Everyone has their favorite incarnation of the Justice League, be it the Silver Age original, the JL Detroit team, Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s return of the Big Seven, or perhaps (and most definitely in my case) the humor era begun in the late 1980s by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire. I don’t think anyone has ever mentioned the two-year stint on Justice League America from the mid-1990s by writer Gerard Jones and artist Chuck Wojtkiewicz, which saw a new lineup launched in the wake of Zero Hour.
I have very few issues from this run on the title, which surprises me a little, since included in the team roster at the time were Infinity Inc. alums Nuklon and Obsidian, characters I’ve loved since they were introduced in All-Star Squadron in the early 1980s. Despite my lack of connection with this era of the JLA, I jumped at the chance to pick up this board from Justice League America #98. The price was right, and there was a lot about the page that appealed to me.
The first thing that struck me about the board is the first panel and Wojtkiewicz’s unusual choice of perspective. It’s a bird’s-eye view of a crowd of heroes and regular folk, with Hawkman flying upside down over them. It’s interesting how Hawkman is in the forefront of the panel, yet none of the focus in that scene is on him. Reinforcing that dichotomy of focus is the meticulous level of detail inker Bob Dvorak brings to the winger hero while the other players below are a little looser and less defined.
While this isn’t an action page, there’s a lot going on in terms of the interpersonal dynamics among the characters. We get two Wonder Women — Artemis, when she had the heroic Amazonian mantle, and Diana, when she was forced to give it up. The final panel sums up the differences between the two Wonder Woman, and Wojtkiewicz instills a softness and kindness in Diana’s face at every opportunity to set her apart from her more intense, Kewl counterpart. I do loathe Diana’s bra-and-bike-shorts outfit, though. The page also offers some great images and interactions between Nuklon and Obsidian, especially a manifestation of the latter’s powers. Every member of the team gets a moment to shine in this transitional page in the story.
Wojtkiewicz boasts a bright, dynamic style, and there’s a genuine sense of fun and traditional super-hero sensibilities to it. As the cover image from this particular issue (seen at the top of this post) shows, his style is somewhat similar to that of the late Mike Wieringo, who was illustrated DC’s Flash around the same time Wojtkiewicz worked on JLA. However, a quick search on the Grand Comics Database indicates Wojtkiewicz hasn’t done any comic-book work since 2000. Instead, he’s working in the entertainment industry as a concept artist with a studio that works in gaming, animation and movies.
I was also drawn to this piece of original comic art by its many vintage qualities. There’s a lot of fantastic comic art being produced today, but the increasing digitization of the creative and production process makes those boards a little less appealing to me. Here, we get letters pasted directly onto the page, those red lines in Panel 1 to guide color placement and the customary copyright stamp on the back of the board. There are also a couple of editing marks, including one at the bottom right of the page directing the letterer to number the page (Page 5 of the story, though a note in red pen at the top right indicates this is Page 7 of the comic, including ads).
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