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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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Kurt Busiek’s and George Perez’s Avengers – Avengers/JLA (Review/Retrospective)

April (and a little bit of May) are “Avengers month” at the m0vie blog. In anticipation of Joss Whedon’s superhero epic, we’ll have a variety of articles and reviews published looking at various aspects of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”

Read our review of The Avengers here.

Avengers/JLA is about as nerdy as a comic book crossover can get. Really. It takes two teams of superheroes which were both formed to allow existing heroes to team up… and then teams those two teams up. It’s pure geek chic, after all. I have no shame in admitting that I enjoyed on a purely fanboyish level, my inner eight-year-old ecstatic at the idea of taking so many toys out of so many different boxes and bashing them together which such delightful cheer. It’s not an essential story, nor a brilliant one, nor a creative one – but it does exactly what it says on the tin. It gives us a gigantic crossover between two of the more recognisable Marvel and DC superhero teams.

The very definition of awesome...

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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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Brad Meltzer’s Run on Justice League – The Tornado’s Path (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.

Justice League has always been a bit of a funny little book. The concept is so straight-forward that you’d imagine it would be quite difficult to muck up. After all, it’s a series about DC’s most powerful and iconic heroes teaming up to do impossibly cool stuff and to look good while doing it. DC has been doing this long enough to have an idea of what works on the title and what doesn’t. While Justice League International has its fans, it’s hard to argue that the appeal of the Justice League wasn’t encapsulated by Grant Morrison’s hugely successful nineties run. As such, putting the big characters back on the title shouldn’t seem like a big event of itself – it should be the default setting. So it always seems to me a bit strange when DC relaunch the series with a big name writer and the iconic line-up, only for editorial to inevitably screw things up down the line.

Team photo...

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Non-Review Review: Justice League – Crisis on Two Earths

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. This is one of the “stand-alone” animated movies produced by the creative team that gave us the television shows.

Okay, well maybe it’s not quite “stand-alone”, seen as it’s based off a script that was intended to bridge the two animated series Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Anyway, some of these movies – such as Justice League: New Frontier – are excellent examples of Western animation in their right. Some – such as Wonder Woman – are spectacular introductions to characters that perhaps never really got the attention that they so sorely deserved. On the other hand, some are just animated versions of a Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster production.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is one of those.

Owlman is a bird of prey...

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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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Absolute New Frontier (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. This is a comic book review of the graphic novel which inspired the animated movie Justice League: New Frontier

Today some would say that those struggles are all over– that the horizons have been explored– that all the battles have been won– that there is no longer an American frontier.

The problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won– and we stand today on the edge of a new frontier– the frontier of the 1960s– a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils– a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats.

– John F. Kennedy, 1960

It’s a Kennedy-era superhero saga, capturing a lot of the spirit of the sixties, the era that really saw DC comics – and comic books as a whole – massively reinvent themselves.

Green Lantern's light...

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