Thursday, July 20, 2006

Clark, Bruce, Diana, and Rory: Thoughts on JLA #0

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As much as I enjoy making fun of Identity Crisis and its big noses, I’m a relative apologist for Brad Meltzer and Rag Morales’ earnest portrayal of DC’s heroes as a Ya-Ya Sisterhood. In Identity Crisis – even though the point of the story was to drive home the importance of secret identities – all our usually stuffy heroes run around calling each other by their real first names. Clark, Bruce, Ollie, Diana. Everyone is everyone else’s BFF. Sure, this happens in other titles as well, but the amount of namedropping that Meltzer peppered his script with was enough to make even Jayceon Terell Taylor shake his head in embarrassment.

It was a little grating sometimes, but it worked perfectly for the story. Driving home the fact that these caped and cowled titans were actual people - with names, feelings, families, insecurities and life-histories with each other - made the tragedy of death within their ranks all the more tragic. Meltzer’s interior writing style was so successful it was later used by other writers in the fantastic Countdown to Infinite Crisis #0, which as a result was chock full of insightful intimate reflections such as when we learned that everyone is in love with Diana, and also when we learned that everyone thinks Koriand'r is really fucking hot. Man, these heroes felt so damn real. *I* think Kory is really fucking hot too!

Meltzer is back now, penning the new Justice League re-launch. Post-Crisis, Meltzer’s League feels a lot like Gilmore Girls. Yeah. Justice League. It’s Gilmore Girls with less dialogue, really. It has that small-town everybody-knows-everybody sensibility, and people talk over each other and complete each other’s thoughts and sentences. Clark and Diana are Gilmore and Gilmore Girl, and Bruce is that cranky dude who runs the diner. Why Alan Heinberg isn’t on this title, I have no idea.

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As I said, I dug this approach in Identity Crisis. In the new JLA book, however, I don’t think I’ll be able to stand it for very long. Now, I’m not really up to date on the inner-workings of the JLA…but a yearly meeting between Clark, Bruce and Diana? Does this exist? Because don’t they see each other all the fucking time? I guess it’s just pencilled in as guaranteed bonding time, where they can playfully swing sticks at each other and swap novels. For real, I’m all for portraying the softer side of the Big 3 and their relationships, and I guess it’s only normal for them to have inside jokes and stuff like that…but in scenes like the one where they make fun of Guy Gardner, I just don’t feel it. It feels forced, and it reaches the point where the camaraderie between the heroes doesn’t just feel awkward, it feels downright phony. Which I’m guessing is the opposite of what Meltzer is trying to accomplish here.

And don’t get me started on this, after Clark realizes Bruce and Diana stood him up:

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I’m willing to write this book off as a weightless issue #0, not a part of the series and therefore not indicative of where the book is headed quality wise. But in the preview pages of issue #1(***), the cheese continues. I couldn’t tell if the Big 3 were choosing a new JLA or America’s Next Top Model.

Not to mention all the (hopefully) unintentionally funny close-ups of Diana’s breasts. Oh, and issue #0 had the funniest out-of-context comic quote I’ve come across in awhile: “he’ll be great. really great. like dick.”

I think the problem is that while even though Infinite Crisis made way for less brooding, less angry, depressed, dysfunctional heroes, we’re nonetheless left with an approach that still takes itself extremely seriously. And frankly, the earnest bastardry reads a lot better than the earnest we-are-one-big-happy-family stuff. At least when it’s written by Brad Meltzer, it does. Maybe Meltzer - who was so good at raping, murdering, and emotionally torturing DC’s characters - shouldn’t be the same guy to remake them into shiny happy people?

(***)
Preview Page 1
Preview Page 2
Preview Page 3


peace.

7 comments:

frank said...

I guess those annual meetings are sopposed to be DC's answer to the Illuminati.

JRennoldz said...

I loved the "first" issue and how it touched on each era, but the emo Clark scene was a bit much. The future scenes were cool but they really fucked up the flow of the book. I can't wait for the relaunch though, this little dude on my shoulder tells me it'll handle its own against Grant's Batman.

neo said...

*guffaws*

I think the cheesiness with that pic is grotesquely immense. I mean come on...crying 'cos he was stood up?

M Belle said...

That image of Superman crying looks like it belongs in a 1950s romance comic. Too Velveeta.

Melanism said...

Superman:

Strengths: Flight, nigh-invulnerable, super-strength, super speed, x-ray vision, heat vision, cold breath

Weaknesses: Kryptonite, insecurity.

invisiblist said...

That panel of Supes "Damn you, Bruce." Seems REALLY FUCKING WACK. As a Marvel guy, I'm all for the softer side, but come on. That....wow. I dunno what to say. Maybe I should read it before passing judgment on one panel.

JRennoldz said...

Batman straight punked Supes. He is up above him in the rafters chuckling...