Books The Eighth Through Tenth

Justice League: a new beginning by Keith Giffen & JM DeMatteis; Justice League International by Keith Giffen & JM DeMatteis; Millennium by Steve Englehart

I’ve mentioned before JM DeMatteis and Keith Giffen’s take on the Justice League, where they concentrated more on the humourous aspects of a pack of disparate individuals coming together to save the world than the heroic ones. The first two collections of these issues are somewhat dated (in the space of thirteen issues, incursion into Soviet airspace is used as a plot-point something like half a dozen times) but it is a fun bunch of stories. By way of a digression: while it may be a point lost on normal humans, comic fans will probably know of the redefining nature of these comics. They were published in the wake of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns when the comics industry was trying to be grim and deconstruct superheroes into post-modern pieces of psychosis. In the middle of this, Justice League went in entirely the opposite direction and had the philosophy that superheroes trying to co-exist would probably get on each others’ nerves and that would be kind of funny.

It is great stuff.

I also reread Millennium, the story of Earth’s superheroes coming together to help a pair of cosmic beings usher in a new evolutionary cycle, because it ties in with some of the Justice League stuff. This has aged far worse than Justice League. Its biggest problem is that it collects all eight issues of Millennium originally published in the eighties, but the story crossed over into dozens of other titles which haven’t been included in the collection, even though they often contained major plot points. The effect is very much like cutting out every second chapter of a book. You have the beginning, end, and several disjointed bits of middle, but it is, overall, a fairly unsatisfactory reading experience.

Actually, what really got me was the awful attempt at superheroes this series introduced as the “next step” in human evolution (the whole series basically being a gimmick to intro some new characters). One of them has the super-heroic name Random Access Memory. His power/place in the next step of human evolution was that he was Chinese and good with computers. Kudos go to DC Comics for the fact that one member was the first openly gay character in the company’s history but, because they weren’t allowed to state that due to the Comics Code at the time, they had to “imply” it by making him a swishing, effeminate caricature.

Still, the Justice League stuff was good…


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