the story seemed very accessible. However, setting up a puzzle where only readers with prior knowledge could have worked out the solution annoyed me a bit. I would have thought Morrison could have got in some reference to J’onn’s weakness around fire, at least.
I was fairly familiar with DC lore at the time, and I didn't know who the big baddie ended up being, but then again I figure if I am able piece it together it isn't a very good story to begin with. I think anything to do with their aversion to fire would have been too obvious though. I do agree that this series was accessible to new readers, and it gave them a lot of familiar faces.
It was a good idea to deal with this question early on. The question itself misses the point of what superheroes are 'for'. Morrison's approach is more ‘realistic’ than the dictatorial bloodbath Moore had Marvelman embark on just a few years before JLA. This comic has a different relationship to reality than Marvelman, or The Authority. As superheroes don’t actually exist, Morrison’s story is more ‘truthful’ in showing us that the role of these heroes is to stand on the sidelines and be there to offer us inspiration, and show us what we can be at our best.
The fact is that the guy speaking those words is an inspiration in the real world and a proverbial model of the best that we can be, known far outside fanboy circles. I like my comics to tell me something about the world I’m living in, rather than the fictional world Snapper Carr is living in (Daddio!). Superman and friends being an inspiration seems like ‘truth’ to me.
I say ‘quite’ unique, because a) I hate to be bound by rules, man, and b) there is an artist whose work Porter’s has many similarities with, but that artist isn’t of any ‘school’ I know of. That artist is classic 2000AD genius Kevin O’Neill. O’Neill uses a similarly angular, spiky style, which comes into its own when portraying extremes states of emotional or mental distress or truly outlandish, alien imagery.
I think that comparison of Porter to O'Neill is pretty apt -- now that you mention it, I see a lot of similarities.
I guess that is just one the things that makes us all of different. I really like Porter's art, but I couldn't stand O'Neill's art on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. (One of the 2 things I disliked about that series.)