Monday, January 23, 2023

Justice League International Special #1 (1990)

This looks as shitty as an annual.

How was younger me so bamboozled by comic book continuity that he kept purchasing all of these extra issues that invariably had nothing to do with continuity? Okay, I know how that sounds. "How was younger you bamboozled by continuity if he kept buying books that had nothing to do with continuity?" I see where you're confused. Younger me didn't know they weren't going to have anything to do with continuity. That might sound stupid and naïve but I really thought, "If I don't get every comic book labeled 'Justice League,' I'm going to miss out on something important!" I remember my main concern with death as a teenager was that I'd never find out what happened in my comic book stories! Imagine that! I was so young and dumb that I thought the stories would culminate in some kind of satisfying resolution instead of just going on and on and on with characters never actually changing or growing! At least my grandmother's soap operas actually had characters aging along with their actors so there was some illusion of movement in their lives! But with comic books, I was afraid to miss out on the next eighteen times Batman battled The Joker only to throw him in Arkham where he eventually escapes for a story slightly altered from previous issues.

Anyway, that's how I wound up with this stupid Mister Miracle World Tour. What the fuck is this shit? Why should I care?! Don't the Justice League ever do anything that has to do with justice in any way?! They're nearly as bad as The Titans who never once helped New York City and almost always destroyed part of it while fighting evil family members bent on revenge. Remember Councilwoman Alderman and how Marv Wolfman tried to portray her as the bad guy for wanting to shut down the Titans and send them packing from her city? Remember how every time she'd point out how dangerous they were to her city, we, the readers, would think, "She's really got a good point! They never do anything but fight their mothers and fathers! What good are they?!" Councilwoman Alderman was the true hero of that book!

The story begins with Manga Khan headed back to Earth. He's the guy who talks to himself a lot, has an assistant named L-Ron, and runs an intergalactic home shopping network. Apparently somebody on Earth has purchased something without reading the fine print so he's on his way to, I don't know, blow it up or something.

Kilowog is going to be pretty pissed off when he finds the monitor full of crossbow bolts.

See? My joke was riffing on The Huntress explaining that she has talents better suited to something else but those talents are mostly just shooting crossbow bolts! I needed to explain that because people who read comic books and comic book "reviews" are kind of dumb. I mean, have you read comic book reviews sites?! They're fucking boring (especially those guys at my nemesis site! I'd link the site but I fucking forgot who they were. My only clue to their identity was that they somehow loved Scott Lobdell and would often blow Neal Adams' post-New-52 stuff (which was frankly unreadable)). And have you read comic books? Holy shit do they suck!

The Huntress points out that the JLI monitor is fully automated and Oberon responds with, "Suck it, toots!" Then he stomps off thinking, "What a dumb whore! Thinking a fully-automated system could actually do monitor duty itself!" I mean, yeah, fucknuts. Perhaps if it can't, stop telling everybody it's fully automated. Sounds like maybe it's partially automated, or not-at-all automated. Fucking bald bureaucratic piece of shit.

I just wanted to add this as proof that Oberon thought the things he thought (okay, maybe not "dumb whore") and that Fire looks hot in her ripped-up jeans.

Fire picks up Oberon and kisses him goodbye so I can only assume that his underpants are now caked in semen.

Oberon laments that Funky Flashman is helping run Mister Miracle's World Tour. I guess that means this issue is going to be full of jabs at Stan Lee because Funky Flashman is based on Stan Lee. I think. I don't do research; I just rely on whatever my brain thinks it knows. It works out about 60% of the time!

Beetle convinces Booster to go on a date with him to "Medison Square Gardens" to see the start of Mister Miracle's World Tour. It's definitely a date because Booster Gold feels the need to point out that he's only after romance. No dick tonight.

At least I think that's what he's saying here. I can't fucking figure out any other interpretation.

Luckily The Huntress is on monitor duty so that she can see the alert about Manga Khan's ship approaching Earth. An alert that apparently couldn't have been automated to alert individual members of the Justice League via their Justice League Alert Thingamabobs. She informs Martian Manhunter of Manga Khan's approach and he sighs and rolls his eyes and contemplates suicide.

Fire and Ice agreed to be Booster and Beetle's beards.

Hoo boy. I feel a quick summation of the rest of the comic coming followed by a low rating and a slight depression ruining the rest of my night as I contemplate how shitty my life turned out. This special is just so fucking dumb. No wonder it's taken me over a week to read this thing. My subconscious probably remembered how terrible it was and kept forcing me to do other things, like play X-Com 2 or masturbate.

Anyway, everybody winds up on Manga Khan's ship wondering whether they should be kicking his ass or not. Except Guy, of course. He kicks the asses of a bunch of robots before somebody calms his dumb ass down. Because Manga Khan isn't here to fight! He's here to insist that Mister Miracle fulfill the contract Funky Flashman got him to sign where Scott agrees to tour the universe promoting "The Miracle Mister," a cleaning appliance. If you don't get it, that's okay because it's fucking stupid.

Did I mention Oberon was dressed up like a clown for the performance? Probably because Funky Flashman demanded it and nobody goes against Funky Flashman's demands or else they spend the next fifty years of their lives watching the corporation they worked for make billions of dollars off off of their imagination. Oh, even if they didn't go against his demands, I think that happened too. Not like DC was ever any better (because Funky Flashman is Stan Lee, remember? So I'm talking about Marvel here, and Jack Kirby!). But since DC has a character based on Stan Lee, they can write a comic book that says, "Careful about the contract you sign with Stan Lee! He's just going to use you to get rich and promote himself while also taking as much of the credit as possible! Not like us here at DC! You'll notice Marvel doesn't have a character based on any of our editorial management and that's not because we're all boring pricks!"

Since Mister Miracle has been Shanghai'd by Manga Khan and Funky Flashman, a robot Mister Miracle has been created to take his place in the pages of Justice League America. Which means this entire "Special" was created simply to explain how Mister Miracle is in space on tour with Manga Khan in the pages of his own comic book and still goofing around in the Justice League comic book. So all that bullshit about how I was always buying all the Specials and Annuals even though they were never much for continuity was completely wrong. This comic book exists simply for continuity's sake! And it shows because it's fucking terrible! And boring! Although Fire has a few good cleavage shots so it wasn't a total waste of my time.

Justice League International Special #1 Rating: D-. I hated every minute I spent reading this comic book. And now I have to live with the knowledge that I read it fucking twice.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Justice League America #36 (March 1990)

Some people can't look at this cover without feeling aroused.

I didn't mean to suggest I'm "some people." I absolutely do not get off on crushing small animals. I'm one of those absolutely cynical assholes who finds nothing sacred but who also can't stand to see any animals come to harm. So, you know, a sociopath. The other day I was talking about the movie Pig with the Non-Certified Spouse and my voice began shaking and I began tearing up. That same day, somebody I follow on Twitter linked to the Seamus Heaney poem, "The Early Purges", and by the very first line, I was fucking sobbing. It's an incredible poem and I absolutely hate it and you should never read it if you haven't and I'm sorry for even mentioning it here. And Pig may be the best movie I saw in 2021 while also being the most traumatic thing to happen to me that year. Recommending a movie like Pig, I take the same stance I did when friends asked me if they should try LSD: "Look. I love it but I can't recommend it to you because I don't know how you'd react to the experience." Is part of being a sociopath also finding extreme value in art that completely fucks you up? Maybe it's just my age. I'm so inured to the constant yet mundane daily violences of life that I need terrible and catastrophic experiences through art to even feel anything at all. You put a trigger warning on something, and I'm all over it! Except that the trigger warning is like Kevlar, encasing me in a protective vest so that my mind can soften the impact of whatever the warning suggests. I find more value in a work of art if I'm not warned about what that art might do to me. Let me in raw! Not only am I asking to not be wrapped in a protective layer, I'm asking for my skin to be peeled away and my raw nerve endings exposed! I need to fucking feel something! And boy howdy did Pig sucker punch the fuck out of my heart!

Fuck. I re-read that poem and now I'm snotting all over the place. Maybe this story about G'nort will be diametrically opposite in the way it makes me feel so I can balance my emotions back to "constantly numb." What is the opposite of horrific grief? Hopefully it's inexplicable rage because that's usually what most comic books make me feel. And the odds of feeling that with G'nort as the protagonist are pretty fucking good.

If you think my rage explodes because of the character, you've got that other proverbial think coming. I fucking hate how writers, especially Giffen and DeMatties, treat the poor guy.


Let's not pretend I've never called G'nort an idiot (and the implied subject of that sentence is "I" as in "I shouldn't pretend" because I know anybody who has read any of my bullshit wasn't pretending I've never called G'nort (and every single other character in the DC Universe) an idiot). But sometimes I need to let a cloud of clarity drift down around my brain which forces me to realize G'nort has been treated unfairly. As Jessica Rabbit once said something of the sort in reference to her huge tits or something: "I blame the fucking artist!" Nailed that quote. Anyway, poor G'nort gets treated like shit by the writers who wrote him in a way that allows them to feel justified in treating him like shit. Hopefully this issue will be that issue where they're all, "You know what? Maybe we're being dicks. Let's maybe stop being dicks. Let's allow G'nort to save the day for once without treating him as if he's just a stupid mutt!"

Never mind. Let's just keep the status quo.

Granted, that was how G'nort is first introduced in this comic. I guess if they're possibly going to change their attitude toward him this issue, the writers have got to establish the vulgarly low base line, even going so far as to show G'nort has been driven to a point where he's accepted his "Earth dog" status. Maybe he'll re-appropriate the slur (although why we, as humans, have decided calling somebody a "dog" is an insult makes absolutely no sense. If I had a loyal, excited friend full of wonder and energy, why would it be an insult to call them a dog?! Oh wait. I just remembered dogs eat their own shit. Never mind).

G'nort has been wandering Earth because Martian Manhunter is apparently a much bigger dick than I thought. For some reason, I had it in my head that he was the calm, cool, logical Justice League member who kept everything running smoothly. But he's really an easily annoyed, quick-tempered, gluttonous asshole. I should have been keeping track of how many times he's snapped at his colleagues. He even snapped at G'nort, according to G'nort here, telling G'nort to "Take a hike, G'nort. A very long hike." But G'nort has grown bored and it's time to test J'onn's patience again!

Meanwhile somewhere in deep space, a being known as The Scarlet Skier (who is probably a parody of Black Racer and Silver Surfer but whom I'm going to take seriously, just in case. It's like when you see somebody playing an instrument on a street corner and you stand around pretending to be super into it just in case they're a famous person. You don't want to be one of those people who get caught not appreciating amazing music! And I don't want to be the kind of person who gets caught not finding value in intelligently written comic book characters) has been let out of L.E.G.I.O.N. jail. The first thing on his list of things to do after getting out of jail is to get revenge on the Green Lantern who put him in jail. I would probably choose something less strenuous but then I've never been in prison. Maybe you just get so angry sitting there you can't think of anything except eventually punching the do-gooder jerk who put you there right in their smug face. Also their stupid and ugly face in this case because G'nort was the Green Lantern that put him there.

I should apologize to G'nort for that comment. That comment was more aimed at the jerks drawing G'nort who have decided he should look like the kind of dog only 3 out of 10 people "Ooh!" and "Aww!" over (like a Pug or a Chihuahua) or the writers who have decided he should be the dumbest Green Lantern in existence (after Guy and Hal, of course). I truly have empathy for G'nort but also I can't stand the character G'nort that these jerks have made him into. I'm complicated!

See?! Everybody is so mean to him! I feel terrible that I joined in!

The Scarlet Skier crashes to Earth and begins a fight with G'nort across the city. I wonder if this comic book is where Dan Jurgens got the idea for the Superman/Doomsday battle? Reports begin coming in to the Justice League Embassy that a mangy dog is battling a man in bright red armor.

Sometimes when I criticize art in a comic book, people will get mad at me and defend the artist by replying, "Let's see you do better!" Well, let's see them try that when I say these panels are shit because you better fucking believe I could do better than this!

I think the entire Mister Miracle page was drawn by an intern and shoved into the middle of the G'nort fight because editorial realized they were one page short just before going to print. The art is crazily mediocre (if not downright amateurish) compared to the rest of the issue. It's so blatant that I'd put money on it if Vegas were taking odds on it (which they probably would do if I just brought it to their attention).

Remember that part where I said maybe the writers were going to try to redeem themselves by making G'nort a more likable, smarter, stronger, and interesting character? It's possible I was right or it's also possible J.M. DeMatteis didn't realize how fucking great this joke was:

G'nort killing it with the banter. Beetle and Booster should take notes.

Portrayed more fairly than they should be, the NYPD arrive on the scene to arrest G'nort (the Scarlet Skier having been pounded into the subway system by then, disappearing on top of a train) and don't try to kill him. G'nort even cracks a few jokes, being totally disrespectful, and they don't even sodomize him with a broom. Instead, the NYPD freely give G'nort over to Mister Miracle and Fire when they arrive. The joke is that even though the NYPD feel it's their duty to take him back to a jail cell and beat the shit out of him, G'nort is just too annoying. So he flies back to the Justice League Embassy cracking even more good jokes at other people's expense.

Good for you, G'nort!

Back at the Embassy, G'nort begins to describe his arch-nemesis and, well, whattya know? He's a Silver Surfer parody. Don't I feel stupid treating him seriously! Anyway, the point being, the Skier is just the guy who flies around looking for worlds for the Galactus parody coming up (you know, that hand on the cover!). And that Galactus parody is Mister Nebula, Planetary Designer! So he doesn't so much consume planets as redecorate them (which can be quite traumatic in its own way. Have you ever seen Changing Rooms?!).

Instead of calling Mister Nebula to Earth for a really ridiculous issue, the Scarlet Skier, having run out of power somehow, decides to end it all by diving off the top of the World Trade Center. But his life is saved by G'nort which just makes him feel even worse. The only space criminal to ever be arrested by G'nort, beat up by G'nort, and had his life saved by G'nort. And so he becomes the most humiliated character in the entire DC Universe (up until Lobo gets married to and ass fucked by Bueno Excellente in Hitman (I know, I know! Garth Ennis using date rape as a means of "besting" the most dangerous villain in the DC Universe is hilarious. I mean super problematic!)). Unless it's after G'nort asks him to be his sidekick that he really hits rock bottom.

Justice League America #36 Rating: C. Not only do the Justice League not save anybody at all in this comic book, it's not even about them! It's about G'nort, an acquaintance of the Justice League! Get your own comic book, you dumb space dog! Fuck, I can't stand you! You stupid piece of shit! At best, G'nort is worth a two issue Giffen mini-series that he'd stretch into six issues! He's the fucking Heckler of Green Lanterns! Maybe if he'd get some dignity, I wouldn't hate him so much! I mean, I don't hate him. Remember how I said I don't hate him! I hate the people who drew and wrote him so incompetently! He can't help the way he was created! Poor dumb, ugly, stupid space dog.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Justice League Europe #11 (February 1990)

Can somebody explain to the characters of the DC Universe that Guy Gardner has brain damage so they'll stop beating the shit out of him for his abrasive personality which stems from the brain damage?! I'm really getting anxious about all this violence against a disabled person!

I've never been any good at seeing the relationship between the penciller and the inker in comic books. But this might be a good example for me of how other people do notice the differences when certain artists are inked by other artists. Based on Animal Man's mouth, I'd say Kevin Maguire was the penciller of this cover. But the overall finish isn't up to Maguire's standards (which can be a bit on the cartoonish side (which I love!)). It looks like Bart Sears came in and knocked the cartoon out of Maguire's art in favor of his more rough-edged style. Of course, it could be the other way around too! But I'm pretty sure if Sears penciled this, it would feel more like Sears with a bit of Maguire's cartoony edge tacked on. What I'm trying to say is I used to never understand how anybody could tell what the fuck an inker added to a project. But now I understand! If your penciller is really good and the inker is terrible, the art is worse! But if the penciller is really bad and the inker is great, the art is somewhat better than you'd expect! So simple!

This issue begins with Metamorpho deciding he's going to go see his kid no matter what Simon Stagg thinks. And he also wants to "see" Sapphire no matter what her caveman husband thinks. He doesn't care what Sapphire thinks because he basically calls her a dumb blonde while working himself up into a raging mixture of frothy chemicals. The reader is probably thinking, "Poor Rex! Being kept away from his child! This is absolutely the story to concentrate on!" And then the scene changes and Dmitri is all, "Hey, Animal Man, why are you at work when your wife and kids were so recently killed?" Holy fucking shit! How am I supposed to concentrate on Rex's story now that I know Buddy Baker has come to work to forget about his dead kids for awhile?! Hey, writer and editors! Maybe don't mention that shit! Or, at the very least, stick an editor's note that says, "The following story takes place before Animal Man's entire family was slaughtered and he has a mental breakdown in which he meets some guy named Grant Morrison!"

Metamorpho makes a big show in front of Animal Man, Rocket Red, and Captain Atom about how he's going to go see his very much still alive and kicking child. He also more than hints at the amount of violence he's going to do to the child's grandfather as he storms out. This leads Captain Atom's brain to slowly whir into motion as it puzzles out who that might be. When he realizes Metamorpho might be about to kill Simon Stagg, he freaks out at how much bad press that will bring to the Justice League. So Animal Man volunteers to keep an eye on him and Rocket Red volunteers to keep an eye on Animal Man. Man, I hope Rocket Red doesn't get some tragic news about his family in a few pages.

Ugh. Confirmed that Guy Gardner voted for Donald Trump. Twice.

There is no way an ex-social worker and teacher of kids with disabilities would simp for Simon Stagg. No wonder Guy was rebooted in The New 52 to be an ex-police officer! I don't like Guy Gardner being an ex-cop because cops suck dirty buttholes but it fits his abrasive, aggressive personality better than "a really decent but boring guy who suffered some serious brain trauma."

Guy volunteers to protect Stagg from Metamorpho for two reasons: he gets to punch somebody in the face while feeling heroic and also he gets to punch somebody in the face. No wait! Three reasons: he wants to eat Simon Stagg's man cream.

Now I'm suddenly hungry for a Ding Dong.

Meanwhile in Moscow, a Russian guy named Joseph with actual emotions (something we were just discovering Russians had in 1990 thanks to the fall of the Berlin Wall and Billy Joel's song about meeting that clown. Before that, we just had Sting hoping the Russians loved their kids too) has decided to help Blue Jay and the Silver Sorceress escape the metahuman gulag they've been imprisoned in since they tried to save the world from nuclear Armageddon (because, as I noted, nobody was sure the Russians loved their kids enough not to start World War III). He's arrested but he drops some magic potion that will help the heroes of Earth-Marvel-Parody escape their cell.

Speak of the Russian devils! This issue is called "Family Ties" so that's probably Dmitri's family headed for Paris!

Now I'm suddenly hungry for Mallory Keaton!

Simon Stagg, according to the headline on a newspaper Captain Atom was reading, has recently produced a new super fuel that can change the world. But little does anybody know, the fuel is just Metamorpho's baby's shit. And to keep the baby shitting out profits, Simon Stagg has hired the responsometer boofing scientist, Will Magnus. And as we all know, scientists are completely amoral when it comes to science so keeping a baby locked up in an experimental box which maintain the correct conditions for it to shit super fuel is not a problem! Especially when you've got Platinum's responsometer whirring away eight inches up your rectum.

Guy Gardner busts in on Stagg and Magnus's nefarious business meeting to warn them that Metamorpho is on the way.

"I'd prefer not to remove the responsometers from my anal cavity but am willing if it becomes necessary."

To Guy's credit, he doesn't defend Simon Stagg's kidnapping a child; Guy simply doesn't believe Stagg would even do that. So, you know, typical conservative: conveniently ignore reality, create excuses and defenses for terrible people, and ready to believe the worst of those who speak the truth about their heroes.

First Rex visits Sapphire because how should he know the baby is kept in an Imipolex egg? He knocks out Java because good and then Sapphire points out what a jerk he was to wait so long to come see her and the baby. They make it seem like she's being emotional and unreasonable but I'm on Sapphire's side! Rex knows how she feels manipulated by her father and he just let Simon Stagg take her away and lock her back up with the caveman. Instead Rex decided to pity himself and pout about it for weeks. He forgave Batman faster than he forgave Sapphire! It's possible the image of Sapphire willingly sucking down fat caveman cock put him off a bit. Although that's kind fo the point, right?! I don't think it was all that willing! Fucking Rex should have stood up for Sapphire as soon as she sought him out!

Sapphire takes Rex to the factory where his son is being kept and learns that his son has the ability to transform anything he touches into any element. So technically he really does need to be isolated because he's a danger to everybody and everything. But technically he doesn't have to be helping to make Simon Stagg even richer. Metamorpho, who is already every element, isn't afraid to hold his baby so he decides to break the kid out of isolation. Dmitri and Buddy try to stop him so he knocks them unconscious before running into Guy Gardner.

Everybody goes on and on about the the ring being the most powerful weapon in the universe and yet you could beat Guy senseless with a whiffle ball bat.

Metamorpho beats the shit out of Guy Gardner because Guy is often written as being overly reliant on his muscles and aggression even though he's not actually an idiot. So once his ring's power can't touch Metamorpho, he decides to just brawl with a guy made out of metal and pays the price. But before Metamorpho can rescue his kid, he smells Magnus ass behind him. The Metal Men have come to stop him!

Justice League Europe #11 Rating: B. Metamorpho and Guy Gardner are two of my favorite characters so even though this issue had next to nothing to do with the Justice League Europe or saving the world, I enjoyed it. And I don't mind seeing Guy get his ass kicked if it's by one of my other favorite characters! What I don't like is how Rex acted toward Sapphire though. He could maybe be a bit more sympathetic to her plight! She's practically a prisoner of her father Stagg. It's not like Sapphire chose to marry Java; it's just another way for Stagg to control her. When Simon sees Rex breaking into the lab, one of the first things he does is kill Sapphire's access to her bank account. Hopefully Metamorpho will realize how huge an ass he's been and they'll all live happily together in the European embassy with Rocket Red's kids and Buddy Baker's memories of his kids.