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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Graphic Novels - JLA: New World Order

Well, it looks like I had to skip a decade for this post. Don’t worry because I will eventually venture into the time known as the 80’s. Today’s post is going to look at a version of the League from the 90’s. No, it’s not EXTREME JUSTICE nor is it Justice League Task Force. Today’s post is going to talk about the first four issues of Grant Morrison’s and Howard Porter’s JLA series. Now this is the League I remember from my youth. It’s the Big 7 and it might be my favorite version or my second favorite version of the League. This version of the team was actually formed in a story called Justice League: A Midsummer’s Nightmare. I haven’t read it, but I might one day.

They’re the heavy-hitters. While there aren’t any lesser known characters here at the time, more characters do come to fill in the ranks. I was actually able to read a lot of this series thanks to my hometown’s public library. They have all four volumes of Morrison’s and Porter’s JLA omnibuses. I’ve read all four of them, but I haven’t set out to buy a lot of the issues in them. I did find this four issue trade at McKay’s and I found the storyline, Rock of Ages, through 50 cent bins.

The writer for the book is some Scot named Grant Morrison. You might have heard of him. The man’s done it all from Animal Man to the X-Men. While I like his stuff, he can be… weird. Just read his recent Action Comics run. The penciller is an artist named Howard Porter. He’s drawn on books such as The Flash, Trials of Shazam, and the upcoming Justice League 3000. He’s alright in my book. John Dell does the inks and according to Comicvine, he’s done inks for a lot of books. So, let’s see if this is pretty good.

JLA: New World Order
Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Howard Porter
Inker: John Dell

The story arc starts out as a big spaceship hovers over Washington DC. Since this looks a lot like Independence Day (I think it was out at this time), Superman races to Washington to see what the heck going on now. It turns out that the ship is run by a group of aliens called the Hyperclan. These aliens, who look like they came from Rob Liefeld comic book, have come to help Earth achieve paradise. As the days pass on, the Hyperclan do nice things like try to end world hunger by turning the Sahara Desert into a paradise. Superman and other heroes aren’t impressed though. Unfortunately, the public likes these new heroes. The Hyperclan also executes their criminals and that’s something that gets the normal people excited and the heroes worried.

Wow, this could really be a cover to 90's comic book.

The JLA’s worries intensify when the Justice League Satellite is attacked and destroyed. All of the Leaguers (current and former) survive except for Metamorpho (don’t worry. He got better). No one knows who did it, but the current League sets their eyes on the Hyperclan who start to uncover big structures around the world. The leader states they’re doing this in the name of Z’onn Z’orr… Martians? The JLA meet at their old headquarters to discuss the coming crisis. They know that something’s bad going down because it’s revealed that the populace is being mind-controlled. Batman aka “The Awesome Bat-God” aka “Grant Morrison’s Batman” declares that they are at war.

The JLA decide to split up and search out the structures that the Hyperclan is uncovering. The group of aliens proves to be a big challenge. Wonder Woman and Aquaman (who’s trying to impersonate Namor) check out one of the structures and get captured. Superman and Batman check out one in the Arctic. Superman is taken down by Kryptonite, his main weakness. Batman is taken out by his own rockets, everybody’s weakness, and believed to be dead. Luckily, we find out that isn’t the case as he sneaks into the structure in the Arctic.
Yep, Wally West is awesome. Do you hear that, Didio?

Green Lantern and Flash head to the structure in the Gobi Desert and face others from the group. Flash is able to knock out their speedster (which was pretty cool) and Kyle does knock out their main machine one. Meanwhile, J’onn is meeting with the Hyperclan’s leader, Protex. He tries to who tries to sway J’onn to their side. We don’t see what happens but it looks like J’onn accepts. Kyle and Wally then get taken out by the Captain America wannabe and the machine- like alien. The Hyperclan bring the rest of the Leaguers to the Arctic structure.

It’s looking like the Hyperclan will win, but Batman starts to work his magic i.e. he pulls out some matches because Martians are weak around fire. He’s able to get most of the Hyperclan away from the main holding area. Also, Superman starts to piece together that these guys are Martians and that the Kryptonite is only a fake. Superman breaks out of his bonds and starts to fight Protex. It’s also revealed that J’onn was actually impersonating one of the Hyperclan and he attacks another one of them. Because of the carnage, the rest of the JLA is released from their bonds. Throughout the fight, we learn that these Martians are White Martians and they were former prisoners. The JLA pretty much takes out the Hyperclan with ease.

Come on guys! Batman's awesome and you know it!

It’s revealed that there are more cloaked ships with White Martians on them. In order to stall them, Superman (who’s rocking the mullet) uses some sort of contraption to make the people of Earth make fires to hinder the invading Martians. Afterwards, the League is able to lock them all up in stasis. For some weird reason, the White Martians are mindwiped and shapeshifted into humans by J’onn. Everything pretty everything goes back to normal. All of the work the Hyperclan did with the Sahara withers away. The JLA decides to build a new headquarters on the Moon: the Justice League Watchtower.

I know it was supposed to be long hair and what not, but that is the Super Mullet!

OPINION
This was a nice read. It’s not the greatest JLA story by any means, but it is pretty good. It’s an action movie-type of story. I can see that a lot of this plot was used in the pilot episode to the Justice League cartoon series. All of the Leaguers are in character here and get their moments to shine. I also like the banter between the Leaguers especially the banter between Wally and Kyle. The villains aren’t too bad. I like that they have a connection to one of the JLA (J’onn). I also like that the stakes are pretty high. If there’s one thing the Justice League was bred for, it’s for fighting off alien invasions.

If I have one big complaint, it’s going to be the art. When it’s good, it’s good. When it’s not good, it’s noticeable. The costumes to all of the Hyperclan sucked though that may have been the point. They really did look like refugees from a 90’s Image comic. Protex looked okay but not by much. The League itself did look good for the most part. There are times where they do look a little weird. The ones that probably looked off the most were Superman and Wonder Woman. I think this is the only storyline where Clark has the long hair. It just didn’t suit him in with this art. Wonder Woman (and a lot of the women in this trade) looked off at times.

Other than the “okay” art, it’s a nice read. I will say that it gets better from here on in terms of art (sort of) and story with this run. I liked the Rock of Ages storyline as well as the ones that involved Prometheus and Morpheus from Sandman. After Morrison’s run on the book, I know that Mark Waid did some time on the book and I have some of his issues from around #50-55, so I might cover that weird storyline one day.  Well, I’m outta here. Peace, God Bless, and don’t be fooled by aliens who dress like comic book villains from the 90’s.


NEXT TIME:  IT’S THE “NOT READY FOR PRIMETIME” LEAGUE!!!

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