Comfort Food Comics – JLA: Welcome To The Working Week

So were here today to just gush over one of the true underrated classics of a golden age of DC Comics. The Big 7 JLA era will always be a mythic, amazing time for me. Ive never been a Justice League guy. I need some Bwa Ha Has or the Watchtower to ever be fully invested in a Justice League comic. During this era so many different one shots or miniseries were published and by far the greatest of them all is Welcome To The Working Week. This special one shot really brings an outsider human viewpoint along with some comedic laughs all for the Watchtower on the Moon JLA squad. I love it. Its one of those books that just makes me so happy. It hits straight to my soul and takes me back to my ideal era of DC Comics.

Youd’ think you’d hear about this comic all the time but for some reason you dont. Its written by the major actor/comedian/voice actor/writer Patton Oswalt and drawn by current comics superstar Patrick Gleason with inks by Christian Alamy, lettering by Ken Lopez and coloring by John Kalisz. Its an extremely marketable team. Im legitimately surprised this isnt kept in print and shoved everywhere by DC Comics. The nice thing about this one is its actually really good, its not just the clout of the creators.

So the plot of this one is all about an amateur writer called Marlus Randone who self publishes his own magazine on superheroes called Save Us!, who, after his town is transported aboard the JLA Watchtower for emergency reasons, spends a week secretly living on the Watchtower observing the world’s greatest heroes. Its an absolutely genius idea that allows Oswalt to really dig into a unique view of each character and what makes them so special. The characterizations in this one are top notch.

The amazing little touches start immediately on page 2 as when Superman refers to Batman, he almost says Bruce instead of Batman. Yes, hes covering because civilians are nearby but its an all too human look into our favorite Kansas flyboy. He just naturally refers to his friend by Bruce, not Batman. Its a wonderful little intrinsic thing I really appreciate.

I love how Marlus observes them as a well oiled machine here. They have their own lightning fast code. These are professional heroes. These are the best of the best. They have saving the world down to an exact science! Then you see each hero go their separate ways like this was just a small blip on their enormously busy schedule. I love that bit of Steel saying he can still catch the last half of his niece’s soccer game. Its just such a nice way to show how much all these heroes do and what they deal with. This is why theyre the Justice League.

Marlus sneaks off and instead of getting transported back with his town he stows away on the Watchtower, spying on all the League members in their private moments. First up: J’onn J’onzz. Oswalt does an amazing job of breaking down the Martian Manhunter. I love the lines: “If Superman is Elvis, then this is Dylan. When youre a kid youre all for the spitcurl. But by the time you hit college, youre forehead all the way. Like if Socrates played for the Steelers. For every time the world’s been saved in the sunshine by Superman…its been saved in the shadows by this guy.” OH MY GOD THATS GOOD!!

I love the thought of TV movies in the DC Universe based off of all the various stories. Bruce Wayen: Fugitive starring Luis Guzman as Commissioner Gordon. Oswalt, you mad genius!

I think this is a really gorgeous page by Gleason here, showing all the things the various League members do with their days. I love big chaotic pages like this. It’s cool to see them deal with usual threats, but fun humanitarian things too. They do all types of good for the world.

We then get a sneak peek on Batman using corporate business skills to stop Weather Wizard from doing something stupid. A really fun way of using Batman for all the people who think the rich man should be using his money for more than punching people. Miss me with that “hot take” and read more great comics like this.

We then see Superman deal with a villain just by talking to him and genuinely helping him. Its great, a perfect encapsulation of his character again. The line “More understanding than a thousand Mr. Rogers” is another solid gold line.

Marlus thinks about who Batman could be and how cool he is while remarking how Wonder Woman is a: “Boring goody goody without a shred of intrigue to her……until I see her sharpening the saw on Wednesday.” This is when Marlus gets to observe Diana, who has secretly brought Cheetah, Lady Shiva & Killer Croc aboard the Watchtower to go hard training with her in exchange for reduced sentences, etc. Its so cool and Oswalt really shows how powerful and strong Wonder Woman is.

When he looks in on Plastic Man were treated to Plas, Ambush Bug and the Heckler(!!!!) bringing some kegs to the Watchtower to throw a raging party and we get an absolutely gorgeous two page spread of most of the coolest characters from late 90’s DC comics chatting and partying up. Of course Starman Jack Knight, the antiques dealer hipster would be espousing the talents of classic singer Solomon Burke. Of course Guy Gardner, famous bar owner, would be complaining about the Watchtower’s bar. And yes, that’s Stargirl and Jakeem Thunder arguing about Tamyra, one of the finalists on 2002’s first season of American Idol(Talk about a reference!!) Spoiler, Booster Gold, Cass Cain, Animal Man, Superboy!! This spread has it all. Ideal DC Comics era. Gleason destroys this page!

Marlus slinks away after the party to see the rest of the League, who in a nice touch, are condoning the party with Superman saying its for a good reason. I just love how humanizing this book is. Oswalt writes a good Kyle Rayner & Wally West as theyre usually joking with one another. They make a joke about Supes and Bats having underwear on the outside of their costumes and Superman chuckles. Marlus is surprised by this and thinks Superman is thicker skinned than he’d expect. All of this is just such rich characterization and interplay. I love it. Marlus then compares Wally & Kyle to a cop and firefighter he knew – “Always joking…but at the drop of a hat they were cold, capable and determined.” – which is perfect for them. But we also sadly see that firefighter didnt make it back one day.

Marlus then tries to catch some Z’s in Aquaman’s portion of the Watchtower which he’s seen on MTV’s Cribs (Ahhh a perfect reference for the time. My time). We then see Aquaman deal with some mermaid-nappers. I think a really powerful summation of Aquaman Oswalt does here after Aquaman emerges from a random river: “A King is a King in EVERY corner of his kingdom….and when he’s not in his kingdom? He’s still a king.” Again, just an excellent examination of these icons.

Another fun little panel Oswalt throws in is Batman berating Plastic Man with Marlus saying: “Everyone’s always pissed at Batman. It almost makes me like him again.” This is hilarious and pretty much sums up Batman all of the time.

Later a global catastrophe happens and we see Flash running to the Watchtower’s monitor room but he’s literally outrunning his voice. I know this has been done in comics but its yet another really nice touch done with the characters here. The team, besides Batman all go off to deal with the worldwide threats.

Batman is then greeted by a villain named Feast, who represents a group of alien or extradimensional villains who have made it so no human can die and they can use the Earth as a hotspot for a never dying breeding ground of parts for these would be conquerors. We get five pages of his evil monologue and him hyping up his team and how they are all superior to the League members and how they dont stand a chance and theyre all already beaten as Feast attacks Batman. Then the next page:

…Marlus sees on the screens, faster than he can register it, the League members each defeating a foe they just met! Marlus goes on to say in a very brilliant meta way:

“If this were a comic book, it would have run twenty issues, and taken all summer. But it takes minutes. The world is saved and its too big and fast to take in.” Thats so so good. Using Marlus as a regular guy seeing these larger than life heroes deal with yet another terrifying threat in minutes is such a great way of writing this. I love that we see the villains monologuing and thinking theyve handily beaten the League, only for them to almost instantly stop them completely.

Batman makes short work of Feast. “Of course, Batman’s enemies always seem to get it the worst” & “Batman was doing something with a ballpoint pen and…he was….i cant…. Feast cooperated. He cooperated okay?” Amazing lines!! This book is so damn entertaining.

We then get a nice little speech from all the members which REALLY boils them all down to a perfect essence in just a few words each. I love it. Its such an awesome moment that shows the strength and uniqueness of these characters. Patton Oswalt just GETS these characters!!! They then send Marlus home and we see them discuss the guy. In an “Of course!” moment we see Martian Manhunter immediately picked up on him being there and allowed him to stay and observe because J’onn, in one of his old civilian disguises, was the cop that Marlus mentioned earlier. And that cop’s firefighter buddy? Marlus’ dad who J’onn, with his weakness to fire, couldnt save. BOOOOOM!!! A surprisingly poignant powerful moment to wrap up the whole book

This entire comic is just so spectacular. It examines everything about superheroics, emotions, humanity, ethics, comics in general and it all does it in a wonderfully charming, joyful way. Oswalt manages to put every Leaguer under a microscope and in just a few sentences or pages distills them down to everything you need to know about them in a unique, powerful way. Its honestly brilliant stuff.

Let’s not forget Patrick Gleason here. There is SO MUCH to draw in this book and he pulls it all off in his trademark style. Its no wonder he is a heavily hyped industry superstar these days. Just beautiful work. I find all the stuff in here some of my favorite comic art of all time.

This book is important because its one of those regular person eye level viewpoint superhero books but its just about the most entertaining one ever done. It succeeds so well. Theres just so much to enjoy here. You could hand this book to someone who has never read a DC comic before and I think they’d instantly fall in love with, and more importantly, get a sense of understanding for all of these major characters. Its that good. I will champion it forever and its a travesty this isnt constantly kept in print and hyped up by DC.

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