I was in a Border’s killing some time, and happened on the JLA reboot #5365, Brad Meltzer edition. I skimmed through it. Red Tornado and Amazo switch brains; Solomon Grundy is wearing a suit, Speedy is now Red Arrow, Hal Jordan is alive, Oliver Queen is alive, Barry Allen still isn’t alive. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman have for some reason collected playing cards with images of all the DC super-heroes on them. It seems kind of silly, but I guess it’s relatively harmless, as hobbies go.

But the main point of the comic seemed to be how much everyone just loves the Justice League. Oliver Queen talks about how he misses being in the League. Batman and Superman are awfully excited about starting up the new League. All these super-heroes are just eager to be in the League. And what a spiffy new headquarters the League has. And how great are it’s traditions. And on and on. Every damn page it seemed like someone was enthusing about the League.

Of course, the truth is JLA has almost always been a second string title, with no real reason for being. Those early Gardner Fox issues were dreadful even by the standards of 30s super-hero comics; Snapper Carr has to be one of the most embarrassing creations in comics. The time when the League really seemed to make the most sense was with Giffen/DeMatteis, when it was deliberately used as a joke, or with Grant Morrison, when it teetered on the verge fo self-parody (all the Morrison villains were always talking about how incredibly irritating the League was with its we-can-do-anything, we’re-so-great-and-good stance.) The League has certainly never had anything like the (relatively) coherent mythology of , say, the X-men or Fantastic Four. It’s been retconned so many times it’s a wonder that its amnesiac do-gooders can remember how to unzip their costumes to go to the bathroom, much less wax maudlin about their (indeterminate, over-edited) pasts.

Yet wax nostalgic they do. It’s almost as if they’re desperate to convince somebody — anybody — that this is the Best. Teambook. Ever. Really, the League’s a grand tradition! You should feel nostalgic for it! Remember Starro? Amazo? Somebody-else-that-ends-in-o? They were great villains! No, really — hey, come back here! Put down that issue of Nana! Don’t you know we’re the Justice Leaaaaaaaa….

Update: Tom Crippen also weighs in on buckets-of-super-heroes-in-one-book with a long discussion of Marvel’s Civil War series
Update 2: The JLA is from the 60s, of course, not the 30s. I could apologize for the error…but instead I blame the comics for being so mediocre they warp the space-time continuum.