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Saturday, August 17, 2013

JLA: Year One #1 - Jan. 1998

"Justice League of America: Year One" by Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn, and Barry Kitson.

In a quiet, dark room, a man turns on a television and watches multiple news stories about some new super heroes that have made the scene. They may be new to him and the world, but we know them quite well: 
We follow each our heroes in their civilian identities: Barry Allen is a somewhat bored police scientist, Dinah Lance runs a flower shop with her former superhero mother, Hal Jordan is a cocky test pilot, John Jones is in disguise as a police detective, and Aquaman is...well, he's Aquaman:
All five of them have just had their first meeting together as super heroes, and they all have different feelings on it. But they band together again a few days later upon the request of an Army general, the plan being that the JLA will turn over the two remaining alien invaders that brought them all together in the first place.

But when they enter the secret cave that they've been using to store the creatures, they find:

With the army standing and watching, the five heroes take on the erstwhile alien kidnappers and the two giant creatures, who have now awoken. Not used to acting as a team, they learn in battle just what each others strengths and weaknesses are:
One of the creatures gets away with the aliens, who teleport out of the cave. The other (frozen in place by Green Lantern) is spirited off on an Army helicopter, leaving the five to wonder just what's going on, and if it might be a good idea to band together in a more permanent manner:
...of course, to be continued!

JLA: Year One is one of those series that for one reason or another the Shrine has never gotten around to covering, even though Aquaman plays a major role in it. With the retcon origin of the JLA now not featuring Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman, it of course makes perfect sense that the others (plus Black Canary, new to the mix) would get a boost in screen time (or I guess that should be "panel time"). And since there's no new Aquaman or Justice League to cover this week, I thought it was a perfect time to take a look at what this series had to offer.

At the time, I was generally against the whole notion of retconning the JLA's origin, and so when this series debuted I'm not sure I even bothered getting it (despite Aquaman's involvement, and it being written by Mark Waid, who always had handled the Sea King well). So as we go on, looking at it issue by issue, I'll be learning what happens for the first time, unlike the many of you who have requested we cover it!

One comment about the scene with Aquaman in the bar: he's horrified that the place serves fish, not something the current version seems to have much of a problem with...


Wings1295 said...

I remember looking forward to this and enjoying it when it came out. Been years since I read it, though, so cool to see it again.

Russell said...

Rob, if you've never read this you are in for a treat. It's a really good story and SUCH a change from the current JLA:52 where the characters are still bickering, more than a year after they formed. Here you see them become friends. I wasn't a fan of the Black Canary ret-con either, but they handle it well here, I think. Waid, Augustyn, and Kitson were handed lemons and made lemonade. :-)

Andy Luckett said...

Great series. Waid's attention to character detail and group dynamics is sharp, and the art is crisp and lively. I usually re-read this a couple of times a year.

Tusky the Walrus said...

I do love this story. Though for some reason I was never too fond of this time frame's Aquaman. Maybe because it came before the brooding version.

Earth 2 Chris said...

This was a great series. The Canary retcon was no worse than the "she's her daughter" retcon of just a few years before the Crisis. I enjoyed the Keith Giffen/Peter David redo of the origin in Secret Origins, and this follow-up mini. I miss Waid's take on DC's heroes. I guess he's far too reverential for the New 52.


Joseph Brian Scott said...

Andy Luckett's comment is a good, succint summary of the strengths of this series; I remember enjoying it in spite of my determination to resent all the changes to the continuity I loved so much. Black Canary in place of Wonder Woman as an original member of the JLA? Sacrilege! But I thought it was funny, and realistic, that Aquaman would smell like fish.

IADW said...

One of my favourite mini-series ever. It may not have been my dream founding line-up, but by the end of it it was. Mark really explored Aquaman in ways many not writing an Aquaman title don't seem to think about. Best of all he wrote him as an equal.

Doug said...

Brilliant series! AND a potential crossover with My Greatest Adventure!! Just sayin'. . .