Sunday, 26 September 2010

JLA Classified #49

I really dislike leaving a full week between posts, but unfortunately, every now and again, work rears its ugly head and monopolizes my life to the point where I barely have the energy to to anything other than eat between walking through the door and going to bed. I did, however, find the time to squeeze in the season premiere of Smallville last night, and despite missing out on the best part of five years' worth of plot, I was not surprised to see that a lot of what drove me away from the series is still there.

We had moments of insanely bad acting (especially the scene where Clark returns to the Watchtower, and Tom Welling cannot find a sensible way to deliver the line 'But I'm here now. what about the others, did they make it?'), comedy that wasn't funny or made any sense (I had no understanding of the 'dropping the pen' scene), and, of course, at least one moment where the ambition of the show went far beyond its ability to deliver. The moment where The Blur (euch) raises the Daily Planet globe appears to have been witnessed by about 12 people, which isn't bad for a major metropolitan city.

I was watching for the money-shot. I had heard that Darkseid was to appear in the episode, and as he is one of my favourite villains of all time, I was eager to see how he would be handled in live-action. Well, as it turns out, he was being presented as a non-sequitorial puff of smoke that bore a fleeting resemblance to the villain we know and love. Remember how for about half a second you could see the outline of the true Galactus in Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer? That's how it felt to me.

It wasn't all bad. The John Schneider scene looked for a moment like it was going to a terrible waste of potential, but turned into something quite beautiful and moving. The shadow of Michael Rosenbaum enhanced the episode rather than making him noticeable by his absence (although the fake clone Lex needed far fewer cliches to go along with the effectiveness of his corrupted Lex visual). And the introduction of the Superman, suit, something I wasn't expecting, was very nicely handled, and I like the way that the final shot set the concept of Superman as a prize for Clark at the end of the season, as well as a reward to viewers for ten years of support.

I think I'll do my best to keep up for this series. I'm going to be interested in how Apokolips is handled in live-action, and the return of the Justice Society is going to be more than enough to keep my inner geek satisfied.


Talking of my inner geek, on thing he has not been satisfied with is today's review issue for the World of Superman, JLA Classified #49.

To Live In Hearts We Leave Behind

Writer: Andrew Kreisberg
Pencils: Paulo Siqueira
Inks: Amilton Santos
Colors: Allen Passalaqua
Letters: Jared K Fletcher
Cover: Siqueira with Passalaqua
Associate Editor: Tom Palmer Jr
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover Date: Late February 2008
Release Date: 26/12/2007

An insectoid alien race called the Locusta has laid claim to Earth's solar system. The JLA convene on Mars to mount a defence against the invaders. As the JLA engage the Locusta, the Earth waits with baited breath. Linda Park presents news coverage, whilst other people close to the various members of the JLA anxiously await news. Eventually, the Locusta are defeated, the League reunites with their loved ones, and the Earth celebrates.

Whilst this occurs, Lois Lane arrives at Wayne Manor for a pre-arranged interview with Bruce Wayne. Finding that Bruce as been unexpectedly called away on business, she takes tea with Alfred whilst the two wait for news of the invasion.

Yes, it's a short synopsis. Not a lot actually happens in this issue. The JLA beat up some armored crab-aliens on Mars whilst everyone gets nervous on Earth. Lois and Alfred have a not-very-revealing talk. If you're after dense plotting, then you're better off looking at another comic. What there is in this issue is atmosphere, oodles of it. There's a real sense that the people of Earth are genuinely worried about the impending Locusta invasion. Linda West's broadcasts are suggested to be the kind of broadcast to bring the nation together, whilst Jimmy and Lois exchange terse, personal admittances of fear on their Blackberries. Compounding this is the fact that none of the combat on Mars has any dialogue, narration or sound-effects. Although the reader is privy to the action, they are not a part of the League's actions. We are as much in the dark as to how the battle is progressing as Earth is. I'd like to think that the League's triumph here is what gives the public the strength to support future moves against alien attackers, such as the 'Earth To Invaders: Drop Dead' response in Invasion #1.

Lois and Alfred's conversation is both interesting and unrevealing. There's a nice underlying element of dramatic irony in that the reader knows that both parties are concerned for heroes on Mars, but that neither is aware of the other's connections. Unfortunately, this is as far as it goes, and what we get on the page is several pages of small talk that doesn't really make for an interesting read.

I would normally be finishing my review here, summing up the issue as a fairly inoffensive but inconsequential fill-in issue of a title heading towards its cancellation 6 issues later. But unfortunately, I have to address one piffling little concern, namely the fact that the continuityJLA seen fighting on Mars is clearly, thanks to the presence of John Stewart and the predilection of JLA: Classified to use this version of the team, the post-Obsidian Age incarnation of the Big 7 League. The second is the relationship of Wally West and Linda Park, who first appeared in 1989. The third is the awkwardness between Lois and Superman, and the fact that Lois is not romantically involved with Clark, and doesn't know his secret identity. The three elements cannot co-exist. Most notably, John Stewart is only a true member of the JLA following the Obsidian Age, many years after the League's founding, and long after Lois and Clark/Superman are an item and open about Clark's identity.

Putting this issue in this position in the blog is a difficult choice, and doing so requires a pinch of salt. From the Lois point of view, her relationship is entirely with Superman. There is no mention of Clark at all in the issue, and the conclusion is her hugging Superman. Therefore, it can be assumed that Clark is only 'the guy that scooped her' at this point in time. This issue cannot be concurrent with the post-Man of Steel issues, as that version of the League was the infamous International version. Therefore, this League is more than likely a one-off permutation of the Satellite era that just so happens to resemble the later version. Of course, you have to ignore the fact that John Stewart is an icon on Earth when he is far more likely a very green, rookie Lantern, and the fact that Wally West isn't even the Flash yet, nor has he met Linda Park. But in the context of Superman, these elements can be brushed over. Well, I have.

Have you read this issue? What are your theories concerning the placing of this issue? Do you even care? Please let me know in the comments below.

The Geeky Bits: The title is a quote from Hallowed Ground by Thomas Campbell.

Andrew Kreisberg is a writer whose main claim to fame outside of comics was an episode of The Simpsons called Barting Over. His most noteable run on comics was replacing Judd Winick on Green Arrow/Black Canary, which he wrote for 15 issues, and a series called Hellen Killer, which saw Helen Keller become bodyguard to the President of the USA.

Paulo Siqueira is an artist whose work includes runs on Birds of Prey, Anti-Venom: New Ways To Live, and the 2007 Black Canary mini-series.

Next on World of Superman: We get back to the core series of this era, as we examine Man of Steel #5. Hopefully just in time for the first birthday of this blog.


  1. The placing of the issue is a mess for the exact reasons you list. This type of continuity problem is particularly maddening since it could've been solved by drawing a ring on Lois's finger and an ever-so-slight tweak of the dialogue on the last page. (Although, on the ring... Lois is wearing a big diamond... in one panel. What?) Those two minor tweaks wouldn't have changed the story one jot.

    I realize fans, yes, myself included, at times can be a bit over-obsessive about continuity. But when it's that easy of a fix, why not?

  2. I went back and forth over the ring several times. And then I looked at the panel again, and saw that it was sitting on the right hand. Now, I am neither married or engaged, but I'm pretty sure that the ring sits on the left hand. Otherwise, I've been checking out the wrong hand on a lot of ladies... (and I'll be charitable and pass by the fact that in that panel, Lois only has three fingers and a thumb).

  3. Maybe the extra finger morphed into a ring. Like a weird Transformer. Maybe when Geoff Johns does the sequel to SECRET ORIGIN, we'll find out that Lois has secretly been a Gobot all this time.