Minha resenha bilíngue de JLA: Rock of Ages

I just finished reading JLA: Rock of Ages. Before I bought it, I read many reviews at Amazon and elsewhere saying that it was confusing and that a lot of it did not make sense. But they also said that the story dealt with timetravel. And I knew that it had been written by Grant Morrison, who I consider a genius. Being a scifi fan with a penchant for timetravel stories, I deduced that those readers had not been intelligent enough to follow Morrison’s wit. I thought that his work probably had a high level of ingenuity and that I would enjoy it no end, EXACTLY because so many were deriding it.

Was I wrong. The timetravel bit is not hard to follow, actually. The problems lie elsewhere. Morrison seems to have attempted to tell at least five stories in this so-called arc, so what was supposed to be one storyline becomes a disjointed sequence of mostly unrelated events. The supposed main tale revolves around (1) Lex Luthor attempting a takeover of the Justice League by weakening its members and exploiting those weaknesses. Besides that, however, there are (2) the need to match the story to DC’s contemporary crossover, Genesis; (3) the shoehorning of the heroes’ search for the Philosopher’s Stone, which might as well have been unrelated and was not necessary at all; (4) the unrelated, artificial insertion of a story with JLA members traveling to the end of the universe and to fantasy worlds; (5) the time-traveling, sidetracking story of the heroes confronting Darkseid in the future (as fascinating as it is to witness Batman engaging Darkseid without so much as a shiver). In the end the jigsaw is resolved, but at the expense of a long-winding succession of wasted blind alleys. Also, the epilogue is a lead-in to the then upcoming event DC One Million.

Characterization is weaker than in other Morrison works. Still, the thread that runs throughout the collection is a battle of minds between Luthor and Batman, and both of these get to shine in their chess-playing, foreplanning, cunning personas, which are marvelously written.

Overall a dumbfounding read, so I do not actually recommend it. However, you may be interested if you are keen on the Justice League, want to appreciate Morrison’s take on it and are willing to tolerate edits where scenes seem to succeed each other with no visible connection between them.

Acabei de ler JLA: Rock of Ages. Antes de comprar, eu havia lido várias resenhas na Amazon e alhures dizendo que era uma história confusa e que muito dela não fazia sentido. Mas as resenhas também diziam que a história lidava com viagem no tempo. E eu sabia que havia sido escrita por Grant Morrison, que considero um gênio. Sendo um fã de ficção científica com uma queda por viagens no tempo, eu deduzi que aqueles leitores não haviam sido inteligentes o bastante para seguir a inteligência de Morrison. Pensei que seu trabalho provàvelmente teria um alto nível de engenhosidade e que eu o aproveitaria de montão, EXATAMENTE porque tantos o depreciavam.

Rapaz, como eu estava errado. A porção de viagem no tempo nem é difícil de acompanhar, na verdade. Os problemas estão em outras partes. Morrison parece ter tentado contar pelo menos cinco histórias neste assim chamado arco, de modo que o que deveria ser uma linha de capítulos torna-se uma sequência disjunta de eventos mormente não relacionados. A suposta história principal gira em volta de (1) Lex Luthor tentando tomar a Liga da Justiça através do enfraquecimento de seus membros e da exploração dessas fraquezas. Ao lado disso, porém, há (2) a necessidade de ajustar esta história ao evento contemporâneo da DC, chamado Genesis; (3) o encaixe de uma busca dos heróis pela Pedra Filosofal, que poderia muito bem ser não relacionada e absolutamente não era necessária; (4) a inserção artificial e não relacionada de uma história com membros da Liga da Justiça viajando ao fim do universo e a mundos fantásticos; (5) a tergiversação de viagem no tempo dos heróis confrontando Darkseid no futuro (por fascinante que seja testemunhar Batman encarando Darkseid sem um tremor). No fim, o quebra-cabeças é resolvido, mas às expensas de uma sucessão tortuosa de becos sem saída. Também, o epílogo é uma introdução ao evento então iminente DC One Million.

A caracterização é mais fraca do que em outras obras de Morrison. Ainda assim, o enredo que corre através do encadernado é uma batalha de inteligênicas entre Luthor e Batman, e ambos conseguem brilhar em suas personas vulpinas, planejadoras e jogadoras de xadrez, que estão escritas maravilhosamente.

De modo geral, uma leitura que causa perplexidade, de modo que não chego realmente a recomendá-la. Entretanto, você pode se interessar se tiver predileção pela Liga da Justiça, quiser apreciar a abordagem de Morrison e estiver disposto a tolerar uma edição onde as cenas parecem suceder umas às outras sem conexão visível.


Another collection of boring annotations

Again, these are my annotations on some comics I have read in the not too distant past, aiming mostly at myself and googlers. But you are welcome to enjoy them.

In items 1 through 6, the page numbers refer to the Superman: Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite trade paperback.

1. Superman #49 (Nov 1990)
Page 9, panel 4: of course, “J.L. Byrne” is penciller and writer John Lindley Byrne, the artist who has had the most influence on Superman since 1986.
Page 10, panel 1: “alter-ego booster” is certainly a reference to Superman being Clark Kent in disguise.

2. Starman #28 (Nov 1990)
Page 60, panel 5: “Hanna” refers to inker Scott Hanna.
Page 61, panel 2: Time magazine has Batman on the cover. Of course, DC belongs to the Time-Warner group.
Page 61, panel 3, shows a cover from National Periodicals — DC’s old name.

3. Action Comics #659 (Nov 1990)
Page 78, panel 1: the kid on the left is wearing a Hulk T-shirt. This is a possible reference to both writer Roger Stern and penciller Bob McLeod’s previous work on The Incredible Hulk.

4. Superman #50 (Dec 1990)
Page 102, panel 2: “don’t let your current situation color the decision” probably refers to the red kryptonite.
Page 102, panel 5: “Dennis” is artist Dennis Janke.
Page 103, panel 2: “not so windy these past few days” because Superman is powerless, so he has not made the newspapers fly around as usual.
Page 106, panel 4, and page 107, panel 6: Kevin Dooley, editor.
Page 108, panels 2-5: nice, realistic dialogues. My favourite in this edition.
Page 112, panel 1: note an elongated Mr Fantastic, the Thing conveniently hiding his appearance under the pink fluid, and the Human Torch’s flames in the air. The Invisible Woman is nowhere to be seen…
Page 112, panel 2, refers to “fantastic new friends”.
Page 121, panel 1. Emphasis is put on the number of friends: four.
Page 121, panels 2-3 refer to the Impossible Man, an annoying but harmless foe (sort of) of the Fantastic Four.
Page 121, panel 4. The Fantastic Couple wears blue (clearly the right-hand one is a woman), and we can also see the Human Torch’s wake and the Thing, still under the pink slush.
Page 123, panels 1-3. After the 70s, villains are not in black & white. You come to understand that Luthor is a human being also, with virtues, and you come to understand some of his side, the life history that leads him to act as he does, his motivations. You see his reasons, which make all sense in his point of view — he is not necessarily “wrong”, and there is no wrong. Furthermore, Luthor’s dignity and reputation are unmarred by these revelations, since they are made by another person while he is unconscious, and, at that, by a maternal woman who cares for him, who understands him, and who has compassion for him.
Page 127, panel 2. Clark Kent’s novel has been published by Warner Books.

5. The Adventures of Superman #473 (Dec 1990)
Page 131. You can see an Elvis impersonator in the background.
Page 133, panels 4-6. This, added to Superman #49, page 10, panel 1 (see above), leads me to wonder. Has Lois already found out about Superman’s secret identity? After Action Comics #662 (where he reveals it to her), I have not read the followup Superman #53, so I would not know whether there Lois admits to having deducted it a while before. If she has by now, then Superman #49, page 10, panel 1, amounts to her teasing him, whilst this here instance in Adventures #473 is her way of allowing him the dignity of keeping the secret while unprepared to reveal it and saving face at the same time. Will have to check.
Page 140, panels 2 and 4; page 141, panels 1-2; page 142, panels 2-3; and page 143, panel 1: the USAF has never operated F-14s, none has ever been operated in Wyoming, F-14s have never been painted in camouflage, and the camouflage does not match any USAF standard, though these are accurate depictions of F-14s.
Page 143, panel 6, is a refreshing attempt at humour where the comics do not take themselves too seriously.

6. Action Comics #660 (Dec 1990)
Page 158, panel 2, provides for an interesting comparison between the customs of 1990 and those of 2010. Twenty years ago, no one who had their wits about them would think of bringing a mobile phone to a date. It was impolite to others and a bulky nuisance to self. Twenty years later, no one thinks of not bringing the mobile wherever. Reading this page in 2010, it is a stark contrast that, though I had thought that so little had changed, some things can already be traced as markedly different. Readers’ assumptions are clearly supposed to be significantly different in this respect between the two decades.
In another note, panel 2 goes to show how much of a workaholic Lois is, going to the extreme of bringing her mobile along on a date.
Page 158, panel 3. Look at the size of this gadget! Those are batteries for you!

7. Doom Patrol #47 (Sep 1991)
As published in Doom Patrol volume 4, page 159, panel 2, reads “DP inker – new dad!”, which should lead me to assume that inker Mark McKenna (who probably filled those headlines) had just become a father. Likewise panel 4 reads “Congrats”.

8. Detective Comics #659 (May 1993)
As published in Brazil in Liga da Justiça e Batman no. 8, page 8, panel 1: “Simpson Flanders” seems to be an obvious joke on the Simpsons’ neighbour Ned Flanders. Dr Flanders appears again in Robin #1 (Nov 1993).

9. Flash #76 (May 1993)
As published in Flash: the Return of Barry Allen, page 60, panel 4, refers to a certain Broome Building. John Broome was the Flash’s main penciller during the Silver Age.

10. Justice League America #80-83 (Sep-Dec 1993)
Evidently, the two alien fugitives’ names, Blake and Corbett, are references to those old scifi TV series, Blakes 7 and Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.

11. Action Comics #692 (Oct 1993)
As published in Brazil in Super-Homem no. 126, page 47, panel 3, the oldest reference on Doctor Occult is a passage from the Daily Planet dated 1935. I take this as an homage to DC’s oldest character, Doctor Occult, who first appeared in New Fun Comics #6, October 1935, thus predating even Superman (whose Action Comics #1 is from June 1938).

12. Superman: the Man of Steel #28 (Dec 1993)
Conforme publicada em Super-Homem no. 127, página 3, quadro 1, e página 25, quadro 1: “Jotapê” é Jotapê Martins, da equipe de tradutores do Estúdio Art & Comics, que fazia a tradução dos títulos da DC em 1995.
As published in Brazil in Super-Homem no. 127, page 8, panel 2, the pizza carton from “Titano’s” is a reference to Titano, the giant monkey from Superman Annual # 1 (1987).

13. Batman #502 (Dec 1993)
As published in Brazil in Batman no. 5, page 44, panel 4, Mad magazine appears on a rack, presumably with Alfred E. Neuman on the cover (obviously). Mad is published in the US by DC Comics.

14. The Adventures of Superman #507 (Dec 1993)
Conforme publicada em Super-Homem no. 128, página 3, quadro 2: novamente, “Jotapê” é Jotapê Martins.
Página 7, quadro 1, contém uma referência a Superboy no. 2 dando a entender que conta a história da morte de Adam Grant. Entretanto, a última edição antes de Adventures #507 é Superman #84 (Dec 1993), que saiu em Super-Homem no. 127 e que é a que mostra essa morte. A história que saiu em Superboy no. 2 (junto com outras que não vêm ao caso) é a de Superman #85 (Jan 1994), que, na verdade, é posterior a Adventures #507 e lida com as consequências imediatas do evento, mas não é onde ocorre o próprio.