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Author Topic: Is it just me, or has the JLA just never...worked?  (Read 17280 times)
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ShinDangaioh
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« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2007, 11:13:24 AM »

The Superfriends comic shows it can work, although it was a bit strained at times.

Even the recent Dini & Timm Justice League cartoon worked for the most part, although they had to get over their Batman is always better than Superman bias.

However, the in the 'mainstream' DC comics, it won't work.  The main reason are the facts that they have 'writers' whose egoes are bigger than Mt. Everest and Didio's decrees that humor has no part in decent storytelling.

Comedy is hard to pull off right.  The best one I can think of is the situation in Star Trek II when Kirk caused the shields around Kahn's ship to lower.  The look on Kahn's face....

At any rate, with the fact that most characters are now under a house banner, Justice League won't work.  Superman characters under a Superman editor. Batman characters under a Batman editor.  This is why Nightwing got pulled back under the Bat offices after being on his own for so long and the entire mess with Doona Troy is also due to this policy in DC comics.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2007, 06:28:58 PM »

Quote from: Shin
However, the in the 'mainstream' DC comics, it won't work.  The main reason are the facts that they have 'writers' whose egoes are bigger than Mt. Everest

I think Meltzer's telling an interesting JLA story at the moment. What's not to like? There's Starro the Conqueror, Grodd, an ARMY of Red Tornadoes, and a now-intelligent Solomon Grundy. And I've never seen Canary as frightening and formidable anywhere else as she is here. Surely, the female is deadlier than the male.

What's interesting is the pacing as Meltzer tells his story. He's got the sense to have multiple stories going on at the same time: Vixen's mysterious quest, Black Lightning as a trenchcoat-clad detective investigating a drug ring based on the Parasite's blood, Ivo discovering he wants to die, Red Tornado becoming human for the first time, and the three founders working out a new League roster.

Amazingly, every few pages, Meltzer whips out a surprise. I won't ruin it for anybody that hasn't read the book yet, but every six pages, there's something that totally recontextualizes what's going on. Most comics have one big "surprise" per story arc. Meltzer has two each: the revalation in the DC-Earth there can only be twelve immortals, the new Amazo, the army of Red Tornadoes, the possibility Batman may not be a League member this time around...

Meltzer sure picked a winner with his JLA roster. I hope Black Lightning stays as a trenchcoat-clad, private dick forever. And it looks like the three members I've never liked in JLA, whose participation in the group never made sense: Batman, Aquaman, and John Jones, are not going to be around.

As an aside, I had the pleasure of meeting Brad myself at the Miami Jewish Book Fair. He signed my copy of ARCHER'S QUEST and we talked for five minutes - not about HIS work, but about SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS, classic Wein and Englehart JLA, and Maggin's Green Arrow tales.

Brad Meltzer is a cool cat, and he's one of us. He would fit right on this board. In fact, was I hallucinating, or a while back, didn't he actually sign up for an account with our forum?

Quote from: Shin
and Didio's decrees that humor has no part in decent storytelling.

Comedy is hard to pull off right.  The best one I can think of is the situation in Star Trek II when Kirk caused the shields around Kahn's ship to lower.  The look on Kahn's face....

There was a thread a while back where I made my feelings on "comedy" in superhero comics clear: namely, darkness and human depravity is many, many times the lesser of two evils than so-called "comedy," because at least to have darkness you have to take the character seriously and play it straight.
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« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2007, 08:04:57 PM »

Comedy is hard to pull off right.  The best one I can think of is the situation in Star Trek II when Kirk caused the shields around Kahn's ship to lower.  The look on Kahn's face....

There was a thread a while back where I made my feelings on "comedy" in superhero comics clear: namely, darkness and human depravity is many, many times the lesser of two evils than so-called "comedy," because at least to have darkness you have to take the character seriously and play it straight.
[/quote]

Except if the character is suppose to be funny like Plastic Man and Captain Marvel, who also had plenty of darker moments. Same with Superman, many stories are comedy tales others are not. Comedy has rules just like horror.

To take a serious character and make them silly is just as absurd as taking a light hearted character and making them dark.

anyway,

JLA does indeed work just as long as talented people are working on the book. No character or group of characters are fool proof.

That is a good topic for another thread.
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« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2007, 04:04:45 AM »

As someone who loves Cap's Kooky Quartet and the second stringers who define the Avengers for me to this day, I think that Marvelizing the JLA was a mistake in the 70s, if only because it changed the nature of the group.  I don't think the JLA was supposed to "work"  --more than a plot-driven comic it was intended almost soley as a gimmick who's execution could never be anything but clunky.  Attempts to modernize or retcon that gimmickry betray it's reason for being: to sell a bland product with tons of superheroes on the cover.

(And yes I know that the JLA partly originates out of the first wave of fandom and nostalgia for childish 1940s comics but DC couldn't count on a tiny group of adult zine writers to buy a million issues per month.)

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JulianPerez
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« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2007, 03:40:41 PM »

Quote from: TELLE
I don't think the JLA was supposed to "work"  --more than a plot-driven comic it was intended almost soley as a gimmick who's execution could never be anything but clunky.  Attempts to modernize or retcon that gimmickry betray it's reason for being: to sell a bland product with tons of superheroes on the cover.

Hmmm, interesting point and interesting stuff.

I'm not sure if this proves or disproves what I'm saying. On the one hand, you're saying, "yeah, the JLA have never 'worked,' because they are not really supposed to." It goes beyond being plot-centered to the point of being a title whose sole concept is a gimmick, and saying it never "worked" is missing the whole point. Fair enough. My rebuttal to that would be that, yes, there are some gimmicky titles and combinations that make no sense - the issue of MARVEL PREMIERE by Bill Mantlo that introduced the "Legion of Monsters" with Man-Thing and Ghost Rider comes to mind - but if something is supposed to have longevity, as JLA should, it should really go beyond the gimmickry that's only believable in the short term.

Quote from: SuperMonkey
Except if the character is suppose to be funny like Plastic Man and Captain Marvel, who also had plenty of darker moments.

Well, Plastic Man was always more weird and surreal than truly "lighthearted." If anything, I think Plas would lend himself more to an askiew "darkness" than to a portrayal that's a yuk-a-minute.
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« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2007, 07:26:24 PM »

Yeah, some of those Cole Plas stories are grim --maybe "black comedy" approaches the mark?

Re: gimmick titles.  It's a tribute to the professionalism and creativity of the early DC teams (Fox, et al) that JLA managed at the very least to transcend its gimmickry.  They couldn't just leave it alone.  Whether they didn't leave it alone enough --whether they created art or even a high form of entertainment for children to rival Silver Age Superman-- is another thing.  And of course I appreciate the JLA in many of its incarnations.  Even the "marvel-ized" JLA.  The first comic I stole was #200 --a history lesson in one sitting.  You can't get anymore second string slice of life than having my least favourite character of all time, Firestorm, complaining about the Lucy reruns while on monitor duty in the Satellite.  Why do I remember this 30-year old comic?  The first JLA I ever bought was a black and white paperback collecting several satellite-era adventures (Skyjacked at 60000 feet!).  I love all of the Perez issues, especially the covers.  Among my first Earth-2 memories.  Began collecting older JLA when Crisis came out (ironic!) --trying to "read up" on the Crisis.  And of course I love the Superfriends!

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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2007, 12:13:56 AM »

Quote from: SuperMonkey
Except if the character is suppose to be funny like Plastic Man and Captain Marvel, who also had plenty of darker moments.

Well, Plastic Man was always more weird and surreal than truly "lighthearted." If anything, I think Plas would lend himself more to an askiew "darkness" than to a portrayal that's a yuk-a-minute.

They were still funny. I am amaze that once DC got a hold of him they got rid of the dark stuff, heck even during the Iron Age, they refuse to put it back in!
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« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2007, 06:24:00 PM »

I think maybe the problem is not that JLA doesn't work as an idea as much as maybe it doesn't work as a monthly book. At least not as it has traditionally been structured since you are left with the colossal task of coming up with threats that require a whole team of that level of power to fight. There is also issues with character since you have members with their own books whose character stuff you don't want to step on. Making a team of second stringers doesn't help either since it stinks the wind out of the whole concept.

This is why I thought the way they went with JLU animated made alot of sense to me. I think this could even work for the comics. Every hero who is worth a darn are members. You can follow different sets of characters on different missions, playing up their interactions while also having a greater plot that affects all the DC heroes. This could be the centerpiece DC book and one stop shopping for seeing team-ups.

But now part of this would prolly mean nixing the JSA. Personally I think having them both in the same universe is just totally redundant so I would have no problem with that but I know the JSA name means alot to alot of people so for the comics that would likely be a tougher sell. Too bad there's no Earth 2.
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