Monday, April 21, 2003

JLA: Age Of Wonder #1 - A Review

Written by: Adisakdi Tantimedh
Penciled by: Galen Showman
Inked by: Galen Showman
Colored by: Dave McCaig
Lettered by: Bob Lappan
Editor: Andy Helfer
Publisher: DC Comics

There are generally two types of Elseworlds stories. The first, and rarer of these give us something unusual, with familiar characters rendered unrecognizable by the changes in the world. Stories where Hal Jordan is a Nazi or Superman is a bad guy, for example. The second, and more frequent type of Elseworlds, has the same characters being shown exactly as they have always been with the setting and time changed. Age of Wonder is one of the second type, but it is a very good alternate timeline story, if not one to change the course of comics like Kingdom Come or Dark Knight Returns.

The plot centers around Superman, who in this reality, came crashing to Earth in the late 1800’s and has come of age during the Age of Invention, when men like Thomas Edison were advancing science to new heights and the Industrial Revolution was just beginning. Along with Superman, other inventors form a “League of Science” dedicated toward helping Mankind with their inventions. Among the members of this League are Starman (called Ted Knight, but he has his son Jack’s goggles and cosmic rod), The Flash (Barry Allen, but he has Jay Garrick’s helmet) and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan, but he has a bit of Guy Gardner’s attitude).

Everybody is pretty much as they are character-wise in this story. Lex Luthor is still a greedy industrialist/scientist who is jealous of Superman. Superman is still a nice guy who wants to help everyone, although making him into something of an anarchist wanting to give away electric lamps is an interesting touch. And Lois Lane is the Nellie Bly of this world. Only cosmetic changes are made to the stories of the characters to better fit the setting, such as Luthor’s hairloss coming from his experiments with radium or Hal Jordan encountering his alien benefactor at Lot 51 in the Nevada desert, where the USA is conducting their first mechanical flight experiments.

The art, like the story, is good but nothing outstanding. The backgrounds are gorgeous and the designs for all the steampunk technology is excellent. I was fond of the airships in particular. And I must mention that the redesigns of all the character costumes, especially Hal Jordan’s more militaristic costume and Starman’s Doc Holiday outfit are among the best I have seen.

All in all, you couldn’t do much better than to spend your sheckles on this story. Not the best thing I’ve ever read. But it still left me filled with wonder.

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