JLA: Secret Origins

 JLSO   (DC, 2002)

™ and © DC Comics

This tabloid-sized volume presents a series of two-page origins for classic JLA members, four of which previously appeared in the Dini-Ross Superman, Batman, Shazam, and Wonder Woman tabloids. The origins are monochrome flashbacks, each capped by a full-color “defining moment.” Honestly, they work better as introductions to their respective works.

Considerable thought went into the color schemes (Aquaman’s is a watery blue, J’onn J’onzz’ is a Mars-like red, etc.), but a book full of monochromatic spreads has a different effect from a two-page introduction to a four-color work. Ross’ art is beautiful, as always, but much of its power is diluted for the absence of color.

One might wonder what Dini had to do. Retelling well-known origins doesn’t seem like much of a challenge for a writer. That can be deceptive. The interviews in the back of the book shed significant light on the creative process and how it was determined from whose viewpoint each origin would be recounted — from Iris West to Abin Sur.

Yes, this is the classic League, with Barry Allen and Hal Jordan. It represents a historical version, rather than the current canon, as Wonder Woman was a founder rather than Black Canary. This will no doubt irk (or confuse) some fans but will delight others.

Don’t view it as a work in its own right, but as a companion to the forthcoming JLA: Liberty and Justice tabloid. That’s really what it is, and these one-color spreads really do act better as intros to larger works.

— Jack Abramowitz

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2 copies available from $15.00
 Paul DiniAlex Ross