Justice League of America: Tower of Babel by D.C. Comics [Book Thoughts]

Tower of Babel has an excellent premise, but the general comic book campiness ruins what should have been a dark and desperate arc.



I’m not really much of a comic book fan due to the overall low quality of storytelling but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a fan of many of the comic book heroes themselves. So sometimes I do give them a read with some of the better ones, like WatchmenDark Knight Returns and The Long Halloween being among my favourite books in general. This week I read Tower of Babel, a 4-issue arc from the Justice League of America series. For those not too familiar with the DC Universe, the JLA is DC’s equivalent to the Avengers: a team of superheroes including, but not limited to, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash.

 What got me interested in Tower of Babel was the premise; and few DC fans can deny that the premise is anything short of awesome. Tower of Babel is about Ra’s al Ghul hacking into Batman’s computer and finding that Batman has plans to kill, disable or maim each individual Justice League member should they ever go rogue or become a threat. Ra’s then uses these plans on the Justice League themselves. I won’t spoil it for you by saying which plan is set out for which member, but they’re well thought out and each is quite brutal in its own way. Seeing the League brought to its knees by Batman’s ingenuity turns out to be quite the treat if you’re a fan of the Bat.

 But while the premise is really exciting, the execution is a bit shoddy at times. There’s the usual comic book campiness that just ruins it for me. Guns are fired without bullets hitting anyone, costumed men and women punch people in the face while cracking ‘witty’ lines and nothing happens that isn’t reversible. It’s not even a spoiler that the good guys win in the end without even suffering any major losses. I suppose a comic book written for kids is still a comic book written for kids.

 I still love the idea even though the book is childish. It’s a tribute to Batman’s paranoia and inability to trust anyone that he’d have measures in place to murder or maim his team-mates ‘just in case’ anything bad ever happened. The scene where the Justice League finally confronts him turned out to be my favourite. If they ever make a Justice League movie, I’d really love for this to be the plot. A better writer would have made it a lot more hard-hitting and dark (as something like this should be). There is, of course, the animated film loosely based on this story called Justice League: Doom. But don’t watch that, it’s awful.

 Tower of Babel has an excellent premise, but the general comic book campiness ruins what should have been a dark and desperate arc.

See you next week

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