Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Justice League Europe #3 (1989)

Someone's been throwing shit at Power Girl.

This is a good example of a comic book cover that is not iconic. There are many good reasons why this cover is not iconic. But I won't list them because I'm turning over a new leaf. This is one of those leaves that doesn't constantly insult people who put in hours and hours of hard work on a comic book cover that would eventually not be iconic. I'm just going to turn that leaf over so that it covers up all the shit I want to say about Power Girl's hair and her distorted body and Catherine's hair and Wally's face and some concerns over proportions and the colorist fucking up Red Rocket's feet and that vile word balloon. I guess it's more than just one leaf. It's a substantial pile of them and I'm turning them all over for good. I would like to be a good person and not a petty person. Besides, I only spent seventy-five cents on this comic book 33 years ago. What do I have to complain about?! Comic books were practically free entertainment back then. What did young me care if Bart Sears wiped his ass with a cover of Justice League Europe and called it good?! I was just happy to read a comic book with both of Power Girl's breasts in it! I mean with both Animal Man and Metamorpho in it!

Wait. Can I start over and just say, "Bart Sears' art just isn't for me"? Is it too late to take the high road or am I destined to live in the muck forever?!

This issue is called "Another Fine Mess!" which is yet another fine super old reference from Giffen and DeMatteis. I guess it wasn't super old back in 1989. It was just sorta old. And since Keith and J.M. are nearly twenty years older than I am, I suppose it was a reference from their time (if you believe that "their time" includes the three decades before they were even born (which I don't but I wouldn't want to assume that your concept of time is the same as mine)). "Another Fine Mess!" is also a weird title to give this book because I thought Justice League Europe was going to be more serious than Justice League America. How am I supposed to take this team's battle against Nazis and white supremacists seriously when Giffen and DeMatteis are making Laurel and Hardy references in their title?!

Captain's Atom lays it all out for tiny head in armor, long bendy neck head, these eyebrows are about to call you an asshole head, do these goggles make me look like a nerd head, 80s hair head, and The Flash.

Too bad Sue Dibny wasn't in on the meeting because she would have been "wants to suck Captain Atom's cock head."

There she is! Still dreaming about Captain Atom delivering a Hiroshima down her throat.

Captain Atom is in the dark about who might be trying to tie Justice League Europe to neo-Nazi groups or why the Global Guardians are attacking the Justice League or why a bunch of Parisians have been brainwashed into believing the Justice League are white supremacists. My guess is Captain Atom hasn't been reading Justice League America or else he'd realize all the evidence points to Queen Bee and Bialya.

Sue decides to check with Fire and Ice over at the Justice League America comic book because they used to be members of the Global Guardians. She informs them that a Jack O'Lantern and Owlwoman have joined forces with Queen Bee and the terrorist country of Bialya. So now Justice League Europe is all caught up! Elongated Man and Power Girl decide to investigate the old Global Guardians headquarters in Paris. So far, it seems like Sue Dibny is leading this team. She comes up with all the leads and sends the heroes out to investigate. Captain Atom just walks around practically naked not speaking French and upsetting the locals (because he can't speak French and not because his dick is practically hanging out. The French hate the former but love the latter. It's why they love baguettes and the Eifel Tower).

Dressed in their most 80s mufti, Elongated Man, Power Girl, and Animal Man head over to the museum which used to be the Global Guardians headquarters. Power Girl leads the mini-mission while Elongated Man is there to speak French, being the only one who can. I guess Animal Man is there to keep stray dogs away from them.

Wait. That's Wally?! That's two strikes, colorist Gene D'Angelo!

I suppose that could be Buddy Baker and he's just made about being called Wally rather than Wally being upset about being called Kid Flash. Although, really, I paid 75 cents for this thing. I should be lucky the artist decided to even draw hair on them.

You're a more perceptive man than me, Jack O'Lantern! I never would have guessed that was The Flash. And how the fuck did you know that was Elongated Man? His neck is normal length! I know how you recognized Power Girl though.

Jack O'Lantern mind controls the tourists and attacks the Justice League, pretending they attacked the civilians unprovoked. Hopefully he scrubs all the security footage in the place since none of it will show the Justice League attacking anybody. Also he admits that he's setting them up. Also how powerful does he think he is?! He's going up against Power Girl and The Flash! Oh, and, um, Elongated Man, I guess.

The Queen Bee has given Jack O'Lantern some enhancements (not that I know what those are because what were his powers to begin with? Create a spooky mood with flickering lights?) like a Booster Gold force field (which was technology probably stolen from Booster while he was kidnapped in Bialya). He manages to take out Wally and Ralph with some kind of electrical blast. But Power Girl remains standing so he runs. But not before he explains how he isn't running at all and could probably beat her but he has other business to attend to. Then he and Owlwoman set a timer on a bomb to blow up the building before they leave. But they give enough time for Power Girl and the men to get out because they're not bad guys! They're heroes, dammit! Freedom fighters! Revolutionaries! Terrorists! I mean, not that last one. Although they are working for Bialya so yes that last one. Everybody knows everybody in Bialya is a terrorist! It's the only way to not offend any readers! You have to make up a country where everybody is bad just because they're bad and not for any other religious or cultural reason at all! And then you stick it in the Middle East because, well, that was probably just a random coincidence and not meant in any other way at all.

Now everybody in Paris thinks Justice League Europe are a bunch of asshole Americans. Which they totally are! But not for the reasons everybody thinks they are. I don't think Jack O'Lantern had to concoct such an elaborate plan to turn the citizens of Paris against the Justice League. All he had to do was point out that only one of them can speak French and only one of the entire crew isn't American. And that one is Russian! Also just show loads and loads of pictures of Elongated Man's disgusting neck and twitchy nose every night on the evening news and the whole city will want them out in no time!

Power Girl isn't putting up with any more of your shit.

I see why Maxwell Lord sent Power Girl to the European team. He'd have gotten on her nerves way faster than Captain Atom has, after which she'd probably introduce himself to his lower intestines.

Letters this month were from John D. Vazquez of Manati, Puerto Rico; Melissa Page of Nortonville, Kentucky; Jeff Seaman (hee hee) of Yuba City, California; Jerry Muir of Fort Collins, Colorado; Scott R. Pyle of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Daryl Holloman of Jasper Alabama; Phil Puskala of Eau Clair, Michigan; Bob Felber of Woonsocket, Rhode Island; and Todd Bustillo of Cypress, California. Scott Pyle claims Rocket Red is his favorite member of the group so now we all now Scott Pyle is boring. Although Elongated Man is his least favorite so at least I know he's sane. None of the official letter writers mention letterer Bob Lappan even though they lavish praise on everybody else. Typical. Although the final editorial blurb is full of other people's edited letters and the final one from Bill Cuthbertson of Layton, Utah, suggests Gene D'Angelo and Bob Lappan should get their names on the cover because of how important they are to the work. That was probably the funniest line of the entire comic!

Justice League Europe #3 Rating: B. A lot of the letter writers were raving about the story but it, um, just isn't for me! Maybe in 1989, this story was innovative and interesting. But I can't judge it from that perspective anymore! I can only judge it after reading dozens of stories where some villain turns the citizens against Superman or Batman or Wonder Woman. Those stories always made me think, "How easily manipulated do writers think people are?!" But then I saw the way people fell all over themselves to worship Donald Trump and now I'm all, "Oh, yeah. There are terribly stupid, gullible, and hateful people in this world, aren't there?!" Although in this story, the citizens have all been mind controlled so that makes the story okay. That's why it gets a B!

Friday, September 16, 2022

Justice League America #27 (1989)

This must be a dream because Amanda Waller is barefoot and Morpheus is just standing there pretending he's a potted plant.

Blue Beetle was possessed last issue so the JLA has called in exorcist, um, Amanda Waller? I wouldn't trust Amanda Waller to decondition me from some freak phone call brainwashing accident because I wouldn't want a bomb surreptitiously placed inside my skull. But then I'm pretty smart! Or paranoid. Probably more one than the other. You know which one.

The cover of this issue wasn't done during one of those "All of our covers are parodies of movie posters!" months at DC Comics. The cover artist for this one just did it on a whim (probably at Giffen's suggestion (but also possibly not. Artists are pretty clever and whimsical themselves, you know! That's a free fun fact! You'll have to pay for the rest)).

Amanda might not be appearing here because Blue Beetle was phone-hypnotized by a woman cosplaying a bee. She might just be here on a Max Lord booty call. We all know those two were fucking. A lot.

This issue is called "Mindsnap" which is probably the name of a Magic the Gathering card that makes players groan in physical pain when it's played against them by some douche-bag blue control deck. That's a compliment to people who play control decks! I think I invented the control deck back when the game was still new because I remember everybody I played against hating my fucking guts.

The cover shows Amanda making a house call but the story begins in Belle Reve where Batman, Max, and Oberon have brought Blue Beetle so Amanda can fix him. Sure, he stabbed Oberon and tried to kill Max Lord. Some people might think that should be reported to the police. But no matter what you might think of Batman's violent tendencies toward the mentally ill, the police are even fucking worse. Especially the Gotham Police, the most realistic comic book example of real life police. So Batman thought, "It would be too dangerous to take Blue Beetle to the police. I'd better take him to Amanda Waller instead!"

Why is Murphy criticizing Oberon's sense of humor? Was there a joke somewhere that I missed?!

Murphy's idea of what makes a good sense of humor here is a nice example of the "nobody can take a joke anymore" kind of assholes society is currently riddled with. A certain type of person exists who believe jokes are merely playground insults and derogatory stereotypes. They don't understand how they're the ones with an underdeveloped sense of humor. I've written thousands of comedic comic book reviews and they don't rely on belittling people for a cheap laugh. I mean, they didn't start that way! But you try to figure out the fiftieth way to complain about Scott Lobdell's lazy writing or Ann Nocenti's incoherent dialogue before you lose your mind and just start insulting their parent's genitalia for the blasphemies they let loose on the world! You'd begin insulting Cullen Bunn too if you had to read an Aquaman space adventure where Aquaman never gets to talk to even one dolphin! You were hired to write Aquaman, Cullen! So write a fucking Aquaman script instead of pulling some John Carpenter from Mars script you wrote two years previously and just did a find and replace on "John Carpenter" to stick in "Aquaman."

I don't know what my point was because my point was supposed to be how conservatives think the only jokes are the ones that shit all over somebody and then I suddenly remembered how often I shit all over people. But I like to think I do it for a good reason! I paid $3.99 expecting some high quality entertainment and instead some hack writer decides to shit in my mouth! Am I supposed to just swallow it with a smile and proclaims, "That shit you just shat into my mouth just wasn't for me"? Fuck no! I'm going to blast that asshole the way that asshole's asshole just blasted me!

Anyway, I was wrong about everybody going to Belle Reve. Just Oberon went there to drop off a file with Amanda. Batman has remained behind to interrogate Blue Beetle in his room at the JLA embassy.

Some advice from a (probably?) smart and/or paranoid person: Beetle's reply here is the only one you should ever use if you find yourself being interrogated by the police.

Blue Beetle has been put in quarantine so that he doesn't try to murder again. Fire has also been quarantined for mysterious reasons. I don't think it's been revealed that her entire body now turns into green flames after getting sick from the meta-gene bomb but that's why she's been quarantined. Mostly because J'onn is now terrified of her. Booster and Ice, having lost access to their best friends, decide to hang out at a nearby diner. Luckily it's not the diner from the "24 Hours" issue of The Sandman which was probably on shelves right about the same time (I just did a quick fact check and, yes, this issue and Issue #6 of The Sandman both have June 89 dates. Grandmaster Comic Book Reviewer!).

In 1989, Ty Templeton still needed to work on his butts on barstools drawing technique.

Ice's butt actually looks better than I first thought when looking at the small panel. Booster's is still a bit dumpy. But who cares about guy butts?! Not me! A total man who only gets semi-erect when seeing a naked man's butt and not fully erect like when I see a naked woman's butt or a butt whose gender I have yet to confirm!

Amanda Waller arrives at the embassy (as depicted on the cover!) to deprogram Blue Beetle. Batman makes sure everybody at the embassy knows he feels castrated by this move seeing as he thinks he could do the job better than Amanda. But Amanda is all, "Oh, you're so good at deprogramming, remember that time you were brainwashed and made to kill people even though you still claim you don't kill?" And Batman is all, "This conversation is over!" All Amanda had to do was mention Deacon Blackthorne and Batman broke immediately! Which is weird because the cult leader who brainwashed Batman was named Deacon Blackfire. That's some strong brainwashing!

Blue Beetle, unable to remember nearly killing Oberon and Max Lord, spirals into an existential crisis.

I get why Booster Gold lives on the ragged edge of an existential breakdown because he's constantly living in terrible alternate time lines before he and Skeets fix them but what the fuck has pushed Blue Beetle over the edge? Starbucks getting his Frappuccino wrong for the fourth straight day?

I bet the above panel was the ur-idea for Tom King's take on Booster Gold in his Batman run and his entire Heroes in Crisis series.

Guy Gardner has currently been kicked out of the embassy, probably for making cracks about how Fire burns off all her clothes and fights crime naked now. I'm not sure why her nipples don't turn into little candle flames on top of her other flames. It probably has something to do with the stupid Comics Code Authority. Fascists. Oh, speaking of fascists, I forgot I was talking about Guy Gardner when thoughts of Fire's nipples interrupted. He's taken it upon himself to assault innocent people on the street in the name of justice. You litter? You get fucking beat up. Guy Gardner thinks about justice the same way most people on the Internet do: if somebody has done something you think is terrible, you then have carte blanche to be a raging asshole at that person. Also it doesn't matter if they did the thing. It only matters that you think they did it. Also that thing might not really be terrible. But somebody else on the Internet explained how the thing they did was terrible in such a way as to give you an excuse to treat them like shit on the shoe of another shit that happens to wear shoes and accidentally stepped in shit.

Don't try to use my words against me! As if I don't know that I'm typing this on the Internet. Obviously I'm also a raging asshole.

While interrogating Beetle, Amanda discovers that he's been turned into the Bialyan Candidate.

I'm flabbergasted that Giffen and DeMatteis didn't choose "Niagara Falls" as the activation phrase.

I'm not here to explain my out-of-date references! I'm only here to explain when Giffen and DeMatteis use out-of-date references! Besides, if you're reading this on the Internet, you've got every out-of-date reference at the tip of your fingers. We are living in a time when no reference is out-of-date because they're all so easily accessible.

Blue Beetle attacks Amanda because she said the activation phrase. I'm sure she did it so that she'd have an excuse to kick Blue Beetle's ass. He might be a super hero but there's no way he's powerful enough to beat Amanda Waller in a straight fist fight.

I'm sure Amanda is only saying this out loud so that the embassy cameras can pick it up and she can't be accused of doing it simply to beat up Blue Beetle. Not that anybody would care that she just beat up Blue Beetle. I mean, Maxwell Lord eventually kills him!

That might be the first and only appearance of Amanda admitting to doing something dumb. And, as I pointed out, I'm sure she's doing it to set up a defense against accusations of her mindless violence toward somebody who is currently suffering from some kind of mental break. But then, why can't she punch Blue Beetle in the face when he's going through some shit? If Batman can do it to Guy Gardner, somebody with a history of personality disorders caused by brain damage, doesn't that mean everybody is free to beat up their coworkers, no matter their medical history!? With the exception of punching Batman, of course. That would just be dumb. You don't punch a guy whose mental illness causes him to constantly put people in the hospital (and probably the morgue when the doctors fail to save them from their extensive injuries).

And this is where Tom King got his idea for his Mister Miracle series! Is this the only issue of a comic book Tom King ever read?!

I bet if I think about it longer than I'm willing to think about it, I can come up with a link between all of this Bialyan nonsense and The Sheriff of Babylon.

Blue Beetle's mind was apparently messed with back when he and Booster and Fire and Ice and Batman were running around in Bialya causing trouble. Nobody seems to think, "What if Booster, Fire, and Ice have all been programmed to kill as well?" Nobody would think Batman was programmed to kill because he's already been programmed to kill by years and years of mental trauma brought on by seeing his parents murdered and Alfred not getting him counseling. No programming is going to override the mess inside Bruce Wayne's mind.

While Waller gets back to trying to fix Blue Beetle, there's a scene with Fire in her underwear. Ty Templeton doesn't seem to be an average comic book artist because the scene isn't lascivious. It's just Fire in a nighty talking with Oberon about her accident and how Guy Gardner saved everybody. How? I don't know either because it didn't appear in the story or my memory is terrible. He probably just contained her in a big green bubble until she passed out and nearly died. What a hero! Although he was booted from the Embassy afterward so I'm assuming that after saving her, he just stared at her naked body instead of getting help.

This scene of Beetle undergoing therapy laid out in Giffen's usual 9-panel style has not unconvinced me that Tom King's Heroes in Crisis owes a lot to this issue.

Amanda Waller regresses Beetle until he remembers being programmed. The Queen Bee and Jack O'Lantern put the hypnotic suggestions in him while some other people in the same room were getting it done too. Probably UN officials! But somebody else she names? Booster Gold! Well duh! It was one of the first things I thought of! How stupid is Batman not to think that if Beetle was compromised, the other members of the League in Bialya may have been also! I guess I'm just smarter than Batman! Or more paranoid.

Blue Beetle falls into a coma due to Waller's intruding on his mind and Batman feels the only way to now help him is to go after Doctor Fate. But Doctor Fate is now a man and a woman or something. So Batman just grabs up Kent Nelson sans helmet and godly possession and figures, "Enh. Good enough." Plus he has a puppy!

Letters this month from George Gustines of New York, New York; Bill Thiessen of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia; Josh Stecker of Rancho Santa Margarita, California; Charlie Harris of Tucson, Arizona; Todd Hitchcock of Pulaski, New York; Patrick Scottman of Durham, New Hampshire; Gary Brda of Dearborn Heights, Michigan; and Jody Hamby of Tennessee. None of them praise the lettering of Bob Lappan.

Justice League America #27 Rating: B+. Nobody fought any bad guys (aside from Guy Gardner assaulting a litter bug but I think that might be vigilantism gone mad) so I considered giving this issue an F. But I'm pretty sure we have every single thing Tom King wrote to thank for this single issue so I've got to up the grade to a B+ at least! Hell if it only gave us the following three panels, I'd up the grade that high!

I'll admit that maybe Tom King got his ideas from other places but you'd have to be more convincing in your arguments than most people on the Internet are capable.