Sunday, February 26, 2006

Greatest Stories Ever Told Fact To Blow Your Mind

In TWO of DC's "Greatest Stories Ever Told" trade collections, Justice League of America and Superman, a story by Joe Kelly is featured.

Is your mind blown?


Blogger Tim Callahan said...

pJoe Kelly is the Robert Zemeckis of comic books.
Which makes Bob Gale the Bob Gale of comic books.

2/26/2006 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

And please note that I don't even, like, dislike Joe Kelly's work or anything. of the greatest Justice League story ever told?

2/26/2006 02:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

Wait, what collection are we talking about here? I have an old beat-up copy of "The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told" that I must've bought when I was ten that has some kickass stories by Elliot Maggin, Byrne and Kirby along with (I think) "For The Man Who Has Everything," which I guess I naively assumed was still in print through its sheer awesomeness.

2/26/2006 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

They have a new version in print, with Kelly's Action Comics #775 instead of Moore's story and some others.

2/26/2006 02:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Kelson said...

If I'm remembering correctly, Action #775 was good (that's the first "Elite" story, right?)...but worth replacing an Alan Moore story?

I think the appropriate response is "What were they smoking?"

2/26/2006 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

That ELite story was way overrated to me. It was supposed to be a response to the popularity of the Authority, but it actually made SUperman look worse in my opinion.

2/26/2006 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I was actually talking with Tadhg the other day about how I should do a bit about how Action #775 was a pretty good story.

The reason why I find it necessary to point out that is because, due to the overwhelming praise for Kelly's story by DC, there has been considerable backlash against the issue, to the point where some folks talk about hating the issue, which I think is overly harsh, as, well, it's not Kelly's fault that people over-praised the book!

2/26/2006 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Sims said...

I used to love Joe Kelly comics, circa Deadpool. Now? I hate Joe Kelly's comics.

Here's the thing. Action Comics #775 is a really good Superman story, and it's certainly the best issue of Joe Kelly's run on the title. It's just that it only really works as a one-shot deal, and everything he did after that became self-referential to that one set of characters that he fell in love with, fancying himself to be Warren Ellis when, in actuality, he's the guy who wrote Deadpool.

Is it as good as "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" Well of course not. But that story's in another trade now, marketed as being a great Alan Moore story rather than a great Superman story. On its own, though, "What's So Funny About..." was probably the best Superman story for a few years in either direction in those titles. So I can see how it happened.

"Two Minute Warning," though... It is, without question, the best issue of Kelly JLA, but that's like being the prettiest waitress at Denny's. It's nowhere near as good as any given Morrison or Waid issue, and that's a slot that could've been taken up a lot better by one of the Despero fights, either from Detroit League days or the sequel story from Giffen/Dematteis that features Adam Hughes art. Those issues are phenomenal, and unless I missed it, there's not much representation for Vibe & Co. in the trade.

(Not that, you know, there should be a lot...)

Obviously, DC just really needed something post-Morrison so that it doesn't look like that book stopped being good five years ago, and "Two Minute Warning" is exactly the kind of decent, self-contained story they were looking for. And I imagine the keyword here is "self contained," as these types of collections don't really lend themselves to reprinting single issues of multipart story arcs, like, say, any given issue of "Rock of Ages," which would've blown the whole Joe Kelly ouvre away.

2/26/2006 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

No. Two Chuck Austen stories might, but I can see how Kelly got in both books. They're samplers, not definitive Best Ofs. That, and they changed the stories in the new printing of the Batman volume, the dog eared copy I own being one of my most prized possesions (if I ever have to sell it on E-Bay, I'm going to list it as "high in sentimental value), which was perfect, I tell you (except for that Calendar Man story Simonson drew, but nevermind that), so I am not surprised by anything they do with these things anymore.

2/26/2006 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

That Superman issue Kelly did has some controversy behind it. In the sense that people had differing opinions about it. Which is more than you can say for just about any other Superman story since, what, Man of Steel? At least in the time between it and All Star Superman. Did any of the Jurgens/Ordway stuff make it in there?

Also; Chuck Austen is elligible for JLA and Superman Best of Collections. He had runs on both books. That blows my mind.

2/26/2006 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

I really liked the Elite story. No problem with it being one of the best-of-the-best Superman stories. Certainly better'n any of the John Byrne stories.

And the best of the JLA book was pretty clearly made through the ultra-scientific "Bobbing for comics" procedure, where they dump every issue of every JLA comic into a tub of water, and have an intern pick twelve issues out with his teeth. (ONE Garnder Fox story? And no-where near the BEST Garnd

So the results THERE shouldn't be surprising.

One Gardner Fox story? Missing (First Series) 100-102? But stuff from both Joe Kelly and Gerry Conway? I scoff. *Scoffs.*

2/26/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Anonymous thekamisama said...

It is like the opposite of the old cliche of a thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters. Instead, once Kelly has wrote thousands of mediocre stories, there was bound to be one turd that floated to the top.

That was cruel and unduly harsh wasn't it?

2/26/2006 06:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Matthew Craig said...

The Elite story was full of weak non-sequitors and shallow characterisation, in which we learned less about Superman than we did about Joe Kelly's opinion of John Constantine.

It was a very bad comic. It might even be a very stupid comic.

Of course, it doesn't take anything away from the superb moral ambiguity and sharp wit of DeadPool.

But every time I see the Elite story trotted out as an example of good, modern, relevant Superman comics, it makes me a bit mad. Because it's none of those things.


2/26/2006 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Foss said...

I really liked both those stories, and most of Kelly's run on JLA. Aside from "White Rage" or whatever the Axis Amerika arc was, his run was not only better than everything that the title has seen since (except maybe Crisis of Conscience), but even more consistently good than Waid's run.

If it weren't for the fact, that it only features two Leaguers, I'd totally have included "The Dark Nut Returns" over "Two Minute Warning," though. Easily the best single issue of Kelly's JLA run.

2/26/2006 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

Matthew Craig, I totally agree.

The Joe Kelly story was, in my opinion, totally patronizing. It used the shallowest, most simplistic analogue of the Authority to make its point and was about as subtle as a jackhammer.

It was so self-congratulatory while simulataneous missing the point of a good Superman story that it sickened me.

2/26/2006 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger Zach said...

So, for those of us who read and forgot most of Kelly's run (and frequently wonder WTF happened to Kelly between leaving Marvel and getting to DC), which one is "Two Minute Warning" again?

2/26/2006 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

His first issue of Justice League.

Called "Two Minute Warning" because it showed what each leaguer was doing for two minutes before an "S.O.S" came in.

And then had the emergency itself.

Nice little story. May very well have been the best issue of his run, but that's damning with faint praise.

2/26/2006 10:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Jer said...

T. -

I disagree - the Authority are the shallowest, simplistic version of the Authority. Anything else just can't get shallow enough to make the point.

Kelly's Superman story was okay - it had the subtlty of a jackhammer, but it wasn't supposed to be subtle. It's also meta-commentary on the state of comic books in general, and those are rarely good. It wasn't a terribly good Superman story, but I may not be a good judge because I don't think that there has been a really GOOD Superman story printed by DC since, oh, about 1986 or so.

Including it in a "Best of" collection? Eh - it just shows how much they had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to come up with SOMETHING recent done with Superman that's any good at all. It probably is the best (in-series, non-Elseworld) Superman story done in the past ten years - and that's truly a sad statement for one of the cornerstone characters of the DCU.

2/26/2006 10:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Aaron Kashtan said...

I thought Action Comics #775 was good, but not great, certainly nowhere near the level of "For the Man Who Has Everything". Overall, the previous Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told had a much better selection, even though it overemphasized the '50s at the expense of the '70s and '80s.

The story selection for the Greatest JLA Stories book is just horrendous. I have nothing good to say about it. They left out #74, #100-102, and #144 (or alternately #145). They included only a paltry three pages from #200, and the Giffen/DeMatteis story they included is hardly the best of that run (#38-40 would have been a far better choice).

By the way, I agree with Brad that the Calendar Man story is the weak link in the original Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told. Pretty much every other story in that book deserves to be there. It should be the model of how to assemble a greatest-stories-ever-told collection.

2/26/2006 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger Erech said...

I liked most of the Kelly/Mahnke JLA run a good bit - you guys are just being bullies. And all up on Grant Morrisons jock.

Well, it's true :)

2/27/2006 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Charles W. said...

It seemed to me that the JLA collection was less concerned about being a "best of" collection than a sampling of stories that "inspired" the Identity and Infinite crises, at least in terms of the older material. Hey, here's a "identity crisis" story with Dr. Light attacking the heroes in their real identities!

I think that any true collection of the greatest JLA stories ever told would have included more than three pages of JLA #200.

2/27/2006 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Brad said...

"Well, it's true :)"

Are we going to give the 20th person to say that a toaster or something? Are you guys who spend all of this time pointing out that, hey, people who blog here like Grant Morrison just trying really hard to win a toaster? Well, there's no toaster coming, so you can stop if that's your motivation. I'm sorry if someone (Cronin) implied otherwise. They lied. I may be able to hook you up with a George Forman grill though. We'll see.

2/27/2006 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

Uh, switching over, I don't really have any opinion on Joe Kelly's run, I never read a whole lot of it, but if you're looking for a couple of good SUPERMAN comics from recent years Steve Gerber's SUPERMAN: LAST SON of EARTH and LAST STAND on EARTH are excellent and somewhat overlooked.

2/27/2006 11:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike Loughlin said...

"We have X pages to fill. Quick, which JLA story runs X pages? And isn't connected to an ongoing story? And doesn't suck?" Boom- instant "best of."

My "Best of Justice League" already exists- "Rock of Ages."

2/27/2006 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Erech said...

"I may be able to hook you up with a George Forman grill though. We'll see."

Well since you are offering...

The Morrison thing was a cheap shot, although an intentionally cheap one. I don't care if people like him or not, I don't dislike him for that matter, so yeah.

No offense meant on the jock comment though.

2/27/2006 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Derek B. Haas said...

My taste in comics is unimpeachable, and I truly enjoy the Kelly/Mahnke run. Less so the Kelly/some other penciller Axis bits, but the overall run is great. Very re-readable, also, which is better than a lot of Waid's run.

2/27/2006 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I will allow that Kelly's run is probably better than Waid's.

Again, damning with faint praise.

While we're at it, he also did a better job than Gerry Jones and Dan Vado.

2/27/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

Geez. I really, REALLY, liked Waid's run. Especially that big huge giant sized issue.

That would totally go in MY best of the JLA.

And, lessee.

46-47. (I think.) The Anti-Matter Man Story.

55-56. Introduced the Earth Two Robin and this whole "Heroic Legacy" concept that Geoff "I can't spell "J-E-F-F" Johns built his career on.

JLA # 60. Batgirl vs. the Queen Bee.

100-102. Seven Soldiers of Victory.

111. Injustice Gang.

Maybe 200, just 'cause a lot of other people like it. And Conway was on the book forerver.

Second series (Giffen) # 1,

And, yeah, 38-40 were pretty good.

And third series # 5. (Tomorrow Woman.)

2/27/2006 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I was thinking about how #5 would have been perfect, but I will allow that it IS sorta heavy on continuity of the time.

1. Metamorpho's death

2. Superman's new costume

Uh...that's it, but that's enough!!

2/27/2006 06:08:00 PM  
Anonymous C. Tynne said...

I was very upset that "To Kill a Legend" and "The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne" didn't make the cut for the new "Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told" trade.

Both those stories were -far- better than the replacements.

2/27/2006 06:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Omar Karindu said...

I'd vote for Mark Millar's one-shot tale from JLA #28 featuring the Atom. Fine, self-contained, and genuinely representative of the Morrison era JLA despite not actually being by Morrison.

But the current "Greatest" volumes are, as much as anything, a marketing tool. A lot of the stories in them, like JLofA #166-8, are there for reasons of current demand -- that trilogy, for instance, apparently drives Identity Crisis and Crisis of Conscience.

Likewise, the Alan Moore and JLA/JSA stuff are available elsewhere, so DC have no reason to flood their own market. And the Fox story they chose, "Jail the Justice League," was likely picked because it's got lots of recognizeable supervillains in it including Luthor and the recently high-profile Captain Boomerang and Doctor Light.

Me? Keeping the "no duplication of recently repro'ed material" rule for convenience's sake, I'd have gone with JLofA #25 ("Outcasts of Infinity," an especially fluid and imaginative Fox/Sekowsky outing), #111-12 (a two-parter featuring Len Wein, the Injustice Gang's wacky incarnation, and Amazo), #140-1 (the classic Engelhart Manhunter story), Justice League #2-3 (Giffen/DeMatteis featuring the Justifiers), JLA #5 (Tomorrow Woman), and JLA #28 (Millar's fill-in).

Probably too many pages, but it seems like a good sampling of the very best to me.

2/27/2006 11:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike Loughlin said...

From a mass-market perspective, the first half of JLA 5 would be somewhat impenetrable - Hitman, Damage, Artemis, and Max Mercury are inactive in the current DCU, and I don't think they'll show up on the cartoon.

I liked most of Waid's run, and most of Kelly's, but they're not exactly "classics." If I were to choose a short Morrison story, I'd go with JLA 6 & 7 (which has its continuity issues, but not as much as issue 5).

2/28/2006 08:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Jer said...

"From a mass-market perspective, the first half of JLA 5 would be somewhat impenetrable - Hitman, Damage, Artemis, and Max Mercury are inactive in the current DCU, and I don't think they'll show up on the cartoon."

Eh - they're bit players in the background, mostly. They could have been any generic "superheroes" - the story doesn't depend on people knowing who they are.

I agree with Cronin - the "Electric Blue" Superman is much more of a problem than the background players. I'm not so sure about Metamorpho's death being a problem either - its enough that "some other superhero" died and they're at a funeral. You don't need to know who Metamorpho is or really how he died to appreciate the scene.

Give the mass-market readers some level of credit - not everyone needs to be a "known quantity". If the cornerstone characters are there, many folks will go along for the ride. This is also why Electric Blue Superman is a problem - you shouldn't much with your cornerstone characters in stories for the mass market.

Of course, I personally think that Howard Porter's artwork will prevent any of Morrison's JLA stories from hitting a "bet of" volume any time soon. His style is something that I know a lot of comics fans like, but anytime I tried to get my non-comics reading friends to try Morrison's JLA, they'd comment on how ugly the art was and pass.

2/28/2006 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Ben Herman said...

I had serious problems with Action Comics #775. It was so utterly black & white in its regard to proactive superheroes, and didn't even try to acknowledge the innumerable shades of gray that one finds in real-world morality.

The biggest irony I found about that story was that it took place during the time when Lex Luthor was President of the United States in the DCU. It was rhidiculous for Superman to be arguing that the Elite were in the wrong when he just sat back, did absolutely nothing, and allowed a man he knew to be a murderer to be elected to the White House.

The problem is that DC Comics want to have their cake and eat it to. They want their heroes to be bastions of morality who never kill their enemies. At the same time, they have villains like the Joker murdering literally hundreds of innocent people, escaping from jail on a weekly basis, repeating the same horrific crimes over and over again. You can't have it both ways. Superman and Batman look like imbeciles when they unflinchingly put their faith in a criminal justice system that is shown as completely ineffectual.

2/28/2006 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

Ben Sherman,

You nailed it. Action Comics #775 pretty much ignored any of the good aspects of proactive superheroing in order to defend the outdated moral codes of it's hero. I also hate DC's excessive adherence to the policy of not killing under any circumstances, even self-defense or defending others lives, mainly because it implies that anyone who kills a bad guy under any circumstances is just as bad as said bad guy.

That's bunk. If that was the case, than military men that killed Nazis and policemen who kill criminals holding hostages are weak or immoral? Please.

2/28/2006 02:52:00 PM  
Anonymous C. Tynne said...

Superman has killed to save lives, in the mainstream DCU comics.

He executed the Phantom Zone Criminals of the Pocket Universe, considering them a threat too great to leave alive.

But, I don't think that story has been reprinted recently, so many wouldn't know about it.

2/28/2006 06:04:00 PM  
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