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Saturday, October 12, 2013

JLA: Year One #2 - Feb. 1998

"Group Dynamic" by Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn, and Barry Kitson.

Our story picks up in the headquarters of the immortal Vandal Savage, who is none-too-pleased about this new wave of superheroes that seems to be rising. This new team of heroes calling themselves the Justice League is of particular interest, so he has put a plan in motion to bring them down...

Meanwhile, our heroes are learning about one another, with one them trying to speak the lingo: 
The press conference is a bumpy affair--Aquaman keeps mumbling (sound travels better underwater), Flash makes bad jokes, Manhunter says nothing. Luckily Green Lantern and Black Canary--when not flirting with one another--are able to pick up the slack, coining the team's name right on the spot.

But the whole thing takes a turn when some reporters start throwing accusations around, only to be interrupted when Vandal Savage's group of bad guys breaks in!
The JLA engages, and the two groups fight in full view of the reporters and their cameras. Initially, each hero takes on a villain by themselves, not working as a unit. But when the baddies start turning on themselves (who would have guessed putting Solomon Grundy on your team was less than a great idea), the newly-christened JLA realize they need to work together and re-engage:

The whole world gets to watch the JLA defeat the evildoers, leading to cheers in various living rooms all over the planet.

Also watching are two "regular citizens", Alan Scott and Jay Garrick, who think these new kids are all right, and that they'll be able to stay retired. Other heroes, like the Challengers of the Unknown and the Blackhawks, saw all this as well, and feel a sense of competition. Someone else not altogether thrilled with this turn of events is Batman, whose main concern seems to be keeping this "Justice League" out of Gotham...

As the JLA begins to leave, they are accosted by Jack Ryder, firebrand TV newsman who calls the heroes out for their involvement in all this destruction. His questions are interrupted by a well-shot arrow:
...of course, to be continued!

As I said when talking about issue #1 of this series, I am still kinda meh on the whole ret-conned JLA line-up, but Mark Waid makes it work, throwing all sorts of other changes into the mix (Hal and Dinah, for example), and giving Aquaman lots of nice moments, both in characterization and superhero action.
I always thought Clayface would make kind of a cool villain for Aquaman, and we get to see a little of that here. I guess Batman isn't too cool on any of his Rogues Gallery leaving the Gotham City Limits.


David J. Cutler said...

Waid's one of my favorite writers and I've long wished for him to take on Aquaman solo, but oof... he's not doing the sea king any favors in this issue.

Count Drunkula said...

I'm in the same boat as I do not like this ret-conned origin and lineup for the League. I love Black Canary, but she is not an original leaguer. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are! This story works because of the greatness of Mark Waid and the art team, but I view this as an alternative history. Pretty much an Elseworlds tale.

Also, Aquaman learning to read and J'Onn encouraging him to start with German is one of my favorite Aquaman moments, even if it ret-cons the fact that Aquaman grew up on land with his father.

Joseph Brian Scott said...

In spite of my disagreements with the whole retcon deal, I found this series to be a fun read.

Similarly, focusing on Aquaman's limitations and anxieties in regard to being part of a land-based organization kind of emasaculates him, but it also imparts interesting info on him, helps flesh him out and make him more real to the reader, seems rather logical (it never occurred to me that Aquaman might not be very comfortable with "flying", but now I can see it!) and the inherent humor is enjoyable. It would have been nice if it had all been balanced out with some great "power" moments for him; hopefully there are some still to come, but this longer after the fact I don't really remember. (That in itself probably means there won't be.)

Russell said...

I agree with everybody else's comments. I liked the story for what it was, but it's not Classic Justice League. Maybe one day we'll have that? I think Waid was making each of the characters individuals first and then making them partners and team-mates...overall this series did Aquaman a favor, IMO.

Anonymous said...

Man...this series...Like many of y'all, Mark Waid is a favorite author of mine, and he does a great job with what he has to work with here. I don't really like the initial characterization of Aquaman, but Waid makes up for it in spades by the end of the series. When you lose Arthur's upbringing with his father at the lighthouse, well, you also lose a lot of what makes him a great character. This little experiment of DC's was interesting, and it had some great moments, but in the end, as many have said, it is just not the real JLA.

That's what kills me. Waid is fantastic, and I'd LOVE to see him take on the real JLA, starting from the beginning. I think that would be a really fantastic book.