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Tuesday, December 29, 2020 

Valdosta Daily Times sugarcoats some of the writings of Brad Meltzer, even while admitting his Justice League run was dreadful

Here's another sloppy article on the Valdosta Daily Times, which otherwise fawns over novelist Meltzer's comics writings. What it does do right is state that his Justice League work is disappointing. What it does wrong, however, is laud his Identity Crisis miniseries, and the first line about the JLA story conflicts with what's told later:
There's nothing wrong with "Justice League of America: The Lightning Saga."

The story arc partners the JLA with the Justice Society of America. It even pulls in some members of the future Legion of Super-Heroes.

But given the excellence of writer Brad Meltzer's previous "JLA" storylines: "Identity Crisis," "The Tornado's Path," as well as his bestselling novels, such as "The President's Shadow," and history books – "The First Conspiracy" and "The Lincoln Conspiracy," "The Lightning Saga" is a bit disappointing.

Perhaps, it's because of the aforementioned guest stars.

There are just too many of them.
I'd almost consider this alleged putdown worth congratulating, if it weren't for the sugarcoating of Identity Crisis (and as noted, to say there's "nothing" wrong with the Lightning Saga dampens the impact anyway). Something tells me that, in a post-Harvey Weinstein era, the columnist doesn't have what it takes to tell about the anal sexual assault(!) that occurs in the 2004 miniseries' 2nd issue, told from an entirely masculine viewpoint, which makes his stealth promotion tactic here only more offensive.
Add them to the already full JLA roster then it becomes a rushed smorgasbord of superheroes – a bland, uncleansed palate taste of everything followed by the dissatisfaction of being miserably full.

The strength
of Meltzer's earlier JLA works is the study of complexities – with the personalities of characters as well as their relationships with one another.

That's missing in "The Lightning Saga."


Every time the story leans toward character development, a dive into the interpersonal workings of a relationship – like lightning, it's gone.
Honestly, doesn't this describe Meltzer's earlier mini just as well? Aside from how out-of-character the cast acts in Identity Crisis (Wally West more concerned about the magic "lobotomy" of Dr. Light, as it was described at the time, than about the villain's rape of Sue Dibny, for example), if there was supposedly "character development" in the story, it was pretty much thrown away by the time it concluded, mainly because the "culprit" was made out to be an ordinary co-star, Jean Loring, and not a real villain, superpowered or otherwise.
And there are so many characters, some readers may finish this story arc uncertain why the heroes teamed up and what they are fighting for. Essentially, Legion members start showing up in their past which is our present, the JLA and the JSA, a super team from the past, must hunt the Legionnaires down.

Or something like that.
This is similar to a problem I've noticed in Geoff Johns' writing (who receives credit on the paperback too): too many nostalgia elements, even if that's the least of what's ghastly about his work. In the past, most writers with a more competent approach would just focus on about a dozen superheroes in a team at most, even as others could enter the spotlight later on, and some already there could bow out for a time to make room for the other cast members. But in this overrated tale from the late 2000s, Meltzer just stuffs in all the characters he can, regardless of whether it hurts the story and takes away impact. Mainly because who in the establishment press at the time was actually going to criticize him to the fullest? He's an establishment personality, and the press will act as his apologist if they want to.

And again, the newspaper columnist sabotages whatever impact his take on this trash could have by claiming Identity Crisis was great, when it was nothing but sick, and Rags Morales' artwork only made it worse. In hindsight, it's embarrassing that the late artist Michael Turner would've ever agreed to draw cover illustrations for Meltzer's work, including the Lightning Saga, IIRC, while Alex Ross, by sharp contrast, wisely refused the offer.

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  • I'm Avi Green
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