JLA: Volume 1

I need to pay better attention to the comics I’m reading.

It turns out the first four issues collected here are the same issues I read in JLA: New World Order, so feel free to check out that post if you want my opinions on the first half of this trade.

Now, on to the second half:

After enjoying the subtle brilliance of the first four issues, I was expecting much of the same here.  Surprisingly, I just didn’t feel that connection to the remaining collected stories.

The first random shock occurred when Superman showed up looking like an electric Smurf.

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The comic gives no explanation, but thankfully due to the veritable encyclopedia of comic knowledge that is my boyfriend, I learned that this occurred in the Superman comic and was just a random little aside that had to be included here for continuity’s sake.

Still, it’s weird.

These comics collect a handful of smaller story arcs, generally no more than two or three issues in length.  All dealt with villains I wasn’t particularly familiar with, so perhaps therein lies my slight disinterest.  I was happy to see that at least one familiar villain made an appearance, if only on the outskirts of the story.

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Neron is featured in a handful of issues, but he never confronts the JLA directly, and instead serves as a side character who makes commentary on what’s going on.  I can only assume he will have a larger role in the story down the line, but his inclusion here was enough to keep me interested.

Issues eight and nine of this run culminate in what is perhaps the most intriguing story in the collection, in which our heroes are plunged into their own dream worlds.  Each hero has their own dream, with certain key differences from their known reality.  Some reflect possible futures, while others reflect alternate realities.  These were highly entertaining, particularly Batman’s dream.  In it he is an older man, married to Selina Kyle with two grown children who have adopted the Batman and Robin personas.  During a night out, they come across none other than a haggard but still very-much alive Joker.

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These dream sequences were interesting, and I found myself wishing they had been prolonged.  I would have been perfectly happy had these sequences taken up multiple issues, with each character’s dream being elaborated on far more than it was.  Sadly, this plotline was wrapped up after a mere two issues, and while I thought it was really well done, I keep wishing it had been longer.

Overall my take on this trade was…anticlimactic.  I suppose it’s wrong to always expect such ground-breaking stories out of Grant Morrison, but I found myself constantly wondering while reading this trade when it would get really good.  The stories were fun enough, with plenty of action and scenes featuring all of the key JLA members.  Still, I never felt completely invested in the story.  I’m hoping this is simply Morrison’s trademark slow build, and that the future trades (there are at least three more Morrison JLA collections on “the shelf”) will delve deeper into the characters and provide a truly exceptional story.

I’m holding out hope on this one.

-Jess

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