Monday, February 2, 2015

JLA Secret Files and Origins #1


Writer: Grant Morrison & Mark Millar
Penciller: Howard Porter
Inker: John Dell
Letters: Ken Lopez
Colors: John Kalisz

So here is our first foray into the Secret Files and Origins world. These were extra-large issues full of Who's Who pages, timelines, interviews and a few short stories. Nothing here has anything to do with Impulse, except for a brief cameo he makes in the main story. You'll notice the Superman on the cover is the unpopular electric blue Superman. But our story today takes place before he acquired those new, annoying powers.

We start with Wally West being called back to his old home of Blue Valley. A policeman who looks suspiciously like Stan Lee briefs the Flash on the situation. Apparently the city's largest office building has been infected by a gigantic star-shaped alien. Flash is in contact with the Justice League of America via radio, giving them a play-by-play as he investigates. He sees the giant star is producing more, smaller stars that have attached themselves to the faces of the office workers and placed them in a trance. Unfortunately, Wally isn't fast enough to avoid the same fate.

Controlled by the star conqueror, Flash makes a statement to the world, saying it and all other worlds will soon be conquered. Superman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter and Batman meet in the JLA satellite and try to formulate a plan. But before they come up with a solid strategy, they're visited by the Spectre, who forbids them to interfere. He says the American government already has plans to launch a nuclear strike at Blue Valley, which will successfully destroy the alien. The JLA is unwilling to let the entire city be destroyed, so Spectre shows them what would happen if they confronted the alien.

Apparently, the aliens spores were specifically designed to seek out super-powered beings, and in the Spectre's future, the JLA is instantly taken over. Using the world's most powerful heroes, the star conqueror is able to easily and quickly infect the rest of the superhero community and claim the entire planet within 36 hours. And, of course, our lovable Impulse falls under the infected category.

The Spectre goes on to show the JLA how they would later be instruments in conquering the whole universe, then all existence as the star conqueror masters time travel. Under that threat, the Spectre believes losing the few thousand people of Blue Valley. Batman still doesn't agree with that philosophy, and he leaves to battle the alien alone. The Spectre allows him to leave, reasoning that a non-powered hero wouldn't risk creating that doomsday scenario. So Superman asks Spectre to take away the league's powers so they can help Batman out as normal humans.

Their plan works, as none of the star spores are able to attach to their faces. Batman ultimately saves the Flash by hacking into the building's air conditioning system and freezing the alien the alien. With the Flash back under control, he finishes the job by destroying the alien's computers in the blink of an eye. With the threat neutralized and the day saved, the Spectre appears before the JLA again and restores their powers, saying he knows now the future shall be safe in the hands of the Justice League.

This was a rather interesting story, and I wish we would have spent more time in the Spectre's future. Grant Morrison is a great writer, who can sometimes get a bit too weird for me, but perhaps Mark Millar helped ground him here. Howard Porter's art, however, is not something I can get behind. In fact, I'm a bit surprised he was chosen to draw this. His style just feels a bit too sloppy for DC's biggest and best heroes.

The other stories in this issue are quite lame. The first one is the electric blue Superman insisting on undergoing pointless tests to re-apply for the Justice League. The whole exercise is a stupid excuse for Superman to show off his new powers and explain how they work in excruciating detail. The next one shows a typical day in the life of Martian Manhunter, who has set up home at the South Pole and patrols the whole southern hemisphere since the rest of the league largely ignores it. And there are a ton of Who's Who pages, a timeline, etc., etc. And it's all mildly interesting for those who don't know about these characters, which is exactly this issue's purpose.

Since I only own the digital copy of this comic, there'll be no advertisements this time. Next time, it'll be Impulse's turn to get his own "Plus" comic — Impulse Plus Gross-Out #1.

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