Book Club Lockdown / July

JLA 
Written by Grant Morrison

For some stoopid reason I decided that it would be a good idea to have a little reread of Grant Morrison’s JLA. In fact – no wait – worse than that: to actually spend money and buy the stupid things so I could have them forever and ever. I’m not exactly sure I could tell you the reasons why. I mean – I’m not really the biggest Grant Morrison fanboy in the world and most of the time he kinda irritates me and superhero comics mostly tend to leave me feeling pretty cold / ripped off. But then – well: I’ve mostly spent lockdown spending all my excess pay buying all sorts of comics / books that I feel like a proper serious comic book person should own which led to me buying my very own copy of Flex Mentallo (which is very good) and then JLA: Earth Two (which is… pretty good?) and then it seemed like the next logical step was the whole JLA thing so you know – blame logic I guess?

For those of you who don’t know: Flex Mentallo is one of those comics that tends to get spoken about in hushed tones. Partly because it wasn’t available in a collected edition for a really really long time so if you wanted to read it you needed to pay crazy money for the individual issues or (cough) read it online (which I know I didn’t do cough). So yeah you know – the whole Clockwork Orange thing. But also well – it’s really fucking good and trippy and weird and Frank Quitely’s artwork is next level (as it always is) and it’s Grant Morrison doing his thing where there’s all these ideas hitting you at a million miles a second and you know sometimes that means that everything just kinda turns into a gloppy unreadable mess (looks accusingly at The Invisibes) but damnit if you make sure that he doesn’t have enough tracks to go off then his magic actually works (this is also why All Star Superman and The Filth are so good – and actually damnit I think being inspired to reread All Star Superman thanks to Rat and Amanda is what actually lead me to this place to the first place LOL) 

Basically – what I’m saying is: if you keep Grant Morrison on a tight leash then he’s actually good. 

Also: making sure that it’s Frank Quitely doing the artwork. Because damn. Obviously. He can make even the messiest knot of craziness look simple and clear. (Think that’s also why Flex Mentallo is so good – it’s like a psychedelic acid trip as told to you by your grandpa – so even tho the story is all berserk and wild and stuff every panel makes it seem like it makes sense LOL) 

But yeah Flex Mentallo basically ends on this big declaration to the concept of superheroes and how they will save us all and it got me thinking about Morrison’s JLA run which I’d read once before and remembered as being very mind blowing and so like I said – the logical progression made me feel like I should try it out… Who was it that said that reading books will help point you in the direction of other books to read? Basically that thing. (Comics are admittingly better at this than most tho – what with their little captions that say “For more on this story check out Superman Issue #321!”)

But wait – where was I? Oh yeah. JLA. 

You know that feeling when you eat a packet of sherbet? And the whole thing kinda fizzles and pops in your mouth and then just disappears into nothing? Well that’s what reading these books are like – only you know: popping inside your brain instead. Is that a good thing? Well – it’s definitely a thing. 

I mean I think part of the problem is that once you’ve read these once a lot of the tricks are kinda played out. There’s a very cool moment with the Joker in – Volume 2? (I think) that kinda feels a bit like an echo of the cool Lex Luthor climax in All Star Superman but once you’ve seen it happen – there’s not really that much fun in going over it again.

In fact that was my overriding thought in reading all of these back-to-back but it’s funny / interesting / boring how every superhero story is basically set up like a joke or a magic trick – the heroes are confronted by somesort of impossible evil unstoppable force that they’ll never be able to defeat and then – oh whoops / oh wow – something will happen or they’ll work out some clever way to stop it. And yeah obviously that’s just the genre convention and it’s a bit like saying – oh man all these romance books always have people falling in love in them but it’s still striking to see it so clearly laid out you know? But then the other strange tik I noticed that Grant Morrison is that he seems very disinterested in the actual part where the heroes get their victory and save the day. I mean: normally I would have thought you’d have a copy of pages where they’re all standing around laughing and then a freeze frame when they jump into the air and high-five or something? But Morrison kinda wraps things up in a panel and then moves on to the next thing – which I don’t know: seems incredibly pertinent somehow? Like maybe for him stories aren’t about catharsis so much and are more just about the aforementioned joyful explosion of ideas? 

Although also in terms of tricks – one of the good ones that Morrison does twice is creating two evil plans at the same time and then kinda bumping them into each other. Eg Lex Luthor tries to destroy the JLA at the same time that Darkseid tries to take over the world which yeah – I’ll admit is kinda cool. (And also omg I’ve been reading comics too long because like at this point I know exactly who Darkseid is and all his friends and enemies are which I don’t think was the case the first time I read this).

 Oh yeah and the artwork is all so 90s it hurts and sometimes just trying to make sense of it kinda ends up giving up that ice cream headache feeling.

 All in all then – don’t know if I’d recommend it to anyone who hasn’t already tried. I mean: there are better comics out there right? And like saying that these are some of the best mainstream superhero comics out there is probably much more damning than you think. But at least now I’ve got rid of my urge to read them LOL 

What’s next? Well – I just got the complete set of Garth Ennis’ Hitman run…

That should be a bit more entertaining. Right?  

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