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Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League of America #0

Justice League of America #0

Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 19, 2006

Cover date: September 2006

Writter: Brad Meltzer
Penciller: Eric Wright, Dick Giordano, George Perez, J.H. Williams III, Luck McDonnell, Gene Ha, Rags Morales, Ethan Van Sciver, Kevin Maguire, Adam Kubert, Dan Jurgens, Jim Lee, Howard Porter, Andy Kubert, Phil Jimenez, Ed Benes
Inker: Paul Neary, Kevin Nowlan, Dexter Vines, Jesse Delperdang, Andy Lanning and Sandra Hope

"Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow"

Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge



Justice League of America #0 Yesterday - Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman meet in the Batcave to discuss the recent formation of the Justice League.

Yesterday - 22,300 miles above the Earth Superman, Batman and a temporarily de-powered Wonder Woman argue about the supposed death of the Red Tornado. Batman blames Superman for not stopping the Tornado from taking the Nebula Rod and sacrificing himself.

Tomorrow - Clark, Diana and Bruce attend the wedding of Hal Jordan in Coast City.

Yesterday - After Donna Troy's wedding Bruce tells Dick that he should be proud of the team that Dick has built.

Tomorrow - Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman fight a crazed Lex Luthor.

Yesterday - Batman is upset over the fact that Arthur and J'onn have taken their new version of the League to Detroit. Superman and Wonder Woman feel that they have earned their shot and for once it is time for them to step back.

Tomorrow - Bruce and Diana journey to Smallville to see Clark after the death of Jonathan Kent.

Yesterday - Superman and Diana visit a jubilant Batman in the Cave. He tells them about his new Robin, a boy named Jason Todd.

Tomorrow - Superman and Batman visit Paradise Island and discuss Diana's recent engagement and what she is giving up for her fianc.

Yesterday - Superman and Wonder Woman meet with Batman in the Justice League International Embassy and talk about Batman's recent one punch knock out of Guy Gardner.

Tomorrow - Superman walks around the new Satellite angry and sad that Bruce and Diana have not kept their promise to meet once a year.

Yesterday - Batman and Wonder Woman meet in the Fortress of Solitude after the death of Superman.

Tomorrow - The three heroes confer about a new Earth that the Flash discovered.

Yesterday - Feeling angry and betrayed Superman and Wonder Woman confront Bruce on the revelation that he had been keeping files of the best way to take down not only them but the rest of the League as well.

Tomorrow - Superman and Wonder Woman sit in the rain above Crime Alley and discuss the death of Batman.

Yesterday - Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman argue in the shattered remains of the Watchtower.

Yesterday - In the aftermath of the Crisis Clark, Bruce and Diana agree to meet in one year.

Today - As it was in the beginning Superman and Wonder Woman meet Batman in the Cave. Before they begin Wonder Woman tries to talk about what happened on the Watchtower. Superman refuses to discuss the matter and feels they should move on. Wonder Woman asks if their annual meetings are on again. Batman thinks they can do better than that and takes out a handful of photos of other heroes.

5Story - 5: I'm going to be completely honest here. I have a soft spot in my heart for the Justice League. Not as soft as the place the Justice Society has carved out for itself, but there is something truly awesome to me about Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and other heroes banding together to fight injustice, right that which is wrong and bring peace to all mankind.

Maybe it was all of those episodes of the Super Friends that I watched as a kid. I was always partial to Challenge of the Super Friends myself since it had more heroes, actual bad guys and absolutely no Wonder Twins.

The two Super Powers were kind of cool as well even if Darkseid sounded like something was perpetually caught in his throat.

Because of that I have been looking forward to this relaunch. As great as "Crisis as Conscience" was JLA had really been on hard times since Joe Kelly was on the book. His run started strong but meandered by the end and then the rotating creative teams started and suddenly I had no real interest in the title. For every Kurt Busiek story where the Crime Syndicate fights the Justice League there was Chuck Austen writing a story where each of the members got a turn to whine or Chris Claremont and John Byrne doing one of the longest ads for a team revamp ever.

The League wasn't special anymore, at least in the comics. The Justice League's more popular runs and the incarnations that people remember are the ones where a strong creative force was devoted to making the team special. The original line-up, the Satellite era, the Giffen/DeMatteis League, the Morrison era, Waid's run on the book and even the Detroit years all worked to one extent or another because the writers managed to get the readers interested into who was on the team, who the team fought and later the group dynamics where you could have the big guns like Superman on the same team with a new guy like Firestorm or watch as Green Arrow argued with absolutely everybody at one point or another.

Putting the Big Seven together and pasting on a plot just doesn't cut it anymore. The League deserves more than that.

Personally, I think this book has the potential to become another great era for the League and a lot of that has to do with the writer.

Brad Meltzer gets a really bad rap in certain fan circles and I believe a lot of that is unwarranted. As much as people cry out in outrage and indignation at the fact that he told a story that featured as a plot point the rape of Sure Dibny I thought that Identity Crisis was a very well written series as was his "Archer's Quest" arc in Green Arrow. He obviously likes the medium and has a certain appreciation for the history of the characters he writes. More to the point his stories have a focus to them. There's a point and he has the ability to get me emotionally involved in what is going on.

This issue could have been a train wreck. It was untraditional and switched time periods with just about every turn of the page. What worked about the story is the fact that Meltzer centered the story on the Trinity and explored their relationship. It's kind of interesting to see how the emphasis with this revamp centers Superman, Batman and Wonder since the last big Justice League launch focused on the Big Seven, but Meltzer used that to write a compelling if disjointed story. Meltzer also carried themes over from one time period to another which gave the narrative a certain flow. Sure it wasn't a by the numbers plot but there was some great character work and it gave the all important potential new readers some context for how these three fit into the League.

Ok, there were eras where they didn't quite fit. The scenes involving the Detroit era and the Giffen/DeMatteis League were a bit off but at the same time it was interesting to see a writer tackle what those characters thought of the way the League was going when they weren't directly involved. It's all retroactive but appealing nonetheless. There was also a lot of heart to the writing as well. Anytime you explore a friendship, especially between three people, there are going to be ups and downs and a good writer is honest about that. As clichd as it may sound I believe Meltzer gave these characters a resonance. I felt something for them, especially in the scenes where they dealt with loss. Meltzer also made good use of continuity as a tool to bring drama to the story during the scene where Bruce was telling Clark and Diana about his new Robin, Jason Todd. Sure it was kind of a cheap dramatic moment, but it was a cheap dramatic moment that worked.

There is also something kind of awesome about showing Batman actually being freaked out about something. It was a brief twinkling of an eye at the beginning and Batman got over it pretty quick, but it meant something especially because he did it in front of Superman. It's good to see the early Batman let his guard down. I mean you can be the Dark Knight Detective all you want but that first time your body is almost turned from flesh to diamond you're going to feel a little wigged out.

I rather liked some of the "tomorrow" sequences and see them as a potential future that was designed to show the broad spectrum of the Trinity's friendship. Some I can actually see happening fairly soon, like the fight with Lex Luthor and, hopefully, the alternate Earth scene. Others, like Diana's engagement, Hal's wedding, Bruce's death were probably what if scenarios. Either way I dug them and thought it was an interesting way to tell the story.

Meltzer also gave some hints about the new history of the DC Universe. Apparently not only is Wonder Woman one of the founding members again, as was alluded to in Infinite Crisis, but Superman returns as a major force in the League as well and in all honesty I don't care one way or the other. You want Superman and Wonder Woman there from the beginning? Fine. It works both ways for me. As long as it is consistent from here on I think its aces. As much as I liked and came up with a Superman that was not a Leaguer there is enough history there to allow me to let go of my preconceived notions. The scene where Bruce and Diana visit Smallville after the death of Pa Kent was also intriguing mainly because of Clark filling the tunnel that was in his bedroom. There have been hints that he was active in his Smallville days and this was a lovely tease.

In the end I thought this issue did a good job at providing the bridge between Infinite Crisis and One Year Later that Dan DiDio talked about at the recent San Diego panel. To me that's what a zero issue should do. It had enough to generate interest in the upcoming series and gave a bare bones history of the League. Personally I liked the book. I was nervous because the League hasn't been treated all that well in the past few years but Meltzer brought back the feeling of how important this team is to the DC Universe. The Justice League is a lot like the Avengers. As readers we should care who is going to be on the team, who is going to stay on the team and who is going to leave.

Hopefully I'll feel as strongly about the first issue.

5Art - 5: Jam issues are always tricky. What makes the art in this book work is that the different artists work in different time periods. It gave each sequence its own feel and vibe. From the first Silver-Age themed scene drawn by Eric Wight to the "passing of the torch" moment when Ed Benes took over the book had a very distinctive look. I also dug the fact that Justice League artists from the past like George Perez (who, I assume, drew the Donna Troy wedding page), Dan Jurgens and Kevin Maguire (another great page) got their moments as well. I also enjoyed Rags Morales' page and thought that it captured that era perfectly.

The issue, as a package, worked out nicely. The art did what it was supposed to. Sure it was a marketing stunt to have an "all-star cast of artists" to draw the book but it worked and frankly I have no problem with marketing stunts of this variety.

5Cover Art (Michael Turner and Peter Steigerwald) - 5: Simple and effective. Sure I got this weird feeling like I had done something wrong with the expressions on the three character's faces, but this was a neat image to put on the cover. Turner does good work especially when teamed with Steigerwald. The cover was also iconic, which is the best way to kick this new series off.

4Cover Art (J. Scott Campbell, Sandra Hope and Edgar Delgado) - 4: This was a good cover but at the same time I didn't like it as much as the Turner and Steigerwald piece. It was brighter and had the added complexity of multiple characters but the Turner piece had more impact. Still, this was another great piece of art. I just didn't feel like dropping the money that most comic shops were charging for it.


Mild Mannered Reviews

2006

Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

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