Monday, November 22, 2021

“LOST PAGES”: The "new" Superman meets the JLA from JLA Secret Files #1 (September, 1997)

The JLA Watchtower. All but two of the "Magnificent Seven" were seated at their meeting table. "When Superman gets here... like we agreed. Batman's busy on a case of his own right now, but he said we could download the results of the membership drive to him later." Wonder Woman wanted to see the electric blue Superman's new capeless costume, and Kyle Rayner expressed his belief that it's good to keep things fresh. "You would say that," chided Wally West. Superman appeared as a bolt from the blue, with the expectation of having his altered powers tested to determine his continued fitness for service.

Manhunter supervised as Green Lantern created energy constructs to test Superman's "strength," though his lifting was now accomplished via generating electromagnetic fields. He could also disrupt the electrical impulses in Kyle's nervous system, inhibiting his ability to control his power ring. Next was an international race with the Flash, which Superman easily aced. Aquaman determined that water wasn't an issue for Superman Blue, and he could even detect electric eels in the vicinity. Sparring with Princess Diana in the arctic was pathetic, since he could become immaterial and convert the Amazing Amazon's kinetic energy into force beams.

"Well, Superman, you've passed the written test, the VR simulations and the Martian mind-probe. All we have to do now is download your results to Batman and see if Batman will make your membership unanimous." The Dark Knight couldn't be bothered with the details, or even to look up from whatever he was saudering at a workbench. "Of course he's in. He's Superman." The Martian Manhunter shook the hand of the renewed member. "I suppose that makes everything official. Welcome back to the Justice League, Superman. Somebody apologize to Damage for the wait." Nice nod, that.

I've talked up Mark Millar & Don Hillsman a lot while covering this book, so I'll offer more criticism in this particular case. Millar was generating a lot of copy for this comic, which should explain some of the dodgier dialogue here. Hillsman has mostly worked as an inker, perhaps his most notable pencils being for the first Malibu Street Fighter mini-series a few years prior. I have a fondness for his dynamic take on the Alien Atlas, but the other characters don't fare as well, and the storytelling is pretty basic. To this day, Millar's longest run in comics is presiding over the cancellation of Swamp Thing, the house Len & Berni and Alan Moore built. Maybe Superman wasn't the only talent being tested in these pages, and not everybody performed as confidently as the Man of--er, Static? Millar & Hillsman were unproven unknowns, so it makes sense that when the former Spectre creative team were looking for a follow-up project, they were the ones chosen to produce the high profile Martian Manhunter spin-off series.

No comments: