Tag Archives: Howard Porter

Today’s Super Comics — JLA #43-46 (2000)

In which it’s confirmed that the Justice League’s most dangerous member is…Batman.

Mark Waid took over the writing on JLA with #43, and he kicked off with a superb four-part storyline that pitted the team against Ra’s al Ghul at his smartest. Ra’s, with his focus on reducing the global population in order to “save” the planet, is a great choice for a JLA foe, and his scheme here is a clever one—broadcasting a signal that interferes with the brain’s ability to comprehend the written word and, later, the spoken word. Rid humanity of language, and the resulting disasters will thin out the population in no time.

He knows beforehand the JLA will oppose him, and he’s not overly familiar with most of the members, except for Batman. And he’s well aware of Batman’s weaknesses.

The plot gets going right away when Bruce Wayne discovers his parents’ coffins have been stolen, which is a perfect way to keep Batman distracted for a while. Then Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter Talia and his men proceed to enact Batman’s emergency protocols against each member of the JLA, one at a time. Turns out Batman has maintained files on how to non-lethally incapacitate his teammates, such as dosing Aquaman with a fear toxin to make him terrified of water and making the Martian Manhunter flammable. Secretive soul that he is, Batman has neglected to ever mention this project to any of his teammates who have placed their trust in him.

That’s the true brilliance of Waid’s story—the main obstacle to thwarting a global threat is a protagonist’s own fatal flaw. It’s a great way to keep character at the center of the story without interfering with the stars’ respective solo series.

And didn’t I just recently say that Batman was a jerk during this time? See?

Writer: Mark Waid

Pencilers: Howard Porter and Steve Scott

Inkers: Drew Geraci and Mark Propst

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up

Today’s Super Comics — JLA #16-17 (1998)

jla_vol_1_16The Justice League and the Avengers love changing their lineups. It’s a staple of both franchises. They also both like to shake up their rosters in issue #16, apparently. But whereas the original Avengers #16 replaced the old guard with mostly new members, the ‘90s Justice League reboot instead doubles its membership in JLA #16.

So we’ve got fourteen JLAers, plus the party-crashing Catwoman, and about a hundred reporters aboard the Justice League’s moon-based headquarters. And of course a new villain strikes and starts taking the team down one member at a time.

This villain, Prometheus, instantly appears to be a formidable and credible threat. His motivation is sketchy, but in writer Grant Morrison’s defense, he is juggling a ton of characters in the course of two issues and still manages to give everyone time in the spotlight.

The plot is pretty basic, but it’s really all about showing off the new team and introducing a highly skilled and intelligent new villain to DC’s ranks. And in that regard, it succeeds in being tremendous fun. Prometheus may be underdeveloped here, but he certainly shows potential. Maybe one of those CW shows might want to consider using him. Just a totally random thought there.

Writer: Grant Morrison

Pencilers: Howard Porter and Arnie Jorgensen

Inkers: John Dell and David Meikis & Mark Pennington

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in JLA: The Deluxe Edition vol. 2 (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up

Today’s Super Comics — JLA #1-4 (1997)

JLA_1This is how you do a classic-style Justice League of America story with a modern sensibility.

In 1997, DC Comics injected fresh energy into the franchise by relaunching the title as JLA and reuniting the original lineup from the early ‘60s (the current versions of those characters, anyway). For probably the first since those earliest days, the Justice League consisted exclusively of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash (Wally West, not Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner, not Hal Jordan), Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter. All A-listers.

First on the itinerary is—what else?—thwarting an alien invasion. The aliens claim to be benevolent superheroes here to save the world, and they instantly get the public on their side. But of course things aren’t what they seem.

This entire JLA lineup, except poor Martian Manhunter, had their own series, so no major character developments were allowed in these pages. The trick to a great JLA story, then, is to simply let the characters be their awesome selves and interact with their awesome teammates as they awesomely save the world. Split them up, pair them off, knock them down, and let them get back up again and heroically prevail. Writer Grant Morrison gives everyone moments to shine, and artist Howard Porter makes them look suitably epic as they do so (he draws a particularly excellent Batman).

I remember when this series first came out. It was exciting, and I looked forward to each next issue. It’s good guys being good guys—exactly how the JLA should be.

Writer: Grant Morrison

Penciler: Howard Porter

Inker: John Dell

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; JLA: New World Order (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up