Monday, June 14, 2021

Justice League International #12 (1988)

Just once, I wish somebody would ask this about me.

Last issue, we learned . . . well, I don't remember what we learned. I don't think any questions were really answered. But this issue, the cover asks an explicit question so I'm guessing we'll definitely learn something this issue. Is Max Lord a man or a machine? My guess is he's a man because his nose bleeds when he pulls a psychic trick. That's definitely human behavior which I learned about from reading Stephen King books and watching The Price is Right. Judging by Maxwell Lord's half-expression on the cover, I don't think he's as confident as I am that he's a man.

This issue is called "Who is Maxwell Lord?" and begins with Metron telling us a little bit about himself.

I call myself a Grandmaster Comic Book Reader but I have to admit I needed to re-read Metron's final line a few times before I realized he wasn't saying, "I am VERY hungry!!"

Metron looks like he's played by David Warner in this issue which means I find myself liking him a little bit more than I usually do. I usually only like Metron about two-thirds as much as I like Silver Surfer. They're kind of the same thing: dudes riding around space on objects. But it's cooler to surf around space than couch potato around space. Unless that's just my California bias. Maybe people from the Midwest are all, "No way! Ya gotta love a guy what rides all up and down the space waves on a recliner, ya know?!"

I realize that the previous paragraph doesn't explain, at all, how much I like Metron because I never explained how much I like Silver Surfer. Oh well. That's life! Sometimes you can do the math problem and sometimes the math problem does you right in the butthole.

Dammit. Now I want some math problems to do me in the butthole.

The Justice League believe they can beat Metron's head in to solve their problems because that's the only play in their playbook. But Mister Miracle warns them to not upset Metron since he's a God. And as a God, Metron has the ability to turn the lights up to 11.

What kind of Green Lantern covers their eyes with their arm?! Make some fucking groovy shades, you dipshit.

Normally, I would lose respect for a character not doing the thing I expect them to do. But Guy Gardner is suffering from knock-on brain damage from Batman punching his already brain damaged face and isn't up to Green Lanterning at his usual high standards. So I can forgive him. Although to be completely transparent, I'm only forgiving him because he's my favorite Green Lantern. I would completely ream the fuck out of Hal or Kyle. Those guys suck.

I suppose I could also complain that the writer or the artist failed at their job but I'm tired of complaining about the real reason comic books are terrible. I'd rather write reviews in which I pretend I don't see the process and the story has come to me fully formed, as if from God Himself. I know that's a ridiculous thing to think because who believes in God these days? Ha ha! Be more believable, God!

The secret computer character whom Max has been working with (or being blackmailed by) realizes its plan has fallen apart because Metron and Mister Miracle are old buddies. It scraps the plan and retreats to wherever computer generated artificial intelligences hide in 1988. Probably a bulletin board that houses muffin recipes. Nobody would accidentally spend dial-up modem time accessing that board.

Meanwhile at the Global Guardians headquarters, everybody learns that the entire operation has lost funding and they'll now be super-heroing on a strictly voluntary basis. Since most heroes aren't Batman or Green Arrow rich that means finding another job. Green Flame and Ice Maiden decide to apply with Justice League International because how can they not get the job? I'm surprised this comic made it twelve issues with Black Canary being the only female on the team. Truly abysmal! Horrendous! Blatantly misogynistic!

Okay, now that I've proved I'm super feminist, I can do some of my "Women are bad drives" material, right?! I've got this great one about Helen Keller driving a car!

I'm not actually going to be making any gender specific jokes because I'm certain that Giffen and DeMatteis will do plenty.

The computer escapes to a lone machine in Max Lord's office where Max Lord begins to rethink his partnership with it. He's about to smash the computer when it decides to remind Max Lord how they met. It's going to answer the question posed by the title of the issue! But will it answer if Max is a man or a machine? That's the crucial question because it was asked on the cover and nothing I hate more than a comic book cover question that isn't answered.

Well, actually, I do hate many things more than that, even just in the "comic book cover" category. Like "Script and Dialogue by Ann Nocenti" or "Art by David Finch." I don't mean to suggest that David Finch is a terrible artist because I have to believe there are fans out there who love men drawn with fish lips and lines all over their faces while all the women are drawn as if they're fifteen (and quite often stepping out of the shower).

It turns out Maxwell Lord's origin story is super boring. He was an ambitious business man who probably would have become the exact person he is now except he met a computer along the way which helped him turn into the exact person he was turning into on his own. They formed a partnership and staged every single conflict the Justice League has faced since Issue #1. It's all been a big lie to advance Max and his computer buddy's agenda for world domination (under the guise of world peace). But Max was killed by the Manhunters in Millennium and repaired by his computer. But I guess the computer accidentally added a conscious when it repaired him because Max suddenly wants to be a good person doing good to help the world. He begins by smashing his computer buddy.

I guess if we ignore the metaphorical aspect of the question on the cover, this page answers the literal aspect. He's human.

Martian Manhunter reads Max's mind to make sure Max isn't still a big jerk and decides maybe he's learned his lesson. So why not keep him on as leader of the Justice League, right? It's not like Batman or Martian Manhunter want that kind of responsibility. I guess as readers we're supposed to pretend that the first year never happened? I'd probably like it better that way since the first year of the Justice League was just the Justice League battling simulated crimes. It was like Professor X's Danger Room but more stupid.

Letters this month were from Richard Heim, Jr, of Asheville, North Carolina; Dorman Earl A. Larr of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Edward A. Rozanski of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Franklin Miller III of Mt. Vernon, Kentucky; David Metz of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Charlie Harris of Tucson, Arizona; and The Purple Pickle of Nepean, Ontario. Of seven letters, only one praises the letterer, Bob Lappan. But one other does chastise him for not being consistent when spelling grey/gray. At least somebody else noticed him!

Justice League International #12 Rating: C. Most of the story was Max Lord's origin and it was just as boring as you'd expect as an origin for a business man. It was all, "Hey! I'm in business! But I want to be in more business! Because getting more and more businessier shows that you've got what it takes for business! I think it's called ambition! Unless it's actually called 'a cosmic robot intelligence with a desire to conquer the entire world.'" We did get to see the first appearance of Fire's ass. Here it is (not for prurient reasons but for, um, record keeping!):