Sunday, August 06, 2006

JLA: Prometheus Unbound (#16-17)

The crazy, cosmic journey of Rock of Ages ended with the breakup of the JLA. However, that was apparently a short lived thing, since a fill in short story by Christopher Priest features the reformation of the JLA. The story's pretty good, particularly the Batman part, but it's not remarkable. Most people write the JLA as just a bunch of superheroes, it's only Morrison who's able to push them to the level of gods. It doesn't work if you write the JLA like the X-Men, because, unlike the X-Men, they're not particularly interesting as people.

This short also features the art of Yanick Paquette, who would later go on to draw Bulleteer. Partially because of the quality of the pages, his art lacks the slickness of his work on Bulleteer. One of the issues with this story is that it sets up a new status quo where the JLA has twelve members. At this point in the series, the amount of people in the book starts to border on unmanagable. With twelve main people, there's very little room for character development, and the fact that the new members are all lower tier heroes means that the pantheon feeling of the early arcs is diminished. There's potential in having the higher level heroes helping out less powerful people, but there's just too many here.

'Prometheus Unbound' begins with an interesting standalone recounting the origin of lead villain Prometheus. This is actually the strongest issue of the arc, because it makes you understand the villain without actually liking him. The confrontation between Prometheus and Retro allows Morrison to do yet another allegorical examination of the comics marketplace. This could be read as the rise of Image style heroes over classic heroes, but it also shows how classic heroes are creatively bankrupt. Retro could be a dig at Alan Moore's work on Supreme, I'm not sure what the time table on those two series is.

The actual stuff with the JLA is some of Grant's weaker material. It's fun to see Superman's pride while giving the press a tour around the satellite, but soon after the press becomes little more than a tension building device. They have very little role in the end of the story.

It is fun to see some of the lower tier heroes stepping up and defeating Prometheus, but this arc has basically the same structure as the Key storyline, a villain comes out of nowhere with the perfect plan to defeat the Justice League, is about to do so, but is soon defeated. Beyond that, there's very little philosophical or thematic significance to what happens. It's just a straight ahead JLA story.

One of the reasons I don't like Morrison's JLA as much as his other material is that I'm more interested in the soapy character based storytelling of X-Men than the action stylings of the JLA. When Morrison wrote a straight ahead X-Men arc, like Imperial, I really enjoyed it, but I probably wouldn't have particularly liked the JLA equivalent. The JLA storylines that work are the ones where Morrison puts more of his personal interests into the book.

Next up is a guest arc from Mark Waid that will apparently feature more stuff with the New Gods. Then a couple more Morrison issues leading into the One Million crossover.

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