Sunday, October 1, 2023

Justice League America #59 (February 1992)

Well, here's another old man reference . . .

This reference feels incomprehensibly older now than it actually did in 1991 because of how fast media and culture move in the digital age (don't get me wrong: the reference was fucking old already when this came out). This comic is from 1991; Laurel and Hardy were at the height of their fame through the 1920s to the 1950s. That makes this a 40-70 year old reference. Fucking old! But growing up in the '70s and early '80s when cable television was just making its foothold in homes all across America, children were at the whim of watching whatever local television stations were willing to pay for on a Sunday afternoon. Most weren't willing to pay much. But at least we hadn't quite gotten to the era where they realized they didn't have to pay anything and could actually make money by showing infomercials! So what we got growing up was repeated viewings of old black and white movies starring Shirley Temple, Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, The Three Stooges, The Little Rascals, and a bunch of other old stuff my memory has chosen not to hang on to. Occasionally you'd get something exciting because it was in color, like Pippi Longstockings or The Yellow Submarine or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But because we grew up on reruns of really old television and movies, old ass references like this in 1991 didn't seem as old as they actually were. I've been giving Giffen and DeMatteis a hard time about their out-of-date references because it makes me happy to do so. This is the first time I'm telling the truth about these things: if you were old enough to be reading Justice League America in 1991, you probably understood a healthy smattering of their half-a-century or older references.

That doesn't get them off the hook for all the more obscure ones that I didn't get or that were referencing films too sophisticated for a young person to watch in the '70s or '80s. But rereading these issues now, I have the Internet to help me understand their jokes that are actually just references to old popular media. It's not like I'm reading Pynchon here but I do occasionally need to look something up.

Also this cover views native peoples through the eyes of colonizers and imperialists and is absolutely racist. But nobody wants to hear that because in the Internet age the cover could be practically anything and some tumblr demagogue would get their followers up in arms about it, probably leading them to send a bunch of shitty direct messages to Wil Wheaton.

J'onn's talking about Dreamslayer and three alternate dimensional Disney automatons.

J'onn, being a mind reader, realizes this is the climactic battle of "Breakdowns" so he's playing up the danger of a fight between the Justice League and Dreamslayer in Max's body backed by three inactive robot villains. Queen Bee and Jack the Lantern were a bigger threat than this current one. Except that this is a written work and the writers are going to write it in such a way that the remnants of The Extremists will put up a thrilling fight right until the end. That end will probably be Max Lord's consciousness wresting control of Dreamslayer just when things seem bleakest and the Justice League are all about to die.

I suppose the biggest hurdle in this fight will be the Kooey Kooey Kooeyans. The League won't want to harm any of them because they're being mind-controlled. That's probably why they wind up being prepared for a native feast on the cover. And just because I said "native feast," it doesn't mean I agree with this cannibalistic depiction of island natives! So racist!

Dreamslayer does his villain monologue describing how he succeeded up until now unless it's a soliloquy because he's the only one in the room but then he addresses his speech to Silver Sorceress so maybe it's a one-sided dialogue? He explains how he used Max Lord's power to remote-control Wally West into stealing the Extremists from the London wax museum. I wonder if Wally ever found out how he was manipulated so easily? Was this one of the reasons he attended Sanctuary where he accidentally kills Blue Jay and a bunch of others?

I should pay special attention to how Blue Jay and The Flash get along in this series. Maybe the whole debacle at Sanctuary was really just a bunch of blood-spattered legerdemain so Wally could murder Blue Jay!

One day, Ted, you're going to wish you had killed Max.

There's a lot of pre-murdered characters in this issue!

The Justice League, scared and imitated by some disembodied sorcerer who has taken over the mind of their boss, land on the island. J'onn orders Blue Jay to scout around because he's not really useful for anything else.

Bart Sears was probably hoping Blue Beetle acting like an imperialist pig would distract readers from his depiction of Metamorpho's shoulder.

The Kooey Kooey Kooeyans attack but they're being mind-controlled so the Justice League has to avoid harming them, no matter what they do. They also can't be convicted of murder if they manage to kill one of the Justice League because they weren't in control. I've discussed before how the existence of mind-control would destroy the global system of justice because it would become the defense of every defendant ever all the time. "Innocent until proven they weren't mind-controlled" would be the new slogan of everybody defending the absolute worst people committing the absolute worst atrocities.

See? J.M. DeMatteis and Power Girl both understand exactly what assholes would get up to if mind-control existed!

Has a grabbed titty ever appeared in a Comics Code Authority approved comic book before? My guess is it hasn't! Which proves the whole mind-control destroying justice thing! Because even a mind-controlled character grabbing a titty has an exemption under the Comics Code!

The Justice League fly over the Kooey Kooey Kooeyans defending their island from this invasion and encounter Dreamslayer just a little ways off. Before Dreamslayer reveals his unstoppable plan, Silver Sorceress is shot in the gut by an arrow. That's good because using her magic against Dreamslayer would be too easy. So now she's helpless to cast any spells while Dreamslayer explains that all of the Kooey Kooey Kooeyans will kill themselves with one small push from his mind if they don't surrender. Of course, J'onn surrenders. What a wimp!

Dreamslayer takes over the minds of the Justice League members who infiltrated Kooey Kooey Kooey and forces them to dress up in coconuts and palm fronds. He then sends them out to kill the rest of the Justice League left behind: Catherine, Sue, Elongated Man, Guy Gardner, Ice, and Crimson Fox (possibly others. Am I supposed to keep them all straight?!). Luckily Batman had stopped in for a visit so the really powerful mind-controlled members are fucked. Nobody plans on The Batman!

Justice League America #59 Rating: B. Too bad Lobo wasn't in this one. He'd be a real asset to the "B" team back at headquarters, even more so than Batman. Silver Sorceress was left bleeding to death on the island because she's in too much pain to be mind-controlled. Maybe that's a clue as to how to free people from Dreamslayer's mental assault! Also a clue to free people: Max Lord's consciousness still exists. It sucks but he just might save the day. Nobody wants to read a comic book where the boring suit wearing boss saves his employees! Did Giffen and DeMatteis write this to suck Helfer and Dooley's dicks?! "Look, guys! The dumb boring boss saved the day! Bosses aren't totally useless pricks!" Or maybe the point of the story is that in every seemingly well-meaning boss there hides a fascist Dreamslayer who will, um, slay all of their, um, dreams! Ha ha! Take that, bosses all over the world!