Saturday, May 15, 2010

Justice League: Generation Lost #1

Justice League: Generation Lost #1, DC Comics
by Judd Winick (writer) & Keith Giffen (writer/breakdowns), Aaron Lopresti (penciller), Matt Ryan (inker), Hi-Fi (colorists), Sal Cipriano (letterer)

I was lucky to collect the entire Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis Justice League International run when a comic book shop in Placentia, California shut down and sold its back issues for 10 cents each. I devoured their entire run, including some Justice League Europe crossover issues, and developed an affinity for many of the characters, those lesser known in the DC Universe but still at one time a part of the prestigious JL . . . well, I, but the League nevertheless. Giffen and DeMatteis' dialogue made the characters believable, approachable, and more human than super -- an innovation that took what Alan Moore did in The Watchmen and infused it with the emotion he forgot: humor. The Justice League International has become a retrospective inside joke among fanboys, but Giffen and DeMatties resurrected comics' first super-team, before Morrison did, before Meltzer did (and that's New York Times best-selling author Brad Meltzer). That's no laughing matter.

I confessed on Wednesday that I didn't read "Final Crisis," nor did I read "Identity Crisis," but the ramifications of those tales still ripple through the DC Universe, and know that they've essentially deconstructed everything Giffen and DeMatties developed in Justice League International. How many of those key characters were tortured and killed? The Elongated Man and his wife . . . Blue Beetle . . . Max Lord -- Were writers using the JLI roster to target characters that would have just enough emotional resonance with readers, but not destroy the sanctity of DC's core properties? Just as I enjoyed seeing these characters in their heyday, I grieved for them. I didn't grieve their deaths -- because they aren't real, you know -- but I mourned that loss of realism. In the mix of a cosmic crisis, they were simply less like me.

In the wake of "Brightest Day," I think Justice League: Generation Lost is trying to reclaim that spirit. Max Lord, JLI benefactor turned mind-controlling super villain, is back from the fatal neck twist he experienced by Wonder Woman's hand, and all of the earth's heroes are on the look-out for him. Booster Gold feels neglected in the search, but he also knows Lord best and actually succeeds where even Batman fails -- and finds the guy. Of course, he's too late, and Lord accomplishes the seemingly impossible: he makes the world at large forget he ever existed. Only Booster, Captain Atom, Fire and Ice know of Lord's legacy now, which will undoubtedly make them look a little nuts -- like the laughing stocks they were before, perhaps? Either way, by putting them against their more mainstream counterparts, Winick and Giffen have made them more like us again. Really, they're the only four heroes in the DC Universe that know what we know. Talk about being able to relate.

I enjoyed this issue, and though it isn't of the "bwah-ha-ha" variety, it was just light-hearted enough to maintain the spirit of the superhero genre that I love. Whatever Max has in store, I think it has the potential to bring out the best in everyone, including this creative team. If this truly is a brighter day, I may be on board. An entire Giffen/DeMatteis run on Justice League International? Ten cents an issue. A series that drags me back into the DCU at large? Priceless.

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