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)

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I agree with you about big crossovers reducing characters to figures on a chessboard. Some of the less recognisable characters in both images were more prominent at the time. In the first image the big pink guy is the robot L-Ron in Despero’s body. Apparently, he appeared in this form in the Justice League books of the period. The guy fourth from the left in green and gold is Geo-Force, from (Batman and) the Outsiders. When Zero Hour came out volume two of The Outsiders was running. Donna had lost her original powers and had just been added to the cast of Darkstars. The red and white costume was her Darkstars uniform, which gave her replacement super-abilities. I think Lightning boy is the version of Lightning Lad who was then appearing in Legionnaires. (Zero Hour ended the Legion’s “Five Years Later” period, which featured older versions of the Legionnaires. During the period younger versions of some of them were introduced as the “Batch SW6” Legion, and spun off into their own book. I don’t know how they were eventually explained.)

I don’t have time to do the second image now. I think it’s a mix of then-in-use and then-not-in-use characters, and don’t recognise several. The 90s version of the Ray is the glowing gold and black guy above Starfire. He was introduced in a mini and held his own title for a couple of years. He had only just lost it when Final Night came out. Triumph is the guy between J’onn J’onzz and the Ray. Wikipedia has a page on him. He was a returned founding member of the JLA who had been forgotten by everyone as a result of the outcome of a mission. From what I can tell when Final Night came out he had been recently appearing in the recently-cancelled Justice League Task Force. I can’t find anything on the Green Dragon - do you have the name right?
The Green Dragon is actually the older Jo Nah, Ultra Boy from the "Five Years Later" Legion which is why he's usually pictured with the younger Legionnaires. The Batch SW6 Legion were clones of the originals created, I think, by the Dominators who were major villains in the 90s DCU. The SW6 Mon-El played a major part in the Valor series which has been negated by Mon's current continuity. Who does he think he is, Hawkman?

Morrison will use Triumph in his JLA/JSA team-up along with the Ray who's the son of the Freedom Fighter/Golden Age Ray.

The Justice Soceity gained time in All-Star Squadron Annual #3 which took place betwwen All-Star Comics #7 & 8. It explained why Green Lantern was chairman for one issue, why he left, why Hourman took a leave of absence, how Starman joined and why Doctor Fate switched to his half-helmet. Suffice to say, a lot happens in this issue! It shows the current members (Green Lantern, Hawkman, the Atom, Doctor Fate, the Spectre, Hourman, Sandman and Johnny Thunder), the honorary members (Superman, Batman and the Flash) and select others (Lois Lane, Robin, Joan Williams, Hawkgirl and Starman) being infused with chronal energy which would give them more vitality and slow down their ageing.

Of course that doesn't explain Doctor Mid-Nite, Wildcat, Mister Terrific or Black Canary. Wonder Woman probably didn't need it but maybe Doctor Fate and the Spectre (who didn't need it, either) transfered their's to the others.

Morrison also gave Wildcat a reason for his continued career. And didn't Alan's ring reappear afterwards?

True Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman aren't pivotal players and did you notice the Flash (Wally) vanishes and never returns? How does that resolve itself?
Thanks, Philip.
True Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman aren't pivotal players

But some Damage chap, who appears for about 6 panels, is pivotal. (I think - It's hard to tell! Or something...)

did you notice the Flash (Wally) vanishes and never returns? How does that resolve itself?

That's the trouble with these wibbly-wobbly space-time reboots. They are meant to bolt things down but instead everything becomes extremely slippery.

BTW I was surprised to see Ollie here too. When I got into the DCU in 1997, he seemed to be gone a loooong time at that stage. I suppose 2-3 years is a long time for a B-lister to be dead...

Just wondering, Philip, did you read it again, or are you just going by your very detailed memory here?
Of the ones that are eventually named in passing, what’s The Ray about? Or Triumph? Or Green Dragon?

Thanks for the biographical info on these guys, and their equally obscure fellows. However, my question was what do they 'stand for', as the Hulk stands for anger, and Supeman stands for goodness and Spider-man stands for responsibility, etc.

I guess the shift I'm talking about between 94 and 97 was from superhero as costumed soap opera to superhero as mythology.

Finally managed to boil it down to a sentence.

I get there in the end...
Hey, the Flying Spermatazoa was one of my favorite characters, so watch it!

I personally rank Zero Hour about where I ran most of these crossovers. Average at best. I didn't have a problem with the way the JSA old-timers were taken out (and I love the JSA). These were a bunch of veterans who had "seen it all". I think they greatly underestimated their opponent and paid the price for it..

Picture 2, I'll take a crack at starting at the upper left:

  1. Mister Miracle
  2. Martian Manhunter
  3. Yellow and Gold dude: No idea
  4. The Ray
  5. Northwind
  6. Donna Troy - Darkstar
  7. Amazing Man
  8. Agent Liberty
  9. Superboy
  10. Back to the left with Steel
  11. Pantha
  12. Starfire
  13. Captain Marvel
  14. Geo-force
  15. Superman
  16. Dragon
  17. Cosmic Boy
  18. Back to the left with Elongated Man
  19. Not sure who that is below him to the left.
  20. Redwing
  21. Captain Atom
  22. Killowatt
  23. Obisdian
  24. Spectral dude in brown I think is Phantasm
  25. Lightning Lad
  26. Back to the left with Impule
  27. Guy Gardener Warrior I believe
  28. Red Star
  29. Dr. Light
  30. The Atom
  31. Aquaman
  32. Green Arrow
  33. It looks kid of Maxima with the red hair but I am probably wrong
  34. Blue Beetle
  35. Booster Gold in his horrible post "Death of Superman" armor
  36. Metamorpho
  37. Wonder Woman
  38. Nightwing
  39. Batman
  40. No idea who the white haired lady is with no costume
  41. No idea dude to the right of her
  42. Saturn Girl above him who I skipped earlier
  43. Kitana
  44. Batgirl?
  45. L-Ron

45? Is that it? I will quick hit Redwing and Killowatt they were members of the Team Titans.

I reread the TPB, of course, though most of my points I already had before I did. I knew who the Green Dragon was prior to this, but then I had to since they never even give a helpful footnote. Stan. Julius, where are you when we need you???

Green Arrow had that emotional confrontation with Parallex and was given a new direction, I think. If I can recall correctly, he wasn't prominent during the first Crisis either.

Damage was there to show DC was creating and using new characters.

As for the unrevealed heroes, in order, 3 is Triumph, 19 is Alpha Centurian, 40 is a pregnant Power Girl and 41 is Arsenal, I think.
If you meant "blue and gold" dude, that's Triumph.

Travis Herrick said:

I personally rank Zero Hour about where I ran most of these crossovers. Average at best. I didn't have a problem with the way the JSA old-timers were taken out (and I love the JSA). These were a bunch of veterans who had "seen it all". I think they greatly underestimated their opponent and paid the price for it..

Picture 2, I'll take a crack at starting at the upper left:

  1. Mister Miracle
  2. Martian Manhunter
  3. Yellow and Gold dude: No idea
  4. The Ray
  5. Northwind
  6. Donna Troy - Darkstar
  7. Amazing Man
  8. Agent Liberty
  9. Superboy
  10. Back to the left with Steel
  11. Pantha
  12. Starfire
  13. Captain Marvel
  14. Geo-force
  15. Superman
  16. Dragon
  17. Cosmic Boy
  18. Back to the left with Elongated Man
  19. Not sure who that is below him to the left.
  20. Redwing
  21. Captain Atom
  22. Killowatt
  23. Obisdian
  24. Spectral dude in brown I think is Phantasm
  25. Lightning Lad
  26. Back to the left with Impule
  27. Guy Gardener Warrior I believe
  28. Red Star
  29. Dr. Light
  30. The Atom
  31. Aquaman
  32. Green Arrow
  33. It looks kid of Maxima with the red hair but I am probably wrong
  34. Blue Beetle
  35. Booster Gold in his horrible post "Death of Superman" armor
  36. Metamorpho
  37. Wonder Woman
  38. Nightwing
  39. Batman
  40. No idea who the white haired lady is with no costume
  41. No idea dude to the right of her
  42. Saturn Girl above him who I skipped earlier
  43. Kitana
  44. Batgirl?
  45. L-Ron

45? Is that it? I will quick hit Redwing and Killowatt they were members of the Team Titans.

Yeah "blue and yellow" my bad. I completely forgot what he looked like. Also my apologies on the numbering, Write Area screwed me on that one.

Alpha Centurian? Man, I don't remember him at all. Nor do I remember that Arsenal costume. Well we got all of that sorted out.
Jade can be seen in front of Northwind (if you click on Fig's image you can get a larger version).

There's a person with a red cape behind Superboy. I thought it might be Supergirl, but the colourist seems to think the cape has a gold border, which hers didn't at the time. If it's Captain Marvel Jr. his wrist piece is miscoloured, but I don't know it's there in the inked art.

The Batch SW6 Lightning Lad was renamed Live Wire (I missed this when I posted above), and this name was also used for the post-Zero Hour version.

Kyle Rayner's arm and knee are just above Live Wire to the right.

Robin (Tim Drake) is right of Batman.

41 is Gunfire, who had a series in 1994-95.

The big redhead is indeed Maxima, in a costume she adopted (according to this page) in Justice League America #71.
The redhead next to Captain Marvel is actually Rampage instead of Starfire.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rampage_(DC_Comics)

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