Monday, 7 October 2013

Monday Memories #40 - JLA Incarnations #2

Each Monday this year I'll be taking a look back at a random comic, prestige format issue, graphic novel or collection of reprints from amongst my 3,000 or so comics that date from 1962 to 2003 - I figured anything in the last ten years would be too recent to hark back to.

The comics are chosen completely at random and apart from a four week lead-in period, even I don't know what I'll be looking at in the weeks to come!

JLA INCARNATIONS #2 - August 2001

If my memory serves, John Ostrander and Val Semeiks's JLA Incarnations was originally planned as a sequel to Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's JLA: Year One series which detailed the origin of the League in the post-Crisis... pre-Infinite Crisis DCU. For one reason or another, the plans changed and the series was instead a snap-shot of the different line-ups that the League had over its history.

This issue focuses mostly on Batman and how he came to join the League. He starts out as a consultant / observer who steps in when needed, offering advice and plans when he can see a better way than the League is already using. In contrast, Superman simply turns up, hits the bad guy and heads off home but not before officially joining up. Which leads to the first grumble about him:

Sure, he'll swoop in and save the day but does he bother to clean up after himself?

While trying to help with the damage to houses, Green Arrow's accosted by someone who's lost their home and all their belongings, someone who wants to feel safe. It's a heartfelt plea that obviously affects Arrow and we get to see the beginnings of the liberal crusader he would become, as well as the blossoming of his romance with Black Canary:

Much of the rest of the issue is taken up with an attack by Gorilla Grodd upon Washington, though there's time for Flash to moan to Green Lantern about Superman - they'd recently raced and Flash felt that Supes was holding back to spare his feelings. He would rather have lost, feeling the knowledge gained could be of help in an emergency situation but, as he says to Hal, "How do you yell at Superman, for crying out loud?"

Well, Batman later finds a way. Once again the League goes up against a bad guy, in this case Grodd and a troop of cybersimians, and Batman steps in, ordering the League to do what is needed. Superman, however, simply appears out of the blue and takes on Grodd, almost costing them them fight when Batman has to divert some of the League to save him.

Once Grodd is taken care of, Bats has no qualms about pointing out Superman's failings:

As Bats goes on to say, he knows what the League's members can do and trusts them to do it when he tells them to, knowing he doesn't have to worry about their safety. Superman agrees he has a point, as do the rest of the team, and Batman joins up.

It's a cracking issue - and a darn good series, too. John Ostrander finds what's best in each of the incarnations and makes it work a treat. Plus Val Semeiks's art is plain gorgeous: sure Batman has shoulders that are eight feet wide but it works.

Not sure if it was ever collected but if you get the chance to read it, you should.


  1. Oh wow! You sir, have officially sold me on this! I stayed away due to the art, but this issue and the points you reviewed clearly show it doesn't matter. Ostrander's talent shines through. Just wow. Oh and the Batman/Superman argument. hell yeah!

    1. Yep, this is some classic Ostrander writing.

      As to the art, I really like Val Semeiks' art - I actually have an original piece from issue 5 of this series (where they look at Crisis on Infinite Earths from a post-Crisis point of view!) on my wall.

  2. It's too cartoony for me. Just a personal preference. But shit he an still draw fucking circles around me anyday...

    Original art you say? How very cool Gary!

    1. Yeah, it was a birthday present to myself a couple of years ago. Actually... (hunts around the blog) here you go: have a look!


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