Thursday, April 7, 2011

CBR JLA: Year One


Over the years, DC Comics released a lot of Year One titles.
Afte rthe big crisis of the 80s, the Post-Crisis DCUniverse was brand new to explore. Most books kept their old and classic roots (like the ongoings Green Lantern, Flash...), others were given a fresh start (Wonder Woman, Superman: The Man of Steel,...) as I already discussed in my Batman: Year One review.

As for DC's first team-up book, the Justice League, it wasn't clearly defined for a while. But with Batman keeping for himself in Gotham, Wonder Woman arriving late in "man's world" and Superman protecting the world all by himself the roots of the team wasn't as clear as it seemed.
That is where Mark Waid came in.

Comic title: JLA: Year One 
Art by Brian Augustyn
Story by Mark Waid & Barry Kitson

Published by DC
From 1998
Lineup JLA
Format: .Trade paperback collecting JLA: Year One issues #1-12.

JLA: Year One is a bold new retelling of how the Justice League came out to be.
It's what some would call a smart "retroactive retcon". This story try to keep and reuse classic JLA moments and plots in a brand new overall storyline.

Sure, nerds and fanboys didn't like how this new team came out to be without a Wonder Woman, Batman or Superman in the roster, but I really think it helped out flesh out these other Leaguers.
(plus, didn't you like Wonder Woman's reboot by George Pérez?? It's amazing!)

What about the story itself?

Five young heroes will band together to face an outter space menace...

The story starts out with some bigger than life threats.
All across the world, some giant elemental creature strike out but get quickly dispatched by "super heroes".
These guys and gal are: Aquaman the king of the sea, the fastest man alive The Flash, ring-wielder Green Lantern, the detective Martian Manhunter and Justice Society's kiddo Black Canary (II)!

But those aren't the world greatest's heroes most readers are used to now. They are early incarnations of them, all this book is clearly "Year On-ysh".
Aquaman is a man, alone, trying to find a place in the world of the land-dwellers.
The Flash is adjusting to his superpowers and his double life as Central City's hero and as Barry Allen - police forces' forensic scientist.
Hal Jordan, test pilot and Green Lantern is still young and cocky.
J'onn J'onn the Manhunter from Mars...well he's been around for a while, 50 years at least. But he lived most of his time on Earth hidden. And now with these strange being we call "superheroes", he can finally try to become accepted and expose himself.
And finally, Dinah Lance the Black Canary? She's trying to step out of her mother's shadow, the first Black Canary on the JSA, another superheroic team.

Quickly, Hal Jordan establishes himself as the Leader. (at least, that's what he thinks)

Mark Waid does a great job of working on a clearly climatic event working its way over the 12 parts of this Year One tale, something that would need and result in the formation of the League... While still keeping it localised and really character-driven.

He perfectly captures the voices of all five heroes, and will make you a fan of any of them. (even myself, I didn't really like Aquaman originally..but this book won me over the king of Atlantis).
All five are very different individuals, with very different backgrounds and type of powers.
This mini-series was told over 12 issues, which gave Waid the pace and time to drop by every corner of the DCU. There's a great deal of time spent on each character's side, as we learn who these Barry Allen, John Jones, Hal Jordan, Arthur (?) and Dinah Lance are.

The team works it out all in the open during its first year of activity.

The art of Brian Augustyn is great! Terrific!
He has that artstyle that makes this story looks simple enough, classic, while still being a modern book.
Like a modern take on a Silver Age-era comic book.

Everthing looks great, perfectly in-character, from a writing and artwork aspect.
There isn't a lot of splash pages, something I feared when I first saw this was a 12-parter (comics should tend to use those a lot may look nice, but it's such a waste story-wise... IMO...).

It's a great JLA story set in its early era and trying to establish its new roots.

And a team was born...

Speaking of which, it's not only the JLA the plot tries to establish, but its roots and relations to the larger DC Universe, and a lot of future important characters that would interact with the League.
There's a lot of things going in this book, while the heroes face an alien threat and try to stop an incoming invasion. The JSA inspires and is omnipresent throughout the book, other teams such as the Doom Patrol (in all their classic glory) appear and draw comparison to these newbies...
Batman may not be part of the team, since a Bats from that "era" was such a recluse and only sought to protect Gotham, though he does observe and appear in these events.
Superman also appears a bit more. He almost joins the team..but renounces due to how isolated he was in his early career (as can be seen in other Superman-related comics).
Green Arrow is almost an secondary member of the team seeing him pop-up so much throughout the issues. (and he does play an "important" role without spoiling much here..)
Wonder Woman...well she arrived on "man's world" much later...

All in all, it's a very enjoyable ride, a great big typical superhero comic.
With lots of fanservices, tons of characters, references to old classic Silver Age comics while still not depending on it and a lot of love for these characters and the DCU in general.

Overall, it's fun and recommended read!
Great starting point for those who want to dig into the larger DCU or the Justice League title.
Reader friendly while still playing tribute to these characters.
Fresh, fun, one of my all-time favorite JLA tales.

And for nit-picking nerds, it's still very much in continuity despite what some might say.
Yeah, Supes and Bats are barely in the book, but they might have teamed up with these characters in some off-panels occasions. And Wonder Woman post-crisis couldn't be her, don't be sad about that, rejoice for Black Canary! She doesn't get that many non-Birds of Prey moments to shine!

The book is great, sets the foundations of these World Finest heroes, pays a lot of respect to past tales yet doesn't depend on those solely and builds up the roots for many future threads such as Ted Kord becoming a the new Blue Beetle, Snapper Carr helping out the League as its go-to guy, Ollie and Bats relation with the team, Maxwell Lord's inspiration and so many more...

I give it:

  3 / 3 Plastic-trophies!


  1. My favorite Waid and JLA comic.

    1. A much better recap of the origin of the JLA than the rushed New 52 one.