Waid’s JLA (2000-2002)

Mark’s run on the JLA wasn’t that long, but he managed to tell some really good stories. While quite inventive on his own, his stories weren’t as outre as Morrison’s, but he came pretty close at times (similarly, they weren’t as epic, but only in comparison to Morrison, on their own they were pretty big). Unlike Morrison’s JLA, Waid’s JLA seemed to grow as a team and as individuals. You got the feeling they really developed as characters.

Tower of Babel: While this is the first TPB that collects Mark Waid’s run on the JLA, it actually starts with a pedestrian filler issue by Dan Curtis Johnson. It’s a nice idea (microscopic civilization inside a human), but Johnson integrates a serious issue by analogy (destroying the environment), which make this a rather pedestrian read.

Ironically Waid followed it with a four issue story arc, where Ra’s Al Ghul, the ultimate eco-terrorist, tried to destroy human civilization to save the environment. A good start for Waid’s run, with excellent characterization and a villain who feels like a real threat for the JLA. The only sore spot were some of Batman’s lines, which were a bit untypical for the character (I DID THIS TO YOU, Batman loudly screaming to the other JLA members). There’s a bit more stuff collected in the TPB, but none by Waid and none very good.

Divided We Fall: While the previous story arc by Waid was a good use of an established villain, the next two arcs showed that Waid wasn’t merely adept at reusing old stuff to the best effect. First a magical threat with an interesting backstory and then a more science fictional threat with some really cool ideas. Waid’s no Morrison, but here came pretty close. And his characterization was excellent, especially the division of the JLA. This TPB was the highpoint of his run.

Terror Incognita: Waid’s last big story arc, like his first, reused an old enemy (or to be precise, old enemies) with great effect. The white Martians are back (partly a consequence of the last story arc) and more deadly than ever. The way the JLA beat them reminded me off some of the pre-crisis stories, but Waid’s storytelling never slipped into the typical silliness associated with that type of storytelling. The rest of the TPB collects a pretty awful issue (not written by Waid) that was part of the Last Laugh crossover and the last issue of Waid’s run, a whimsical and fun Christmas story.