Monday, December 16, 2013

A World without Superman

JLA: The Nail
Writer: Alan Davis
Artists: Alan Davis, Mark Farmer
DC Comics | Graphic Novel | $14.95
As the Justice League movie approaches, the same question seems to get asked over and over again. How do you make the League seem relevant compared to Superman?  It’s a valid point. What can Green Arrow and Black Canary do that Superman can’t, other than play catch with a ball of Kryptonite? If you were in trouble would you rather call on Hawkman or The Big Blue Boy Scout? Let’s face it; even if you were underwater, you’d be infinitely happier with Superman than Aquaman.
So what would happen if the League existed but Superman wasn’t in it or even active in that universe? A three issue mini written by Alan Davis (best known for his work on Batman, X-Men and various UK comics) and illustrated by Davis and Mark Farmer (also best known for UK comics), JLA: The Nail seeks to answer this question.
Getting ready to head out into town one day, Martha and Jonathan Kent pick up a nail in their tire and decide to just stay home instead as a flaming meteor falls to Earth behind them. Fast forward several years and Lex Luthor is the mayor of Metropolis and there is rampant xenophobia of metahumans. Meanwhile, the League is dealing with the fallout of a recent battle with Amazo in which Hawkman is killed and Green Arrow becomes a paraplegic. Extremely bitter with his former teammates, Oliver tells anyone who will listen that metahumans are actually advance scouts for an impending alien invasion.
On top of all this, superhumans are disappearing all over the world and human villains such as the Joker are being given alien technology to further challenge the League.  The metahumans that do survive appear brainwashed and act out, further exacerbating public fears. Interstellar heroes like Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern can’t even leave the planet because of an impenetrable force field around the entire globe.
The story here is fantastically enacted, showing the dark consequences of a world without a Superman but still managing to have an optimistic ending. Each character of the League is fleshed out far more than you would think possible in a three issue mini. The art is crisp and clear and each major character has his or her own splash page at some point in the mini.  It’s too bad that Davis and Farmer have few US comic credits to their name. Based on this, I would definitely read another title by the two. Though, an important one to mention would be this book’s sequel, JLA: Another Nail.
Final rating (out of 5): 

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