Friday, March 21, 2008

Justice League of America #249 (4/86)

Martian Manhunter: "...according to the medical lab's sensor... Vixen is dying... Her life in indeed slipping away, like water through the sands of the Martian desert... but we can find no indication of disease. It is as if some external force were draining the very life-energy from her body... leaving behind a dried, mummified shell of the young woman we know..." Found a bit of the creature "Junior's" dried skin, which he studied with an ever-clouding mind while ordering Vibe and Steel after the beast. Leaned on League computer to compensate for his failings. Learned from it that "Junior" was a semi-sentient plant that developed from a microscopic spore that clung to Superman's cape on an extra-terrestrial mission. Told spore lives of life energy rather than sunlight."Gods of Mars." Collapsed into a coma before he was able to activate J.L.A. emergency distress signal.

Vixen: Too sick to mind that "dried, mummified shell" line.

Elongated Man: Helped J'Onn J'Onzz run tests on Vixen. Got woozy. Got old.

Zatanna: Took "ashes" to Mama LaRue in Greenwich Village, who dispelled the notion it was from missing roommate Sheri Stanley. Proved to instead be graveyard dust, in use by a nefarious new magical mover and shaker about town. Zee followed up on a note left by Sheri to investigate the marina. Never acknowledged a painfully extraneous pair of numbskulls trying to pick her up as she walked down the street.

Gypsy: Argued with teammates over "Junior's" innocence, then ran off with it after the creature again attacked Vibe and Steel. Second Leaguer to age rapidly.

Vibe: Used his superior reason to convince Gypsy to reconsider the potential threat of "Junior." Yes, I just wrote a sentence combining "Vibe" and "superior reason." I can't believe it, either. Accidentally caused a small cave-in which using his powers against Junior, mostly to make me feel better about that "superior reason" business.

Steel: After both he and Vibe falter before Junior, deduces the creature has an effect on the quality of reason in person within its proximity. That helps explain Vibe's "superior wisdom," but created the whole new problem of Steel's displaying keen deductive reasoning. Everything I know is a terrible lie!

Interlude: On the planet Kalanor, servants tended to a blazing pit. "Behold the Flame of Py'tar. Those who are not destroyed by its purifying embrace achieve wisdom and power beyond imagination. Will you risk the flame, master?" A nude silhouette with a scalloped head answered, "For what I seek, I would risk eternity." This being then allowed the blaze to immolate him. "The pain is indescribable: It goes beyond agony to the far reaches of madness. He welcomes the pain, he embraces the madness. Soon he will have power enough to take vengeance on the Justice League. His wild laughter ends in a scream."

Sue Dibney: Ate pizza with Ralph last night. Returned home to the Secret Sanctuary with a new costume for her husband, this one her favored color of purple. Almost ran over Junior and Gypsy. Discovered Gypsy's serious ailment, then joined Steel and Vibe for a return trip to headquarters. Realized "Junior" was truly evil, enjoying his food at the expense of our heroes, who are all near death by issue's end. Finding J'Onn J'Onzz while on the run from an unknown being that emerged from the chrysalis of Junior, Sue activated the alarm before falling herself.

The Creators: Luke McDonnell and Bill Wray seriously brought their A-game in showing the Leaguers' terrible decline into infirmity. Gerry Conway follows suit, elevating the dread at the overwhelming horror the heroes face. Even colorist Gene D'Angelo was noteworthy for keeping up the mood and subtlety. Outstanding team effort.

J’Onn J’Onzz’s Nicknames of the Issue: “Big Green”-Vibe.

Most Embarrassing Vibe Quote of the Issue: "Madre dios! A cave-in!"

Friday, March 14, 2008

Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #13-17 (2007-8)

Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Art by Joe Benitez & Ed Benes
Covers by Ian Churchill

I missed the Wedding Special, but I was able to jump into the storyline cold: JLAers captured by Injustice Gang, drawn extra-skinny by a former Top Cow artist. The very black Milestone Comics co-founder writing the book has also upped the profile of darkest League membership ever, meaning more than one at a time, with John Stewart in a leadership role. I can live with this. The story is fun and fast-paced-- perhaps too much so. Despite the Image art style, the pages have plenty of panels, but they're often near silent action beats. Should I be surprised a former scripter for animated series has turned the comic into a glorified storyboard? Umm... not after slogging through those tedious Brad Meltzer issues.

The second issue (third, I suppose) misplaced Green Lantern, but Black Lightning represents. Shame about his lame current costume (Newell design FTW) and "negative combover." Note to artist: a great many black men like hair on their heads. Another note, this time to Ed Benes: If you must draw heroines as pin-ups, at least put some meat on them. Bad enough Black Canary must again be bound helplessly and eroticized, but can her butt look slightly more developed than playground pedophile fodder? Also, just start drawing Wonder Woman nude. It would be more respectable than strategically placing her outfit the very cusp of every one of her naughty bits. Points earned for the Legion of Doom headquarters, minus quite a few for reminding everyone of the kraptonite shank from "Superman Returns."

Final chapter calls Jason Rusche off the bench, more dynamic than the 25 or so issues of Firestorm I suffered through expecting it to finally turn a corner. Not to be. Great collection of iconic and under appreciated villainy, as well.

No disassemble Red Tornado! Johnny Smith is alive! No thanks-- leave him in the hard drive to replace Oracle or (yet again) J'Onn. Much hate here for stupid Red Usurper!

Written by Dwayne McDuffie and Alan Burnett
Art by Joe Benitez and Allan Jefferson

Here is where balls drop. Super-heroes behave stupidly. "Red Arrow" (ugh) is overplayed. I will always dig Speedy, but he's a hand-to-tushy man, not a fightin' machine. I'd be seriously peeved about paying $2.99 for a preview of an external event mini-series if I hadn't read it free at the library. That would be you I hosed, Dan Didio. Expect more where that came from. You're owed.

Speaking of Speedy love, a back-up feature rescues a sorta-kinda Roy Harper rogue from the pawn shop. The story isn't worth reading, and it sets up another event mini-series, but there went your silver lining.

Written by Dwayne McDuffie and Alan Burnett
Art by Ed Benes, Jon Boy Meyer and Sandra Hope
Cover by Ethan Van Sciver

OUTSTANDING cover! An instant classic if the interior story is half as good! Welp, screw you readers, as this is more novelty and marketing for other DC titles. Members of the Cadre pop up to be beaten by Black Lightning alone. This is why Vibe will never, ever be resurrected. Crowbar specifically needs to just give up the life of crime in favor of playing Tuesday night open mic in a Village People cover band. These characters are drawn better than ever, proving soundly their utter lack of worth, as they're still laughable. I almost sent this review over to the Idol-Head, as the Human Flame cameos with the Cadre, but even I found that too much of a reach.

Dwayne McDuffie continues to waste space on the lousy Vixen subplot Meltzer should have resolved his own damned self. I like Vixen, which is a good thing, because she's having her personal "Steel in 52" spectacle here where the awfulness of her arc will probably drive any potential new fans to lingering animosity toward her.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Who's Who Vol.V: Commander Steel (7/85)

Just to keep things from getting too heavy with text, and to post something before it's too far removed from relevancy, here's the bio page for right-wing nutjob and former Detroit benefactor/frienemy Commander Steel. Click the pic for full information.