DC Comics

JLA #90 (2004)

JLA #90 (January, 2004)
Joe Kelly – Writer
Chriscross – Penciller
Tom Nguyen – Inker
Chris Sotomayor – Colorist
Nick Napolitano – Letterer
Valerie D’Orazio – Asst. Editor
Mike Carlin – Editor
Cover Price: $2.25

Happy Valentine’s Day, here’s one to read with that that special somebody… or, alone, I don’t discriminate.  Today’s issue discussion not only features a pair of superheroes who are struggling with their feelings for one-another, it is also a book that have subconsciously tied to Valentine’s Day, for whatever reason.  I know I was feeling a bit of burn-out from Joe Kelly’s run on JLA and perhaps I managed to neglect to read this one a few months after publication, which would drop my first experience with it to right around Valentine’s Day 2004.

This was the year that my girlfriend (now wife) and I started something of a Valentine’s Day tradition.  She was still in college, and I was working… struggling to make ends meet.  Neither of us could really afford anything nice for the other as a Valentine’s gift, so rather than buy something just for the sake of it, we would grab a cheap pizza at Hungry Howie’s and a half-dozen Krispie Kreme donuts and call it good.  Here in Arizona during the mid-2000’s, you couldn’t swing the proverbial dead-cat without hitting a Krispie Kreme donut shop, so on my way home from work that evening I picked up six “chocolate-iced creme-filled” donuts.  Hungry Howie’s is, I think, a local(ish) chain of pizza places, whose prices were akin to Little Caesar’s (read: cheap) though, in our opinion, much tastier and higher in quality.  Our entire romantic dinner cost me around $10-15, we were both happy, and decided our poor-man’s Valentine’s dinner would be “our thing”.

Fast-forward a decade (plus one, 2015)… after a couple of years of neglecting our tradition (mostly due to the fact that just about all of the Krispie Kremes in Arizona closed down), we finally decided to revisit “our” Valentine’s meal.

Well, talk about sticker shock… the entire meal, the same one we considered laughingly cheap, cost us over $30.  Our cheap-o pizza was over twenty-bucks, and the donuts were nearly ten.  I couldn’t believe it, but, this was about our tradition… so I plunked down the cash (or swiped the card… or whatever I did).  Not only was the meal more expensive, the quality of both the pizza and the donuts was incredibly disappointing.  I think, sadly, our Valentine’s tradition is now behind us… and now, I might actually have to… plan something.  Terrifying thought, there.

How’s that for a tangent?  All to say that this issue of JLA is one that I think of when I think of Valentine’s Day, 2004.  Is it a good read?  Well…

Batman and Wonder Woman had shared began to have feelings for one another, even sharing a kiss during the Obsidian Age story line.  Both characters were unsure what this meant for their potential relationship.  Batman calls Wonder Woman in on a gig he’s working on, just so they can talk.  Wonder Woman tells him he could have simply called her if he wanted to talk.  Batman disagrees, stating the only time they ever get to talk is “on the job”.  This tells us that Wonder Woman may be a bit trepidatious about a potential romantic relationship with Bruce… if they have trouble interacting “off the job”, there is surely some uncertainty on at least one of their parts.

On the JLA watchtower, there is a brief scene between Manitou Raven and Manitou Dawn that is overheard by Wonder Woman and Faith.  They discuss the love the Manitous appear to have for one another, and Faith asks Wonder Woman some rather timely questions about “dipping her pen in the company ink”.  Wonder Woman laughs it off, and begins twirling her hair between her fingers, perhaps a physical manifestation of her nervousness or uncertainty.  She reflects on her relationship with Batman… how he makes her work harder in battle, how she finds him both brilliant and terrifying.

To further explore her feelings, she takes to the JLA’s Transconsciousness Articulator with the help of the Martian Manhunter.  It is through this machine that Diana can view her subconscious in attempt to truly define how she feels toward Bruce.  She finds herself participating in a series of living dreams.

Her first dream features herself alongside an older, paralyzed Bruce Wayne.  They appear to be married, and Diana still looks young.  They are on Paradise Island, where Bruce tells her that he feels he is ready to die.  He promises Diana that all of his remaining days belong to her, and jokingly makes her promise not to find love with Clark after his passing.

The second dream features Diana as Batman’s crime-fighting partner, Batwoman.  She is wearing an amazing amalgamation of a Wonder Woman/Bat-Woman costume.  She is very ends justify the means in her crime fighting, having severed the arm off of a man who abused his wife.

The next several dreams are short vignettes, featuring Diana uncomfortable at a black-tie dinner with Bruce, then Bruce uncomfortable at a dinner with the Gods.  Bruce then wakes Diana out of the Articulator, and tells her that her dreams don’t matter, only reality does… the two kiss, and it is revealed that this is yet another dream.

The Next dream features Diana, now Queen of Themyscira charging into battle with Batman at her side.  This scene leads to the next dream.  The Joker has killed Batman.  As he lay dying, Batman tells Wonder Woman not to let the Joker push her… not to cross the line.  Diana loses her cool completely, and drives the Joker’s head into a brick wall, apparently killing him.

The final dream features a crying Wonder Woman being approached by a Batman who does not wear a  cowl, but a much brighter, armor-like costume.  He appears to be wearing face paint in the shape of a bat covering his eyes.  Diana is upset that they will never be able to have children.  Bruce tells her that it’s okay, and even though they will not have children, it is apparent from the people and cities they protect that they are “damn good parents” nonetheless.

Wonder Woman wakes up to find Bruce watching over her.  It’s reminiscent of her earlier dream, however, this is reality.  Together they decide it is better for them not to pursue a romantic relationship, and to remain friends.  Bruce asks Diana what she say in her dreams.  She lies and tells him “it was terrible”.

Pretty offbeat issue of JLA here.  It’s decent enough, though, the entire Wonder Woman and Batman romantic entanglement always seemed a bit “off” to me.  It was a JLA-only story line, if I’m remembering correctly, and always struck me as odd… almost as though I was reading something out of continuity.  A story such as two-thirds of the trinity exploring a romance feels like it should be a much bigger deal.  Though, I suppose they were trying to keep it a secret.  I don’t know, just don’t like it.

Joe Kelly’s JLA was a bit middling to me, I came in as Grant Morrison was going out.  I enjoyed much of Morrison’s run that I had read in the early JLA trade paperbacks, though I wish there had been a bit more character focus.  The Mark Waid run that followed was more like it.  When Kelly came on, I found myself losing interest pretty quickly… I feel his strengths are in humor and witty dialogue (though, what do I know?  I just know what I like).  This is, if I’m not mistaken, Kelly’s final issue of JLA, and I suppose it is fitting he go out on a character piece, even if I don’t necessarily enjoy the characterization employed.

The art is provided by Chriscross, an artist I enjoyed thoroughly during Peter David’s Captain Marvel run, though I don’t really dig it here.  Some of the faces, Wonder Woman’s especially are very, I dunno, severe(?) in certain panels.  Diana’s Batwoman costume, however, is awesome.

“Come kiss your Auntie Diana.  Why are you running away?”

All in all, an interesting look at a potential Bruce and Diana romance… and though I don’t personally recommend it, it is still something of a novelty.  It is available via comixology for $1.99 (which strikes me as a bit high), and it is a constant presence in local cheap-o bins.

Interesting Ads:

The ads of the 2000’s do not have any of the charm of those of the 80’s and 90’s.  Nothing here but Gamecube/PS2/X-Box era video games.  This one is rather cute, however:

The People’s Choice!


Faith: “Oh, so no one then?  I mean… not even Superman?”
Diana: “HA!”
Diana: “Oh, I’m sorry… heh… I’m sorry, Faith.  No… Superman and I are very very good friends and that’s all.”
Faith: “Heard it before?”
Diana: “More times than you can imagine.”
Faith: “Makes sense.  I may be a romantic, but like they say… don’t dip your pen in the company ink.  Nothing but trouble.”
moments later…
Diana (twirling her hair): “Nothing but trouble…”

Again, Happy Valentine’s Day.  Hope anybody who unwittingly stumbled upon my blog have a great day… what the hell, everyone else can have a great day as well.

UPDATE 5/7/23: “Remastered” for WordPress!

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