JLA: Year One #1 (1998)

JLA: Year One #1 (January, 1998)
“Justice League of America, Year One”
Storytellers – Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn & Barry Kitson
Letterer – Ken Lopez
Colorist – Pat Garrahy
Separations – Heroic Age
Editor – Peter Tomasi
Cover Price: $2.95

Today we’re going to meet the founding members of the (post-Crisis) Justice League of America!

Get ready for Green Lantern, Flash, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, and… Black Canary?!  Read on…

We open in a shadowy man… entering a shadowy room, and sitting before a bank of monitors.  Flipping them on, he sees the exploits of various young superheroes Green Lantern, Black Canary, Aquaman, Flash, and Martian Manhunter.  Apart, they are a force to be reckoned with… together, however… they might be unstoppable.  He decides it’s time to investigate.

We shift scenes to Central City where Barry Allen is arriving (late) to work.  Today he and his partner, Jack are tasked with comparing some ballistics to tie a gun with a certain crime.  It just takes Barry a glance (at hyper-speed) to deduce that the bullet is a match.

An impressed Jack heads out to deliver the results… at which time Barry decides to clean his workspace, all the while wondering if his newfound powers make him something less than human.  We close out this section with Barry being introduced to a new detective by the name of Paris Jackson.

Next stop… Dinah Lance’s flower shop, where she’s getting a delivery from “PDQ Deliveries” (heh).  The fellas making the drop are going on and on about the new hot blonde in the fishnets making the scene… and also discuss some positions situations they wouldn’t mind seeing her in.

The perverts leave, and Dinah chats with her mom.  Despite Dinah being of the ripe old age of 19, the elder-Lance still treats her like a child.  Go figure!  A man rushes in to buy flowers for the love of his life… and, I think Dinah expects him to hand them to her… but he doesn’t?  Anyhoo, she gets upset at her mother… and storms off.

We next join Aquaman who is hanging out in a rather divey bar.  He’s mocked for trying to pay with “doubloons” and one of the rowdy drunks dunks his head into a (conveniently placed) basin of water.  Arthur overpowers him and pushes him off.

Before a full-blown riot can break out, a man interjects and pulls Aquaman aside for a drink.

Over to Coast City where Hal Jordan is doing some very Hal Jordanny things… ya know, flying a plane to its very limits… all that jazz.  He is connected via headset to his mechanic Tom Kalamaku… who is oddly still referred to as “Pie” here.  Figure 1998 was a bit late for that to still be a thing, but whattayagonnado?

They foam down the runway… and Hal lands without going boom.  Pie rushes over to lambaste him for his daredevilry and to give him back his lantern ring.  Remember, Hal refuses to wear it when he’s testing planes.

Carol Ferris approaches, along with an FAA Investigator named Lora Denton.  Carol pulls Hal aside to ask him to ixnay any talk of their sending planes up too soon.  So, of course, that’s exactly what Hal tells Ms. Denton.

Finally, we join John Jones… who along with his partner Diane is staking out a potential drug deal.  When it all starts to “go down”, John goes invisible and sneaks inside… and before Diane can even call in for back-up, he already has the situation under control.

We shift ahead and join the entire (not a) team (yet), who are being briefed by General Eiling (hey, we know him!) about aliens beaming in at a nearby cavern… a cavern that houses a fire giant and a big large bird.

The Just Us League hops into action… and starts fighting off the invaders.  Unfortunately, not before the fire giant is awakened!

Also, that big large bird!

This whole fight scene is really well done.  We get to see some interesting banter between the heroes wherein they (unwittingly) share some details of their powers with one another.  Hal lets it slip that he’s got a problem with the color yellow… J’onn reveals his fear of fire.  Dinah tips Barry off as to how Jay Garrick would handle a certain situation… it’s really such a cool scene!

Between the five of ’em, they’re able to contain the situation… and take down the big-baddies.  The invaders do manage to get away though.  After Eiling and company vacate, the fivesome discuss making their association a bit more official.

… a dialogue which is being overheard by a group calling themselves Locus.

Man this was fun!

This came out (in trade) right around the time I was acclimating to the DC Universe, and was one of the first (full) Justice League stories I’d ever read.

I’ve mentioned before that when I turned to DC, I didn’t exactly dip my toes in… I ran out and grabbed the Crisis on Infinite Earths trade collection… and while it didn’t make a whole helluva lot of sense to me (and most/all of the dramatic moments had been spoiled for me), I enjoyed it well enough.  The other trade I picked up was JLA: Year One… which, wasn’t confusing at all, and really helped me feel “caught up” on their (post-Crisis) origin.

In fact, I’m pretty sure the only thing I was confused about was Black Canary taking Wonder Woman’s place.  After acquainting myself with Diana’s post-Crisis origin, however, I was totally on board.  I love Dinah being a sort of link between the Justice League and Justice Society.  It gives the team that “legacy” feeling that the entire DC Universe seems built on.

This won’t likely win me any “thumbs up” or anything, but I gotta say, Wonder Woman has always sort of bored me (still does!).  Replacing her with Black Canary works just fine for me! I find her to be a far more interesting character… and she just “works” in this context.  The whole League feels far less “stuffy” with her as a founder.  Her removal as an “original” during Infinite Crisis (I think it was Infinite Crisis) was one of the more lamentable things about that event.

This series is also notable for its inclusion of Hal and Barry.  In 1998, in-continuity stories featuring the two of them were something of a novelty.  Not that they could “leave them out”, but it’s still cool to see.  We weren’t really getting them anywhere else.

I really can’t say it enough… this was a lot of fun… and, really nice to look at!  Kitson has a style that is both classic and contemporary.  Also… clean, so he’s a CCC.  You can look at his work at any time, and it never looks old-fashioned or dated.  It’s really something else!

This is a weird one to recommend… especially for a continuity-stickler like myself.  That said… even though this story “never happened” I’d definitely suggest any fans of DC Comics give this a read.  So much good stuff here… and the novelty of this post-Crisis League is a lot of fun.  As mentioned, this has been collected in trade and is also available digitally.

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