Saturday, December 29, 2007

Justice League of America Annual #3 (1985)

Taking an even worse beating than the Justice League was their old satellite. Besides being ravaged by Martians in the previous year, it was supposedly destroyed again during the Crisis, then here it was blown up by an overloaded Red Tornado and fell out of orbit. Good thing the team had vacated the property after the very first attack. Satellite pieces began falling into Earth's atmosphere, which was especially strange since the intact ruins of the satellite would soon pop up in yet another JLofA story featuring Despero. But hey, let's not get sidetracked by too may writers taking out their aggression on a defenseless piece of orbiting architecture. In the annual, Firestorm, Black Canary, and Green Arrow teamed up to stop the debris from destroying property in Detroit. They were soon joined by Superman, Batman and the Outsiders without fanfare or introductions. Red Tornado's consciousness popped up in electric machinery, which he used to contact his girlfriend, Kathy Sutton. Various weather catastrophes engineered by Reddy, or more likely the Tornado Tyrant, afforded him the energy necessary to re manifest in non-robotic form. The new Tornado wanted to use his Crisis augmented power to restart life on Earth from a clean slate, its old inhabitants be damned. “Perhaps his madness stems from his mind’s separation from the android brain that housed it!” Manhunter’s notion failed to impress, and even Kathy's plea for peace failed, but betrayal on her part did cause the Red Tornado to discontinue his attacks. Feeling totally alone in the world, R.T. disappeared from the comics scene for several years...his place in the League taken by the Manhunter from Mars.

Martian Manhunter: “My Martian Vision confirms our worst fears! That is the JLA satellite... and it is heading this way! How could this have happened?” Manhunter swooped down to pick up Steel and Vibe to carry into the fray. “Come, my friends, there is work for us to do!” Reached maximum flight speed to deflect through personal impact the largest burning mass of debris before the flames wiped out his powers. “The Martian Manhunter! He was willing to sacrifice himself to deflect that huge chunk... but it wasn’t good enough!” He missed his aim by a shade, but Firestorm recovered the ball prior to rebound. When Green Arrow and Vibe began playing rough, J’Onn chastised, “Paco! Oliver!” I imagine he had the same tone a years later when he’d scold, “Guy! Booster!” Firestorm, the “original hothead,” spoiled his one chance to play peacemaker when he got in Steel’s face for calling the missing Red Tornado “the robot guy?” Manhunter physically came between the two, explaining, “Hold, Firestorm! I’m certain no offense was meant! Steel is simply uninformed!” Um, who was offending whom again? As for Reddy, a scan of the area with Martian Vision revealed tiny bits that, “my friends-- is all that remains of him!” Later flew Steel to a dam the Detroit Leaguers fought to save. Deduced that lightning was striking a bit too precisely, and followed the bolts to their orbiting satellite origin. Teamed with the arriving Superman to overwhelm the satellite’s force field with their combined might. The twin titans then departed to tackle more of these satellites solo. Later, when the Red Tornado Tyrant was briefly frozen, Manhunter managed to contain him with his malleable form.

Vibe: Began throwing shade toward Black Canary and Green Arrow on sight. Punched and generally manhandled by Ollie Queen. Freed workers trapped at a hydroelectric plant. Blasted Red Tornado repeatedly.

Steel: Punched random bits of flying debris, which y’know, doesn’t make it stop being random bits of flying debris or anything. Somehow caught a dead falling Manhunter after his collision with the fiery mass, using the same fantastic speed and accuracy that allowed him to punch random bits of flying debris. Held together a collapsing dam. Manhunter thought, “Hank possesses a strong spirit! It’s probably never occurred to him to doubt that he will succeed...”

Vixen: Used the power of eels to absorb rampant electric while helping shut down the power plant.

Zatanna: Paired off with Ralph to investigate rogue weather controlling satellites S.T.A.R. Labs had launched and lost mastery of. Was then set upon by same.

Elongated Man: Ralph shouldn’t have hit the red button, as his attempt to cause the weather satellites to auto destruct just alerted them to his location. Held Kathy Sutton as she shed tears over her betrayal.

Gypsy: Ran around the power plant barefoot. Caught in a blast by Red Tornado. Went incongruously Mr. Wizard on us with, “Stopped the airflow, Zatanna? The cycle of heat exchange from the equator to the poles? But that would cause all the high- and low-pressure systems to just deepen... to keep building up without an outlet!” Did she study really hard for a science test right before running away, or was there more to that “drabardi” business that Englehart was selling?

Dale Gunn: Brushed off his lab coat, but failed to put Red Tornado back together again. Guided Vixen in shutting down power plant. Studied spacial warps and red skies tied into the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Sue Dibney: Fretted over her husband while buying groceries for the Bunker, concerned for his safety after the death of Supergirl and the seeming demise of Red Tornado.

The Creators: Rick Hoberg always had a bit of early Starlin in his Bronze Age melange, while Mike Gustovich’s classicist style recalled elements of later Starlin, yet the end product was more of the Neal Adams school. Pretty nonetheless. The story by Dan Mishkin was somewhat shy of enthralling, but pleasant enough, and the mingling of Satellite and Detroit Leagues was intriguing, not to mention mildly meta.

J’Onn J’Onzz’s Nicknames of the Issue: “JJ” – Firestorm
“Greenie.” – Vibe.
“Green Guy.” – Vibe.

Most Embarrassing Vibe Quote of the Issue: “Maybe if you old dudes took better care of your space junk... we wouldn’a had to mop up after you at all!”

Friday, December 28, 2007

Justice League of America # 244 (11/85)

Dale Gunn: Piloted a borrowed NASA space shuttle 22,300 miles above the Earth.

Sue Dibney: Called shotgun.

Vixen: Marginally more useful than Sue Dibney.

Elongated Man: Acted as a ladder in a telescoping spacesuit to allow the Detroit Leaguers access from their space shuttle to the remains the JLA Satellite. Tried to explain the Multiverse to a disbelieving Paco.

Vibe: Talked jive. Blinded. Tried to talk more smack to Infinity Inc., but told by Zatanna, “Choke it down, Vibe. Choke it down.”

Gypsy: Coddled Vibe, who’d beem inadvertently blinded. “Zatanna, what did you do? Haven’t you done enough?”

Zatanna: Channelled sunlight into the Satellite’s storage cells, providing power enough for a year, and presumably drawing the eventual attention of Red Tornado. Healed Vibe and defended Detroit against baseball-sized hail.

Steel: Abandoned by Manhunter when the Alien saved the rest of the team. Tortured by his grandfather and Mekanique to make him “strong, as I was strong.” That pair also turned on the Infinitors, who were themselves rescued. Steel Junior upon release beat his grandfather into a short coma, eyes filled with tears.

Martian Manhunter: As Gypsy chided the deluded Vibe, who was calling for a rematch with infinity Incorporated, J’Onzz stated, “Your opinion is noted, Vibe. However, as current leader of the League, I must trust my own judgement.” He later said of his birthplace, "Perhaps if we had "freaked" when there was a fight, my young friend, Mars might still be a living planet...instead of a barren wasteland. You must learn to choose your battles wisely--as have I, at great cost." Employed the reinvigorated satellite’s capabilities to travel to Earth-2. He then led the Justice Society of America against the rogue hero they’d believed dead and his mechanical assistant, a foe they’d anachronistically faced decades previously. Just as that matter was resolving, “The ears of my people evolved from the thin air of Mars. I... hear something, despite the layers of soundproofing that protect the Bunker... a storm... and human cries...”

The Creators: Gerry Conway sent Commander Steel well past the point of redemption, though there would be some equivocation to come. Joe Staton continued what was becoming a tradition of having entirely inappropriate artists stiffly render a team of supposedly cool young heroes.

Most Embarrassing Vibe Quote of the Issue: “You think jus’ ‘cause I’m a kid from el barrio, I don’t know spit?”

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Infinity Inc. #19 (10/85)

After his terrible first outing as team leader against Amazo (nevermind the rampant deaths and his general impotence in the JLA Classified retcon “A Game of Chance,”) J’Onn J’Onzz and his team sorely needed to save face. This was not to be, as Hank Heywood Sr. had journeyed to his former home Earth-2 with the aid of the mysterious Mekanique to deceitfully enlist the services of Infinity Incorporated against his squatters at the Bunker. Before the League could explain away the original Commander Steel’s manufactured rational for conflict, the senior Heywod launched an offensive, dragging the offspring of the Justice Society of America into the thick of it. While it was clear the Detroit kids were pulling their punches, they were still punked in fast and furious fashion, proving once and for all they could in no way lay claim to being true to the legacy of the Justice League of America.

Steel: Tried to make peace in the midst of his grandfather’s spurious accusations, only to be sent flying by an unwarranted blow from Commander Steel. Well okay, Jr. did toss grandpa out a window in a previous appearance, but getting jabbed in the throat with an elbow more than evened that score. Finally downed by a girder to the face, the last Leaguer previously standing before being rescued by the Martian Manhunter.

Zatanna: Knocked out cold when Steel Jr. slammed backwards into her. Victim of a gratuitous heiny shot that is doubly offensive for its lack of arousing quality. Happenstance doomed Detroit League with her handicap.

Elongated Man: Thought Vibe’s breakin’ skillz were “terrific!” Busted a lame gag, then quizzed, “Aw, where’s that famous Martian sense of humor, J.J.?” Confronted accusers (and copped a feel off Zatanna’s tush,) demanding, “That’s enough from you and your teenage gang, Heywood!” Trussed the Fury with his durable elastic form, before being rendered comatose when the daughter of the Earth-2 Wonder Woman landed from a considerable leap skyward.

Vixen: Tried to tear a chunk out of Silver Scarab, son of the Earth-2 Hawkman, before falling to his energy blast while distracted.

Gypsy: Punched the Fury in the back of the head while invisible, but detected by Northwind and left dangling off the side of a building.

Vibe: Break-danced. Dealt both Green Lantern’s daughter and Northwind respectable blows before Jade recovered to pound him.

Martian Manhunter: When asked by Zee what he thought of Vibe’s busting a move, “Such antics are not to my tastes, Zatanna...” After their home invasion, Jade was shocked to find, “Huh? My God-- a green man!” Manter deadpanned, “You should talk, young lady!” There’s that famous Martian humor, Ralph. Once Commander Steel’s abuse turned from verbal to physical, Manhunter tried to intervene, but was blasted backward by Mekanique. He was then throttled by Nuklon, loose kin to the Golden Age Atom, who proved his command of variable density was at this time better than a Martian’s. Only stunned (as should be modern readers at this travesty,) Mekanique recognized the danger still posed by “the Alien,” and presented him with, “FIRE! My only-- nemesis--!” Sorry, Professor Hugo. “As for J’onn J’onzz, he has powers besides mere flight and super-speed. Powers to be carefully husbanded in adversity. And one of them-- is Martian Lungpower! The unconscious JLAers are blown away from the scene of their ignominious defeat-- as if they were but straws in a tornado. And a truly invisible Martian will soon join them-- so that they may fight another day.”

The Creators: Since Gerry Conway and Alan Gold were credited as consultants, one assumes the gave their blessing for writer/editor Roy Thomas’ pet team to completely own the Detroit League. Maybe they wanted to show their team’s human fallibility, but in truth this just proved their detractors right, that the characters they were writing were not what their fans wanted in a Justice League. This character mass assassination was abetted by new penciller Todd McFarlane, whose developing style made for characters that looked like they were inflated and storytelling made difficult by an overemphasis on design elements. J’Onn J’Onzz caught a nasty case of Spawn-Cape as well, looking like the drape over the sides of a parade float.

J’Onn J’Onzz’s Nicknames of the Issue: “J.J.” – Elongated Man.
“Greenie.” – Silver Scarab.
“Green Man.” – Jade & Fury.
“Alien.” – Commander Steel and Mekanique.

Most Embarrassing Vibe Quote of the Issue: “You’ll be sorry for that, amigo! Very sorry!”

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Crisis on Infinite Earths: Beyond the Silent Night (1985)

The real J'Onn J'Onzz, in the original continuity, finally showed up in Crisis #5, as part of a massive two-page crowd scene aboard The Monitor's satellite. A couple of pages later, Jemm: Son of Saturn was shown standing directly behind J'Onn, so this can be considered their first meeting. After a battle with the Red Tornado, J'Onzz swore, "This universe is imperilled.The new Justice League joins the battle.”

The Crisis was really hard on satellites. In #6, J'Onn held up part of The Monitor's damaged base, while offering help to the Outsider Katana and the angelic Azrael. Unfortunately, the Monitor's satellite was destroyed despite Manhunter's effort, so J'Onn joined the pair (plus the Golden Age Flash and the Legionnaire Blok in escaping to a parallel Earth. They arrived on Earth-4, the world of the classic Charlton Comics heroes. Blue Beetle, disbelieving the Monitor's story about the destruction of parallel Earths, led Captain Atom, Peacemaker, Nightshade, Judomaster, Thunderbolt, and The Question in an attack on J'Onn's team. "I'll question the how of it after I dispose of this 'Captain Atom'," J'Onn said, while blasting the hero with powerful Martian Vision. Blok then joined Manhunter in capturing the Beetle's Bug. Eventually, the Earth-4 heroes' terrified assault was revealed to be the Psycho Pirate's doing.

In #7 (Oct.'85) a group of heavyweights were chosen to enter the Anti-Matter Universe. The group included the Martian Manhunter, the Supermen of Earths 1 & 2, Wonder Woman, Firestorm, Supergirl, Wildfire, Jade, Captain Marvel, The Ray, Lady Quark, Mon-El, Pariah, Dr. Light, Captain Atom and Green Lantern Alan Scott. It was imperative that they directly challenge the Anti-Monitor, who had been destroying whole universes, then absorbing the power released by the destruction. Manhunter and Marvel stood together against giant stone guards, until Supergirl's making the ultimate heroic sacrifice to severely handicap the Anti-Monitor brought the battle to a halt. The heroes returned home, believing the threat had been ended along with the life of Kara Zor-El.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Ambush Bug Stocking Stuffer #1 (1986)

Keith Giffen's madman creation Ambush Bug, after a sort of "Red Skies" moment involving Dead Hukkas (don't ask,) needed help finding his stuffed sidekick (I mean it,) who had become a cannibal doll eater (just let it roll over you, already.) It seems the Crisis on Infinite Earths body count had gotten so high poor Jonni DC, Continuity Cop was backed up into the new year. While digging up the fallen's graves to confirm death, Cheeks the Toy Wonder had become a sort of zombie through contact with an irradiated bulldozer from Three Mile Island. Panicked, daddy Ambush Bug began calling all the super-teams he knew, including the Titans, the Legion, the Outsiders, and a certain Detroit based breakdancing outfit...

Most Embarrassing Vibe Quote of the Issue: "Jes? Jes, man. Thees eez the Justice League of America. No, he is not here. No, he is not here, either. No, she is not here. Hello? Hello?"

Don't feel bad, Paco. He hung up on Metamorpho as well. Wait, do feel bad.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

JLA: Incarnations #5 (11/2001)

Retroactive continuity struck again, this time when the Detroit era League was revisited by John Ostrander and Val Semeiks. In this first Post-Crisis look at the team, the hypocrisy of Aquaman’s quitting a neophyte League he had himself forced into existence was highlighted by Zatanna. “I resign effective immediately. J’Onn, you should be chairman. You have the most seniority. Good luck.” Both as a good friend and “big picture” type, J’Onzz defended the position. “It’s probably for the best. He was in denial of his grief over the death of his child. It drove off his wife. Now, he’s facing up to what matters most to him. It’s a good sign.” In light of circumstances, Elongated Man (the only other member present) questioned whether there was a viable Justice League left, between the immaturity of its new membership and (as Zatanna pointed out) the recent proliferation of super-teams. Manhunter soundly rejected the notion. “Of course there is [a need for a Justice League]. I respect all the groups you’ve mentioned but none of them does what the League does. The League leads. When there is a crisis, the other heroes--and the world--look to us first to deal with it, to rally others. We set the example.”

Meanwhile, the newer Leaguers were arguing over an article in publisher Tully Reed’s popular super-human magazine, “Meta,” which lambasted the team. Steel quipped to Paco/Vibe, “How can they disrespect you, Taco, when they have no respect for you?” Manhunter condemned, “That was a slur, Steel. Don’t use it again.” Steel went on to question J’Onzz’s appointment as leader. “Your headquarters belongs to my grandfather.” J’Onzz retorted , “We leave and this place is just a large fallout shelter. We take a room and it becomes the headquarters of the Justice League of America. You are in the League. You are not the League itself.” Zatanna whispered to Ralph, “This isn’t the League! This isn’t even a team yet!” Elongated Man consoled, “Ah, J’Onn will whip ‘em into shape. We’ll be okay so long as we don’t go up against anything major!”

The Crisis On Infinite Earths struck, although there was no such thing as Infinite Earths in the Post-Crisis DCU. Ostrander’s explanation sounded more like Valiant’s “Unity” crossover than the seminal comic book event. As explained by suddenly scientific-minded Gypsy, “Our universe was under attack by the Anti-Matter universe of Qward, led by the Anti-Monitor. He seeks to destroy the vibrational walls between present and future. Some alternate futures have already been destroyed. By reducing everything to a single point in time, the Anti-Monitor then plans to blast it with an antimatter cannon, making his universe the only one. His opponent was The Monitor, who created...machines, like temporal tuning forks, to keep time aligned...” The new League members did an admirable job of defending the “forks” against Shadow Wraiths and defeating Fire-Eye unchaperoned. (Fire-Eye, for the many who wouldn’t recall, was the intelligent meta-dinosaur who had previously been encountered by founding Leaguers, but via temporal anomaly, was facing a JLA team for his first time here.) Vibe asserted, “Man, that’s sweet. I wish J’Onn was here to see what we done.” He was. “The crisis is far from over. There is still much to do...but I want you to know that I am proud of you all today...and I am honored to stand with you.”

Steel: Contrary and borderline racist this outing, but he did topple a dinosaur and watch over Vibe.

Zatanna: Virtually nothing. A remarkable duplication of her characterization from the period depicted.

Elongated Man: Fretted over Sue and questioned the usefulness of the Detroit League.

Vixen: Teamed-up with Hawkman to blind Fire-Eye. Effectively stood up to Batman. Took styling tips from Patti LaBelle.

Gypsy: So much it will require separate notation in her biography. Seriously. Stop laughing.

Vibe: Made to look stupid and irresponsible when he tuned out Harbinger’s constant pseudo-scientific droning during Crisis, as if the readership didn’t do the same exact thing. Tried to run game on Kole. Used vibrational powers as directed by Gypsy to repair damages to time.

Martian Manhunter: Separated from his team while trying to salvage the Monitor’s satellite. More on that later.

Most Embarrassing Vibe Quote of the Issue: “This is muy weird, J’Onzz! I don’t do well with weird.”

Friday, December 14, 2007

JLA Classified #25 (9/06)

Vixen: Ran recon in the caves, ‘cuz she’s stealthy. Revealed she hated bears, but used their power and tried to save one that plunged to its death. “We’re still family!” Punched and kicked various bad people.

Gypsy: Powned everyone. Retroactively revealed to be some sort of minor vagabond goddess with a slew of powers and secret knowledge previously unknown to readers. Psychically guided all the Leaguers to where they needed to be to be while making them think they were just following intuition. Personally defeated Amos Fortune with a hook to the guy so severe it lifted him off the ground. Precognitive to boot. I can and likely will devote whole blogs to the impact this one issue would have on her history, if it were actually canonical. For instance, she’s way powerful enough to wander the streets of Detroit barefoot now, so that finally makes sense. Why didn’t I figure it out before?!? It was right in front of us the whole time!

Vibe: When not placed on the stealth squad, repeatedly protested “I’m very sneaky!” Fended off a fake lion. Zapped a Royal Flush Gangster. Thought of Gypsy, “Man, that chica digs me!” Instead, had his destiny secretly read. “Vibe--dead, in the future! The vision never changes!”

Steel: “And Steel, too!” D’oh! Beat up one old man, and contributed to the fatal coronary of another.

Martian Manhunter: “I’ll be fine, now that we’re away from the fire. To a Martian, fire’s like throwing an off switch. You’re completely helpless. Failed to deduce that Gypsy mentally manipulated him into position, unsure if she’d verbally called out to him, despite her protestation. Fought a faux she-demon. Outsmarted the bad lack powers directed against him. “I’m just walking-- putting one foot in front of the other. Luck has nothing to do with it.” Capitalized on the psychic feedback which struck the Royal Flush Gang after one of their members died. Hit a woman. “Something’s going on with Gypsy. But I still can’t read it.

Aquaman: Survived the fire with blood smeared on his person, but still collapsed from dehydration. Revived by a freak shower. Busts into the cave hideout just after the case was wrapped, shouting, “Thank Neptune! ...I would have been here sooner but I walked into the one thing I can’t handle--fire--” Manhunter replied, “Join the club.”

Dale Gunn: ...

The Creators: Steve Englehart digs on the Wiccan-Pagan-Devil-Worship-Jungle-Music, and his resume reflects it, so he clearly enjoyed writing Gypsy WAY beyond hr previously established perimeters as a Madonna/Cyndi Lauper wannabe with illusion powers. Tom Derenick also enjoyed drawing Gypsy’s physical development WAY beyond her years at this point in her history. Goddess or no, fifteen year olds shouldn’t look like that, nor astral project all nekkid like. At no point do either of them take Vibe remotely seriously, as illustrated by the turning of the severe downer reveal at the end of this fairly brutal arc into a jab at his complete cluelessness.

Aquaman, Vibe and Gypsy on the only cover to actually look like Mike Zeck drew it, though Jerry Ordway's inks still assimilate Gypsy.

Most Embarrassing Vibe Quote of the Issue: “What, man! Whatchu talkin’ about?”

Thursday, December 13, 2007

JLA Classified #24 (8/06)

Vixen: Absolutely took charge, using her powers to sense changes in the fire’s path and repeatedly guide her teammates away from immolation. She’s so impressive she rated a two-page origin recap and...

Steel: Admired Vixen. Carried J’Onn’s limp body all over the blazin’ forest.

Gypsy: Ran enough that she should start thinking really hard about investing in some kind of footwear. Flip-flops? Clogs? Something?

Vibe: Still doesn’t get what the big deal with the Taco Bell chihuahua was. Partly because he was dead by then. Also admired Gypsy, if by admire you mean wanted to sex up.

Martian Manhunter: Made Professor Xavier look like a physical dynamo by comparison. “You’re the only member I don’t worry about, Vixen. My body’s gone inert, but my mind hasn’t. I still hear your secret thoughts. For all of you to survive the JLA, I have to train you—and to train you, I have to know you, better than you know yourselves. I have no doubts about you, Mari. You’ve applied yourself to your gift. If there’s a way to succeed, you’ll find it. But Steel has become almost artificial, inside his artificial body -- he deadens the pain of his life -- Vibe thinks life is a wide-screen movie. He’s careless, cocky... and Gypsy -- I can’t get a handle on yet. She thinks in her Gypsy language -- “

Dale Gunn: Clearly not even piloting the L.O.S.T, because...

Aquaman: Piloted a L.O.S.T. over the inferno, then dove off into a nearby stream. “This is the glory of the Justice League—that a man with only water powers flies through the air to a fire! The team makes all of us more than we are alone! And that’s why I wanted to be its leader! I could have settled for King of the Sea, three-fourths of the planet—but leader of the Justice League means more!” Later, Arthur commanded a local trout to bob its head out of the water and discuss the sweep of the blaze. I swear, Jack Miller had nothing to do with this. Aquaman made his way to the team’s abandoned campsite. “Damn J’Onn for breaking all contact!” Feeling like stir fry, Aquaman dumped a pot of leftover--and quite hot-- water over his head. No, Dave Wood didn’t have a hand in it, either, regardless of Manhunter’s utter impotence to fire, lame theme villains, and the left-of-center circumstances. Trapped and parched, Aquaman found the burial mound of the Royal Flush members, noting blood has almost the same composition as sea water and smearing himself in it.

The Creators: See, no clear Silver Age analogue for that, nor even Steve Englehart’s old Bronze Age scripts. Meanwhile, perhaps pained as I was by Jerry Ordway’s over-embellishing on the covers, Tom Derenick channelled his inner Zeck to look more like the real thing than Mike himself did. On Aquaman, it took especially well.

Most Embarrassing Vibe Quote of the Issue: “You don’ haveta be so elusive wit’ us, chica!”

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

JLA Classified #23 (Late July, 2006)

Vibe: Caused the telepathically eavesdropping Martian pain with his mental mangling of the English language and delusions of competency, much less grandeur. “’Course, we ain’ got Superman or the Batman—but who needs ‘em. We got me. Throw in J’Onn J’Onzz, an’ Aquaman, an’ that’s plenty. The others... hey, a gang can always use numbers.” Meanwhile, in their time of need, Professor Amos Fortune returned to his Royal Flush Gang as a rather pudgy Ace of Spades, a spare Queen and Ten in tow to replaced the recently departed. While that may not sound like much of a challenge, Superman and Batman could have come in handy, as Fortune’s luck-altering device sent the Detroit League to seeming doom.

Martian Manhunter: “I’ve seen too many dead men, on too many worlds, to take any death lightly.” However, as this was the pre-new age Natural Martian, when Vibe asked if the League should uncover the squashed villains or let them stink, he replied, “We’ll take the bodies to the authorities when we go. We haven’t finished what we came here for. Just pile more boulders over the bodies to keep the animals away.” When his team was attacked again though, J’Onzz again failed to step up and actually lead his charges. He instead focused on a fistfight with the Ten of Spades, until an errant lighter and bad luck set the forest ablaze. J’Onn fell in to a burnin’ ring of fire. He went down as the flames went higher. It burns.

Vixen: Aside from razzing Vibe, took this mess in her usual stride. “J’Onn put Ten down for the count... of ten! With the viciousness of a wolverine, I should be able to get at least a five.” For the rest of us, that was more a count of three bad puns and another wink at the fourth wall. Got kind of bossy once J’Onn went down. Fell into a burnin’ ring of fire.

Steel: Whined. Buried. Fought. Trapped.

Gypsy: Whined. Eulogized. “...and we know nothing of their hopes for the afterlife, but we pray by Mary the gypsy that their best dreams will be realized...” Fought Amos Fortune, thanks to a brief reversal of fortune allowed by the Professor’s rivals, Jack and King. Trapped.

Aquaman: Must have gotten a sense of deja vu, as once again his team is getting it’s head handed to them in the Canadian wilderness and left for dead while he’s just now getting back to the Bunker. The snow’s melted into spring though, so I’ll just blame it on the Crisis.

Zatanna: According to the JLA status monitor, “beyond the pale.”

Elongated Man: According to the JLA status monitor, “Flash birthday party.” So definitely before the Crisis?

Sue Dibney: Barry’s party? Nope. “Boys only. Sexist macho piglets!” Questioned if Arthur valued her husband, to which he answered, “He’s proved himself time and again.” Arthur doesn’t call Ralph back because it would take too long, though, but insists he’s more concerned about the Manhunter. “J’Onn, in his infinite wisdom, shut off communications. He said something about getting to know the kids without interruption... Not that I don’t have faith in them-- but they haven’t proven themselves like Ralph.” I don’t care how sincere he sounds, that’s a backhanded comment for all concerned.

The Creators: Mick Zeck again buried under Jerry Ordway's cover inks, this time spotlighting Vibe and the Royal Flush Gang.

Most Embarrassing Vibe Quote of the Issue: “Ya know, this game is jus’ too easy! Th’ Jay-El-Lay roolz!”

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

JLA Classified #22 (Early July, 2006)

Martian Manhunter:”This team has a long way to go before it achieves the coherence it needs. [The elder Leaguers] and I can provide guidance--but only if you hear us. To that end, I’ve brought you four here [Biskotasi Peak in Ontario,] to train together on unfamiliar tasks, far from the Detroit streets you usually inhabit. It’s my intent to improve your trust in each other, and in yourselves.” Well, not just that, “ my telepathy allows me to listen secretly—to your innermost thoughts... It’s up to me to make sure you all get better.” Also, to fix burgers, though Vixen asserted that using a portable, flameless electric stove is neither camping nor cooking. Anyway, thank retroactive continuity for explaining the lack of Martian mental powers for most of Conway’s run and those ugly JLA signal rings.

Steel: Had a nightmare his now mustachioed grandfather and Dale Gunn held him down fully conscious before ripping into him for the operations that turned him into a cyborg. He awakened from his revere en route to a hike into the Canadian woods, presumably after the mission against Amazo. The peace and quiet made Steel inconsolable, as his body was in constant pain from its modifications. He smiled and put up a false front for his teammates, though for readers, the angst was endless. Like his grandfather, he secretly acknowledged to himself “Second-stringers, third-stringers, and rookies. The Justice League has gone to hell.” Also, he thought of J’Onn J’Onzz, “He learned English pretending to be a cop... but he was pretending. Who knows what a Martian feels inside?” Henshaw was raised to be a hero like his grandpa, so he ran maneuvers with his team, despite his loathing of their status and his own. Later in the evening, members of the Royal Flush Gang tracked the team down and used mood-altering playing cards to cause the Martian Manhunter to attack Hank. Though Henshaw never landed a single blow in his brief row with the Manhunter, he was clever enough to deduce the cause of the attack and rush the Gang with an uprooted tree trunk. In the melee, he accidentally crushed Queenie and Ten of Clubs with rolling boulders. Hank was only too happy to gloat to himself over his decisive move, showing no remorse other than being part of a League characterized as losers by, of all people, the Royal Flush Gang.

Dale Gunn: Only up for a dream sequence this time out.

Vixen: Hopped around tirelessly for most of the issue. Came on to Vibe due to a mood-altering card, only to be backhanded by a close-fisted Paco.

Gypsy: Joined Vixen and Vibe against Steel in maneuvers, but the only panty shot was hers. Nearly asphyxiated by a playing card.

Vibe: You already read it, except the part where he got decked by Queenie before her untimely smooshing.

Zatanna, Elongated Man & Sue Dibney: Absent. They knew what was good for them.

Aquaman: The main continuity sticking point, as Vibe and Steel are in their second uniforms, both donned after Arthur quit the team. So let’s just pretend that after Aquaman and Mera returned with the League to Michigan, the couple decided to stick around a bit longer to see if they could settle in there. Arthur remained team leader after J’Onn’s disastrous first outing, but suggested the return trip to Canada to encourage team building, including much needed management experience for J’Onn. Oh, and Steel decided to test-drive his new suit, but it got all sweaty with grass stains here, so it was at the dry cleaners throughout Crisis on Infinite Earths. Did I mention a random walleye happened to overhear the Royal Flush Gang plotting to ambush the League, found the Scion of the Seven Seas swimming laps in Lake Erie, and warned him? Also, did I mention Jack Miller didn’t write that?

The Creators: ...It was actually Steve Englehart, clearly having a ball with the type of oddball super-heroes that made him famous. Tom Derenick supplied the gratuitous panty shot, though it’s really always been Gypsy’s fault for wearing a skirt to a knife fight. Derenick recalled Ron Lim and Chuck Patton in equal measure. Jerry Ordway's inks overwhelm a cover pencilled by Mike Zeck of the full camping party.

J’Onn J’Onzz’s Nicknames of the Issue: Still using the full name at times, but Steel, Gypsy and Vixen all drop just "J'Onn" most of the time.

"Big Green" -Vibe.

Most Embarrassing Vibe Quote of the Issue: “C’mon, Jay-El-Lay! Le’s get ‘em!”