Have a drink. It might help that mortis attitude of yours.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Justice Be Done: Freaking Finally

I am going to come right out and say it – I have not been enjoying Dwayne McDuffie’s run on Justice League of America. It’s boring. I mean who cares about The Key? Who cares if Tangent Flash has made her way into the DCU? Not me. Vixen's powers are out of whack? Totally lame. When McDuffie first took over and I started griping I heard a lot of: “It’s so great! Way better than Meltzer’s.” The second part of that is correct; McDuffie is doing a better job than Meltzer. That doesn’t make it great, just better. Getting punched in the arm is better than getting hit in the stomach, both still hurt though.

In some ways it’s not McDuffie’s fault. He is not a bad writer: his Firestorm and Fantastic Four were both awesome. It is hard to take the preeminent super team in DC Comics and come up with threats that are difficult for them. That’s why Morrison had them fight angels and Kelly sent them back in time. These are characters who on their own should be able to take down large forces of baddies, figuring out a crisis that could tie up the team and not destroy is tough. I have said it before and I will say it again – a hero is only as good as his or her villains. The new Suicide Squad is not worth the Justice League’s time.

Yet, there is something more to the comic than simply high quality bad guys. That something is purpose and purpose is what the JLA have lacked for two years now. Some of that is probably editorial fingers in the pies, but the write has to be responsible on some level. A reader of DC comics should feel the Justice League’s presence everywhere, yes a guest spot in Green Arrow is great or a major role in Amazon’s Attack is fine, but the reader should really feel it in the team’s title. I say again this is THE super team; they should be out solving problems. They should not be getting inklings, ideas, or clues as to the larger goings on. The editors and the writer need to allow the characters to be at the forefront of the events.

Yes, I am for B, C and D-list characters getting their moment to shine. You want Booster Gold to go in there and mix it up? No problem. You want Jimmy Olsen to save the day? Do it. But do not let these things happen at the expense of a solid JLA book. If Giffen and DeMatteis did the “Bwa-ha-ha” League, Meltzer/McDuffie have done the “What’s Going On” League. Their title is where things are introduced (Lightning Saga) only to be solved in other books (Countdown). The line-up right now is too powerful for this to be the case.

So now James Robinson is taking over and shifting things around. Hal Jordan is leading and putting together a “pro-active” team of big names (Green Arrow), well-knowns (Captain Marvel Jr.) and the brand new (an old man named Bill). Their goal is to go out, stopping villainy across space and time. While this feels a little like the Outsiders’ mission statement, I am hopeful. Robinson is one of my all-time tope five and I have faith. I have faith that someday we are going to see a group worthy of being called the Justice League of America. Or maybe I am being set up for a kick in the nuts.


Blogger Akinogal said...

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10:21 AM

Blogger Christopher said...

Ya know, I agree completely. I think its good to see the characters selling well and being "out there"..but I really wish they would get off their duffs and do something. The Injustice Gang was okay..but so far, they've been in this weird holding pattern. And what do we have to look forward to? The Tangent Universe crossover?? ugh..

I don't need to see a huge revisitation of all the old Justice League villains...but c'mon.. SOMETHING earthshattering must require their attention!!

I liked Meltzer's run a bit more than you..and I gotta say, at least his book advanced a bit more than McDuffie's has...(big 3 sitting around a table for 4 issues notwithstanding...)

2:00 PM

Blogger allaboutduncan said...

I love JL, but the latest incarnation has been lacking.

I think McDuffie has suffered from too many mandated cross overs and such. He's had to tie into Salvation Run, Tangent, pick up Meltzer's pieces and will touch upon Final Crisis.

It's obvious from his Fantastic Four run he can tell great stories with threats appropriate to the team. Heck, he did it on the JLU cartoon. If DC would leave him alone and let him do his job.

2:40 PM

Blogger BIG MIKE said...

I don't know... I get a little sick of blaming 'editorial mandates' for crappy stories and crappy writing.

This incarnation of the JLA stinks because the lineup stinks, the meltzer run stunk, and because mcduffie hasn't brought his a-game.

It's a fair point that DC hasn't put the JLA out at the forefront, but, in fairness, it hasn't been good enough to be out front. McDuffie's run has been fine, but I think the fact that Red Tornado is on the team is part of why it stinks. And Vixen. And Red Arrow. And other characters that just don't make sense as the first incarnation of the reformed JLA. That and the fact that the pace of the book is painfully slow. But none of that is DC editorial's fault.

4:24 PM

Blogger Christopher said...

Well, regardless of whether JLA has been the victim of editorial mandates, or issues w/MacDuffie its failed to build up any momentum or any real interest. I mean, there's been more attention paid to Vixen's alleged "whitewashing" then to her apparent loss of powers. People are bored with that aspect.

I think shaking up the lineup a little could help..but I don't think that's solely the issue.
I think the problem is the group doesn't have any chemistry-regardless of the lineup..and that's an issue with the writer. could MacDuffie have written a more interesting story with a different lineup?

All the characters have potential..its just how they interact and how they get used.(at least..IMHO)

12:08 PM

Blogger BIG MIKE said...


I think you make a good point. One of the differences I see between JLU and this JLA was that the fluidity of the lineup in JLU and the short form storytelling meant that we very rarely saw JL characters outside of a conflict or battle of some kind. They were always on a mission. There's been a lot of lollygagging around and such... and frankly, the book has been used as a tool (by mcduffie and meltzer) to round out characters the second tier characters, rather than letting it be a book about ALL the characters working together to fight bad guys. I think a nice three to four issue arc where they all actually appear in the book at the same time for an extended period could do a lot. As of now, I get the sense that the big three and green lantern are kind of an afterthought on a book about red arrow and vixen. What kind of sense does that make?

2:50 PM

Blogger Christopher said...

Hey Mike!
Its always been my perecption that JL must be event-driven first and personality oriented second. Making it into a soap-opera really doesn't interest me that much as seeing them working together as a team.
Its interesting that perhaps what is interesting is watching the team DYNAMICS rather than the individuals of the team. There are slivers of character in the Gerry Conway/George Perez JLA that would MAKE the whole book. Like the Earth-2 Huntress calling Batman "Uncle Bruce" but is the Huntress necessarily as interesting on her own?

I wonder how long the current line-up will last and who will get to change it? Its kind of interesting to see how DC-mandated the team is..so that the merchandising has a chance to sell?

Robinson's Justice League will be interesting also...Capt.Marvel Jr. will be the actual Captain Marvel by then..presumably...(I guess it depends what happens at the end of Trials of Shazam).

3:48 PM

Blogger Matt said...

I think I agree with Duncan here - the primary problem has been that McDuffie has had to shoehorn all of these editorially-mandated tie-ins into his run, which has bogged it down (Ed Benes increasingly ugly art doesn't really help, either). I think it's also a little bit Meltzer's fault, leaving McDuffie to clean up the various plot threads dangling from Meltzer's departure, like Red Arrow/Hawkgirl and Vixen's "problem" (not unlike Peter David in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man after The Other).

I don't want to leave McDuffie blameless, though. I just think that he's maybe not so enthusiastic writing the book when he's so completely not in control of the direction of the title. I don't think I've read an issue since he came aboard without getting the feeling that is heart just wasn't in it while simultaneously getting the impression that these were not entirely his ideas, that they originated someplace else. Which is a shame, considering I loved the hell out of his run on Fantastic Four (which I also felt was cut too short thanks to a middling writer that everyone thinks is worth more than he actually is).


1:25 PM

Blogger Matt said...

P.S. Also, if someone could explain this whole "whitewashing" controversy to me, I would appreciate it. Honestly, it just seemed to me like an unfortunate colorist screwing up was all.


1:38 PM


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