Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Matt Signal Advent Calendar 2014 Day 13: JLA #3

JLA #3, March 1997

OK, I've written about this issue in my recommended reading for JLA, but if I'm doing a personal highlight reel, I can't pass it up. This issue has the scene that shows just what Batman can be, and why I love him so much.

So to give some context, a team of alien superheroes called the Hyperclan have arrived on Earth, and after doing various beneficial things have captured most of the Just League, gotten Martian Manhunter to betray his teammates, and blown up the Batplane, killing Batman. But Batman's not dead. He infiltrates the Hyperclan's base, and when A-Mortal, the Batman analogue is sent after him, he doesn't return. When three more are sent, they find A-Mortal, hanging tied up with a note pinned to his chest.

And when the three track down Batman, they find him marking a circle around him in liquid. They ask him for last words, and he gives them a few. He tells them he's figured out that they are Martians, and only them do they realize what he drew that circle in: gasoline. With a single match, Batman now is in a circle of fire, the thing that takes away Martian powers, and he just stares them down and gives one more line.

I'm never going to be Superman, Aquaman, Flash, you name it. And frankly, I'm never going to be Batman. I'm a middle aged IT guy and comics blogger. I can't ever live up to that physical prowess, and I'll never be that rich. But I can be smart. And that's what Morrison proves here, a point he makes in a lot of his Batman work: that Batman's biggest power is that he's always the smartest guy in the room, that when you strip away his tools, it's Batman's mind and guts that gets him through his trials. And that's something that appeals to me

The series also reintroduced me to Grant Morrison, who I had first encountered in the Legends of the Dark Knight arc, "Gothic," and who proved his versatility as a writer to me, there writing a supernatural murder mystery, here writing high superheroics at their best. While I don't read everything Morrison writes, I read most of it, and I appreciate his constant attempts to innovate and do something different. But nothing will ever quite resonate for me like this one moment where Batman proves he is the supreme badass.

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