Justice League: Volume 1: Origin

Justice League of America in 2011 by Jim Lee

Remember when Jim Lee took was at the helm of Marvel’s “Heroes Reborn” era? The first six issues of Justice League felt just like that, except this time Geoff Johns is writing and plotting alongside.

Justice League: Volume 1 tells the story of how the Justice League assembled joined together for the very first time. It’s five years in the past with the heroes still fairly new at their super hero career. Unfortunately, they wind up fighting. Pretty much the first two issues are some sort of fight between Green Lantern, Superman and Batman, as they fight what turns out to be the Parademons from Apokolips.

It’s up to those three–plus Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash (who is super pals with Green Lantern since its the Barry Allen version) and the newly debuting Cyborg to team up to stop Darkseid from destroying the planet. This is a lot more serious than the original Justice League of America, who formed fighting what was essentially an enormous alien starfish.

The story is really formulaic; it ends with them saving the planet and everyone vowing to be there to protect the planet. Unfortunately for them, the public doesn’t really trust the super powered beings running around (much like in the Marvel Universe) and there is going to be a secret government agency following them.

Although the plot was very formulaic, it accomplished everything it needed to. The story reminded me a lot of Independence Day. Jim Lee’s art looks great as always. It was decent. If you are looking for something revolutionary and groundbreaking, this book isn’t for you. But if your looking for regular super hero adventures, this does the trick.

Justice League and Cheerios Go Perfect Together

Cereal and comic books go together like, well, cereal and Saturday morning cartoons! General Mills teamed up with DC Comics to make a series of special tiny comics for the prize at the bottom of the cereal box this past fall/winter featuring the Justice League!

One of my coworkers thought enough to share the copy of Justice League: Sinister Imitation that came in her Golden Grahams. So how was this delicious comic? Well, for starters, it features a cover by Dan Jurgens which is always a good thing.

The story pits the Justice League against the evil Toy Man and his villainous doppelgangers. It is a short, simple super hero story suitable for all ages. As a promotional item, this succeeds as it introduces the primary heroes in the DC line without being cheesy.

That said, there was one thing that I questioned. This came out well into the New 52 relaunch, yet the characters all had their traditional costumes. I guess they didn’t want to turn off or confuse new readers. Either way, still a nice promotional effort.

The Unofficial DC Comics Paperback Timeline

It’s a fairly universally accepted fact that the continuity of DC Comics can be challenging. If someone asked you where to start reading, or how one series connects into another, it can really get difficult.

Collected Editions Blogger has put together The Unofficial DC Comics Paperback Timeline, an eBook that helps make sense of the timeline of over 800 different collected volumes. Whether you are new to the DC Universe or a longtime reader, this is a great resource to comics fans.

Recently, I had the chance to get in contact with CEB about this project, which helps make sense of the company’s chronology.

What made you want to put together a chronology of DC’s trades?

I started “waiting for the trade” a few years before I began the Collected Editions blog.  I was tired of waiting six months to finish reading a story in single issues, and also of all the advertisements in the issues.  A couple years later when DC and many other publishers began releasing collections routinely (as I talk about in the introduction to the DC Trade Paperback Timeline ebook), there was greater continuity between trades; DC published trades that were specifically branded as tie-ins to event miniseries, for instance, or characters would finish an arc in one trade and their story would continue in another.  This cross-trade continuity was interesting to me, and I created the timeline so that I and others could keep track of how DC’s trades fit together from the beginning of the current DC Universe to the present.

Were there any anomalies that you encountered as far as continuity?

I encountered plenty of anomalies working on the timeline — that’s part of what makes it so useful and fun!  The Hawkworld anomaly is one famous one (one Hawkman appears from Legends through Hawkworld, and then that Hawkman is retroactively replaced by another one).  There’s lots of times that books published at the same time don’t fit, like when Superboy Connor Kent is resurrected after Final Crisis but the Teen Titans title acts like he’s dead almost until Blackest Night.  There’s also plenty of changes to continuity as the timeline progresses — Superman gets a couple new origins and so does Green Lantern, and these changes are presented at the appropriate time to read them.

What was the biggest surprise you found out about their timeline during your research?

I always enjoy finding unexpected continuity among the collections on the DC Timeline, especially among the older books.  It’s not so surprising — but still pretty cool — that the recent Batman: Life After Death and Arkham Reborn show the same scene from different perspectives; it’s more surprising that Animal Man: Deus Ex Machina, Time Masters, and Justice League International Vol. 5, all collecting issues from the early 1990s, share scenes in common.

And every once in a while, a trade will unintentionally open up a “lost” corner of the DC Universe.  Saga of the Swamp Thing Vol. 4, for instance, is one of the few trades to collect a Crisis on Infinite Earths tie-in issue; Shazam: The Greatest Stories Ever Told is one of the few to collect a War of the Gods tie-in issue; Hitman: A Rage in Arkham is the only trade to collect a Bloodlines annual (I’m still waiting for a collection to include an Armageddon 2001 annual!).  It’s always fun when I encounter something like that.

How long did it take you to finish the book?

I’ve been constantly updating the DC Trade Paperback Timeline online with new trades at Collected Editions for about six years.  I’ve been planning the Timeline ebook for a while, but from when I began to partner with Smashwords (who distributes the ebook), it was about two months until I announced the ebook at Collected Editions.

Are there any other time lines that you plan on doing in the future?

I’ve had some interesting conversations about that since the DC Trade Timeline ebook came out, actually, but I’m not ready to announce anything yet.  I do plan more ebooks however, with subject matter that I think will be interesting to fans of the Collected Editions blog overall.

Who are your favorite DC characters?

I’ve collected Superman comics for a very long time and I probably always will.  I’ve enjoyed many different series over the years, though — Greg Rucka’s Wonder Woman, Gotham Central, and Checkmate; Geoff Johns’s original Flash run and his first JSA series; Gail Simone’s Secret Six; Judd Winick’s Outsiders; and Grant Morrison’s recent Final Crisis and Batman work are all favorites, among many, many more.

Were there any creators that you were in contact with while compiling this? Have you heard any response/feedback from anyone at DC?

I compiled the DC TPB Timeline all on my own, but a while back then-DC Collected Editions editor Anton Kawasaki called the DC TPB Timeline a “great resource,” which was a thrill.  Through the Collected Editions site I’ve had the privilege of interacting with DC creators including Gail Simone, Sterling Gates, Eric Trautmann, and Mark Verheiden, and just last year I interviewed Adam Beechen.

If someone who is having trouble grasping DC’s history, how would you explain it to them?

Until very recently, DC’s history could be grasped, in a broad sense, if you understood the Justice Society and the Justice League, and the New Titans and Young Justice. In terms of story history, DC’s heroes came about mainly during World War II as the Justice Society, and they were followed by the familiar heroes of the Justice League like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.  Sidekicks like Batman’s Robin and the Flash’s Kid Flash formed the Teen Titans; Robin grew up and became Nightwing and Kid Flash replaced the deceased Flash, and eventually new sidekicks formed Young Justice and their own Teen Titans.

DC’s history was one of generations: the Justice Society, the Justice League, and the Titans, and assorted younger and older sidekicks.

With the advent of the DC New 52 continuity, the Justice League are now the world’s first superheroes; mostly only Batman has had sidekicks working with him as various incarnations of Robin.  The DC universe consists of other dimensions or “Earths,” including Earth 2, which includes some iteration of the Justice Society.

So where would you recommend someone just getting into the DC universe to start reading?

In terms of how to start reading about the DC Universe, I encourage fans to jump in anywhere.  I learned about the DC Universe by reading and then reading more and reading back issues, and I reject the notion that comics continuity scares off new readers; instead I think part of the joy is finding references you don’t understand and reading older stories to fill in the gaps.  Crossovers (or their aftermaths) are good places to start reading, however; DC created a “jumping on” point for their titles just after Infinite Crisis, but starting at the beginning of Countdown to Infinite Crisis is good too.  Adventurous readers, however, could start just after Zero Hour or even with Legends, the first crossover of the post-Crisis on Infinite Earth’s DC universe.  Of course, the DC New 52 relaunch is also designed with new readers in mind.

The Unofficial DC Trade Paperback Timeline is available from Smashwords in all ebook formats, including Kindle, Nook, iPad, Sony Reader, and even desktop computer reading; it’s also available from the Nook bookstore and the iBookstore.

Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight

How tough is Hal Jordan in Emerald Twilight? Not only did he take out the whole Green Lantern Corps, but he took their rings as well!

Please don’t confuse my indifferent thoughts on the Green Lantern movie with my love of the character. Hal Jordan has always been one of my favorite characters, and Emerald Twilight was one of his best stories.

It was the 1990s and comic book buying was in full swing. DC Comics was feeding this frenzy, with huge event comics where the beloved super heroes would die or be forced out of action, like when Superman died or Batman had his back broken. The trick, marketing wise, was that someone new would pick up their mantle. That’s how we got the four temporary Supermen and the crazy Jean Paul Valley Batman. It even happened for Wonder Woman, as the scarlet haired Artemis took the title from Diana. So it was bound to happen to Green Lantern.

Hal’s story was different. Everyone else was replaced, as they fell in battle to someone. What happened to poor old Hal was that he went insane. As part of the “Reign of the Supermen” story, Hal’s hometown of Coast City was destroyed as part of a diabolical plot by the Cyborg Superman and Mongul. There were no survivors, and Hal was saying he was disappointed in himself for not being able to help anyone is an extreme understatement.

So Hal visits the ruins of Coast City and uses his power ring to recreate the city as it once was. Very poignant is the moment when he talks to the energy recreation of his recently deceased father, and then the ring craps out. A Guardian comes down to yell at him for violating Rule #1,234 (where you can’t use your ring for personal gain). A pissed off Hal beats him up and recharges his ring and is hell-bent on getting to Oa. If he recharges himself with the main power battery, he might be able to recreate Coast City permanently.

If the Guardians were mad that he just wanted to make a hologram version of Coast City, think of how much they would want to stop him from bringing the real one back. So they send out every Green Lantern, and even Sinestro, out to stop him. Unfortunately for them, Hal is a complete bad ass, stopping (and killing) them all. Hal absorbs the power battery and runs off into space, and a Nine Inch Nails clad Kyle Rayner winds up with the one surviving Green Lantern ring.

I always enjoyed this story and completely sided with Hal. If you don’t feel sorry for him, then your just a plain old meanie. Hal as an all-powerful “screw you I’m doing what I want to do” was such a cool concept. And it gave Kyle the chance to be his own character with Hal pretty much out of the picture.

Who likes glow-in-the-dark covers? This guy!

What I didn’t like is how they retconned the whole Hal as Parallax story in Green Lantern: Rebirth. Long story short, Parallax is the living embodiment of fear (and is a big yellow bug) who took over Hal as part of a plan with Sinestro to take out the Green Lantern Corps. God forbid they leave the coolest Hal Jordan story alone. Sigh.

I’ll end this on a happy note. I loved the cover to Green Lantern #50, where Hal emerged as Parallax. He looked so bad ass, and the cover glows in the dark. That might be one of my favorite gimmick covers ever. Hey, it was the 1990s.