JLA: New World Order & JLA: Earth 2
By Grant Morrison, Howard Porter, Frank Quitely
First, a word of warning, my obsession with all things Grant Morrison goes towards fetish. If it’s got his name on it, I’ll look at it. The Invisibles is one of my favourite titles & St Swithin’s Day, the comic he did with Paul Grist in the 80s, is my all time favourite. It’s only been recently with first The Authority and then Final Crisis that I’ve been willing to take a more reasoned look and criticise some of his work.
But I recently picked up his first JLA book; JLA: New World Order just through nostalgia and a curiosity as to whether my younger obsession had blinded me to the books or whether they were as good as I recalled.
But I shouldn’t have been worried. As simple superhero writing, it’s quite brilliant. The characters are spot on & the dialogue & situations are crisp & clear. The best & most obvious thing Morrison did with the JLA was to make it iconic again. Because they’d kind of lost their way at this point and it took Morrison to bring back the big heroes and make the JLA a massively important and powerful team once more. Morrison seemed to instinctively understand how to make it all work and it’s obvious in every nuance; Batman is hunched, feral, dangerous, Superman is pratically royalty in the way he behaves and moves, whilst the comedy that has always made good team books so readable is provided ably by Flash and Green Lantern. It was also obvious that Morrison had done his homework. This entire fiirst storyarc is a classic JLA story; rival superteam takes over world, JLA splits up to deal with theat. Perfection in superhero form comes along rarely but this is right up there with Claremont and Bryne’s X-Men or Jack & Stan’s FF.
Similarly his collaboration with Frank Quitely on the later JLA: Earth-2 is just as bloody good as I thought it was years ago. It’s beautiful to look at, as you would expect from Quitely and a wonder to read with a deceptively simplistic plot; Earth 2 is a mirror of Earth 1, good becomes bad, JLA meet evil Earth-2 JLA, Earth-2 Luthor is the only good guy on the planet, that sort of thing. When the good JLA are transported to the evil Earth-2 it’s Morrison’s brilliance that it takes a while for the good guys to realise that what they do by default anywhere else, save the day, just isn’t going to cut it. This time they have to lose. It’s that shift that really makes the book special.
So I’m relieved to see that I was right. Morrison is a genius, it’s just the last couple of new things I’ve read with his name on prove he’s a flawed genius. But all the best ones are, aren’t they?
When Richard Bruton first met Grant Morrison it was in Morrison’s white jean and white denim jacket days. And although it took a while to find one, Richard found a similar jacket to wear. It looked great on Grant, awful on Richard.