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Mark Waid’s Run on Justice League of America – Tower of Babel (Review/Retrospective)

23rd July is Batman Day, celebrating the character’s 75th anniversary. To celebrate, this July we’re taking a look at some new and classic Batman (and Batman related) stories. Check back daily for the latest review.

Although actually published in 2000, Tower of Babel is the third definitive Batman story of the nineties. Running only four issues instead of a massive sprawling crossover across an entire line of comic books, Tower of Babel is certainly more condensed than either Knightfall or No Man’s Land, hitting on many of the same themes and concepts. It is very much constructed as a cautionary tale – a warning about taking a particularly cynical approach to Batman to its logical extreme.

Due to his stand-off-ish nature, the nineties iteration of Batman is sometimes affectionately (or not so affectionately) referred to a “Batjerk.” This version of the character has a wonderful knack of pushing his friends and allies away, making enemies, and escalating problems due to arrogance and ego. In many respects, Tower of Babel is a quintessential “Batjerk” story, where Batman’s anti-social tendencies lead to the humiliation and defeat of the entire Justice League using his own plans.

The last temptation of Batman...

The last temptation of Batman…

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Brad Meltzer’s Run on Justice League – The Lightning Saga (Review/Retrospective)

This January, I’m going to take a look at some of DC’s biggest “events.” This week I’ll be taking a look at Brad Meltzer’s impact on the DC universe. This is a crossover with Geoff Johns’ second run on Justice Society of America.

I can’t help but feel like having Brad Meltzer write this Justice League was a huge waste of what could have been a very impressive run. After all, Meltzer is a big novelist, and turning his attention to DC was a big deal at the time. More than that, though, it seemed like a move that could have pushed the Justice League very much to the fore. Imagine a team of DC’s most iconic properties, helmed by a respected and successful author, and sold outside of comic book stores. Imagine the trade paperback possibilities – I imagine there’s potential to get a Brad Meltzer Justice League book into the hands of somebody who has never read comic books before, and that’s got to be a win. Indeed, the book seems to acknowledge that by advertising a foreword by Patton Oswalt on the front page – it screams “mainstream! mainstream!” Unfortunately, though, it’s the only aspect of this crossover that does, leaving me with only a faint taste of what might have been. It’s not that it’s bad – it’s that it could have been so much better.

The whole trinity...

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Justice League International: Volume 4 (Hardcover) (Review/Retrospective)

In light of the massive DC reboot taking place next month, launching with a Geoff Johns and Jim Lee run on a new Justice League title, I thought I’d take a look back at another attempt to relaunch the Justice League, emerging from the then-recent Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Hm. Typical. Just as DC stops collecting Justice League International in these nice little hardcovers, I find that the series is getting back into the sort of swing and rhythm that I really loved about the superb first volume, but which became hard to maintain in equilibrium through the second and third collections. The last two books have veered just a little bit too much into sit-com territory for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like the humour that Giffen and deMatteis bring to the book, but I think it works better as a counterbalance to some nice superhero spectacle or drama, rather than being allowed to run free. The wonderfully wicked, occasionally subversive and often amusing sense of humour is in full effect in this collection, but it also features some nice character-centred storytelling, the type of refreshingly not-too-serious, but never completely out of control, approach that made the first few issues so damn appealing.

The new line-up...?

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Justice for the JLA: Warner’s New Stand-Alone Superhero Team-Up…

News broke during the week that Warner Brothers are planning a new Justice League movie, apparently for 2013. Reportedly Ryan Reynolds has not been approached to play the Green Lantern in the film, and – based on comments from both film makers – it’s unlikely that Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot or The Dark Knight Rises will play into the film in any meaningful way. One might consider that something of a marketing faux pas, as that would represent a fairly intense lead-in into the movie (as opposed to the four-odd years Marvel has been teasing The Avengers). Indeed, it has been suggested that the proposed Justice League movie might stand entirely on its own two feet, completely distinct from the superhero movies that Warners are churning out. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this was exactly the plan with the company’s last aborted attempt at a Justice League film.

Justice for all?

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Grant Morrison’s Run on Justice League of America – The Deluxe Edition, Vol. 3-4 (Review/Retrospective)

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. I’ll be looking at movies and episodes and even some of the related comic books. With the review of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths later on today, I thought I’d take a look at Grant Morrison’s graphic novel which inspired it in someway. However, I figure – given that large debt that the entire Justice League cartoon owes Morrison’s iconic tenure on Justice League of America – it’s time to take a look at the latter half of Morrison’s run on the title.

We have no powers, there are millions of them and there’s a child in there who needs us to save the world. Let’s go.

– another day at the office for Superman

I remarked in my review of the first two deluxe hardcovers collecting his work on the series that I was perhaps a lot less impressed than most with Morrison’s work on the title. It was grand and bombastic, but it ended up feeling more than a little hallow, especially measured against some of his bolder efforts within the superhero genre. Although time and a few re-reads have softened my perspective quite a bit, I will concede that I don’t measure this as the writer’s best work. It’s epic and smart and fun, but never really becomes anything too much more.

But, then again, they are the Justice League. If I want deep characterisation of philosophical meanderings, I can check out a different book.

It actually looks quite peaceful when you're not saving it...

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Grant Morrison’s Run on Justice League of America: The Deluxe Edition, Vol. 1-2 (Review/Retrospective)

“Never underestimate the sentimentality of a Scotsman, Clark.”

– Batman knows how much Morrison likes comics

‘Tis the season for ever-so-slightly oversized hardback editions, what with DC reissuing the entire run of Starman and this re-release of the relaunch of the original superteam. The fact that they can put creator extraordinaire Grant Morrison’s name on the cover surely isn’t a problem either. Nor is the fact that the book (under his stewardship) was one of the best selling comic books of the nineties. So, what aren’t I getting here? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a perfectly adequate book (that isn’t necessarily as smart as it thinks it is), but it’s not gold. It moves at the speed of the Flash and seems intent to throw ideas at the reader at headache-inducing speed. It’s solid, reliable and it manages to recreate the zany madness that defined the group, but it never seems to completely transcend it. And it just keeps trying.

Rocking your world...

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