Chris Comerford's Reviews > JLA: Tower of Babel

JLA by Mark Waid
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really liked it

The other night, I watched Seven Samurai for the first time. It was a great film, and I see why it's considered to be so influential, but I'd seen it before. Or, rather, I'd seen its story, its ideas and its characters in other places.

I see why Tower of Babel is so acclaimed. Mark Waid is a sterling writer, Howard Porter's art is fantastic, and the motivation behind the story makes a lot of sense. This is one of the most ethically-questionable representations of Batman I've ever read, and the grey aspect means either side of the argument has merit. I can understand why Batman compiled the Panama Papers on his JLA teammates, and I fully relate to their anger and distress when they discover Bats is the reason behind why they've been getting so ass-kicked lately. Forget the attempted grey morality of something like Civil War: this is a story with weight and with nuance.

That said, I feel Tower of Babel loses a little of its impact because it's story - and, specifically, it's ideas on Batman - has become archetypal in many ways. We know now that Batman's the kind of guy to synthesize Kryptonite just in case he has to put down the Big Blue Boy Scout, and stories like Hush and Final Crisis have shown us that Batman is truly prepared for almost anything. Hell, Batman RIP told us he's so prepared that he's even cultivated an alternate personality for himself in case Bruce Wayne fails. Batman is a crazy superhero survivalist, and while Tower of Babel may not have been the first place to demonstrate this, it's certainly the most oft-cited example of that.

With all of that said, too, Tower of Babel is still a great little book. It says what it wants to and really utilises the individual strengths of all the JLA characters in a story where everyone feels necessary. It casts Batman as morally grey in a way that is understandable whilst remaining unfavourable. Ubiquitous or not, it's well worth the read.
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Reading Progress

April 6, 2016 – Started Reading
April 6, 2016 – Shelved
April 7, 2016 – Finished Reading

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