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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Suspended Animation Review - Grant Morrison and Howard Porter's JLA


            In 1997, DC Comics’ Justice League of America rose to a status the property had not seen for several years, in a comics series entitled JLA.  The closest one could come to describing said status in one word might be “epic”.

            Writer Grant Morrison and artist Howard Porter quickly became a fan-favorite combination, as they hit the ground running with a tale of alien super beings coming to earth to make it a utopia.  As they go about solving the world’s problems, their popularity with the masses increases, as the JLA begin to fade in the eyes of the public.  Of course, as one would expect, this group of benevolent do-gooders is not all it’s cracked up to be.  Things get larger-than-life from there.

            The ambition of Morrison and Porter was evident from the beginning.  They were not satisfied with just creating huge scenarios for the characters to be involved in, thus rising to the occasion.  Instead, they seemed to be tailoring the plots TO these heroes, who they already considered to be operating on a grand scale.  A great example of that would be an addition to the team roster early in the creators’ run: the angel Zauriel.  When the winged denizen of Heaven comes to earth, he’s pursued by an unfriendly angelic host.  Suffice it to say, the JLA does not shrink from the challenge.  Like I said, “epic”.

            Morrison’s plots were engaging from beginning to end, and his handling of the characters somehow managed to make them seem fresh, despite their long histories.  Combined with Porter’s realism-based artwork, the drama and scale of which have not been topped since, it produced reading and viewing material that is a must for any fan of superhero tales.

            Issues 1 though 41 of JLA are recommended for teen and adult readers.  Several issues in that run were fill-ins, but also of high-quality.  Find them at your local comics shop, and online retailers and auctions.  But, try your comics shop first.

Review by Mark Allen