Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Justa Lotta Animosity

Wow, I didn't realize there was such negativity brewing over the new JLA series.

What? Oh, sorry, Justice League of America. Right.

Anyway, the criticisms I so briefly glanced at seem to come down to four:
1. The line-up sucks
2. Michael Turner's art sucks
3. Ed Benes's art also sucks
4. Brad Meltzer can't write, see also: Identity Crisis

Sigh...I know you already know it, but I'll leave some spoiler space out of common courtesy. anatomy hurts just looking at itSo it looks to be Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern (Hal), Red Tornado, Black Lightning, Vixen, Black Canary, Hawkgirl, and Arsenal. Meltzer said that this league was based on all the other previous leagues, so let's see...
Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern: Original
Hawkgirl: JLU
Vixen: Detroit-era
Black Canary: Giffen-era
Black Lightning: Super Friends
Red Tornado: Late Silver Age?
Arsenal: I dunno, JL Task Force or something?

Okay, my knowledge of JLA history isn't quite fantastic. Even so, that's only 10 of the 11 who will be the final line-up, so people who have their boxers in a bunch over who isn't on it ought to chill. Yes, J'onn's missing. They're trying to make him relevant and angry again, when the next reboot comes along he'll have been a part of this League too.

I honestly can't see anything wrong with this line-up. It's not all a-listers, but the A-list League revamp has been done and copyrighted by Grant Morrison. It's got a healthy mix of big names and less big names, which ought to make for an interesting team dynamic. I like Hawkgirl as a nod to her place in the JLU and as a way of distinguishing her from currently missing JSA-er Hawkman. I like Vixen in general. I like seeing Black Lightning in action again, even if I don't like the bald look on him. It used to be that every black male character had an afro (see also: Luke Cage), now they're all bald (see also: Luke Cage). Is there no diversity in the realm of black hairstyling? It's as bad as when every white hero had a mullet.

I digress. Yes, I would have loved to see John Stewart in the league instead of Hal, but Hal's been out of the League loop for awhile now, and seeing him back wouldn't be so bad. I'd like Flash, Aquaman, and J'onn, but all three are facing other issues which rather preclude them from being in the League. I'm glad they didn't throw Ollie in; seeing Arsenal's fresh perspective on the team will be a lot like seeing Kyle's in Morrison's run, except less forced, I'd imagine. Plus, if you have Ollie you ought to have Hawkman too. I think that's more or less a rule nowadays.

So to complaint #1, I say wait until you read it before you damn it. Where were you schmucks when the League consisted of Wonder Woman, Metamorpho, Fire, Nuklon, Obsidian, Crimson Fox, Flash, and Continuity Nightmare Man? It could be a LOT worse. Give it a chance.

To complaint #2, I couldn't agree more. I think Michael Turner's art is generally pretty awful. Occasionally he'll churn out something that sucks less, and by comparison looks pretty good, but this is not one of those occasions. Thankfully, he's only on covers.

To complaint #3, I'm in the middle of the road. Ed Benes is not nearly so flagrantly awful as Turner, but I remember as a Supergirl reader how jarring it was to switch from Leonard Kirk's relatively downplayed, casual style to Benes's oversexed, exaggerated work. I didn't like it much then, but he's been pretty good on Birds of Prey, so it really could go either way. It won't be like having, say, Doug Mahnke or Pete Woods or someone really distinctive and cool on the book, but it might end up leagues better (pun intended) than Howard Porter.

To #4, I have to admit my biases: I liked Identity Crisis. As mysteries go, it wasn't great. As events go, it was lackluster in all the worst ways and bold in all the dumbest ways. But Meltzer's character work is not as bad as people give him credit for, and whether or not the ending is ignored by the DCU as a whole, it was actually very heartfelt and respectful. You know, after the rape and murder.
That being said, I liked Meltzer's Archer's Quest a lot more. Hell, Archer's Quest at least gives Quiver a run for it's money. It's a damn fine Green Arrow story, which has the added bonus of examining some of the unexamined facets of superhero life, death, and 'life insurance' of a sort. There's not much bad in Archer's Quest, and as long as Justice League plays closer to that than Identity Crisis (which I have to imagine it probably will--it's tough to sustain a 13-issue mystery) I can't imagine there will be much wrong with it, either.

So, before you go criticizing a series you've never read, why not give it a chance? There's no way it could be worse than "Pain of the Gods" or "World Without a Justice League." If you pick up the issue today and it meets every one of your expectations of suckiness, then you can lay on the snark. Until then, we all know you're just forcing it to jump on the "IC sucked" bandwagon.

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Anonymous said...

I have to admit: I jumped the gun on this one. Issue #1 was actually quite good....going to show that just about any character can be appealing if the right person is writing them. Meltzer really seems to have a story to tell here, with the extra appeal of a mystery brewing (loved the "Anti Mr. Miracle" guy....or whoever he was).

So, you're right, Tom....some of us jumped the gun based on a lousy Michael Turner drawing. I stand corrected, sir!

Anonymous said...

I loved it. I love that Arsenal is in it. Roy is my fav comic book character. The story had me teary in places. The exchanges between Supes, Bats, and Diana were priceless and so very real.

And the art inside was just fine. I love Benes' work.

--Shelly, posting anonymously til beta Blogger's posting glitch for those of us who switched is fixed

Greg said...

Ah, but Tom, I wasn't complaining about Justice League per se. I was complaining about spoiling the line-up before it came out, and people who do not like Meltzer and Benes flocking to buy this just because it has characters they like. I don't like Meltzer or Benes, therefore I didn't buy it, and I can't speak to whether it was good or not. And I won't say it sucks because I have no opinion.

Of course, you may have been talking about the people commenting. I am but a humble guy who posts.

Tom Foss said...

Yeah, it was mostly the comments, Greg. Seems like they went in a completely different direction from where the article was. Although I'd argue that Meltzer's Green Arrow run did demonstrate the ability to "get" superheroes.

But yeah, the amount of snark in the comments was well above legal limits.