Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Justice League International Annual #3 (1989)

Fire, Ice, Beetle, and Booster in Season Three of White Lotus. Spoiler: the dead body was Blue Beetle.

I fucking hate Annuals but here I am reading them because stupid 18 year old me decided to buy them. I think DC knew fans hated Annuals which is why they eventually decided to have big summer crossover events that took place in the Annuals. The editors were all, "Nobody is buying the fucking Annuals. How do we force them to buy the Annuals? If only Paul Dini would hurry up and create Harley Quinn, we could stick her on the cover of every Annual and people would snatch them up like they were acid tabs with Harley Quinn printed on them. But no! The fucking lazy bastard. I guess we'll have to tie all of the Annuals into a huge crossover event and then tie the event into one or two of the monthly issues. That'll teach the bastards to not buy Annuals! Or will it teach them to buy Annuals? Can somebody explain to me the difference between those two statements and which one I should be using?"

Despising annuals is like having a phantom limb. I used to hate them because they didn't fit into continuity very well, and often could just be ignored, and yet I bought them anyway, just in case! Now I don't read comics for any universal continuity and so I should just enjoy the stories told within annuals. But I can't shake the memory of my intense hatred of them. Maybe it's just that I don't really enjoy comic books the way I want to enjoy comic books. I think the only things I truly love earnestly are Sailor Moon and Lazy Town.

The first story is about a Pacific Islander tribe who have a problem: their location makes them a strategic foothold for both the Soviets and the Americans but they just want to be left alone. One of the tribe has a less-than-brilliant idea: give the island to Justice League International so it basically becomes neutral territory. What inspired Giffen and DeMatteis to think up this story? Was it the plot of a Marx Brothers' movie? Or did the artist, Mike McKone, approach them over lunch in the commissary one day and say, "Hey, can you write a story so that I can draw Fire and Ice in bikinis?" Then they were all, "Oh boy can we!" Then he turned in some concept art and they were all, "Maybe we'll keep their clothes on for this one."

What the fuck is going on with The Flash's lower torso? Is that The Flash's schlong?! How does he run so fast with that thing flapping between his legs?!

Max is sending various members of the Justice League to various embassies around the world. I'm afraid this story is going to be just as boring as it sounds. Unless it's full of 80s stereotypes! Then I might get a few rough chuckles out of it.

Ten pages in and there's little story but DeMatteis has dropped a joke about Brooklyn College not being a great school five times already. My initial thought was, "I bet Keith Giffen went there!" But it turns out DeMatteis went there and this is a bit of the old self-abasement. The tribe member from Kooey Kooey Kooey Island looks pretty white as well so maybe he's based on entirely on J.M. DeMatteis. It's hard to tell if the character looks like DeMatteis as I didn't do a lot of digging and 60+ year old DeMatties, bald and graying, doesn't look anything like the young guy in this issue. The character really just looks like Max Lord with a blonde wig.

Herb, the Kooey Kooey Kooey liaison whom I'm assuming is a J.M. DeMatteis stand-in, arrives in Tokyo but is sent on to New York via the Justice League teleporters known for destroying luggage (as we were reminded in the panel with The Flash's horse penis). The rest of the team has moved on to check out the inactive embassy in Brazil, so Martian Manhunter and Oberon will have to deal with the Kooey Kooey Kooey delegate (KKK? Really, DeMatteis?).

Go woke, go get shot in the face by Maxwell Lord. Is that how the Incel Gamergate saying goes?

Just to make sure everybody feels as disgusted as I do, there hasn't been a single panel starring Ralph Dibny where his neck wasn't at least 20 feet long.

Ugh. So gross.

Imagine if you had some big, long extremity. Would you go flashing it all...oh, never mind. I see why he does it.

Meanwhile, The Rising Sun, one of the Global Guardians who was brainwashed by Queen Bee to convince Europe that the Justice League were Nazis but then fell into a coma, has been transferred to the Justice League Japanese Embassy. It's not because Europeans don't know how to treat Japanese like you probably thought because you're almost certainly a huge racist! It's because Doctor Light, who is also Japanese, wants to have a look at him. Not because he's Japanese and she can only work on Japanese patients like you probably thought because you're almost certainly a huge racist! It's because they both have light powers! Unless it's because of the Japanese thing which is what I first thought because I'm apparently almost certainly a huge racist.

But at least I'm not a transphobe like Animal Man! Probably.

I say things like "I'm almost certainly a huge racist" and "I'm probably not a transphobe" because I'm not a perfect human being and I'm going to make mistakes. And if you think of yourself as perfect and not racist or biased in anyway, you close yourself off to accepting criticism and changing. Because if you view yourself as perfect and blameless, any criticism against you will be seen as a malicious attack! I prefer to think of myself as a terribly slow moving work-in-progress! Also, I know I'm a dinosaur and nothing I say or do matters. I'm content to let the kids change the world into whatever they think it should be! Why the fuck should I have negative opinions about it? In my day, we played a game called Smear the Queer and used the word "gay" to denote anything that was lame. Why would I think the version of the world I grew up in should never be lost?! Good riddance!

Martian Manhunter has been saddled with leading the Kooey Kooey Kooey delegation from embassy to embassy trying to catch up to Maxwell Lord. But they keep managing to stay one embassy ahead of him.

They don't stock a lighter or a book of matches at the Tokyo Embassy?

Max Lord and the others arrive at the London Embassy where they find it run by John Cleese's character from Fawlty Towers. It's mostly forgettable but I mention it because it leads to a really rare unicorn Elongated Man panel:

I guess when his neck is normal sized, his dick hangs down to his knees. No wonder he keeps his neck so long! It's less embarrassing.

Eventually Martian Manhunter catches up to everybody else in Paris where Max Lord makes a deal to create an embassy on Kooey Kooey Kooey Island. Which is why I dug up this annual to read while in the middle of reading Justice League America #33 and learning, via a note from the editor, that this comic had apparently been published before that issue. That's another reason I hate Annuals! Shouldn't this have been published after JLA Issue #36?!

That's the first story coming in at 32 pages. And according to the cover, the second story is also going to be 32 pages. Another reason I hate Annuals! Why do they have to be so long to tell the dumbest stories?!

In the second story, Martian Manhunter teams up with Batman to investigate the murder of a Gotham cop whom J'onn worked with when he first came to Earth. Turns out the cop's death was a random killing by some drugged up kid and not some huge conspiracy planned by a mob boss. Batman is all, "I'm sorry to report that his death was random and there is already a Batman so I don't know how you're going to deal with it." And Martian Manhunter is all, "Everything happens for a reason. That's Martian wisdom! Y'all don't have wisdom like that on Earth apparently or else you wouldn't be so fucking insane, Batman." Then Martian Manhunter flashes a few people in his true form and it makes him feel better. Batman continues to never feel better. The end!

The issue finishes with several Who's Who entries on the Embassy Chiefs and an assortment of other employees. I read them all because they were sort of funny and Keith Giffen did the art for the character portraits. The Russian bodyguards, twin sisters, keep a running total on all of the men they've fucked. Numbers were not given.

Justice League International Annual #3 Rating: I don't rate Annuals! It wasn't terrible but the cover was the best part. That means I could have looked at it on the rack back in 1989 and been satisfied but instead I decided to blow a buck seventy-five on it, read it, forget everything in it, wait thirty years, and read it again. Future plans: forget everything in it.

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