Pick of the Week

April 15, 2004 – JLA #96

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Story by Chris Claremont
Art by John Byrne
Inks by Jerry Ordway
Colors by David Baron
Letters by Tom Orzechowski

Published by DC Comics | $2.25

Man, what a great thing! Claremont? Byrne? Ordway? All three of them on JLA?!? This is a fanboy’s dream! I wonder how they pulled it off? WOW. This is going to be like the best story arc ever! I can’t wait to ask questions about it at the next con…

*POOF*

Whoa, sorry there. That was me from 15 years ago reacting to the news of the current JLA story arc. You see back then, I thought Claremont and Byrne were GODS because of the work they did on Uncanny X-Men. And to a certain extent, that’s true. Whether you like it or not, their run on Uncanny X-Men was amazing and did define our age of comics in the ’80s and into the early ’90s. So much of what we went through in the ’90s was a direct result of their run and the popularity it instilled.

But now, in 2004, I’m older, cynical, and jaded. I still read Uncanny X-Men and bitch about how every writer just makes it worse, and don’t get me started on the art. So when I hear that the creators who defined how I look at comics were reuniting on a top tier title, you’d think I’d breathe a sigh of relief….

Wow, is it a bitter pill to swallow.

Did anyone else read JLA #96? No, let me ask that again — CAN anyone read JLA #96? Cause I sure as hell can’t. I can’t make it through the entire issue. I tried; really I did. But somewhere around page 7, I slipped into “skim city” as Conor puts it. I just flipped through it. It’s unreadable! The story is just so wordy and so all over the place, I have no idea what’s going on. Is Marilyn Manson the villain? It seems like it. John Byrne’s art is so antiquated and not in a good way. It’s not challenging or exciting at all. It’s flat and boring. This comic is the anti-thesis of everything Byrne and Claremont have done in their careers that was good. (No, I haven’t forgotten about the atrocity of Spider-Man: Chapter One.)

So I come to this conclusion: John Byrne and Chris Claremont are the Rolling Stones of the comic industry. They just won’t go away. They keep going to well, which ran dry years ago. I understand they have to work and earn a living, but at some point you have to step back and realize that you’re doing more damage than good. Hopefully one of them has a wake-up call, and soon. The well is dry. We’ve given you your applause. Bow and go home.

In a perfect world, or maybe 15 years ago, this would have enthusiastically been my Pick of the Week. But today, it’s my Pick of the Week because I can be snarky and make a point in an effort to challenge complacency and triteness in the comic book industry. DC Comics, I expect more than this, no matter who the creative team is.

Ron Richards
Shaking my head in disgust.
ron@ifanboy.com

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