Friday, March 18, 2016

Greatest JLA Stories Ever Told!

Let's be clear. These are likely not the "Greatest Stories Ever Told" about the Justice League,  but they are pretty good ones indeed from across a wide spectrum of League stories both before and after the Crisis. These volumes all featured an Alex Ross cover and I'm a big fan but this one isn't his best to my mind, as Wonder Woman doesn't look sufficiently on model for me.

We start off with an updated version of the origin story with George Perez artwork from the pages of the stellar two hundredth issue of the comic. This was one of the best centennial issues ever, but we only get a few pages in this reprint. After that there's a terrific introduction to the team by Mike Tieffenbacher who puts the stories into some great context. I feel a good intro can make a tome like this much better, hate the ones that don't have anything.

We get a dandy from the original JLA team of Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs as Doctor Destiny returns to send the Leaguers off the planet. Beautiful Murphy Anderson cover art. 

We quickly skip forward to an important early story by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin and Joe Giella, a story in which Snapper Carr the League's "Mascot" faces a crisis of conscience.  This story sported another Murphy Anderson cover with great drama.

This rare Mike Grell cover advertises an exceedingly clever story by Marty Pasko with artwork by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin which relates the then untold story of how the Leaguers decided to share their secret identities with one another.

The centerpiece of this collection is a three-issue story pitting the League against the Secret Society of Super-Villains. This is a rousing rockem' sockem' League adventure from the heart of the satellite years with some neat twists and turns. These were the first issues under the helm of Ross Andru who took over as editor after Julie Schwartz left the title after a few decades at the helm.

A new post-Crisis League is introduced when the team was rebooted to meet with the changed conditions of the altered DCU. The addition of Blue Beetle is the most telling detail,but including heroes from other worlds and planes does give this League a more varied appeal, hence the loss of other of the evocative "America" from the title. This is not my League by any stretch but these are by and large pretty good stories by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis with great artwork by Kevin Maguire and Terry Austin.

They meet up again in this special issue by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter, a team which revived them successfully at the end of the 90's. This story features a clash with Starro himself.

And finally we get a story from a later period of the team , when Plastic Man was a member in good standing. The story by Joe Kelly is a good example of what was then current and shows the team as effective and efficient. The artwork by Greg Mahnke and Joe Nguyen is pretty decent for the time.

Good stories all, exciting even. The "Greatest"? Close perhaps but no cigar!

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