Friday, July 21, 2023

Justice League Quarterly #3 (Summer 1991)

Why does this team always stand so close together?

I recently learned that this series is actually called "Justice League International Quarterly." It says it right on the spine. But whoever designed the logo for the cover knew what they were doing when they shortened it. I only mention this for the nerds bristling with apoplectic rage at my incorrect labeling of it. I wouldn't want any heads to burst loudly and messily in some poor parent's unfinished basement.

I myself lived in my mom's basement from 18 to 25 so I think I'm allowed to poke fun at basement dwelling nerds who loved to play Magic the Gathering and jerk off to Sailor Moon hentai. Man. Now I wish Magic the Gathering had a Sailor Moon Hentai set! Imagine how awesome that would be!?

Nerd One: "I tap my creature, 'Sailor Moon Licking a Stalk of Asparagus.'
Nerd Two: "I react by casting 'Sailor Mars Shows Sailor Mercury How To Do Cunnilingus in the School Shower.'
Nerd One: "Darn. That gives My 'Tuxedo Mask' creature 3 Ruined Underwear counters. He's out of commission for three turns!"
Nerd Two: "I play the enchantment "Infatuation of Chibi Moon" on your Tuxedo Mask which causes ..."
Censors Kicking Down the Door: "Break this story up, you disgusting perverts! What are you trying to do?! Entertain Gerard Jones?!"

Okay maybe it wouldn't be that awesome and would actually be massively disturbing. I would be so ethically against this set that I totally would not own a full play set at all. Especially the artifact card "Upskirt Camera."

The issue begins several pages before this but I didn't give a shit about any of it until this panel of a Justice League conference put together by Max and Catherine.

It's like a shot of Busytown from a Richard Scarry book.

At first I thought the weirdest thing about this panel was how the Elongated Man was posing as a table and some chairs (presumably to feel Fire's ass on his chest and Silver Sorceress's bottom on his flattened groin?) but then I saw Guy's boots. Is this where the idea that Guy wears cartoonishly massive boots began? I can't lie: I'm really into big boots. I know I already adored Guy Gardner well before this issue so I'm assuming that, subconsciously, this was the moment when I fell completely in love with him.

Batman and Crimson Fox engage in conversation in the corner of the room, probably because they're the most sexually active characters in the DC Universe. Maybe not Batman so much because he's all about withholding his bat penis from Catwoman's cat pussy. But as Bruce Wayne? Hoo boy! Just imagine how many lovers he's had! He's probably fucked like ten, maybe twelve women! I bet his pick-up line at this party was, "Let me guess: you got the name Crimson Fox when a fox crashed through a window in your stately rural manor?" And then Crimson Fox was all, "Have you ever fucked twins at the same time?" And Bruce was all, "Have I?! Let me tell you about this adult-oriented Two-Face caper I investigated last year!"

Batman's penis and Crimson Fox's vagina isn't the only cute meet about to happen at this party. Kilowog and Uncle Mitch discover they're perfect matches. Both of them are really into building weird sci-fi shit because they can while not considering whether they should. Uncle Mitch mentions he had nearly completed a time machine back on his homeworld but didn't have access to all the amazing alien gizmos Kilowog owns. Kilowog takes the bait and they wander off to make beautiful paradoxes together.

The Silver Sorceress mentions to Blue Beetle that Mitch has been acting weird and hanging out with Kilowog which causes Blue Beetle to thank Christ he purchased the implosion insurance on the New York Embassy. They hear some weird noises in Kilowog's basement lab and break down the door to investigate.

So this is why Max Lord eventually shoots Beetle in the head!

If I were Max Lord, I simply wouldn't have obsessed over a broken basement door for ten years before finally murdering the son of a bitch who kicked it in. My friend Paul once through my other friend Roy through the wall in my basement, leaving a large Roy-sized hole in the wall. Luckily Roy was just a little guy. But I haven't killed Paul over that! Yet, I guess? People lie and say that you get more conservative with age so, if that is true (and it isn't but I'm working on a bit here), then maybe I'll be really into guns and the idea that I can shoot whoever I want as long as I kill them so that they can't be an eye witness against my self defense testimony. What I'm trying to say is, "Paul, you'd better invest in a bulletproof vest, buddy!"

Uncle Mitch and Kilowog disappear as Blue and Silver enter the room. Silver Sorceress shows off some incredible detective skills to determine what happened to them.

A clue!

At first I thought, "Why the fuck would they need to program in the minutes and seconds? And how would Uncle Mitch know, to that specificity, the exact time to go back?" And then I remembered that making calculations when traveling through space must be as exact as possible. And what's the difference when traveling through time? Semantics, really! Uncle Mitch probably knew the point he'd like to go back to fix his world but then Kilowog had to do all the calculations for traveling through space and time and dimensions which meant he needed to really pinpoint a single point in all three variables so they wouldn't wind up somewhere in the past where the planet wasn't. But the monitor only shows his work on the time coordinates because if it had the space coordinates or the dimensional coordinates, Silver Sorceress wouldn't have been able to interpret that clue. She wouldn't have thought, "A-ha! A time machine!" She would have thought, "A-ha! A calculator!"

Uncle Mitch and Kilowog wind up on Angor in the year -10 years, 6 months, 5 days, 4 hours, 3 minutes, and 32 seconds. But they're really small. Just teeny versions of themselves, like the characters on the cover. When I was a wee small boy, I had a theory that as things moved through time, they grew bigger. So not only was the universe expanding, everything in it was expanding. I think most people hear about the expansion of the universe and think of something like a puddle where the edges are moving outward to take up more territory as opposed to how the universe is really expanding more like the skin of a balloon where every point is racing away from every other point. As a kid, I figured every piece of matter in the universe was also expanding. Which meant that dinosaurs would have been smaller than we think but their fossil remains have expanded along with the universe. As a kid, I couldn't quite grasp the immense lengths of time between things so I also sort of thought that modern people being statistically taller than ancient people was also evidence of this. And I never considered that everything would be expanding in a relative way to each other which would simply negate the effect. I bring this up because I'm an idiot and what just happened in the comic book is exactly opposite my theory! Everything in Angor's past was much bigger! Or, if we accept Occam's Razor as our lord and savior, Kilowog fucked it.

Martian Manhunter comes up with a spectacular waste of time.

Why would J'onn travel back in time to try to stop these guys? People need to stop thinking that time happens and changes depending on where their consciousness resides within the time line at any particular moment. If Kilowog and Uncle Mitch went back in time then they were present in the year -10 when it happened the first time. Because it only happens the one time! So there's no need to go back and stop them because whatever they did, they already did ten years ago! If J'onn goes back to stop them then that's what happened the first time and it's why everything is the way it currently is. If he didn't go back, same thing! So guess what? Just don't go back in time! Go eat some Oreos and relax, man! Trust in reality's anti-paradox technology!

Silver Sorceress agrees to helping the JLI stop Uncle Mitch although she really doesn't want to. She also doesn't understand that they won't be able to change anything! But it's understandable in her case because why should a magic-user care about anything scientific?! "Oh, the universe is subject to certain immutable laws? Hold my potion!"

Silver Sorceress tells the Justice League about her world's titties.

"The stronger you are, the more responsibilities you get!" What a motto! Imagine turning Uncle Ben's words of cautionary advice into a teenager's lament.

The date to which Uncle Mitch and Kilowog have traveled is the day The Extremists came into existence when they were accidentally blasted by Angor's version of a meta[l]-bomb. This turned them into Doctor Doom, Magneto, Doctor Octopus, Sabretooth, and Dormammu. The destruction of Angor stemmed from that event which is why Uncle Mitch wants to stop it. But J'onn knows better! They must stop the stopping or else the entire fabric of reality might be torn asunder! I mean, it won't, obviously.

Max Lord gives the okay for the team to step into Kilowog's "time machine" and go back to retrieve them. It's weird how Kilowog's most recent attempts to fix technological issues have resulted in the implosion the JLE Embassy and destruction of Starro's ship but everybody is willing to step into his time machine as if it works flawlessly. For all they know — and remember: Occam's Razor is our current lord and savior — Kilowog and Uncle Mitch were simply disintegrated and their atoms scattered across the atmosphere.

While I'm glad one of them thinks like I do, I'm disappointed that it was Blue Beetle.

Uncle Mitch and Kilowog build a regular human-sized robot at Wacky World as a means to get around without being noticed or stepped on. Once they have their massive Pacific Rim style vehicle, they seek out The Avengers to let them know how to stop The Extremists' origin story. The Avengers, meanwhile, are engaged in angsty dialogue

Ha ha! Imagine being a fan of characters full of angst and real-life problems who discuss philosophical quandaries and deal with existential issues! Marvel fans are such choads!

DC making fun of Marvel's writing is like when Fox News complains about progressive policies. They're all, "Look at the dumb shit Marvel characters deal with!" And readers are all, "That looks entertaining! Why am I reading DC?!"

Wait. Maybe after the initial statement of that last paragraph, I was supposed to give an example of Fox News complaining about progressive policies! They're all, "These jerks want to give poor kids free lunch meals and stop cops from executing people! And don't even get me started on the universal health care!" And listeners are all, "Yeah! I hate those fucking communist socialist fucks who wipe their asses with the flag!" You see, only brainwashed idiots who would rather see their "enemies" hurt than live in a better world watch Fox News. Otherwise they'd be all, "Hmm, I should look into this progressive stuff! Sounds wonderful!"

The couple of pages satirizing Marvel Comics entertain me far more than Wally West trying to fuck everything that moves and Elongated Man's — this is hard for me to type without the quotes which indicate I don't actually mean what I'm saying but I'm going to do it anyway — "witty repartee." Hmm. I couldn't do it. I almost added something about the hot winds and severe drought happening in Power Girl's pants but then I thought that might be sexist and also if I were Power Girl, I would be angry and dry as well having to live in 1991 where a woman's career would suffer if she punched the fuck out of the guy at work who constantly treated her like a potential fuck doll. I'm surprised half of Tom King's Heroes in Crisis wasn't Wally expressing his guilt for the way he treated the women in the Justice League for years.

Team Marvel beat the shit out of Uncle Mitch's robot Uncle Mitch, completely destroying it. That's probably some kind of commentary on Marvel too although isn't it just commentary on DC as well? I don't remember Batman solving problems in a way that doesn't involve somebody being beaten so hard that their bowels express themselves artistically. Remember how Batman tried to solve the Guy Gardner problem by punching him in the face?! I wonder if that's why Batman wasn't around much in later issues. Do you think Human Resources had a chat with him and put him on paid leave?

Tiny Justice League arrive at Justifiers' Headquarters just in time to hear Uncle Mitch's automaton learn about great responsibility.

Based on this panel, Blue Beetle and Ice would be forced to marry in some countries.

Did I love Guy Gardner because of his huge boots or did my love for cartoonishly large boots come from Guy Gardner? I suppose I fell in love with big boots due to various experiences in my formative years. To this day, I still sing "Doctor Martens Boots" by Alexei Sayle. I suppose I could point to The Young Ones for nearly half of the things I still love to this day.

Based on what happened in my pants while looking at this panel, Ice and I would be forced to marry in some countries.

The Justifier with the huge tits and costume that not only accentuates her boob cleavage but her labia cleavage as well is referred to as "T.A." Is her hero name Tits 'n' Ass?

This isn't a joke until you realize Gerard Jones wrote it and was probably giggling to himself, "Hee hee! Touching a child! Titillating!"

Do you think Jones asked the letterer to emphasize "child" or do you think John Costanza did that himself? Because maybe Costanza realized how creepy Jones was? Do you think Gerard Jones' case was similar to Jimmy Savile's? Where everybody basically knew what kind of perverse creep he was and just didn't do anything about it? Knowing what we now know about Gerard Jones, I'm a little bit afraid to revisit one of my favorite comics from the '90s, Green Lantern: Mosaic.

The Justifiers spend too much time discussing their therapy to be any use to Uncle Mitch. Great responsibility isn't the only thing to come with great power, I suppose. Uncle Mitch and Kilowog steal one of Iron Man's boots to fly to the site where the Extremists will be created. The Justice League notice the boot fly away and decide to pursue it.

At the bomb site where the non-powered Extremists are busy stealing the bomb, Mitch accidentally jumps on the detonation button, causing the accident that he came back in time to prevent. Well, duh! I tried to point out to everybody involved that this was the case! Not that Mitch and Kilowog could have done anything to stop themselves from going back in time since that's what they did and it's what they always did and this is how it happened before and now and in the future. But as I pointed out to J'onn, it was a waste of everybody's time to follow them back in time! They could have simply relaxed in the future eating Oreos and making fun of Guy's haircut. I wish Batman had been around to explain how it was a waste of time to follow them through time, mostly so that when they got back, he could smugly tell them, "I told you so." You know, the way I'm doing that now!

I'm not a scientist and "super-speed vision" isn't actually a thing, but I'm pretty sure that's not how it would fucking work.

Only two things remain for the Justice League to do: get back to their proper place and time, and stop Uncle Mitch from killing himself. He did just become the catalyst for destroying his home world. So unless Lobo quickly becomes his best friend because they now have something in common, he's probably going to be pretty depressed about it.

Kilowog's plan to get back to the present was that he and Mitch would simply cease to exist after they changed the past. Back to the Future has a lot to answer for for giving so many people the worst possible theoretical time travel possible! Man, I wish Primer had been the huge mainstream time travel movie that taught everybody how time travel works! Or, for an equally decent explanation of time travel (and more fitting than Primer for this story arc): Los Cronocrímenes (or Timecrimes).

Kilowog knowingly went on a suicide mission with Uncle Mitch and didn't give two fucks the entire time. He just thought, "I'll help this guy save the world and then I'll wink out of existence and I'm so fucking fine with that that I'll be in the most chipper and carefree mood during the entire mission. What a lark!" I don't know if that means Kilowog has been the most thoroughly depressed character in the DC Universe for years or he's so heroic and noble that he's ripping the biggest heroic death boner knowing that he's going to save an entire world. My money is he's depressed as all hell.

Kilowog tells everybody they're screwed and the average reaction among the group is, "Of course we are."

What sexist shit was he going to say? "Big alien tits"?

I know around this time in DC continuity, Power Girl was revealed to be Atlantean. But Blue Beetle probably doesn't know that! Nobody really bought into that shit anyway which is why Power Girl's Atlantean heritage never stuck. Her tits are definitely alien.

Silver Sorceress comes to the rescue and transports the team back to their home dimension. But she doesn't know any time travel spells so they wind up back on Earth in 1981. The only reason they realize this immediately is because Silver Sorceress's travel destination is the Embassy of Rhodesia. Rhodesia became Zimbabwe in April of 1980. This story takes place in Summer of 1991. They went back in time ten years and six months. So either Silver Sorceress can time travel a little bit or somebody forgot to update this script from when it was written to when it finally saw publication. Anyway, they're back home but not back to the future!

Kilowog needs to build a time machine or borrow Barry Allen's Cosmic Treadmill. Maybe they're going to be the catalyst for Crisis on Infinite Earths now! That would be awesome. They'd go from being responsible for the death of one world to the death of countless worlds! I doubt that happens though because it seems like something that I'd remember.

They don't get the Cosmic Treadmill but they do sneak around an old Justice League meeting stealing parts to make a tiny time machine. Wally gets all teary-eyed seeing Barry Allen but not one person remarks, "Now this is a Justice League!" Probably because Superman and Batman aren't around but Aquaman is.

The rest of the story was probably tacked on at the last minute to fill an 80 page comic book. I mean, obviously they had to get back to their time and regain their proper size no matter how long the story was. But it seems awfully padded, especially the part where Wally West is all, "We can save Barry!" after just experiencing that they can't actually change the past. It just proves how dumb Wally is! Not the part about him not learning time travel is ineffective at changing history but the part where he doesn't realize the death of Barry Allen was the best thing to ever happen to him! The padding mostly has to do with Guy Gardner being swallowed alive by Liberty the Wonder Dog and Oberon being super fucking excited to watch a dog shit out Guy Gardner. I hope that aspect of Oberon's personality was added to his Who's Who Entry. "Fecal freak who loves whatever the opposite of vore is."

Justice League Quarterly #3 Rating: C. Have I come to terms with comic books that are this long? No, of course I haven't. The further we travel into the future, the worse my problem with them becomes for several reasons. The first is that every moment in my increasingly finite life becomes ever more precious! The second is that we, as a society, spend so much time online and with technology that promises to make every experience as fast and efficient as possible means that reading an 80 page comic book feels like building the Great Wall of China. It's interminable! The third thing is, I don't know, it's a Justice League comic book from the '90s? I'd probably enjoy a more modern comic book at 80 pages, especially if it was full of naked people and/or profound philosophical situations. It doesn't even have to be modern! I'd be happy to read Rogan Gosh (in its collected form. Does that even count as an 80 page comic book? Probably not. Never mind). As far as the story goes, I am glad to see a time travel story that not only doesn't rely on the Back to the Future trope that time can be changed resulting in abrupt changes to the entire future timeline but also points out how believing that to be the case is dumb and shortsighted. It's weird how this creative team has set up G'nort as the dumb and shortsighted character but it winds up being Kilowog who really is. Are Giffen, DeMatteis, and Jones just anti-alien? Do they want readers to believe they're all impulsive fuck-ups? I'd say I'd hate to see how they write Superman but I think they're mostly anti-aliens who don't look human. They probably don't even think of Superman as an alien because he's like the best looking human being ever.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Justice League Europe #28 (July 1991)

Imagine Starro's starfish is his semen and now you're viewing this cover the way I view it.

Last issue ended with Starro taking over J'onn because J'onn did everything wrong in the battle against Starro. Being that J'onn is the most mature, smartest, and most capable hero in the DC Universe, I must assume that this is all part of the plan. Get Starro to take over J'onn's mind where J'onn can then use his exceptional telepathic powers to free everybody else from Starro's control without hurting them. If that isn't the case, then I might be a bit too sophisticated for comic books. Which would be weird because I eat an inordinate amount of my meals from the Safeway hot deli counter.

As if you didn't already know how unsophisticated I am. I've already admitted to reading every Starro comic book as if it's an interstellar bukake clip.

Why are they all so worried? Martians have the easiest to exploit weakness in the DC Universe after Daxamites.

I'm assuming the rest of this issue is just Captain Atom calling the Justice League America embassy and commanding Fire to head to London immediately. [Spoiler alert from the me that finished reading this issue: I wasn't far off!] Heck, they probably don't even need to call Fire if Gerard Jones knows his chemistry better than I do! Can't Metamorpho encase Starro J'onn in an alkaline metal while Rocket Red finds a hose? Hell, doesn't Captain Atom basically just shoot nuclear fire from his hands?! Doesn't Rocket Red's suit come equipped with a book of matches?! It's evident that Starro wouldn't know how to use J'onn's powers to defend himself by the way Starro J'onn crashed out of the sewers instead of phasing through them.

Starro J'onn sounds like a character from Huckleberry Finn.

Starro, who's probably ignorant of J'onn's weakness to fire, flees the scene mostly because he's lazy. He'd rather have his minor starfished face puppets defeat Captain Atom, Metamorpho, and Rocket Red. I don't mean thousands of London citizens. I mean Power Girl, Flash, Bluejay, Silver Sorceress, and — excuse me while I laugh myself to sleep — Elongated Man.

I don't really think Starro is lazy! I just thought "fleeing the scene because he's lazy" made for a more family-friendly excuse than "flying away to jerk off over the rest of the world to mind-control the entire populace of Earth with his space jizz."

Meanwhile at the JLE Embassy, Starfished Kilowog gets the teleporters up and running so that Starro can instantly transport his cum all across the planet. Hopefully Blue Beetle hacked the teleportation tubes so that the people using it transport as normal but the space stars' atoms are scattered to the ends of the universe.

I guess that works too.

This solution suffers from being an accidental discovery instead of something the League actively did to help defeat Starro. It just adds to the evidence that they're incompetent while usually getting extremely lucky. It would have been nice if Blue Beetle had used his brain to hack the machine to do this same thing. I get the feeling Giffen and Jones don't have any respect for the team they're writing. "What if they ultimately defeat Starro through a bit of luck? A bit of, say, a machine acting in a Godly way?!"

Kilowog and Beetle immediately ignore the transporter discovery to do research on ways to kill starfish. They settle on "cold" because they have a team member named Ice. Not one of them thinks, "Starro travels through the cold vastness of space and doesn't die so that's probably not a weakness that space starfish have." Although this post-Crisis version of Starro did travel in a space ship. Ice getting starfished concerns them but none of them think, "Who is Ice's partner? Fire! She can probably distract Starro J'onn with her, you know, flames!"

Even though Starro lost contact with Kilowog once he used the tubes, Starro seems to believe he can use the tubes to move his puppets around the globe as long as he has a chain of them at just the right distances from each other (so as not to lose his mental connection). At the same time, Captain Atom realizes they must flee London via the transporter tubes or risk a member of Justice League Europe being killed as they battle each other. I guess that's where the ultimate battle will take place.

I don't want the Ice strategy to work. I don't want the deus ex machina to succeed. I don't want J'onn to wage a telepathic war from inside his own mind. I want Starro to be defeated by Power Girl's cat.

Once inside the embassy, Starro threatens to kill Catherine, Sue, and Dmitri's family if the free League members don't submit to being starred. Being huge wussies who feel compassion for others, Captain Atom drops his radioactive metal face shield and Rocket Red takes off his helmet. They're added to Starro's army. But Metamorpho can't just make a flesh face because "flesh" isn't an element. Sure, it's made up of elements just like everything else in the entire world! But I think Metamorpho probably needs to be a smarter human being to manipulate his elemental body in such complex ways. He's just a big old dumb blue collar blunt weapon. Starro decides to kill him but before Captain Atom can atomize him, Blue Beetle appears in a teleport tube, grabs Rex, and takes him back to New York with him. Starro J'onn becomes enraged because how did they do that?! I guess where Starro is from, they don't have "cameras" or "live feeds" or "radio telecommunications"! Oh, I guess you wouldn't need those things if you had telepathic starfishes shoved on everybody's faces!

Starro decides to destroy the teleporters personally but then he panics when he realizes Blue Beetle might do the same thing to him that he did to Rex. Really. Starro just has no confidence in his new Martian body! It's like he doesn't have any idea how to utilize it! Imagine thinking Blue Beetle could defeat Martian Manhunter in any way at all! So while Starro J'onn hesitates, Ice puts the really shit plan into action.

I hope whoever designed Ice's costume with the little half-top that shows underboob won an Eisner.

So Starro taking over J'onn made J'onn vulnerable to both ice and fire? Weakest character combo ever! "Oh no! We're being attacked by that character that needs to be in a climate controlled room! Turn up the heat a bit! Or the air conditioning! Whichever is currently easier to do!"

And that's the end of the battle! One blast by ice and it's over. Starro is frozen and the other starfish slide off everybody's faces and die, leaving everybody unharmed. Captain Atom sells the frozen Starro to Lord Manga Khan to go with his "villains with names that end in -o" collection. So far it's just Despero and Starro but he's really hoping for an Eclipso and an Amazo some day! If I had that collection, it would simply be infinite Lobos.

The issue ends with Martian Manhunter calling up Catherine to let her know that Maxwell Lord has been shot and that the 15-part "Breakdowns" story arc is about to commence!

Justice League Europe #28 Rating: C. Justice League Europe defeated Starro in the most anti-climactic ending since — oh, I don't know — the last comic book I read? Oh, sorry! That sentence was incorrect! Justice League America defeated Starro in the most anti-climactic ending since the last comic book I read. Even more technically correct, Kilowog and Ice teamed up to defeat Starro. It's a shame that with J'onn as host and being a master of telepathy, that couldn't have been part of the solution. It's a shame that the teleporters gave the team a hint as to how to defeat Starro and that couldn't have been part of the solution. It's a shame that the actual solution was researching what kills Earth starfish and concluding that those things will also kill space creatures which don't act anything like Earth starfish but merely look like them. It's possible this story was scripted for at least one more issue and then the "Breakdowns" schedule interfered and the writing team had to cut it short. It feels like things were going a different way before Kilowog pulled out the encyclopedia and was all, "Cold kills starfish." You know what also kills starfish? Taking them out of water and leaving them in the sun. You know what doesn't kill Starro's starfish? Yeah, that! So why should I just believe that cold would defeat Starro?! Come on, Pedophile Jones! Try harder next time! Next time you write, I mean! Not next time you engage in sexual criminal activity!

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Justice League America #52 (July 1991)

I can't see how this bout is going to save the world.

Like 100% of people who like awesome characters with powerful weapons better than bumbling idiots with no super powers at all, I'm rooting for Guy Gardner. But by 1991, anybody writing a Guy Gardner story hated Guy Gardner. The only way I see Blue Beetle losing this fight is if Dan DiDio were writing the story and since J.M. DeMatteis is writing this story, I expect Guy to lose. Although this is the last issue before Breakdowns so it's possible that Guy Gardner beats Blue Beetle so badly that everybody gets pissed and wants Guy off the team while Beetle quits in utter humiliation. From a writer's perspective, that's the way I'd go and not just because I like Guy Gardner more than Blue Beetle. But also from a writer's perspective, I can see the appeal of having Blue Beetle beat Guy in a boxing match where no super powers are used. Beetle has become such a joke this deep into the series that I often forget that he's supposed to be as well trained in physical combat as half a Batman. And Guy relies too much on his ring. Plus we already know he has a glass jaw.

I don't even know why these two idiots would be fighting! Is it because Orion got pulled into The New Gods comic book and Giffen and DeMatteis had to scramble to copy/replace all instances of "Orion" with "Blue Beetle" in their script for this issue? Hopefully it's because aliens have threatened to destroy the world unless they are thoroughly entertained by a boxing match with loads of jokes thrown in. Although, if I'm being particularly honest — which I almost always am at nearly all times — I'd rather Earth were being invaded by aliens who will destroy the Earth unless they see Fire and Ice make out.

No! NO! Put the mask back on, you goggle-eyed freak!

I'm sorry about the insult in that last caption. Not because I don't want to offend goggle-eyed freaks but because Blue Beetle is the opposite of his usual goggle-eyed freakiness in that picture. It was inappropriate to the situation and extremely lazy. Plus I stole it from the UK version of The Office.

I suspect Blue Beetle is supposed to be handsome in that panel. He's got the strong jaw and the piercing blue eyes and the lusciously thick hair. But he's just not doing it for me. Not that he would do it for me even if he had been drawn by José Luis García-López! And I suppose he's doing it more for me than if he had been drawn by Rob Liefeld. But he still looks fucking weird.

Blue Beetle isn't shouting "No!" about something Guy Gardner has done. Or something Liberty the Dog Wonder left on his bedroom floor. Or walking in on J'onn in his actual Martian form. He's upset at how fat he's become.

How does getting this fat sneak up on somebody who wears a skin-tight leotard most every day?

I bet if Blue Beetle had spent more time saving the world over the last few months, he wouldn't have developed that substantial gut. Not that it looks bad on him. He looks like a power lifter! Sure, a pregnant power lifter. But still a power lifter!

While Beetle pokes at his new tummy and Bea sleeps off a heavy night of fucking strangers, J'onn and Kilowog discover that, as alien visitors to Earth, they need to register with the United States government. Kilowog makes a big deal about not complying but I don't see why he shouldn't! Am I supposed to believe that every country on Earth expects foreign visitors to have passports and visas but interstellar visitors can just plunk themselves down willy-nilly wherever they want?! I don't think so! You know who else should register? Silver Sorceress and Bluejay! Flaunting immigration laws in the UK probably helped get the boulder rolling on Brexit thirty years down the line! Flippin' extra-dimensional illegal aliens stealing all the super-hero jobs and using the taxpayer funded NHS whenever they get the shit beat out of them by some super villain!

Actually, I don't fucking care. I'm all for open borders! See, the reason we need closed borders is because the United States wages war all over the world, making tons of enemies. But get this: if we didn't act like huge jerks in the name of stealing other countries' resources, we'd have less to fear from foreign invaders! Nobody ever wants to fix the actual problems. They just want to complain about the symptoms stemming from the problems and work people into a frenzy about those symptoms. Then they find a way to make money off of stemming or hiding the symptoms from the public, making the public feel safer but really just hiding the actual problem, thus making money both from keeping the problem a problem and now by offering services that seem to reduce the symptoms of those problems! I'm being really generic in what I'm saying but mostly I'm talking about waging war (against both foreign and domestic enemies!) for corporate profits and building a massive for-profit prison system within our borders. So much money to be made by terrorizing other countries and then terrorizing our own populace, especially those people who are angry at our corporate-friendly government for doing that terrorizing!

I don't even remember what made me go on that tangent. Was it because Kilowog was reluctant to get a government-backed photo ID? Or was it because Blue Beetle got fat? Maybe I'll just move on!

Blue Beetle decides to join Guy and Major Glory in their daily exercise routine. Seems like a good opportunity for Guy to notice Ted has gotten fat and to make a whole bunch of offensive fat jokes which I will find both hilarious and extremely hurtful.

Why listen to General Glory's exercise advice? All he has to do is say a stupid patriotic rhyme and he turns into a muscle-bound God of bound muscle!

Guy wastes no time making fun of Ted's weight gain which leads to General Glory proposing they settle their differences in the boxing ring. Martian Manhunter, after having a stroke over the alien registration fiasco, believes the boxing match is a good idea. I'm assuming the stroke because the boxing match isn't a good idea at all. Did you understand that? Or were you just angry that I casually used somebody having a stroke as a metaphor for simply not using their brain? That's fair! I totally could have come up with something silly instead of assuming he ate so many Oreos that he developed Martian diabetes which would immediately lead to other health issues like the aforementioned stroke. It's also possible — and I think this is likely — J'onn just wants to see Guy and Ted beat the snot out of each other.

The news of the boxing match passes swiftly throughout the Embassy, even without that gossipy little punk Oberon.

Ice actually thought Guy and Ted were going to fuck while everybody watched. I love her.

Fire explains it's a boxing thing and not a sex thing and Ice mostly loses interest in the event. But she still goes along to watch because she's horny for Guy.

Batman arrives just in time for the match! As he's arriving, he's all, "I beat up psychos on the regular so why does my stomach cramp up when I visit the Justice League Embassy?!" How was this moment not as bad as Kevin Smith having Batman admit to pissing himself?! At least Smith's made sense! DeMatteis's Batman seems scared of G'nort! I'm surprised this version of Batman didn't become a superhero when a pussy flew threw his window!

Sorry, that was possibly sexist but I still thought it was a funny image! I love pussies! I don't think they're cowardly at all! I wish they would fly through my window all the time!

I just realized that Martian Manhunter, being a shapechanger, can fill every orifice of whatever sexual partner he's fucking. I think I'm swooning!

Like Batman doesn't already know who's going to win. He's definitely thought about every possible altercation in the DC Universe.

Maybe Batman doesn't know exactly who will win this match. Perhaps there are too many variables he hasn't considered before this. But if Deathstork were here, he'd definitely know who was going to win because one of his super powers is working out all future possibilities in mere seconds before taking any action. His brain is a quantum computer and yet he only uses it to kill people and have sex with underaged girls.

Blue Beetle nearly knocks Guy out in one punch but everybody was expecting that so Guy manages to get up to continue the fight. But then at the end of the first round, Beetle belts Guy so hard his nose starts bleeding. Beetle, thinking Guy will play fair and not attack him between rounds, turns his back on Guy to flirt with Fire. But Guy has become so enraged that he attacks Beetle from the back, knocking him to the ground and kicking him until he breaks several of Ted's ribs. J'onn, finally realizing how bad an idea this was, kicks Guy off the Justice League. He has to punish Guy severely or else Batman might take a moment to think, "Why did J'onn even allow this?! Isn't this really J'onn's fault as a terrible leader?! What happened to his ability to form coherent thoughts?! Was it an Oreo-induced stroke?" See?! Even Batman goes right to blaming a stroke on J'onn's terrible decision making! I'm vindicated!

Shouldn't that tear be frozen?

Guy Gardner, by proclaiming that he doesn't need anybody, proves that he absolutely needs somebody. It's a tragic flaw or something. He needs to be loved but doesn't know how to express his needs. He is too wrapped up in macho bullshit to be earnest about his feelings. Also, he has a fucking traumatic brain injury that he needs therapy to deal with! It's insane that Guy Gardner had to go twenty to thirty years desperately needing help for his trauma and ultimately finally finds a way to work through his issues while being a Red Lantern. Charles Soule absolutely saves Guy Gardner during The New 52. Although I must admit, I don't know what's happened to him since. I'm sure he's been turned back into the asshole scapegoat who everybody can feel righteous despising.

Blue Beetle tries to explain to J'onn how guilty he feels about Guy getting kicked out of the League but J'onn won't listen to him. At least I think that's what he's trying to say being that he never says it. I think what Ted wants to say is this: "J'onn, can you really afford to kick out the Green Lantern while keeping a no power chump like me? He's the last heavy hitter on the team! I know we really don't spend a lot of time saving the world these days but what if one day we need to step up? If you think some Mister Miracle apprentice, Fire, Ice, Huntress, and an old fart from the '40s can save the world, then you've eaten way too many fucking Oreos, fatty! Ow. I hurt my feelings!"

Max returns to the Embassy from wherever the fuck he's been only to get shot just before walking in the door. It sure would be great if he really were to die this time! How do you summon the Mandela Effect? My memory right now is that Max lives at least another ten years (real time not comic book time) so that he can really fuck up the DC Universe and shoot Blue Beetle in his fat head. But I don't want that to be what really happened. How can I remember it the way I want it to be so that it actually is that way? I mean, I know the Mandela Effect works exactly the opposite way than that. The way it really works is somebody hasn't read Justice League America in thirty years and somebody else says, "Remember when Max Lord got shot and died in Justice League America #52?" And the other person goes, "Um, oh, yeah, sure! That is what happened, right?" Then that lodges in their memory and when they eventually revisit the series and find Max Lord doesn't die, they think, "What the fuck?! But the first time I read this, he died! I know he died because that's the fact I remember and my memory is infallible just like I am also quite smart and have a great gut instinct! And since I'm never wrong about anything, the only other thing it could be is that the timeline has changed! Total textbook case of Occam's Razor!"

Justice League America #52 Rating: A+. This might be the first issue to successfully portray Guy Gardner as I think he should be portrayed. He's arrogant and brash and irritating and annoying but we see that all of it is camouflage for a man who cannot deal with his past and cannot express any sort of painful emotion to his teammates. He has no real friends because he cannot allow himself to get close to them. But then he explodes and vents on Ice so Fire gives him a piece of her mind, letting him know she will not allow him anywhere near Ice from now on. She then leaves and Guy, shocked and speechless, hangs his head in the dark and just whispers, "Damn." He knows how huge he screwed up. His bravado could carry him only so far, ultimately only working while he could hide his real self from his colleagues. But then Beetle humiliates him, and he loses his composure, actively harming a good and honest man, a teammate. Everybody basically tells him he's a piece of shit and, while he defends himself, he knows they're right. The hurt boy he was, which he partially mentions while arguing with Beetle, the man who wasn't quite good enough for the Green Lantern Corps, the man who almost died when he finally got his chance to prove himself to Hal Jordan . . . they all boil to the surface when everybody begins screaming at him and he falls apart. He then turns his pain and anger on Ice. And only when he has a moment to calm down and reflect and think, once Fire explains that he's completely fucked up with the one person that actually gives a shit about him, he breaks completely. And then, with everything falling apart, the Justice League is metaphorically put down as Max takes a bullet on his way back. Pretty fucking good prologue to Breakdowns.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Justice League Europe #27 (June 1991)

The starfish on Elongated Man missed a trick by not sticking its anus to his twitching nose.

Do you think the characters that didn't get starfished are the smart characters that avoided the starfish or the weak character whom the starfish avoided starfishing? Except for Rocket Red, of course. It's obvious why he didn't get starfished. Too boring.

Gonna pitch DC a Chocolate Starro story where Starro finally realizes that having his starfish stuck to where people can see them is a liability so he starts adhering them to buttholes. It might be too racy. That might be more of a Marvel pitch.

This issue is called "The Vagabond King" and not "Face-off!" That's just the cover blurb. I only mention it so I can tell this short story: "My friend Paul and I had a few beers before going in to see the Nic Cage/John Travolta movie Face-off. This made me drowsy so I fell asleep during the movie. When I woke up, like an idiot, I still thought Nic Cage was Nic Cage and John Travolta was John Travolta." The movie theater where we saw it was Century 23 in San Jose, directly behind the Winchester Mystery House. While drinking in the parking lot, I shook my fist at the house and yelled, "I'm not afraid of you ghosts!" When we got out of the movie, two of Paul's trucks tires were flat. Fucking ghosts. Or, the less reasonable possibility, fucking person who heard me and was all, "This will be funny!"

Pretty sure HR told Wally he wasn't allowed to touch Power Girl anymore.

The Justice League, being full of characters who observe and react rather than think, have no idea that Starro just blew up his own ship so he could take over London with his falling starfish (one of which now houses his central intelligence because his body had reached the end of its usefulness (meaning he'd used up all of his seed. Starro is like a creature that reaches its adult stage only to engage in procreation before dying which is why adult Starros must travel to a new planet and ejaculate tiny starfish all over everybody. If only the Justice League had known that to defeat Starro, Superman merely had to jerk it off for several hours!)). Captain Atom assumes that Kilowog did a terrible job. After all, Kilowog did just recently implode their embassy in Paris. Why wouldn't he also wind up blowing up Starro's ship? This is probably why he's back in New York at the end of this issue: let them have a few Kilowog-inspired tragedies for a bit.

Justice League Europe returns to the London Embassy to find kitty freaking out (which is normal so I don't know why I mentioned it) and Inspector Camus squatting in the shadows hiding (which also might be normal so why did I mention that too?). The Embassy is quiet but that's because they all just got back. Who is still around to be noisy? Sue and Catherine and Crimson Fox? Dammit! Now I'm mentally hearing all the noises they should be making! I guess something is wrong!

Holy shit! An image of The Elongated Man with nothing elongated! The rarest of rare comic book panels!

I'm pretty sure Elongated Man was supposed to be Wally West in that panel. I bet when Bart was drawing it, he meant for it to be Wally. But then he suddenly remembered Wally had his Flash hood on and, not wanting to draw the panel over, turned it into Ralph. Being that I've never seen Ralph without something elongated or twitching, my theory is more Occam's Razor than Bart meaning for it to be Elongated Man from the start.

The Justice League discover Catherine, Sue, and Dmitri's family have all been starfished (I mean that in the comic book sense of Starro having mind-controlled them and not in the sexual slang meaning of "starfish"). Dmitri's wife comes in to serve an amuse-bouche: starfish! The starfish fly from her tray and manage to capture The Flash because I guess he's slower than a starfish. They also capture Power Girl because she's slower and less powerful than a starfish. They then capture Silver Sorceress because I guess magic can't protect you against being starfished. They also capture Ralph because he doesn't realize he can change his facial features so that a starfish couldn't stick to it. And they also capture Blue Jay because, for the first time ever, he's just walking around normal-sized. They don't manage to capture Red Rocket because he's in armor, Metamorpho because he's gross, and Captain Atom because of his constant leaking of radiation (probably) which everybody seems to ignore. How many of his compatriots will have cancer in the Armageddon 2001 summer event coming up soon?

Catherine Starro explains that Metamorpho, Rocket Red, and Captain Atom can't be starfished because they're covered in inorganic coatings. Why would Starro explain Starro's main flaw like that?! But that also means that Ralph Dibny doesn't turn into rubber from using Gingold. Gingold just makes his flesh stretch which is somehow way more disgusting than I pictured his powers.

I don't know what irony Ralph Starro is talking about. I don't see any silverware and nobody nearby is getting married.

If a starfish is removed from the face of a victim, the victim will die. But if the Justice League can find the victim with the Starro central intelligence starfish on it and remove it, the rest of the starfish will drop off without killing the hosts. Luckily the central intelligence starfish is on an unhoused person. That's a pretty easy trolley problem (unless you're Batman): kill the houseless guy and save the rest of London! Batman would just shrug and be all, "I can't kill! Did you hear me, Wonder Woman? I can't kill! I wish I knew somebody who does kill! You heard me, right, Wonder Woman?"

Metamorpho, Captain Atom, and Rocket Red flee from the fight. They declare it's because they don't want to hurt their friends but I think it's because The Flash alone could kick their asses. Luckily none of the starfished members can fly (except Blue Jay but who cares about a little bird guy chasing them down? And maybe Silver Sorceress but her flight spell might be too complicated for a starfish to manage). The last three members of the Justice League hide on a nearby rooftop to figure out what to do next. That doesn't include calling for back-up from other heroes they know who wear inorganic things on their faces. I can't think of any but there are heroes who can make force fields to keep the stars from latching on. Like G'nort and Booster Gold! Fire in her fire form probably couldn't be starfished also.

Oh, wait. After realizing the British air force are also under Starro's control, they realize they need help from the rest of the League. So they're not as stupid as I immediately assumed they were. And I mean instantly assumed. Just right from the start. There was no part of me that was all, "Of course they'll go get help!" I've got no faith in these guys.

Dmitri, they're not the Justice League Buddies. They're the Super-Buddies!

Martian Manhunter and Blue Beetle do some recon and discover that Starro plans on shipping starfish all over the world. But Starro being Starro and blabbing his flaws all over the place, Martian Manhunter realizes that they can find the Starro Central Intelligence Starfish and stop this whole mess. Since Martian Manhunter is a telepath who can turn incorporeal, he can probably save the day all by himself. But this isn't a Justice League America comic book so he has to take the last three Justice League Europe members back to London with him. I guess they can act as a distraction as J'onn finds The Vagabond King. I bet he'll need the distraction because writers rarely use J'onn's ability to drop his corporeal form. He'll probably just shapeshift into a Brit with a starfish on his face and walk around going, "Oy, mate! You know where I can find the head starfish? That old Berkshire Hunt!" Then they'll be all, "Don't you just mean 'berk'? He's not Cockney! Get him!"

"Let me lose this form that can't be tracked at all to one that they probably won't pay attention to until they realize their minds aren't linked to mine!"

If I were J'onn, I'd just implant, telepathically, my compulsion for Oreos. Then Starro would use all of his mind-controlled humans to go buy snacks.

J'onn tracks down Starro to the houseless guy living in the sewers. He then gets close enough for the guy to leap at him when he could have done his telepathy at a greater distance. Why do people with ranged attacks always get close enough to be attacked or disarmed by somebody with only melee skills? If I'm watching a movie where somebody with a gun walks up close enough to be disarmed by the person they've got their gun trained on, I go into a pure rage and smash my television. My backyard looks like Ozymandias's lair after an earthquake.

And then the shit really hits the fan because J'onn didn't do the thing he should have done: telepathically attacked Starro while incorporeal. Do writers think J'onn can only use one of his myriad super powers at one time?! Why the fuck would J'onn put himself at risk for becoming starfished?! It's the main reason I suggested they contact heroes who had inorganic shit on their faces and not Superman!

Fucking idiot!

Justice League Europe #27 Rating: A-. This had better be part of J'onn's long-term plan to defeat Starro! Maybe he knew the only way to save everybody who was starfished was to become the main host himself so that he could work his telepathic powers from inside the house, so to speak. If that isn't the case, I'm severely disappointed in a character I thought was the smartest, most powerful, most mature member of Earth's mighty heroes. They would have been better off getting G'nort's help! And they could have used the same plan! Starro realizes he can take over a Green Lantern, does so, and then becomes as dumb and ineffectual as G'nort! Then they could just walk him past Metamorpho shaped like a fire hydrant and BAM! Rex would punch him in the dog nuts as he lifts his leg and all the starfish would groan in pain and fall off the faces of their victims! I should be a comic book plotter! I wonder if it's too late to become Keith Giffen's apprentice?

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Justice League America #51 (June 1991)

I'll eat my own asshole if this is a Space Cabbie story.

I must want to eat my own asshole because the only writer I can remember doing a Space Cabbie story was Keith Giffen. Didn't he do some Space Cabbie stuff in Threshold during the New 52? Fuck, I think he did. So I guess my next question is "What condiments go with asshole?"

I'm not against eating asshole but I don't think I'm limber enough to make good on my declaration to eat my own!

This issue is called "My Dinner with G'nort" which makes me think, "Is somebody eating G'nort's asshole?" No wait! I meant it makes think, "Were Justice League fans pissed during this series having to read so many G'nort-centric issues?" Imagine being a huge fan of the big 3 and 1/2 (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman) and excitedly picking up this next volume of the Justice League only to find stories about G'nort, Guy and Ice dating, some fool named General Glory, Barda leaving her rod in an unlocked car, and the Injustice League. People think comic book fans have only become grouchy, bitter assholes in the Internet age but I guarantee you, they have always been grouchy, bitter assholes. This shit would have pissed them the fuck off. It's just that the grouchiest and most bitterest of them could never get their letters printed in a comic book because of those Goddamned gate-keeping editors, picking and choosing only the most civilized angry letters! And even then, they occasionally let a real whopper through as an example of the kind of fan you never want to be. Like the guy who wrote the letter concerning the Tales of the Teen Titans Presents: Starfire issue about Apartheid where he was all, "Why did you have to portray all the white people as bad guys?! Not all white people! Have you heard about black-on-black crime? I have but I ignore all the context of it and just like to point out how black Americans should be more afraid of black Americans than white Americans based on Chicago!" I don't think Chicago was a go-to dog whistle back then but does it matter? You know that guy who wrote that "Not all white people!" letter about an Apartheid story would have whistled at that Chicago dog (no ketchup) if he'd been around today!

Normally I would capitalize "Black Americans" but it was inside the quote of an angry comic book nerd from the late '80s who was also a racist caricature so I wrote it how he would have written it. Also, I would not capitalize "white Americans" ever. I won't debate anybody on why that is because the kind of people who would want to debate me on it are also the kind of people who usually profess how they're self-educated so they can figure it out by educating themselves online.

J'onn, being the most mature and polite member of the Justice League, greets G'nort as politely as anybody possibly can.

The only members of the League not busy are L'ron, J'onn, and K'ilowog. Kilowog being in this month's issue must have been a headache for fans who love continuity! Kilowog being in New York and Starroshire-by-the-Sea in the same month! Also, what are all the other members of the Justice League up to? It's not like DeMatteis can say they're on a space mission the way he would say Superman is on a space mission anytime there was a threat to Earth that Superman could solve too quickly for a three story arc. Maybe there's a barbecue at Scott and Barda's place upstate. Also, J'onn says Kilowog isn't busy but he's been fixing the washer and dryer and taking a two hour bath! How is that not being busy?

Martian Manhunter manages to ditch G'nort, pretending to go engage in a sacred Martian meditation ritual when we all know he's just going off to mainline Oreos. So G'nort hangs out with General Glory's dog, Liberty the Wonder Dog, and Kilowog. Too bad Blue Beetle isn't around to begin a discussion about which one is the ugliest.

Kilowog must really hate humans. First he tries to ditch Justice League Europe to hang out with Starro. And now he's excited to ditch Justice League America to hang out with G'nort.

Kilowog is just a great guy and an alien booster. Unlike so many other heroes, he isn't prejudiced against non-Earthlings. Batman and Superman will go on and on about how they don't kill but as soon as they face an alien threat? They fucking cut those bastards up into filets! At least Kilowog sees the humanity in other aliens. Um, you know what I mean.

So this is Fire being too "busy" to party with G'nort?! Or is J'onn just a massive fucking liar?!

Maybe J'onn isn't a liar! Maybe there's a meta reason for Fire looking not busy at all. Adam Hughes probably doesn't really pay attention to the character's dialogue so he didn't know Fire was supposed be busy. And then he got bored and disgusted drawing ugly characters like Liberty, G'nort, Kilowog, and J'onn, so he decided to take a moment to draw Fire and her titties. If this had been a comic drawn by David Finch, Fire would have been in a towel stepping out of the shower.

Speaking of David Finch, did The White Rabbit ever return to the DC Universe after her one or two appearances in The New 52? I'm assuming she did not ever appear again because she was a terrible fucking character and only existed so David Finch can draw a nearly naked woman in situations other than having just stepped out of the shower.

Kilowog and G'nort decide to hit some bars and hit on some babes. J'onn, who really needs to relax and learn to trust other people whom he believes are his responsibility but actually aren't, realizes that they might embarrass him so he decides to chaperone. Embarrass him. As if it's all about J'onn! The only responsible and mature person in the entire world! Apparently green Martians are stuck-up, arrogant, pricks with huge anti-fun sticks up their asses. Give me a white Martian to pal around with any day!

The three aliens go buy suits for their night out because that's funny, I guess? Seeing aliens in suits? It's a weird choice being that they're in 1990's New York City and not 1940's New York City. Who goes out for a night on the town in a fucking suit?! Oh, wait. Now I'm like Adam Hughes and not reading the dialogue! Apparently they're going to dinner and a Broadway show. I guess a suit is acceptable for that. Not that I'd know owning exactly zero suits and having never been to a Broadway show and only occasionally eating dinner sitting in a restaurant as opposed to standing at a food truck counter or gobbling from a bag while seated in a stuffy vehicle. I have been to musicals though! Just never been to New York.

While everybody is away, Booster Gold wanders into the Embassy.

The Biblical allusion works well for Booster because he does spend his money recklessly.

Do people actually know what "prodigal" means or do they just assume it means "somebody who was missing for a long time"? I suppose it doesn't matter since it's a Bible reference which, if I assume people understand the reference and the meaning of "prodigal," they simply use it to mean "I've been gone for a long time and now, like the son who recklessly spent his portion of his pre-inheritance, I've returned home!" Man, I've got to stop fixing plot and continuity holes in reality for ignorant people! No more excuses for people who say things like, "You've got another thing coming!" Just going to shake my head and look down on them as I walk away trying to rub the dog shit off of my shoe in the wet grass.

Booster, finding nobody to goof off with, decides to hang around with L'ron, probably because he reminds him of Skeets. Where is Skeets, anyway? He's probably getting his insides filled up by Mr. Mind right now. Take that as you will.

J'onn, Kilowog, and G'nort choose to see Cats because J'onn might be a telepath but he's pretty shit at forecasting the obvious results of basic choices. It's not like every member of the Justice League uses some sort of canine insult on G'nort about two and a half times per panel! And J'onn couldn't see that taking G'nort to a musical with a bunch of people in cat costumes wasn't going to be trouble?! Of course he jumped on stage and tried to eat them! I'm not even dog-like and I would probably have trouble not jumping on stage and licking some of those performers!

If Cats were using totally honest advertising, the marquee would just read Nipples.

I don't know what plays were on Broadway in 1991 but imagine choosing Cats over any other one of them. How the fuck did that spectacle run for so long on Broadway? Oh, wait. I think I already answered that question with the "nipples" bit.

Since the play went so poorly, J'onn nearly cancels dinner. But in the end, he relents because Martians never learn. They decide to have dinner in whatever tower of the World Trade Center had a restaurant (probably both but, never having owned a suit or been to New York, I wouldn't know). Also dining there: Black Hand and his henchmen! He's just recovered from his beatdown by Guy Gardner at the porn theater. After months of therapy, he's decided all of his problems were caused by his father. Jesus, who needs months of therapy to learn that?! Just spend one evening with your father and you can realize that! Or does that say too much about me and my relationship with my dad? If so, ignore it! I don't want you fuckers knowing intimate details like that about me!

Black Hand notices Martian Manhunter when J'onn is talked out of letting down his disguise for one moment and, well, I guess Black Hand still wants to kill his father.

Good thing J'onn doesn't look like Black Hand's mother.

Hopefully seeing an image of two people falling out of a window of the World Trade Center doesn't traumatize anybody. If it does, just try to remember that G'nort has a power ring and they'll be okay. Also that they're fictional characters.

J'onn manages to save G'nort and Black Hand because G'nort's "ring" was in J'onn's "pocket." I put "ring" in quotes because G'nort's ring is actually more of a bracelet thing that fits around his paw. And I put "pocket" in quotes because J'onn's suit was just part of his transformation into looking human. So G'nort's "ring" was really just in, like, a flap of J'onn's skin. Gross.

Black Hand winds up in a place called "The Home for the Terminally Bewildered." He'll only be incarcerated there long enough for Geoff Johns to rebrand him as a real threat and start up that whole Blackest Day shit.

Justice League America #51 Rating: B+. I'm not sure if the world needs the Justice League. I haven't been paying close attention but I don't think they've really saved the world at all. At most, maybe twice. Definitely once when J'onn took out Despero. But did any of the other fifty issues tell a story where the JLA saved the world? I really don't think so! But that's what fans came to expect of the Justice League during these years. The members just participated in silly stories right up until things got super serious (which should be in an issue or two!). And as far as silly stories go, this one was pretty entertaining. I enjoyed Kilowog getting a role in the alpha story. And G'nort, while still being treated in a disrespectful manner and constantly compared to a dog (which he fully participates in at this point), was far less annoying than he can be. Plus Booster and Beetle had some best friend time in the beta stroy which I didn't really discuss much! It's really just part of the main story where they bet L'ron that J'onn and Kilowog and G'nort are going to wind up in trouble. They win that bet, of course. They're quite familiar with the Justice League's fifty issue track record of not really doing anything heroic.

I don't remember why I'm supposed to eat my own asshole but I guess I promised to do it or something so . . . see you next time!

Monday, July 3, 2023

Justice League Europe #26 (May 1991)

I can tell by Power Girl's tits that Bart Sears drew this cover.

In my early years of reading comic books, I probably couldn't look at a cover and tell you the artist who drew the cover. I certainly could never tell you who inked it if the cover were a combined effort. But I never really concerned myself with the names of the creators. I just thought comic books magically happened. My guess is that Jim Aparo was the first artist whose work I could identify and my knowledge slowly grew from there. Simon Bisley. Val Semeiks. Chris Bachalo. Tom Taggart. But then I stopped reading comic books and all that knowledge left me until I began reading The New 52 and found I was able to identify so many new artists (not new to the profession but new to my ability to recognize their work) simply by looking at a cover! Rob Liefeld. David Finch. Jim Lee. John Romita Jr. Moritat. This isn't meant to be impressive! Most comic book fans can do this and do it way better than I ever could! It's just that I was going to write a paragraph about how I'm terrible at it and have always been terrible at it and have never learned anything and then I remembered I always knew Jim Aparo's work and then I remembered other artists I could identify even way back then and I began realizing, "Wait. I'm not so bad! I can recognize Bart Sears' art just by looking at Power Girl's tits!" I impressed myself and so I had to write about how I'm not as blind to comic book aesthetics as maybe I thought I was. But you never read the original paragraph that I had planned to open this comic book so it just sounds like I'm strutting around the comic book store declaring, "Actually, I can identify a Rob Liefeld cover 85% of the time."

Anyway, I'd know those tits anywhere.

Last issue ended with a Starro zombie asking Kilowog to help its master, Starro the Conqueror. The Justice League don't think he should go. Not because they know all about Starro! None of the current European branch seem to know anything about him. They don't think he should go because the man is wearing a starfish on his face.

If a little bird man called me "kiddo," I'd shut him up in the bathroom with my cat.

I have a no kill policy when it comes to spiders and bugs in the house. Almost purely catch and release, if possible. The only exception I have to this is large moths because I also live with a tiny little killer who loves to chase and eat a fat, juicy moth. And how can I say no to my little fuzzy baby muffin? So moths get captured and stuck in the bathroom with Gravy. What Gravy does with the moth behind closed doors is her business!

Apparently Starro has an English shire in his thrall and nobody ever noticed. I'd almost believe this, seeing as how every time I watch a British show, somebody mentions a village that sounds like they made it up on the spot. But a village where everybody had purple starfishes mashed onto their faces going unnoticed? Seems strange. Although this was thirty years before Brexit so maybe people were more forgiving about foreigners bringing their cultures into the United Kingdom (which you would expect to be the case (and almost demand it, actually!) from a people who forced their culture onto so many other nations throughout the centuries!).

The Justice League agree to go with Kilowog to investigate the situation. I'm sure it will all get settled over a nice cuppa and some starfish applied to several faces.

Before the visit to the quaint little village commences, there's a scene at Scotland Yard where Inspector Camus (the guy from Paris who kept having to investigate the League) has been assigned to be the liaison between the League and Scotland Yard. I feel like this has already been a scene in a previous issue. Maybe the previous scene was just the French police saying, "You are no use to us anymore without the League stationed nearby. You are being shipped to England!" I might have read something like that and just interpreted it as Camus was going to be working with the Justice League. He gets an office in the Justice League Embassy so that Gerard Jones doesn't have to constantly keep thinking up reasons for him to be hanging around the embassy. Camus acts like he doesn't want to be there but I think the guy is obsessed with the League. Sue hates him for sure though.

"It's got your mountains green, your pleasant pastures seen, your clouded hills, your dark Satanic mills."

Why doesn't that baby in the panel above have a starfish on its face?! Does Starro not want to experience the psychic trauma of shitting itself?

The guy with the starfish on his face explains that he's wearing the starfish entirely of his own free will which is exactly the kind of thing a starfish-faced, mind-controlled alien puppet would say. I guess it's also the kind of thing a person retaining their own free will would say. So I'm stymied! This is like that riddle of the two wolves living inside a person where one wolf can only lie and the other wolf can only feed upon your dreams. It's also possible that I have shitty reading comprehension for Internet wisdom. Maybe this is more like the boiling frog that slowly gets more and more prejudiced by reading various 4chan threads that become increasingly racist.

This story of the law visiting a strange British village full of weird people wearing animal masks on their faces feels familiar. If Captain Atom starts running into loads of naked people fucking and kids singing weird fertility songs, he'd better get the fuck out of there. Although he's fireproof, so maybe he should just hang around and have a nice time inside the Wicker Man. It's not like Justice League America were here. Martian Manhunter would be fucking done.

Nearby the village lies Starro's crashed spaceship. The villagers went in search of Kilowog to help get it fixed. Severely injured, Starro flops nearby in a massive tent. He acts surprised that the Justice League has come to help him. I say "acts" because it's probably a trap. Starro's last name is Conqueror so he's not going to fool me. Also, if I never trust anybody, I can never look like a fool when they turn out to be dickwads! Although I wind up looking like a fool 95% of the time because 95% of people aren't trying to pull one over on me and I just wind up looking like a paranoid asshole who can't have a normal conversation.

I still don't trust him. Poke him in the eye!

Kilowog fixes Starro's ship and launches it toward space. But before it exits Earth's atmosphere, it goes all Elon Musk Space X on their asses. You know, it blows up. The villagers get pretty angry about it as they think the Justice League sabotaged the ship. But Starro sabotaged the ship so he could rain his little starfish minions down on actual civilization: London. He knew the shit little shire didn't have the kind of people who could help him take over the world. But London?! He'll take control of loads of international movers and shakers. And also Andrew Lloyd Webber!

I guess this is how Starro reproduces. He blows himself into little bits in some populated world's atmosphere, raining down starfish to control the minds of everybody below while one of the little bitty starfish becomes the central intelligence. In this case, it's just a bum in an alley. Then I guess that starfish eventually grows bigger, consumes the host, and turns into the new massive Starro?

Justice League Europe #26 Rating: C+. A little light on the story, especially when everybody reading the book knew Starro was lying about everything. But the Justice League fell for it anyway, the dumb fuckers. I guess Ralph Dibny didn't twitch his nose enough to smell all the clues leading to the Justice Leagues betrayal. And Silver Sorceress didn't cast any truth detection spells. And Power Girl didn't punch Starro into jelly at the first opportunity. And Rocket Red, well, he did what he was supposed to do: earnestly believe whatever anybody tells him. At one point in the story, Captain Atom declares, "I don't think. I observe. And react." I guess he proved that point here although I don't know why he insulted himself out loud to everybody. "I don't think"? Was that supposed to be some kind of brag? And if you observe and then react, perhaps you should have reacted to the observation that Starro was playing you for a fool! On the plus side, I didn't find an opportunity to remind everybody that Gerard Jones is a convicted sex criminal!

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Justice League America #50 (May 1991)

The secret Nazi weapon: a giant eyeball that shoots orgasm lasers.

Whenever a comic book announces a double-sized issue, they make it sound like they're doing the reader a favor. But they're really just doing themselves a favor by charging more for a comic book Justice League fans were going to buy anyway. Give me a double-sized issue for the same price as a regular issue and maybe I'll read "Double-sized 50th issue!" with the proper emotion implied by the exclamation point. Or be truthful with your audience and print "Double-priced 50th Issue?!" on the cover!

I know it's not exactly double the price. But it's got double ads in it so DC is making even more money than usual!

The issue begins with Schmidt and his Evil Eye attacking General Glory at the military prison where Sidekick Ernie is stationed. Nearly the entire Justice League is also here to battle the Evil Eye which doesn't make Schmidt rethink his tactics at all. I assume this Evil Eye was defeated by General Glory alone back in the '40s (okay, with a little help from Ernie, I suppose); now it's going up against General Glory, Martian Manhunter, Guy Gardner, Orion, Lightray, Fire, Ice, and Blue Beetle (I don't know why I even mentioned Blue Beetle. That's like correcting somebody who answers a math question with "five million" and you're all, "Unh-unh. Five million and ONE-HALF!"). The New Mister Miracle sits by and watches because the Old Mister Miracle won't let him join the battle. I bet he joins the battle anyway. I was about to quote Dirty Dancing but having never seen Dirty Dancing, I didn't think it was appropriate. If you've seen Dirty Dancing, you can say the thing you know I was going to say yourself.

Prisoners aren't even allowed to defend themselves?

Shilo, the new Mister Miracle, freaks the fuck out because he's never really been in the middle of a battle before. I suppose I would freak the fuck out as well because what is he even capable of? Scott Free was raised on Apokolips so he had some skills and he was still practically useless. Isn't this Shilo kid just a regular human being that can maybe do a card trick or two? What the fuck was Scott Free thinking?

Granted, I never read the late '80s, early '90s Mister Miracle comic book so I don't really know what I'm talking about. Perhaps Shilo has invulnerability or something. Why would Scott Free pick some nobody with no powers to continue his legacy? Just because he wants to stay home and fuck Barda more often, it doesn't mean he needs a replacement to run around in his shitty, ugly, useless superhero outfit.

Schmidt drops his Anti-Glory Bomb on General Glory. It doesn't kill him or make him disappear so I don't know why he named it that. Maybe it just erases General Glory's glory, making him a disgrace to his uniform, name, and country. But then, he's already a disgrace to those things. I guess that's why the bomb didn't have any effect. Or maybe it was one of those bombs that affects the past! But judging by the way Schmidt popped a huge boner about it, I thought it was going to be the end of General Glory. I know I'm only on page five but a person can hope, can't they?

General Glory manages to convince Eddie to fight side-by-side with him because The Evil Eye is a problem they should have taken care of fifty years ago.

Yeesh. Really glad General Glory is a white man at this moment.

With a little teamwork between the members of the Justice League while Ernie fires a few impotent bullets in the Eye's direction and General Glory lathers his bum with compliments, the Evil Eye crashes to the ground, pinning Schmidt in the rubble. Blue Beetle wants to help him but the old man would rather die and tell a rambling story about how he discovered General Glory wasn't dead after the war. Even dying can't stop an old man from telling a long, boring story.

Schmidt's dying words were that Sharp, General Glory's handler, destroyed General Glory's reputation and memory because Sharp was in love with the woman who was in love with General Glory. It's a tale as boring as time. Ernie doesn't think, "That Nazi must be lying!" Mostly because Ernie seems to believe whatever bullshit the last person told him. Maybe that's what makes him such a good soldier? Ernie is all, "That Nazi must be telling the truth! But he's a Nazi so he must be lying! I don't know who to believe! Why am I such a credulous piece of shit?!" And General Glory is all, "Don't worry, credulous piece of shit. We'll get to the bottom of this."

The perfect murder! Killing a man in your military office who just walked past your secretary!

Obviously he's not really dead. You can see Guy Gardner's force field around him in the second panel. But Ernie, being a credulous piece of shit, believes he was just shot and probably dies anyway.

Martian Manhunter walks in and lets Sharp know that he's being arrested for attempted murder and whatever law he broke when he framed a national hero fifty years prior. Treason, maybe? And, at fifteen pages, that's the end of the story. Double issue my asshole! Sure there's more comic! But judging by the cover, you'd have thought the huge climactic final battle was going to need forty pages! But the battle, and the resurrection of General Glory's reputation, were both easily handled in less than a full length comic book.

The story that follows is the top secret final comic book of General Glory that was never published and somehow clears his name. So I guess that's sort of part of the story although Schmidt just told us everything we needed to know to accept General Glory was innocent. I'm tempted to not even read it but who am I kidding? I'm a sucker for wasting my life doing things I'm not really passionate about.

The General Glory comic is only three pages long! It tells how Sharp simply lied to Louise about General Glory murdering everybody in a POW camp and Louise going, "Gosh, I guess he did. Oh well! But I'm still not going to fuck you." Then they force General Glory to say his magic oath backwards and he loses all of his powers and his memory too! The issue ends with a "Watch your newstands for future issues of General Glory!" Were they expecting kids to wait eagerly for the next issue of General Glory where he gets a boring job and goes grocery shopping? I suppose if it was only three pages, I'd read that regularly.

Oh, and the story didn't actually end on page fifteen. It was just interrupted by the old General Glory comic book that supposedly proves his innocence but really just explains how he's a traitor to the United States. It's a good thing Schmidt confessed before he died!

Once back at the Embassy, Orion and Lightray quit the Justice League. I haven't been keeping track but they're at least the 5th and 6th member of the League (America or Europe) to join and quit without really adding to the dynamic of the team or playing any kind of important role in a story arc. When they do leave, there's an editor's note to see what they'll be getting up to in New Gods #1. I think that explains why they were in the League for a few issues. That probably explains why all the other ultimately useless members of the League were on the roster as well. Just an advertisement for their solo monthlies!

Some people might think that's a cynical take but that's because those people didn't read the page after the page where Orion and Lightray quit.

Oh? Shilo isn't going to be in the League? I wonder where he will be? Oh? In the Mister Miracle monthly, you say?

I know I was fooled earlier by a fake ending but I think this story does end on page 21 just before the 22nd page where Guy Gardner calls up DC Comics to try to get the old General Glory artist a job drawing super hero comic books. They hang up when they realize he's a Golden Age artist and not a modern artist who understands how to draw dynamic poses and overly cross-hatched faces.

That makes the main story 21 pages. In other words, a "Single-Sized 50th Issue!" The rest of the issue is a comic book drawn by Kyle Baker which probably doesn't fall into actual continuity (being that it's called "KTRROGARRX! An Imaginary Tale"). It's just a way to satirize the creators of Justice League America and make them look like a bunch of fools.

Of the three DC employees in the scene, the only one I'm sure of is Keith Giffen. One of them is a writer named Mark and the other is a large, angry, curly-headed, bearded man. He seems to be the editor of the Justice League so whoever the editor was at the time? Andy Helfer, I guess. I suppose the other guy, being that I'm so smart at figuring shit out, is J.M. DeMatteis being that the "M" stands for "Marc" (not Mark, Kyle!). Anyway, Guy Gardner intrudes to convince them to hire Joe, the 80 year old comic book artist who hasn't worked since the 40s.

Judging by the look of Keith Giffen, Kyle Baker draws hyper-realistic.

The entire back-up story (1/2 of the Double-Sized 50th Issue!) simply exists to make a few employees at DC laugh. It doesn't add anything to Justice League America at all. And yet it's fully one-half of the comic book. A comic book fans paid nearly twice as much for. I'm going to have to start reading the letters pages again just to see people's reactions to this stunt. I can't see anybody giving a shit about this story unless their names are Kyle, Keith, Andy, and Marc! Guy Gardner does murder a giant Godzilla-like creature but that's only so the comic book professionals can criticize his look, his actions, his dialogue, and the monster's paper-thin motivations. I'm glad it was subtitled "An Imaginary Tale" so I don't have to constantly think about Keith Giffen being part of the actual (fictional?) DC Continuity. Or Gerard Jones! Eep! I'm really glad this back-up story didn't take place in Justice League Europe!

Justice League America #50 Rating: F. This issue was a scam. A con. A fraud. A way to steal money out of the pockets of young and impressionable comic book fans who didn't know how shitty comic book publishers could be. Although I am a bit glad that the General Glory finale wasn't twice as long. General Glory fucking sucks and I really hope Max doesn't allow him to join the team. He can fuck off back to obscurity. Although his dog is kind of cute so maybe he can stick around and sidekick for Guy Gardner.