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JLA: New World Order

By Mike Everleth ⋅ June 19, 2006

JLA: New World Order

Well, well, well, look what we got here: Another entry in my apparently continuing growing list of Grant Morrison comic collection reviews. I thought I was done after the previous Invisibles: Apocalipstick review, but then JLA: New World Order popped up at my local library.

What would make my life so much easier, of course, is a proper online catalog search of the Los Angeles Public Library. Their website, in relation to graphic novels at least, leaves a lot left to be desired. Most, if not all, graphic novels are unfortunately stuck in the “Teen” reading room making me feel like a total lech having to go in there looking for them. But worst of all, the LAPL website, which means their catalog, doesn’t even have the pertinent information like “Author” and “Title” entered. Instead, the graphic novels get a generic “Paperback” status and all other fields left blank. So, I have no idea how many Grant Morrison books the entire L.A. library system has and I’m not about to travel to each one to find out. Two is my limit. Well, maybe three if I get desperate.

I previously read and reviewed Morrison’s JLA: Rock of Ages, which collected issues 10-15 of the original series, while New World Order here is the first four issues, which was a revamp of the previously titled Justice League America. For the most part, these are two standalone adventures, so I didn’t feel like I missed anything by reading the two collections out of order, even though there are massive character changes from the one book to the next. If you want to read my complaints about that matter, you have to go read my Rock of Ages review.

I can see in my copy of New World Order here that a couple of introductory pages have been ripped out, in which they may explain the revamping of the JLA title from Justice League of America. While the main stars — Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash and Martian Manhunter — are introduced fairly easily into the story, there’s a bit of confusion about the JLA’s previous lineup who play a small part in the first chapter and are then promptly discarded. There’s no time to be spent worrying about the previous team’s members who may all have been killed. Fuck ’em.

Opposed to Rock of Ages, which was an outlandish cosmic adventure disguised as a standard superhero/supervillain fistfight, New World Order is actually just a standard superhero/supervillain fistfight. This doesn’t mean that JLA: NWO isn’t entertaining, it is. But Morrison was either not yet comfortable inserting his metaphysical mindbenders into superheroic fare or he was just wanted to make the regular Justice League of America audience comfortable before trying to blow their minds. Because what Morrison brings to the table is a truly formidable villain for his heroes to match wits and strengths with and a pacing that is completely relentless from the first page to the last.

When I say “villain” I mean that in the plural sense since New World Order is a straight-up heroes vs. alien invaders from another world set-up. A group calling themselves the Hyperclan land on Earth and claim they are going to save the planet. The aliens look like any other superheroic team with ridiculous costumes and names like A-Mortal, Protex, Primaid, Artek and so forth. Morrison takes a dig at such ridiculousness by having Metamorpho saying they “sound like a line of cheap toys.” They do, but that just adds to the fun of a basic battle of the super powers story like this.

One thing that really bugged me about the book, though, is that Morrison treats Wonder Woman like a third world citizen. One scene comes out in a fairly pivotal role, but I didn’t even know she was around since she didn’t have any dialogue previously and only appeared very tiny in background shots. All the male characters have big roles and defined character traits or at least quirks while Wonder Woman is devoid of all personality and purpose. I can’t figure out why Morrison would treat the lone female hero so poorly.

Otherwise, this was a fun book, collecting just four issues of JLA, so it’s a quicky, goofy read without so many barriers to understanding overall DC continuity that plague Morrison’s other DC efforts. I harp on that a little too much, but then I read Steven Grant complaining about the same problem in his Permanent Damage column, so I’m glad I’m not the only one having these issues.

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