Right now, in August 2011, DC Comics is about to restart their comics….again… but this time, there are going to be all new 52 issues that start at number 1. Anyone who is a fan of DC Comics is probably used to so many crises and reboots, that they think their name is Heraclitus because everything is definitely in flux. And that is the one constant. DC Comics were my first comics – back when I was a wee small child, I read DC. For several years, I was aware of comics only peripherally. Well, since 2006, I am really back into reading comics and I am grateful to be reading along. One of my amusements has been to start trekking through the mess of DC universe crises / reboots. I read Zero Hour and OMAC and Infinite Crisis and am currently reading issue #27 of 52. One series that I have amassed a respectable number of is the 2005 series JLA: Classified. This series was intended to contain random stories, would-be one-shots, and other stuff that didn’t fit in with the Justice League main title. JLA: Classified was to have a revolving creator group. Recently, I read issue #1.
The first issue of this series is written by Grant Morrison. A few days ago I had read and written some thoughts on Morrison’s work on Batman #663. I read the issue twice through before I felt that I had sorted out who was doing what why and when. The story starts out in media res, and honestly, I had no idea who the characters were. Obviously, this could be entirely due to my hiatus from comics, but I do think the artist (Ed McGuinness) is a bit to blame here. Frankly, there are not a whole lot of readers that are familiar with characters like the UltraMarine Corps. I figured this much out: Gorilla Grodd is doing something bad, the members of the JLA are AWOL, and there’s some sort of powerful universe-in-a-cube.
Squire was monitoring the good guys (whomever they may be) from somewhere else. Batman receives a call on the “hot line” from Squire who seems to hastily explain the situation. Batman dips into his special equipment to get a flying saucer (no kidding) and zooms to save Squire. Squire and Batman then use Boom Tube Technology to zip through spacetime to a secret JLA lab near the once-planet Pluto.
Batman informs Squire that the members of the JLA are “lost” in the universe-in-a-cube, which we are told is called “The Infant Universe of Qwewq.” Squire is tasked with trying to communicate with the JLA in the universe-in-a-cube while Batman works on making sure no one notices that the JLA members are missing.
Parts of this issue are really interesting. Parts are very poorly done. I can’t tell what’s happening. I don’t know who is who. I don’t understand what’s going on. At other times Batman is drawn very well and Squire is a fun character. I am starting to think that this is really what Grant Morrison stuff is like. Its not really good, but one tends to suspect it might be good just because one is so unused to his style, tone, and elements he uses to tell the story.
Here’s one problem: its 1:25am and Batman is plopped in the Batcave. (Wouldn’t he be well aware that Grodd is destroying stuff in Africa?) Alfred brings Batman a tray with the “hot line” phone on it. Batman seems way more concerned with how the speaker got the number and what it means for them to have the number than dealing with the actual reason for the call. In other words, Squire is having an emergency and Grodd is destroying a city and the JLA are AWOL and Batman is concerned that Squire dredged up his secret “hot line” number.
Starting in Batman #667 (2007) , Morrison wrote an arc that involved the International Club of Heroes. This refers to the “Batmen of All Nations” characters that first appeared in Detective Comics #215 in 1955. Knight and Squire (as seen in the JLA: Classified issue) have been associated with and have a history with this Club of Heroes. Finally, in 2011, Morrison created and became writer for the series Batman Incorporated. Batman Incorporated is considered, by Grant Morrison, to be a second re-installment of the team known as the Batmen of All Nations. In theory the team was formed by Bruce Wayne and brought together by Batman to stop all crime in the nations from which members were chosen.
Apparently, Morrison has been playing with this same concept since, at least, 2005 in this first issue of JLA: Classified. Morrison seems to really want to use the characters of the Club of Heroes. Morrison is not an American, so maybe some of this is just a deep hearted desire to have International Batman. I know Morrison wrote the Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul: the story arc which develops Damian, Batman’s son. However, it seems like Morrison (from what I have seen so far) is but a one-trick pony.
There is a funny in the issue, though. After arriving at Pluto, Squire asks Batman: “Are you really Batman?” He responds: “No, I’m Goldfish Man. Can’t you tell?” I guess its amusing to see the normally stoic and somber Bats showing a little sarcasm. Even if it is in space.