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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Vs. Card - JLA Detroit

sgAnother Vs. card, commemorating one of the oddest eras in Aquaman and the JLA's career--the time when the original Justice League of America was busted up, in favor of a hybrid of established heroes (Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Zatanna, Elongated Man) and newer characters (Vixen, Steel, Vibe, and Gypsy).

I guess Neil Gaiman's maxim that "the silver age of comics is when you're eleven years old" really holds true, since recently I've seen a lot of nostalgia for this era of the JLA, when, at the time, I don't know anyone who didn't hate hate hate the whole idea of making the JLA an ersatz X-Men. I guess readers who were too young to remember those issues when they were new are intrigued at the whole idea and want to read about it now.

Of all the comics I read as a kid, Justice League of America was my favorite, and this seemed like such a weird idea, to ditch most of the classic DC line-up. While I was thrilled that Aquaman was being given center stage, I could never understand why the backbone of the team--old-time members like Green Arrow, Black Canary, the Hawks--didn't stay on. I completely understood why long-time JLA writer Gerry Conway wanted to have characters he could change and chart a course for (which of course he couldn't do for Superman, Batman, Flash, etc.), but since the other members really weren't appearing anywhere, it confused me as to why they were jettisoned in favor of characters like...Vibe, the break-dancing superhero. Yeesh. To quote the man himself, "Chu ain't bad...chu sad." Indeed.

And, as usual with Aquaman, it was one step up, two steps back. Aquaman did get to take command, become the lead character of the book; but this whole new direction was such a dismal failure (commercially, at least; I do remember some moments during this run that made me think it had real potential creatively) that it eventually led to the book's cancellation and a whole new JLA was started up after the Legends mini-series. So Aquaman has had to live down that idea that the minute he took over a long-running DC title, he drove it into cancellation less than two years later, even though Conway got rid of Aquaman long before that.

...I didn't really talk about the card, did I?


J.P. said...

JLA-Detroit! Yay!

Haha, I remember going to the local Sentry grocery store when I was a kid and reading these issues. Funny thing is, I think I only read the letter pages. It seemed like everyone sent in their own made-up roll calls for the JLA. It was like a monthly coup d'etat!

It's weird, if I ever happen upon the smell of an old grocery bakery or deli, I think about how everyone wanted poor Vibe dead, or how they wanted Blue Devil, Firehawk, Batgirl, and/or someone else on the team. *sniff!*

PS: I got my monthly Aquaman fix back then, just because, I think- though he escaped the league pretty much right after reforming it, that he was on the top of every JLA mailroom- reading our letters!

Rick L. Phillips said...

I remeber that too. I hated the new line up. Wile Mr. Conway may have wanted to chart new careers I have also heard that it was partly because DC thought characters like Green Arrow, Black Canery etc. were hard to market because most people had never heard of them. Superman and Batman you could market anywhere. They were hoping that these new characters would take off and could market them in more places. I doubt it is true but if it is it was a very dumb move.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you (again!), Rob. I was SO psyched to think that Aquaman was taking over, and then...and then....blech. Even when he ditched the League to go after Mera and work on his marriage, I thought, Cool! Now Mera will join, too!....(sigh) Nope. Bad, bad stories.

rob! said...

i thought the idea--to get rid of the big guys--was ok, but ditching time-tested characters like Hawkman, Green Arrow, for Vibe and Gypsy???

and then, after endless issues of Aquaman talking about Duty and Committment, he leaves the JLA once he finds Mera! jeez, maybe Aquaman IS a jerk!

Anonymous said...

I actually cried when my mom brought home that annual where Aquaman disbands the League (hey, I was a real sensitive kid). Needless to say, I hated this league. When JLA #250 came out and the original League returned, I thought they'd stay for good. I was wrong, but just a dozen or so issues later, the book was dead. Way to go New DC. "There's No Stopping Us Now" indeed. ;-)

This card is pretty, but oh so wrong. Elongated Man and Zatanna are in the wrong costumes for that time. Can't any of these artists get some reference material? I'm sure quarter bins are full of this JLA run.


Anonymous said...

I'll admit it ... I kinda liked JLDetroit.

Okay, maybe "like" is too strong a word But as I suffered through the "hilarious" antics of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle I became more and more fond of this poorman's Justice League.

The hate mail can now commence! :-)

rob! said...

i thought JLD was poorly executed, not that poorly conceived.

i think the idea of a JLA-less Superman, Batman, WW, Flash, and GL wouldve worked just fine, but the JLA was always the top-tier of the DCU, and filling it with break-dancing mutants and barefoot apple theives was not the way to go about it.

and i did like that new JL book; all the humor, i just think it eventually went too far and got just too silly.

on a tangential note--i think one of things starting to get lost with JLD was, back when a new hero joined the JLA it was A BIG DEAL--they had a whole issue devoted to it, there was such a sense of CEREMONY.

once JLA members came and went, barely mentioned, i think the whole JLA concept lost something special that was unique to it.