Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Eleven years ago today, DC released JLA: Incarnations, an anthology mini-series focused on telling the "untold" stories set a various points in the prior history of the Justice League. Most of the fun and frustration of this series was in seeing how writer John Ostrander would mangle characterization and history in order to squeeze his new stories into pre-existing continuity. Issue #6, published 11 years ago today, was no exception.
This issue contains two stories set about 7 years apart, and both stories generously feature Booster Gold. Booster and Blue Beetle are the protagonists in the issue's lead story, "Buddies." The pair invent the villainous identities of Bloodspot and Deathmetal in order to sneak into the rogue nation of Bialya. As entertaining as the story is, at times almost everything seems to be an anachronism. Errors stretch from DC Universe chronological impossibilities (Mister Miracle's inclusion in events would have been impossible in the time period) to real-world industry conventions (the ultra-violent "grim and gritty" comics that would feature characters with ridiculous names "Bloodspot" and "Deathmetal" wouldn't be published for several years after the era in which this story was set). Even the relationship between the protagonists is blatantly misrepresented (Booster Gold should be playing straight to Blue Beetle's zany ideas, not the other way around).
The other story, "Authority," doesn't do much better. "Authority" details the untold and much-needed story of the dissolution of Extreme Justice, mostly from the point of view of team leader Captain Atom. Booster naturally plays a part in this story as well, although artist Eric Battle doesn't seem to realize that Booster wore more than one costume between the founding of the Justice League International and the conclusion of the Extreme Justice debacle. Again, Ostrander doesn't let history get in his way, as he, like Geoff Johns in the more recent retcon seen in Justice League International Annual, ignores that the United Nations washed its hands of the JLI long before the end of the team. As we all know, DC's writers never let facts get in the way of telling their stories.
That's not to say these stories aren't enjoyable, because they are. Objectively, they are entertaining reads that add to our knowledge of the period they represent. Subjectively, however, they don't quite live up (or in Extreme Justice's case, down) to the era that inspired them. Without hesitation, I recommend reading the issue, but like any story of historical fiction, I'll leave leave it up to the reader to decide how much truth they contain.
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