Pick of the Week

April 15, 2004 – JLA #96

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Size: pages

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…


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.

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