Bargain Bin: JLA

Once I shied away from superhero titles, but now I’m on a quest to stretch my comic book budget further… (for a summary of that journey see this post.)

The Acquisition

I picked up 6 issues from a 50 cent bin at a used book store and won an auction of 10 issues for around $8. Lastly, I bought a single issue of the JLA at a comic book store for about $2. But it was accompanied by 3 free books from the 50 cent bin so, I view it as a 50 cent purchase.

So 17 issues for around $11.50 That’s around 70 cents an issue. On a good day $11.50 could be 3 new issues at the current prices.

I felt pretty good about the acquisition. Until I realized that the auction I won was for JLA Classified, which is different from JLA. Classified featured stories of the various iterations of the Justice League, but wasn’t tied directly to the 6 issues I had originally purchased. But since these were also acquired for about 70 cents an issue, I don’t feel too bad about my mistake.

Between the two JLA series the acquisition looked like this:JLA issues 17 – 26 (7 issues) and JLA Classified 1-10.

My Familiarity With the Title

I’ve read some digital editions of the Justice League, which is different. I didn’t recognize one of the characters (Zauriel) and didn’t recognize Superman in a few issues because he looked like he was a mutant smurf (this was one of the more radical costume changes for the character).

Grant Morrison and Mark Waid wrote the JLA issues (Waid was backup). From talks with other fans and perusing the internet, these two writers seem to be at their best when they write DC characters.

How were the Issues?

There was some great material in these issues, but there was also some stuff that didn’t sit right with me. I intended to read  the issues than loan them to a friend’s son. The friend does not read comics, so I looked with a critical eye.

The 7 JLA issues were fun, but I also think the phrase “far out” also applies. I feel like these are a great set of issues for someone new to comics to read, only because it has the potential to draw a very bright line on what someone finds appealing.

JLA Classified was also fun, but had a few moments that kind of soured it for me.

Classified had an arc that reintroduced Guy Gardner. I’m not really a fan of him, but I also haven’t read anything with him in it. In any case, his treatment of women was terrible. It seemed like it was intended to increase the “anti” part of his anti-hero role.

First he assaults Mary Marvel, while she is in her adult powered form, but still for all intents and purposes is a young teenager, if not a pre-teen. The actual touching part takes place off panel, but it is clear that there was contact and it was uninvited.

Now some might argue that it’s a situation that would be impossible to happen in real life because she’s a child in an adult body. True. Children don’t become super powered adults by using magic words. But there are adults with cognitive disabilities which have the mental capacity of a 10 – 12 year old child.

In short, not something I want my children thinking is acceptable, nor a friend’s child.

Mary eventually beats him up and he straight up apologizes. It did nothing for me as a reader. Stories with protagonists (anti-heroes) can be an intense and compelling read. But the way Guy Gardner is written doesn’t make him an anti-hero. It makes him a jerk who assaults women.

I thought I could get away with lending out the other issues from Classified, but in the next issue Guy Gardner is tempted to assault Power Girl… while she is asleep… and I’m pretty sure he was the one who magically knocked her out.

Both scenes were totally unnecessary. The plot would not have collapsed if these pages had been removed or included less disturbing content.

There was also a moment when Blue Beetle asks Booster Gold what his older wife sees in him. Nothing was said, but it was clear that it was physical. But it might not be clear to my friend’s 11 year old son. And I can only imagine him asking his Dad about it and then it just goes down hill from there.

I should point out that these issues were approved by the Comics Code Authority. It was towards the end of its existence and clearly long past it’s effectiveness.

Also, the books were not the greatest in bringing new readers up to speed on what was going on, which lead for a few moments of confusion.

Other than that (and I know that is a heavy bit of dissatisfaction), the books were good. The arc with Guy Gardner was actually pretty hilarious (absent the terrible things I just wrote about ).

Definitely worth the 70 cents an issue.

Will I read it to my children?

No surprises here. But I try not to over do it with censoring what they read. They’ll be able to read when they’re older and it will come with a conversation about what is wrong about how Guy Gardner was written.




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