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JLA Casebook
by Bruce Bachand

JLA/Titans #s 1 & 2

JLA/Titans #1  I have simply got to get this off of my chest… these issues rock! It has been at least ten years since I have read a Titans story that has literally gripped and fastened itself on to my consciousness. Whatever else I say in this review, let me say this. If you miss getting these issues you are seriously missing some of the best stuff DC put out in 1998 in the superhero genre.

A lot of credit goes to Devin Grayson (she has a sexy name, by the way!) for characterization that is vivid, complex, intelligent, and passionate. Basically everyone who has ever been a Titan makes some sort of a cameo in the first two issues. That is a whole lotta people, folks! Remarkably, Grayson pulls off the challenge by writing smart and staccato dialogue. As this is a JLA column, I am really inspired by the way she has also handled the League in her tale, too. Distinct mannerisms, inside jokes, interpersonal dynamic challenges… it is all here. In all seriousness, I think that this woman must have an interior life that is creative enough that she can juggle the many personalities that both the Titans and the JLA involve. Tackling "large team" events raises its own specific hurdles. Grayson has "bitten off a big chunk" in taking on this project and I proudly say that she has done a great job in the execution and outcome.

I want to take a few moments and touch base on a couple of specifics that the story or plot includes. Firstly, it is about bloody time that Nightwing has functioned in a leadership role of this level of responsibility. The man has been groomed for it since he was a wee pre-teen (well, maybe not that wee). Dick is manly, focused, full of resolve, and intellectual courage. Grayson must love writing this guy, in my estimate. Oh, and the scene with Donna and Dick meeting is priceless as much as it is tender. Thanks for giving us Nightwing the team leader again, Devin.

JLA/Titans #2 Comment number two. Sure, we have the well-worn road of an imminent alien attack (with the JLA's Watchtower facing the first phase), the predictable hotheads of each team acting as catalysts for a battle between both teams, and the inevitable facing-off between Bruce and Dick. Surprisingly, though, the thing is paced so well and so intensely that one forgets the familiar package\form and is drawn into a mighty damn good read. Despite what could have ended up as another "aliens\both-teams-fight-each-other" orgy of action, the depth of characterization makes sure that things don't end up on that heap. I was literally excited while reading these two issues (and I read them one-after-the-other because I picked them up at the same time). It should be a real treat to read the final issue (#3) this coming weekend.

What I am getting tired of is the "badass Batman" who has brooded incessantly around the DC universe the past ten years. This is getting thin, people. The pre-Crisis Batman inspired fear in his enemies but still got along with the JLA, the Outsiders, Superman, etc… I am ready for some sort of a change. Either that or the man is simply going to snap sometime real soon.

The JLA are well-treated in these two issues. Plastic Man is his usual conservative self (NOT!). Orion is going to pop a blood vessel in his had (along with Batman) if things don't chill out for him as well. Seeing him defy League orders is unnerving, too. Who does he think he is…? Making appearances at the end of issue #2 are Elongated Man and Black Canary. Needless to say, things look very good for the finale. To be honest, I can't really think of anything I hated or disliked in these books. Oh, there is one thing! The first appearance of Superman has him looking some geekazoid reject. His hair is simply too funny.

The art in these books is staggeringly beautiful. Probably the best I have seen all this past year. The inking is equally gorgeous and effective. What makes me especially happy is that these issues weren't hyped to death before they came out. Yeah, I did hear about them but they were not being pumped like some bloated summer crossover. That added all the more surprise.

Now where the Titans will go over the next year is a good question. What I do have is a healthy dose of optimism that Grayson has the faculties, appreciation for the past renderings of these characters, and the raw creative talent to make it happen. I wish her all the best!

All characters are ™ DC Comics
All scanned artwork is ™ DC Comics.
This article is © 1999 by Bruce Bachand.