Wednesday, November 16, 2011


About the same time DC’s Flashpoint event was showing readers how
much the publisher hates its super-heroes and fans of those heroes,
DC also published 18 “Retroactive” issues starring Batman, Flash,
Green Lantern, the Justice League, Superman, and Wonder Woman. The
issues were set in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Each presented a
new story allegedly told in the style of those decades and an old
story from those decades. As you might imagine, the quality of the
new and reprinted stories varied widely.

In previous bloggy things, I reviewed the Batman, Flash, and Green
Lantern issues. Today I start reviewing the rest.

DC Retroactive: JLA - The ‘70s #1 [$4.99] was mostly a mess. Cary
Bates, though the author of many fine comic-book stories, would not
have been my 1970s choice to write the new story. Not when Steve
Englehart and Len Wein are still around. While the appearance of
Julius Schwartz in this tale of Adam Strange being mis-teleported
to Earth-Prime warmed my heart, the writing itself was average at
best. However, I did like the pencil art of Gordon Purcell (inked
by Jose Marzan, Jr. and the full art by Andy Smith. It almost goes
without saying that I didn’t need to see that horrible ponytail and
“look at my breasts” costume of Zatanna ever again.

The reprint? The first issue of a mediocre JLA/JSA crossover with
writer Cary Bates as the villain. What was the thinking here and
on some other Retroactive issues to reprint only the first chapters
of multi-issue?

JLA - The ‘80s #1 [$4.99] was better than the 1970s edition. While
neither of the stories, both written by Gerry Conway, were anything
special, they were readable and mildly entertaining. Ron Randall
did first-rate art for the new story while the team of Chuck Patton
(layouts) and Mike Machlan (finishes) did a decent job on the old
one. The issue also scores a point because its reprint was a done-
in-one adventure. The Detroit JLA never worked for me, so readers
of this blog should take that into consideration when they weigh my
comments here.

JLA - The ‘90s #1 [$4.99] takes us to another Justice League which
got old for me in a short time. I know I speak blasphemy, but the
Keith Giffen, J,M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire Justice League lost
its charm for me when it focused more on how clever and funny the
creators were than on telling exciting super-hero stories. It was
as much sitcom as it was super-hero adventure and it didn’t do it
a tenth as well as Thom Zahler does it in his incredible Love and
. Then again, despite the humor in his book, Zahler clearly
has a lot of respect for his characters. I never got that from the
1990s JL crew, who seemed to revel in mocking their roster. Hate
me if you must. That’s how I feel about it.

Fans of the Giffen crew era will doubtless enjoy the new story in
this issue. It strikes me as being pretty much what ran in Justice
League during that five-year run. As for the reprinted story, it’s
the last issue of that run and consists mostly of the heroes moping
about their fallen fortunes. Neither did anything for me, but I’m
sure that mileage will vary for many of you.

Come back tomorrow and I’ll talk about the Superman issues of this
DC Retroactive event.

© 2011 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. With all respect, dude, the blue-and-white manta ray outfit with thigh-high boots was definitely _not_ a better alternative. You should have reverted to the top hat-and-tuxedo look, right from the start. Even with her off-stage crime-fighting!