Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Justice League America #63 (June 1992)

The only thing shocking about this declaration is that it took 63 issues for Guy to make it.

Forget that caption. I'm fairly certain Guy has either quit or threatened to quit multiple times across this series. The real shocking thing will be if he means it this time. And I'm assuming he does mean it because it's just about time for Guy to become Warrior! That's just Guy Gardner but with a Sinestro ring and a stupid superhero name. Mostly he still does all the same shit. You might also notice Fire has a new costume. That's me disappointed. I loved her '80s style outfit with the jacket, bra top, jeans, boots, and headband. I think my love for that outfit has something to do with my first concert going experience being Bon Jovi.

The issue begins with one final look at Fire's old '80s style.

It's right there behind Booster Gold's seriously '80s hair.

I'm not sure why Blue Beetle is hanging from the roof upside down. Dan Jurgens knew he wasn't Spider-man, right? Pretty sure Blue Beetle's entry in Who's Who doesn't read, "No super powers. Hangs from the roof like a monkey anyway. Spider-man if Spider-man were the character Spider-man was almost certainly based on and stolen by Ditko and Lee."

Seeing Booster's mullet, I just remembered one of the main reasons I think Dan Jurgens is stuck making '80s era art (right after "always writes typical '80s action plots") is his penchant for putting mullets on his characters. Not that I'm entirely convinced Booster has a mullet; it's more of a lovely lad locks look, long and flowing all over the place. But it reminded me of Jurgens' Superman.

Max Lord has leased out a huge and expensive piece of New York property from the United Nations to act as the new Justice League Headquarters. The cave was free but not American enough. Plus it was a cave. People who do terrible things live in caves, like hermits, terrorists, and Gail Simone. Super heroes need a luxurious space that blatantly displays their wealth which acts as a metaphor for their power, cup size, and dick girth. Max got a really good deal on the property though: he promised the League would provide security for the United Nations and, in return, the League only has to cover the exorbitant rent on the place. It might sound like a bad deal to somebody who isn't writing super hero comic books but to somebody who is writing super hero comic books, it's a perfect way for the Justice League to discover villainous plots without resorting to overhearing a nearby television blaring a breaking news segment. Now the doorman can just say, "I have a message from the United Nations. France is on fire. Again." Then he winks at Judd Winick.

Wait? The United Nations is paying for it? Then why did Max say this earlier:

Was Max just referencing the cost of utilities and toilet paper?

Whatever the deal might be, it looks like the Justice League are working with the United Nations again. Sure they unceremoniously dumped them only a few issues ago after forcing them to work with an ex-Nazi for a few issues (why didn't that plot go anywhere?!). But Dan Jurgens is writing the comic book now. He obviously saw the value in having some other organization take care of the team's money issues for no real explanation other than "The United Nations sees the benefits in working with the Justice League." My guess is that Maxwell Lord used his mind control powers on the United Nations' money guy to hand over a humongous blank check, cook the books, and wind up in prison for life. Try to remember that Maxwell Lord is a bad dude.

After everybody gets a tour of the place and Beetle sees that his Bug ship was redesigned to look like a frog and live in the East River, one of Maxima's personal guards crashes his ship on Earth to warn Maxima that Almerac has been conquered by some being whose name begins with "St". He died before saying more than that. But everybody can piece this puzzle together, can't they? Starro may have recently attacked the Justice League but that was a whole other team of writers! You can't expect Dan Jurgens to care about what happened recently in this book when he wasn't writing it. There aren't any other "conquerors" in the Who's Who with a name that starts like that, is there? Starman. Starfire. Star Rovers. Oh, maybe Star Sapphire!

Maxima decides she needs to head to Almerac to save her people and since this issue is called "Almerac or Bust," I'm guessing the others will wind up going too. It feels like I'm reading The New Titans again! Is this the only space story DC can tell? Hasn't Marvel also done this story before? An alien princess on Earth finds out she needs to go back home and save her people so that all the little readers can enjoy a nice space battle. Have they just been cribbing from Star Wars for the last fifteen years?

Weird that Dan Jurgens, lover of all things '80s, is the one write a story about Bea's style being terrible.

The writer of this article must be a hack or he's one of Bea's exes because how do you pick Fire as having the top nine worst costume problems when people like Aquaman and Robin and Green Arrow exist? And poor Red Tornado. It's like the writer just threw that "Fuck you!" in for extra. What the hell is wrong with Red Tornado's outfit? Unless he's talking about the original Red Tornado, that woman who wore a bucket on her head. That was pretty shit.

Ice's response to Fire asking her if she looks bad is "You have to admit that your costume isn't in quite the same spirit as what the boys wear." What the fuck kind of answer is that, Ice?! Sounds to me like Dan Jurgens hates drawing clothing and just wants to draw naked bodies painted in various colors (and missing the exciting bits, of course). That's probably why Guy isn't going to quit as well. Dan Jurgens doesn't want to draw that jacket every few panels.

"Maybe add a few cookie jars?"

Like a parent coming home from a long space journey to arrest one of their children, Superman shows up with a warrant to apprehend Maxima. Apparently she killed somebody several months ago and if you've killed somebody, you can't be on the Justice League. Unless you're Wonder Woman whose warrior ethics are a bit old school. Or Aquaman who believes in an eye for an eye and also includes fish eyes in that equation. Or Batman because you've absolutely nailed the Trolley Problem and can convince anybody at anytime that you didn't kill the poor dead henchmen lying all over the Iceberg Casino. Also I think the definition of "killed somebody" is really just "killed a human being." That let's Green Lantern off the hook for all the alien genocides he's probably committed.

Maxima has left Earth so Superman decides to arrest the ship her bodyguard crashed in instead. His corpse should still be in it but I don't think they find that because that would be totally gross.

Oh no. They find it. Gross.

As you can see, Bloodwynd instantly shows his value to the team by suggesting they don't just look at the outside of the ship but investigate inside as well. Genius! It also looks like Bloodwynd uses his mystic powers to figure out how to turn on the communication device but really he just notices this is Martian tech and remembers how to operate it.

If I could make animated gifs, I'd make Bloodwynd wink in this panel. Although it would just look like he's blinking because he's only showing one eye.

The dead guy left a message for Maxima for just this situation where he wound up dead. He describes how Almerac has been taken over by some monster who has killed all of her loyal politicians. He expounds on the situation across eight bloated speech balloons before he finally gets around to telling everybody who the conqueror is. But that's just when the recording breaks down! So Dan Jurgens is one of those hack writers who believes withholding information makes the reader more interested in giving them information. This is stupid bullshit. You are allowed to reveal the antagonist in the middle of the comic book, Dan. You don't have to wait for either the last page of the current issue or the first page of the next issue. Perhaps editorial only likes villain reveals on the covers of comic books. So Dan was told to end this issue with Maxima confronting the bad guy and going, "It's you!" But since the panel will be drawn from the bad guy's perspective, the readers won't know who the villain is until the cover of the next issue. But I feel revealing the bad guy would get more people interested. Dan Jurgens should read more Stephen King (especially early Stephen King) where King begins novels like Carrie with "The day everybody died at prom and the entire town burned to death was the day Carrie finally got even." Or some shit like that.

Superman hears there's a planet in trouble and decides the Justice League needs to go save it. Lacking any kind of space travel, the team just gets into a Guy Gardner bubble and he warps them across space-time. But first Fire has to reveal her new terrible outfit.

How is that "Very nice"? It's just a fucking Jazzercise outfit without the leg warmers.

Maxima somehow beats the Justice League to Almerac even though she's traveling by lowly spaceship (not Lowly's Spaceship which would be a huge apple) and they're traveling by Green Lantern science magic! Maxima confronts the "conqueror" to discover that it's, um, I don't know. Eclipso?

Based on Maxima's royal guard's final words, maybe this is " Boy!"

Guy and Superman nearly come to blows because Superman wants Guy to listen to him and Guy doesn't want to listen to him at all. Especially since Ice keeps taking Superman's side. But then why shouldn't she? Guy has baggage in the form of brain damage and completely embracing his toxic masculinity. Superman has great pectorals and doesn't watch pornography and never yells at women. When Guy realizes nobody on the team will take his side (which basically amounts to "I won't work with Superman at all"), he quits the team and abandons them on Almerac. Poor Guy. He just wants to be loved unconditionally the way everybody loves Superman!

Before Superman's plan to do some simple reconnaissance can come together (the plan that drove off Guy. So he could have stayed and argued a bit more), the antagonist makes themselves known, cradling Maxima's corpse in his arms.

Star-what's-that-now? This guy wasn't even popular enough to make the Who's Who!

I'd like to apologize to Dan Jurgens for criticizing his choice to not reveal this guy's identity halfway through the comic book. He knew it would result in a massive shrug of reader shoulders when mentioned. He appeared in three issues of Justice League twenty years prior to this story arc. And yet Superman, before the reveal, is all, "I finally know who the conqueror is! All the clues have come together to reveal my enemy's identity!" The only problem with that speech is there were no clues and this guy is absolutely forgettable. I guess the clues were "conqueror of planets or maybe stars" and, well, that was it. That was the big clue. Superman didn't even get the one clue that might have helped which Maxima got from her dying guard: the bad guy's name began with "St".

Justice League America #63 Rating: B-. The question left to answer now is "Are the Justice League helping Earth (or the universe) or did they simply clean up one of their own problems?" It's a bit hard to answer in this context because Maxima is one of the team and Starbreaker has taken advantage of her leaving her world to take it over. I'm pretty sure when The Titans were helping Starfire make peace on Tamaran, I didn't cut them any slack for acting like super heroes. They were just cleaning up more family problems. In this context, though, I think I'll allow for the Justice League actually acting like super heroes. Maxima is barely part of their team anyway. And her planet, through no fault of the Justice League's actions, has been taken over by a no-name despot from the Justice League's past. Superman seems to hint at Starbreaker having some other motivations besides taking over Almerac. And if that's the case, I reserve the right to change the "Justice League Justice Tally." Because his ultimate goal might just be revenge on Superman! But for now, the Justice League are doing something heroic by saving the people of Almerac from a threat they did not cause. So good for them! Dan Jurgens' Justice League Justice Tally: 1 of 1 comics (they got a special pass for the first two issues, remember. I just wiped that slate clean. I don't know why I was in such a good mood last month).

Monday, December 25, 2023

Justice League Europe #38 (May 1992)

Some lazy editor forgot to inform Ron Randall that Nelson was missing his right arm.

Maybe I shouldn't immediately blame the artist or the editors for such a grave mistake, especially when they're American. Americans might think they're the greatest society on Earth but everybody else knows they're absolutely a bunch of ignorant hill folk with no curiosity for anything outside of their own underpants. Why should an American know how many body parts Admiral Nelson was missing or even that this statue is the statue of Nelson in Trafalgar Square? I'm not bragging about knowing this shit! For all you know (and quite rightly suspect (although you'd be wrong in this instance)), I merely looked it up online and then pretended that I knew it all along. I just expect higher than average accuracy about historical statues from a comic book that I had to pay one full dollar to own! I suppose the fault is on me seeing as how this mistake was right on the cover and I could have refused to purchase the magazine based on this error. But what did I know about British statues at 20 years old?! Especially the fully clothed ones?

That paragraph got away from me. What I was going to say was I shouldn't rush to blame the creators when it could be part of the plot that Nelson's statue suddenly has a right arm. Maybe that idiot Deconstructo made the mistake when bringing the statue to life? Or maybe he thought Nelson would murder heroes better if he had a complete set of arms and eyes and also a pretty healthy moose knuckle. Deconstructo does seem to be one of those artists who's too lazy to understand any art history and believes that anything they create should be of equal weight to any other art on the scene, no matter how lazy his work comes across.

Other mistakes on the cover: Doctor Light's skin tone; Aquaman's whole deal; calling this Justice League "the world's greatest heroes"; Batman with a look of worry on his face. Seriously. Who was editing this thing?

Sue last issue: "That's the leader we need!" Batman this issue: "We do nothing."

I don't want to point out that The Flash has a point and Power Girl has huge tits but what else am I supposed to write about? Batman's clear-headed methodology which doesn't take into account that dozens of people are currently being turned into Dadaist sculptures with possibly no way of returning them to normal? That waiting to see how this guy works might work to ultimately stop him but at what human cost? How Batman, by not immediately trying to stop this man, can, philosophically, be blamed for any deaths caused by Deconstructo but, by the same tool (philosophy!), Batman can deny that his hesitation was at fault, laying the blame for the rising death tally on the villain? Maybe Batman is so good at philosophy that he's constantly running the trolley problem in his head, every fucking second of every day, and so understands every action that will result in the least amount of deaths? And by understanding this, Batman is not getting anybody killed because, by his philosophical calculations, there is already a minimum death toll and Batman's job is to keep the death toll at that minimum by whatever actions he can. Meaning Batman only ever saves lives and never causes any deaths. The man is a fucking genius and Power Girl's tits are fucking huge.

Is this a musical episode?

Well there you have it. Batman is right again. If a PhD says it, it must be true. Also, if Doctor Light has a PhD, shouldn't she be referred to as Doctor Doctor Light?

Sue rushes out to inform everybody that Batman is their new leader, not giving a shit whether Batman wants the job or not. Batman, apparently not wanting the job, does that thing where he disappears without a trace. He actually did that in the panel I scanned above. That's him taking off. But nobody noticed because they were all arguing about how Flash might have a better argument in this instance than Batman. Flash, Power Girl, and The Elongated Man run off to defeat Deconstructo without learning anything about him or his powerful wand. Sue yells, "RALPH!", in a way that suggests Ralph is never getting anal again. But Doctor Light, being a rational doctor of, um, light, declares that maybe it's a good thing the impulsive ones rushed off. It give them time to do research. It also gives Crimson Fox time to fuck herself silly thinking about Batman.

I've mmmmed like this before and I know that what comes next is dirty and vile and takes place behind a locked door (although Crimson Fox is French so she probably does it in front of a window with the shutters thrown wide open).

Power Girl confronts Desctructo to discover that what he really wanted was to be in a Doom Patrol comic book. He doesn't express it so plainly but it does say a lot of meaningless things that almost seem to mean something due to being tangentially placed next to the other things. It's mostly dumb wordplay that ends with "Words are constructions and constructions can be demolished. I mean deconstructed! Take that!" Then a building (which is a "constructed" thing but also a word "constructed" to describe that thing) falls on top of Power Girl. Batman watches from afar and smiles.

Deconstructo sounding a bit like C.S. Lewis trying to prove the existence of God.

"All lines are a circle." No they aren't. That might sound like a childish argument but some statements don't deserve a well-thought-out rebuttal. You can prove this one yourself! Get a pencil. Draw a line. Is it a circle? No, it isn't, you daft motherfucker. Sorry, the "daft motherfucker" was for the people who answered "yes" to my question. The rest of you score an A+.

"All logic spirals back to its source." This probably deserves a bit more than "No it doesn't!" because it's a bit unclear. Does he mean all logic is dependent on the person communicating that logic, and thus all logic is full of agenda rather than a rational accounting of the issue? Or does he mean all logical statements about a source spiral back to simply a tautological statement of that initial source? I'm not totally sure what he's getting at here other than trying to claim all logic is circular because he needs to tie everything into the appearance of the Circle Line and why it obviously exists everywhere, whether or not people expected it to exist at this stop.

"All creation loops back to its creator." This seems like an odd statement for Deconstructo to profess. Shouldn't he be pointing out how the creator is not the center of the creation? Or how the creator's intent can't and shouldn't affect what the creation communicates to any individual experiencing it? Once again, this sounds like Deconstructo's main point is that all art has an agenda. He has decided you can't separate the creation from the creator, or the logic of the creation from its source (i.e. the creator). I'm not spending a lot of time rebutting these points because I don't think they're meant to make a whole lot of sense; they're just meant to seem like they make a whole lot of sense. "Look! The circle line! All lines are circles! Logic is circular! Creation and creator are entwined in a horny loop of existential symbiosis!"

"And if you try to break the circle? All the walls fall! Civilization shatters in a wall of plaster." Hmm. You know what? Maybe he's got a point! I was thinking of Deconstructo's argument in an artistic sense. But here he points out civilization will fall if the circle is broken so I think he's using "art" as a metaphor for the entire shebang. If Deconstructo has been talking about civilization as a whole from the start (which he may be and he may have explicitly stated it last issue but it's been a month or more since I read that issue), then I might start buying into some of this. If we take civilization as a building up of traditions which allowed mankind to grow in myriad ways, from agriculture and leisure and electronics and travel and science), we can see this as a line. A time line. The foundation of this time line remains the same (probably Greek and Roman and Christian beginnings), even to this day, especially when considering things from a "Western Civilization" point of view (which Deconstructo is, being of British descent. Obviously this argument of civilization would remain mostly the same from other cultural viewpoints except with a widely different foundation way back in time). There's no universal law that says our society has to be organized the way it currently is. But it all circles back to the beginning of the time line and the ethics, mores, and beliefs that were the early bricks of Western Civilization (oh, I bring up "Western Civilization" not just because Deconstructo is part of it but because he brings it up himself in a line or two. Maybe I should continue on after stating those lines?). If you try to separate our modern society from those beliefs and traditions, it will crumble like an ill-constructed wall of plaster. Fuck. I might be getting this guy's whole thing.

"The canon of Western Culture shoots itself." Wait what? He might have lost me again but let's pick it apart a bit. Say we break the line (which is a circle back to the beginning, remember. I totally get that now!) leading back to Christian beliefs, or Greek Mythology, or the Roman Empire. It would destroy most of the canon of Western Culture. Religious people sometimes wonder why I, an atheist, know The Bible so well. It's because you can't have a literature degree in the West without having to know a fuck-ton of shit about The Bible or Greek and Roman history. It's all in there as allusions and stolen phrases. You'll miss 80% of references without knowing the art and myth and belief of the people which we might consider the foundation of "Western Civilization." The canon would shoot itself. Because it no longer has any identity and has become depressed? Or does he just mean it will become nonsense to a society that has cut itself off from the history and art of the past?

"And history comes to an end!" Well, not exactly. Thing change, dude. I suppose this is a threat from a guy who thinks he's a nihilist but is just raving against the status quo which doesn't like his artwork. But saying "history comes to an end" if we stop putting so much importance on the foundations of the Western Cultural canon comes across a bit like a white supremacist argument. It sounds like every white guy I knew in college who ranted and raved about the importance of the Western Canon and how it was being diluted by adding things like Toni Morrison's Beloved or older texts from all across the globe. Anything that wasn't usually just a British or American white guy with a bunch of old Roman, Greek, and Nordic texts thrown in always felt like some kind of literary affirmative action to them. They might say things like this "History comes to an end!" statement when they should be realizing that history was being broadened with voices usually not heard.

At this point, it feels like Deconstructo is using this argument as a threat to disrupt the status quo. But does he see what he's saying as a good thing? Things fall apart, buddy. And in ways that aren't actual physical infrastructure, that's generally a good thing. Because the established ways, built on old foundations, have been built with a limited amount of people in mind. And society has a really hard time breaking things down all the way to rooting up the foundation. They just build upon broken old crumbling foundations and try to cram new additions and expansions onto a foundation that wasn't meant to hold it. I, for one, am all for tearing it all up and rebuilding from an entirely modern perspective. We can't go on just jury rigging our world to fix one problem at a time. Sometimes you just have to scrap the entire thing and try to rebuild.

Anyway, maybe that's not what he was saying. I just interpreted it all with my own biases and agendas. *shrug*

Oh shit. I see now. His entire problem is growing up working class British and having to rely on crappy British superheroes to escape.

I can't believe I thought there was more to this guy's anger! He's just upset over his childhood and wants everybody else to suffer. And he especially wants the American super heroes to suffer because he didn't get to read their exploits every week. Instead he was probably stuck reading Marvelman or Herbie or Bananaman. Although, let's face it, I think maybe Gerard Jones might be as ignorant about Britain as Ron Randall. Because if this guy hated his working class life and lost himself in comic books, wouldn't he be less artsy and more "I am the law!"?

Seriously though, this bit trying to explain Deconstructo's origin ruins it for me. I don't need to know the particulars of what created this pretentious gas bag who can't reconcile with his failure as an artist. Just let him keep spouting Ann Nocenti nonsense! I'm used to "deconstruction" being equated with Dadaism and nihilism and all the sins of the modern world. Plus I know Batman is probably going to knock his fucking block off soon and I'd rather not feel any sympathy for him because he had a rough childhood. Although this one memory he shares doesn't really change the guy being a jerk who can't deal with his flaws and shortcomings. It does just make him look like an even bigger jerk who didn't appreciate what his family did for him! So am I turned around on that bit? No, I still didn't want to know anything about him.

Oh shit. Wait a second. I think I'm beginning to like this jerk.

Man, if this guy would actually do something with his new power to make the world a better place rather than crying about not getting his art in some charity exhibit, maybe Batman wouldn't have to punch him in the jaw later. Sure, forcing the world to change to a world that you view as better by using your magic space wand is a bit of a dick fascist move that takes away the free will of billions of individuals. But maybe he could do something else. Like rain down pamphlets with good natured messages all over the world! Or, I don't know, make the Care Bears real. Put psilocybin in the aquifers? I'm not an idea man! I don't know how to magically make things better except to not, individually, make things worse.

Batman has noticed that the guy hasn't actually hurt anybody. He just seems to be doing gigantic art projects in the hope that he'll be noticed. He's simply looking for clout. But just like YouTube pranksters bothering people at the mall, he's got to be stopped by somebody. Deconstructo invites the Justice League to a huge battle in Trafalgar Square to finally determine if sense is greater than nonsense. Dammit. Now I want him to defeat the Justice League. I can't root for sense to win.

The fight on the cover takes place for a few pages as Kara ditches the team to go battle Deconstructo on her own. But this fight is more realistic because the statue is missing the right arm. And pretty soon it's missing the left arm too as Kara breaks it off. But then moments later, it has two new arms: Kara's! And Kara has two new half-arms! But she loses her head!

If Deconstructo's wand can remove somebody's head while keeping them alive, why did he ever even leave his bedroom?

Justice League Europe #38 Rating: B+. Deconstructo isn't the worst villain the Justice League has ever battled but he suffers from a lack of any real message. His main argument seems to be that words are made-up constructs and he thinks the rest of the world needs to be informed of this. And while he's right, it seems a little shallow to be all, "People made up words and the meaning of words and because of that, nothing is real!" But that's language, dude. He's like a toddler who finally understands what language is and then throws the biggest tantrum because it doesn't, I don't know, make him famous? If we didn't create words to describe things which cannot currently be seen by the person we're communicating with, we'd have created gestures (which, you know, we have done as well!). Or drawn symbols in the dirt. And none of those things would be the real things! And, yes, much of our words hold some form of inherent bias and can only truly be understood within the context of the words not used. Deconstructing language can be useful to ferret out bias and agenda within the speaker. Or to maybe get a sense of something being expressed that even the speaker doesn't consciously realize they're expressing. But do we tear down all communication because it's inherently flawed? Because we can never truly understand any other person, perhaps because our own ideas about the words being used by the other differ in some dramatic and personal way that the speaker can't begin to understand? Why am I even trying to understand Deconstructo's actual agenda? He's just pissed that his parents didn't give him everything he ever wanted and the charity event didn't want to use his super mind-blowing work of art. He really is just throwing a gigantic tantrum. But at least he wasn't targeting the Justice League specifically! So they're not to blame for his rampage! Except he did steal the wand from them. So, um, never mind. Just another story where the Justice League needs to save the world from a danger they created.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Justice League International Special #2: Featuring The Huntress (1991)

The Huntress wasn't even supposed to be here today.

Not only was The Huntress not meant to be at work on the day dozens of old fashioned gangsters attacked the Justice League, she wasn't meant to be on the team at all! Flipping Maxwell Lord used his psychic mind control powers to get her to join which I could describe as rape but nobody wants to hear me discuss rape! First and foremost, I'm too facetious to write about anything that other people hold as profane or sacred, like The Bible or The Koran or rape. Second and almost more foremost than the first, nobody wants to read any serious and intelligent essays on rape, especially from an emotionally immature male dufus. But still! We all know mind control is a rape metaphor so this entire book emits the grossest vibes possible. It could only be worse if it were written by Gerard Jones. No wait! It could also have been drawn by David Finch! He'd have The Huntress getting out of the shower at least three times!

Just to clarify, I don't think women taking showers is gross. I think it's the opposite of that in that it's pure and clean! It's also quite sexy if you happen to live beneath the bootheel of the male gaze (which I do!). And nobody wants to be thinking "sexy" and "rape" at the same time! Therefore, grosser than gross. And if you don't know why it would be super grosser than gross if Gerard Jones were writing this book, just go read his Wikipedia page. I'll wait.

This issue was written by Joey Cavalieri. I've written thousands of these "reviews" and I don't have an extant tag for Joey Cavalieri (meaning I've reviewed no books written by him!). But that doesn't mean I don't know who he is! You should also know who he is because he wrote The Oz-Wonderland War starring Captain Carrot and the Amazing Zoo Crew! That's one of the first comic book series that I ever owned, second only to Crisis on Infinite Earths (which really catapulted me into the world of comic books). I don't remember if what Joey wrote was really any good but the books of Oz and Wonderland were some of my favorites in elementary school. So I remember the series fondly even if I don't totally remember the series.

This issue begins by lubing up my male gaze with a shot of Helena relaxing in her yard while reading a book and minding her own business.

Now I'm all raring to tube the esopus!

Helena is living in upstate New York with the child genius James and his robot invention. She recently gave him The Wizard of Oz to read but he was all, "Why was that interesting?" And Helena was all, "I never read it." That's probably something writers do called "building character." We now know that Helena is illiterate and the Brainiac child she lives with has no childhood sense of whimsy. Later a young white man is introduced but I don't know if he lives with Helena and James. I think Helena is Catholic so it would probably be a sin to live with a man outside of marriage. He probably just drops by for anal on the weekends.

Turns out the guy is The Huntress's sidekick but I don't know who used to kick the side of The Huntress. He probably thinks of himself as her partner but if I don't know who the fuck he is, he was definitely a sidekick. Plus he's got Dick and Jason vibes all over him.

Helena sees some giant Robocop dude in the papers and decides she needs to go back to New York and alert the Justice League. I guess it was a picture of Robo-Mob. That's the opposite of Robo-Cop, at least on the East Coast.

Oh, sorry. She doesn't want their help; she just needs a babysitter.

The Robo dude is some guy named The Hunter and he's killing cops and high level mob bosses while working for some other mob guy named Angelo "The Brick Wall" Brancati. So it's a mob story. I never liked comic book mob stories. That's probably why I didn't read The Huntress comics much and I tended to be wary of Batman comics. Some writers of Batman didn't seem aware that he has dozens of crazy and off-the-wall villains to battle and would usually just have Batman fighting plain old regular mob bosses. I couldn't stand any story that starred Falcone, even if he were battling Penguin or The Black Mask. Unless it was that New 52 run of Catwoman and then it was okay for a variety of non-mob-boss-related reasons (the number one reason of which was "no longer being written by Ann Nocenti").

I'm not familiar with The Huntress and her various cast of characters so while Huntress fans might have been excited to see a couple of pages of some Jimmy Olsen looking motherfucker telling his wife about cop stuff, I almost put the book down to go do something more interesting. Like maybe go in the other room to grab the shredder and see if it can take a full annual in one go. This cop tells his wife that some vigilante is killing cops and she takes the news pretty calmly. Probably because it wouldn't be much of a loss to lose a Jimmy Olsen looking motherfucking husband.

I always keep a sense of humor when it comes to cops being killed!

That caption was a leftist joke. I just want to point that out in case Elon Musk is reading this because he thinks humor is outlawed on the left. But he's wrong. We actually have all the really funny and insightful jokes! The only reason Elon Musk and his idiot fans think humor on the left is dead is because nobody on the left looks at a skinny kid on a playground and calls him a fag. Those are the only real jokes they have: playground bullying. It's all they find funny! And while I admit that some playground humor is funny, like when you fart on your friend's face and catch him with his mouth open, the really mean stuff that's the foundation for racism and hate crimes isn't particularly humorous to me. If you make a well-crafted joke that calls me fat, I'll probably laugh and then go cry in the bathroom in private for five minutes. But if you just call me fat and turn to your friends and high five them as they laugh their asses off (not because "You're fat!" was a good joke but because you just hurt somebody's feelings (which is the only thing they seem to find funny)), I'll just cry right there in front of everybody for even longer then five minutes because he'll probably punch me in the mouth for quickly replying, "Your mother is fat!"

Violence and mean-spirited humor is all the right thinks is funny. Sometimes I also think those things are funny. But I also find loads of other things funny too! Like that speech in Hamlet where he's all, "I'm so sad! Should I kill myself?! Boo hoo! Nobody's ever felt worse than me right now!"

The Huntress comes into the cop's apartment through the window leaving her shampoo and body lotion smell all over the room so when the cop's wife comes in and asks, "Who are you talking to?", she'll smell Huntress all over this guy and stop trusting him. She just ruined this guy's marriage. Unless I'm supposed to believe The Huntress is completely without smell! I guess that's not the most important part of the scene to the writer. The writer just wants to give The Huntress all the information the cops have on this Hunter guy so she can begin her investigation.

I'll skip her investigation and get right to the part where she catches The Hunter and unmasks him!

Who the fuck is this guy?

Oh! That's the guy from the beginning. I didn't know who he was then either. Then I put the comic book down for several days and didn't recognize that it was the guy I didn't recognize earlier. Man. Who the fuck is he?! Dick Grayson's stand-in?

A bunch of mob guys descend on Huntress and Hunter after Huntress saves the cop Hunter tries to kill. Then the NYPD rush in shooting anything that moves. One of the things that moves which they shoot is The Hunter. Huntress is all, "I'll get you to a hospital and dump you off in the lobby before skedaddling so I don't have to answer any questions that might cause me trouble. I hope you survive!" But Hunter is all, "No time! I'm dead!" Then he dies and The Huntress thinks, "Fuck this investigative shit. I know whose ass needs kicking and I'm just going to go kick it." The ass she's talking about belongs to Angelo "The Brick Wall" Brancati, mob boss.

I get why you made that whole "brick wall" metaphor, Angelo. But that part where people are lining up behind it doesn't really make sense. This is sounding like Nocenti dialogue.

Angelo's metaphor is messed up in a number of ways but that's what happens when somebody fixates on something to this degree. The Brick Wall is his whole identity! So begins by talking about a structure which has a brick wall on top. Doesn't make any sense, buddy. He's the cement that holds the entire structure together (or just the brick wall) but then he's also the brick wall itself. I suppose it's a minor quibble to say "cement" over "mortar" since mortar uses cement but a brick wall isn't just stuck together with cement itself. I'll let that pass. But to stand there acting tough and explaining how he's the cement and the brick wall one sentence after the other? He's a fucking lunatic! Then he finishes off by saying how when there's a brick wall, people either line up behind it or get shot up against it. It's like he worked the entire metaphor out just to get to the point where he can say, "If you're against the brick wall, you're about to be shot!" Which is a fucking good line! That I wrote! He should have just said that! But no! He has to say you're either against the wall getting shot or lining up behind it. But who lines up behind a brick wall?! A bunch of guys who need to pee?

Meanwhile, the Justice League (because this is a Justice League comic book, remember) has been spying on her and they figure maybe they should help her out of this mess. They probably also want to protect some cops but I don't like that part as much so let's forget about it.

Blue Beetle's bug comes flying in to the rescue just as The Brick Wall drops that line about The Huntress being on her own. It's like this thing were written by a writer who has never learned the word subtlety. The mob guys, also never having learned the word subtlety, beginning firing all of their tommy gun bullets into Beetle's flying bug. Beetle decides a hail of bullets is the best thing to jump into and heads to the ground in the middle of one. Ice clings to his chest because I guess she hasn't learned that thing that Iceman does where he just constantly builds ice ramps to slide all over the place. I know civilians hating the X-men was a metaphor for racism but thinking about how Iceman probably flooded so many buildings just so he could swoop around on ice ramps has me hating the X-men too.

The battle takes place on a bridge already falling apart due to New York's infrastructure completely falling apart (it's been a theme of this issue that I haven't commented on because it was boring and too close to the truth). The battle makes the bridge fall apart even more.

The cover shows Fire and Martian Manhunter taking place in this fight because DC's covers are constantly full of lies.

Is this the scene where The Huntress lets the mob boss fall to his death to show how different she is from Batman? I hope so! Even though Batman could let somebody fall to their death during a fight in which he took part that helped weaken the bridge that collapsed under the person falling to their death and still pretend like he didn't kill that person. Batman likes to pretend his no-kill policy is black and white but his no-kill policy is actually all kinds of gray. It's just nobody wants to argue with Batman about it because he debates like a fucking dick and wins most arguments because people just get so frustrated and annoyed while arguing with him that they give up.

It's also possible that this is just an easy way to end this conflict. The Brick Wall dies through no fault of The Huntress and thus she can't be hounded by the law for killing a guy. And The Huntress doesn't have to worry about this jerk making her life a living hell because he's been killed. But he'll also have fallen into a river so is he dead? Will he come back for a new mini-series? If this issue sold well, I'm sure he did.

The Brick Wall plummets into the river and his body is never found. Nobody tries to save him because he's a gigantic asshole. You know Ice could have done something if the writer had wanted her to. And J'onn wasn't in the fight but he was flying the Bug so he could have done something too. I don't think Beetle could have saved the guy though because Beetle is useless.

The issue ends with The Huntress throwing her costume into the incinerator. Does that mean this was the final story with Helena Bertinelli? At least until The New 52? Did a new woman take over being The Huntress? I have no idea because I never really read many of her comics.

Justice League International Special #2: Featuring The Huntress Rating: C. It's lucky to get a C! The Justice League was hardly in it. The antagonist was hardly in it. The Huntress was hardly in it. How did I even just read 38 pages of comic book when every single character that made up the plot was barely even in it? I think most of the pages were taken up by Helena which I don't count as The Huntress. And the Justice League didn't do a single thing worthy of their name. That one panel I scanned where Beetle and Ice are battling mobsters is the only action they took part in! The Huntress threw maybe two punches and one kick before the bridge collapses under The Brick Wall and kills him. Her partner who caused this entire story to unfold never even gets identified as anything but some guy she was working with! I'm probably wrong but I don't think he even got a name! And why was she living with some genius orphan? Oh, probably because DC has genius orphans coming out of their buttholes. Every main character needs at least one. This comic should have been called The Huntress Special Barely Featuring The Justice League because only The Huntress fans would recognize any of the bit players in the story. I sure didn't know who any of them were! I wonder if I can sue DC thirty years later for the blatant false advertisement that this was a Justice League comic book? I'm so angry now! Why did I fucking re-read this?!

I just realized the first special was exactly like this but using Mister Miracle instead of The Huntress. That one also wasn't a Justice League comic book! It was more of an offshoot of Mister Miracle's monthly book. And now they did the same thing with The Huntress. Wait a fucking second. This wasn't false advertisement at all. It was simply an advertisement! These fuckwits at DC convinced young me to pay $2.95 for a fucking commercial for a different one of their comic books! At least this fucking advert ended with The Huntress throwing her costume away so I didn't think, "I should read more The Huntress comics!" Instead I probably thought, "Good riddance!"

Friday, December 15, 2023

Justice League Europe Annual #2 (1991)

Is this an early version of Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory? (Obviously the three Legionnaires count as one soldier.)

Oh, this could also be an early version of Demon Knights! With the proper writer (and Moritat as artist again? Yeah?), that could be a fantastic book, although I wouldn't mind General Glory being replaced by somebody, maybe John Constantine, or if they need to be more of a one-to-one replacement for a Lawful Good goody-two-shoes, maybe Stargirl? And obviously Elongated Man needs to be replaced by Detective Chimp. I wrote "obviously" but if there's a much stronger word that means the same thing, you can replace "obviously" with that. Maybe that word is saying, "Obviously! Duh! What are you? A moron?!" Some of you might be thinking, "What about that '50s era Dick Van Dyke lookin' cowboy?" And I'd have to say, "Oh, we keep Bat Lash! If for nothing else then I've read his Who's Who entry about six hundred times (which, coincidentally, is also why we're keeping Anthro!)" Other than this annual and the "B" issue of Who's Who, I'm not sure I've ever read a Bat Lash comic book. Unless he had a Secret Origins issue.

This issue begins with Justice League Europe and Justice League America all crammed into the little room where Justice League America were all touched by Waverider in their annual. But Waverider is off fucking around somewhere else. Which is super convenient for anybody who has been paying attention to Armageddon 2001 because Captain Atom is at this meeting. But before Justice League Europe head back to the London Embassy where Superman brings Waverider to touch everybody, Captain Atom fucks off. Yeah! Imagine that! The guy who turns out not to be Monarch just happens to avoid getting his future read by Waverider! What I mean to say is the guy who was supposed to be Monarch but winds up not being Monarch due to non-story-related issues but who probably would have been found out to be Monarch at the beginning of this annual if Waverider had only managed to infiltrate this room while both teams were there (assuming the editors hadn't already changed their mind about Captain Atom being Monarch at this point, is what I mean).

You know what? I'm just confusing everybody who was too young to read this "Summer Event" off the shelves. But all y'all who were there, you know what I'm talking about! We all fucking knew Monarch was Captain Atom! You couldn't fool us, DC! At least not until you fooled us by saying, "Surprise! Hawk is Monarch! I bet none of you idiots guessed that because none of the clues pointed to Hawk because it wasn't supposed to be him! Ha ha! Got you, you fucking tools! Thanks for blowing all your summer job money on this garbage! Choads!"

I'm finally in the right mood to read this comic book and that mood is "apoplectic at DC." How dare I imagine them talking to me that way?!

Waverider has learned a little thing called "consent" since the Justice League America annual.

Some of the heroes are a bit concerned about learning their futures. For good reasons because the two characters the creative team choose to show their concern are Crimson Fox and Blue Jay. Giffen and Jones probably chose them because they realized they were the two characters with the least chance at any future success in the DC Universe.

I don't know what eventually happens to Crimson Fox but Blue Jay, you're killed by that jerk standing behind Crimson Fox in twenty-five years or so.

Look at Wally's smirk in that caption. It's like he remembers killing Blue Jay at the Recovery Center For Sad Heroes in a few decades from now. And knowing how mixed up The Flash is in time travel nonsense, he probably does remember it!

The first person Waverider touches is Catherine Cobert even though she's not a hero. My guess at Catherine's future is that she fucked Captain Atom a ton and eventually developed super powers from all the radioactive cream pies she received.

Catherine's life hasn't changed much in ten years which is probably the most realistic story DC has ever done. She's still at the same job, still moaning about taking care of a bunch of arrestedly developed heroes, and wishing her sex life were better. One of DC's clues as to who Monarch was should have been Catherine thinking about how much she wanted to fuck him.

Speaking of Monarch, he wasn't a factor in any of the Justice League America futures. Shouldn't the heroes who didn't turn out to be Monarch at least be complaining about the new fascist hero making authoritarian waves? But not one word! Does he come out of absolutely nowhere in 2001? If I'd recently read Armageddon 2001, I'd probably know the answer to that.

Silver Sorceress is in Waverider's vision so he's apparently not very good at predicting the future.

Kara's cat is still alive in 2001 so that's some good news. Although Silver Sorceress is as well so I shouldn't get too excited about seeing the cat alive. Waverider's vision ends when Catherine witnesses the Justice League London Embassy disappear in a puff of smoke. He cuts contact from Catherine while acting really concerned about what he saw but then offers her no explanation about his reaction. So now she has to assume she's dying of Captain Atom Cream Pie Cancer in ten years.

Next up is Rocket Red. Waverider's vision of Rocket Red begins as Rocket Red suddenly appears in Camelot. Which isn't ten years ago but I suppose Waverider's power, attuned to the person he touches, simply displays where they're at ten years from now. And so what if that happens to be a fictionalized version of Great Britain thousands of years ago? I say "fictionalized" but this entire DC Universe is "fictionalized" and Camelot actually exists within it. King Arthur mistakes Rocket Red for the greatest knight he has ever seen. Merlin is super jealous although I think, judging by the tent in Arthur's royal robes, Gwenhwyfar should be the jealous one.

I used one of the Welsh spellings for the Queen and since I had to look up how to spell any version of her name anyway, I chose the one I liked best. Also King Arthur wasn't depicted with a boner. If he was, I'd have scanned in the panel for proof. Although if I weren't reading an annual which is already going to take me longer than it's worth, I'd have Photoshopped a boner onto King Arthur to prove he had one anyway. I'm not saying you can't trust anything I say but, well, just don't. I'm a fucking liar. So I guess I am saying that. You can't trust anything I say.

You might wonder why I would lie for no reason about a thirty year old comic book I'm reading. But I'll tell you exactly why: because I often admit really embarrassing stuff about myself on this blog and if I cultivate a facetious, whimsical, and exaggerative personality, you won't know when I'm actually admitting to something true!

Is this an example of what the kids mean when they call me "salty"?

Not only do the tumblr kids call me salty, they also say I'm a pathetic edgelord! But I'll show them that I'm not an edgelord! I won't make a single dead baby joke in this entire review!

Dmitri has loads of Round Table adventures until Merlin, consumed with CAYKE, summoned Etrigan to have him killed.

No wait. CAYKE doesn't make any sense. Does that say ENVYE?

One less Rocket Red in the DC Universe won't bother anybody except the super nerds who somehow name Dmitri as their favorite character. Although if they're that super at being nerds, their favorite character is probably Rocket Red #7, the one that winds up being a Manhunter.

Power Girl is next. By now, the reader has probably realized that when the Embassy disappeared, Justice League Europe was scattered throughout time. Power Girl winds up in London during the blitz. Judging by the missiles crashing down around her, Slothrop fucked somebody right where Kara appears.

Power Girl runs into General Glory and his sidekick, Eddie. A building falls on Eddie, killing him, probably because he kept having impure thoughts about Power Girl's powers. For some reason, Power Girl winds up becoming General Glory's new sidekick, with the Guy Gardner haircut and everything. At this point, I'm seriously doubting Waverider's ability to see into the future. Pretty sure when he touches somebody, a random piece of fan-fiction about that character loads into his brain, deluding him into believing he's seeing the future. No wonder this idiot figures out Hank is Monarch when it's obvious Captain Atom was!

Metamorpho winds up in the future getting a drink with Jonah Hex. Remember when Jonah Hex wound up in the future post-Crisis-on-Infinite-Earths in a comic book called Hex? Now why didn't I read that series? I guess I didn't know how much I loved Jonah Hex in 1985.

Next, Waverider touches Silver Sorceress resulting in three blank pages. Because she's dead in 2001. Hell, she's dead in 1991. She just doesn't know it yet!

Remember how I lie all the time? Apparently Giffen and Jones didn't know Silver Sorceress would be dead well before 2001 also. She actually winds up back in prehistoric times being hit on by a cave woman.

"Nima alunda Sorceress. Zug zug?"

Crimson Fox goes next and winds up in the American Frontier with Bat Lash. I sense some hot sex coming up. Pages and pages of it. So many dirty, filthy pages. Except Waverider doesn't tune in to my Crimson Fox/Bat Lash fan-fiction and instead they just run around getting shot at. Boring.

Blue Jay is up next but we all know his future so let's skip ahead a few pages.

Ralph Dibny winds up in Victorian London, teleporting right on top of Moriarty and pissing Sherlock Holmes right off. So much so that he doubles down on his heroin use. But the rest of the social elite love the way his neck grows. Finally, an audience that isn't sick to death of looking at his grotesque displays of elongation.

Just as Waverider is wrapping up his terribly thought out investigation, Captain Atom wanders in. Oh boy! Time for Waverider to discover the identity of Monarch! But before he can touch Captain Atom, the cat rubs up on Waverider's ankles and he sees the cat's future. Kara's cat's future explains why everybody wound up in various places throughout time. Waverider also realizes that Elongated Man, with the help of H.G. Wells' time machine, is able to hunt them all down and return them to 2001. So Waverider, realizing the whole adventure amounts to absolutely nothing, scares Mr. Big into shutting down his spy electronics in the cat's eye which will prevent any of this time travel nonsense from ever happening. After all that's figured out, Waverider touches Captain Atom and the story ends to be concluded in Armageddon 2001 #2! Because he's going to find out that Captain Atom is Monarch! Or that Captain Atom is the only person who can stop Monarch or who knows who Monarch is or whatever. Imagine how much of Armageddon 2001 #2 the writers and artists had to change after editorial began running around DC's offices screaming, "Everybody knows! We need to surprise them! Make up something else that doesn't make any sense! Step on it, you assholes!"

Justice League Europe Annual #2 Rating: No rating. I don't rate annuals. I don't even talk intelligently about comic books! I readily admit these aren't actually "reviews"! They're just read-alongs where I make snotty comments about terrible art and awful writing! And I rarely praise any of the creators who deserve to be praised because I'm a stingy, self-hating, low self-esteem piece of shit who offers nothing valuable to society at all. Are you happy now, Cullen Bunn?! You were right! I fucking suck!

That was more lying! If anything, I love myself too much, probably!

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Justice League America Annual #5 (1991)

Guy Gardner looks like if Burgess Meredith, as an old man, was one of the Little Rascals.

Jesus Christ that caption! I'm sorry for every time I complained about your super fucking old references, Giffen and DeMatteis!

Based on Max Lord being hooked up to oxygen on this cover, and being that I'm as smart as Sherlock Holmes, I'm guessing this Annual took place during "Breakdowns." I'm reading it after finishing "Breakdowns" because I've been averse to re-reading the Annuals and the Quarterlies. They just contain too many pages! Plus this should really be read with all the other Armageddon books. I have Past Me to thank for none of the big event books ever being stored together. They're just scattered all over, some with the series they belong with and others just in random places because I never read the series they go with in the first place. I hate that I bought into this shit every summer! It was so expensive! Two whole dollars for this book! Outrageous!

I'm pretending I can see the faces of the younger generation right now who pay sometimes up to six whole dollars per book. That's not outrageous. That's fucking criminal. You can be reading a whole damn used book for that price! Sure, it doesn't have all the pretty pictures but you get way more value out of it. People always like to compare modern prices with prices from the past by running them through some sort of inflation calculator but let me tell you: no matter what an inflation calculator says $2.00 from 1992 is worth now in 2023, it was still way easier to buy a $2.00 comic than a $6.00 comic. Plus there were more pages: twenty-four versus the twenty you get now. Unless you get less? I have no idea. During The New 52, each comic was 20 pages which pissed me off at first. But then when I realized I had to write about every single one of them, I was glad for the lighter load of work.

If I remember Armageddon 2001 correctly (and I suspect I don't, memory being what it is and LSD doing what it does), the story was that some evil despot named Monarch was going to take over the world and murder all of the other heroes by 2001. That despot was an unknown superhero from 1991. A being named Waverider came back in time ten years to ferret out who the culprit would be and to stop them before they turned villainous. I won't spoil who Monarch turned out to be here because Waverider won't find him in this group of heroes. But it was Captain Atom. Just kidding! It was actually somebody else. Just kidding again! It was definitely Captain Atom except DC changed it part way through the story because all of the fans were casually discussing how Monarch was obviously Captain Atom. So I was kidding?

Anyway, how Waverider would discover who was probably Monarch was to divine their futures. But he was only divining possible futures so it wasn't really that effective. What it was effective for was creating a whole bunch of Elseworlds stories and What-Ifs! So much fun! Let's see what Waverider learned about these chowderheads.

Dramatic ironically, Waverider takes the form of Captain Atom so he can touch all the other heroes without raising their suspicions. No wait. It would only be "dramatic irony" if everybody reading the comic already knew Captain Atom was Monarch but nobody in the comic book did. Oh wait! It was dramatic irony because everybody reading this comic book had already figured out Captain Atom was Monarch! Unless the dramatic irony only rears its dramatic head now in 2023 as I read this knowing that Captain Atom didn't become Monarch which means I knew something the audience at the time thought they knew but ultimately did not (because DC editors cheated).

I'm confused. Let's just see what happens when Waverider touches J'onn J'onzz. Not like that, you pervs. They just shake hands!

In 2001, Martian Manhunter has become a guru high up in the Himalayas where he doles out wisdom to those who sacrifice everything in the attempt to reach him. One man, in Waverider's vision, ascends to the temple and asks J'onn the meaning of life.

I buy it.

J'onn obviously isn't Monarch and nobody would have expected him to be anyway. He's pretty much the only decent hero on Earth, aside from maybe Wonder Woman and Halo.

The next member of the League Waverider comes in contact with is Guy Gardner. Now there's a good candidate for Monarch! He's angry and filled with issues that he never confronts. Surely some day all of his trauma that he keeps bottle up inside will explode outward and he'll become an inhuman monster. Or more of an inhuman monster, I mean.

Guy's a girl?

That isn't really Guy, just a member of his cult. But it could have been Guy if Waverider missed the mark by 1000 years and was seeing the year 3001!

Guy's a girl!

In 2001, Guy has thousands of followers who all act like him and get their hair cut like him. He also loves fucking women who look just like him. Hey, I get that! I always knew Guy and I had a lot in common! At the big Guy Gardner rally (whose purpose isn't expressed. I guess to feed Guy's ego?), he's hit in the head with a sandbag from the rafters, cut by some mysterious person! This obviously turns him into Nice Guy Guy Gardner who his fans despise. His downfall is swift and I assume he's killed at the rally. So it must have been Monarch who cut the sandbag.

Waverider touches Blue Beetle next. Instead of seeing nothing at all since Blue Beetle has been murdered by Maxwell Lord by 2001, he sees a fat, balding Blue Beetle sitting in a tiny apartment watching television. As if Blue Beetle could ever be Monarch! He doesn't even have any super powers! How is he going to kill all the other heroes? I mean, Batman doesn't have any powers either and I wouldn't assume Batman couldn't be Monarch. But then I respect Batman.

I never thought I had what it takes to be a super hero until reading this panel.

Blue Beetle's life has gone to shit. He lost the rights to his own super hero name, tried to become the Stupendous Silverfish, and was laughed at by criminals due to his stupid costume and his flab. Bold call in 1992 by Keith and J.M. to know you could still laugh at fat people in ten years time. They probably assumed that would never change having spent their entire lives immersed in American pop culture where anytime a fat character was on screen, they were double fisting high calorie snacks and had chocolate smeared on their faces. Ha ha! What a great joke! What a time to be alive!

After realizing Beetle becomes too much of a loser to be Monarch, he moves over and touches Ice's inner thigh. Isn't Waverider worried that this inappropriate touch could be what sets everything in motion for Captain Atom to become Monarch?! He should be more careful! By the time he touches Captain Atom, he's going to see how his life fell apart when Ice sued him for sexual harassment and then Sue Dibny arranges to kill herself by having Jean Loring stomp all over her brain so that nobody finds out she's dying of cancer after fucking Captain Atom but that plan falls apart too because Waverider messed with the timeline! People say even the flapping of the wings of a butterfly can create a hurricane so why can't touching the inner thigh of an ice goddess bring about the destruction of every DC hero?

In 2001, Ice is living alone in a small cottage with a dozen cats. So she made it! She's living the dream! The only problem is she hears about Guy's accident and how he was struck on the head. She rushes out to find him, knowing he'll be sweet and kind and asexual Guy Gardner. Why she loves that one, I can't fucking guess.

I wish this were a scene between Batman and Superman.

Waverider's vision is broken because Ice reacts to his forwardness.

Oh, I know what you felt! The same thing I feel when I get a boner!

Darn. Waverider probably learned he shouldn't touch the heroes so close to their no-no zones. That's too bad because I was hoping he was going to read Bea's future via contact with the inside of her butthole! Finger or tongue. Hell, I'd take a toe even!

Waverider approaches Fire next thinking about how beautiful she is and how that translates to her being the hero he most admired. Sounds like it's butthole exploration time!

Fire touches Waverider's chest and he sees her future. She's at Tora and Guy's wedding with her date, Oberon. Oberon asks her to marry him just as Ted Kord comes barging into the church to kick Bea's ass. It was her company who bought the rights to Blue Beetle and sued him to keep from using the name. He's so angry that he just might be Monarch! Except he's still just a powerless loser so nobody reading this comic book was thinking anything other than, "Monarch is Captain Atom. I fucking know it. All the clues point directly at him!"

Booster Gold arrives and Waverider reads his future next. But he shoots way past 2001 and reads Booster's future when he returned to the 25th century (or whatever time he's from) after he lost everything going into business with Ted. But while looking at all the displays in the super hero museum's 20th Century exhibit, he realizes something terrible happens to Blue Beetle in 2001. It's not revealed because Keith and J.M. want the readers to think Ted might be Monarch but instead of thinking that, we're all thinking, "I wonder if Ice and Fire every kiss while naked?"

Booster decides he has to go back in time to save Ted and realizes only Maxwell Lord can help him. Oh man! Maybe he read how Maxwell Lord shoots Blue Beetle in the face!

Sorry, no scans for Booster's future. We've got to move along quickly here! Chop chop!

Scott Free, Mister Miracle, is next although does anybody really care about that? He's retiring and passing on the mantle in 1991. Shouldn't Waverider be touching his protégé, Shilo Norman? Maybe it doesn't matter since Shilo Norman and half a dozen other Mister Miracles appear in Waverider's vision. Maybe because Waverider's abilities causes him to focus on the hero that is most likely to become Monarch, Scott's future vision is mostly about Blue Beetle and the trouble he's causing. He's been arrested for attacking Fire at Ice's wedding and now everybody thinks they're responsible for rescuing him. Sure would have been nice if they thought about rescuing their friend when he was down on his luck, lonely, and depressed.

Next up is General Glory. Why? Won't his alias, Joe Jones, be dead in ten years?

Well, he's ready to die but stupid Max convinces him to become General Glory again.

The General Glory vision becomes a Justice League vision as it's mostly about Maxwell Lord getting the Justice League back together and working for the United Nations again. The new team consists of General Glory as the leader and his sidekicks Guy Gardner, Ice, Aquaman, Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, and two women I don't recognize. Beetle is still fat but I guess he didn't become Monarch or kill himself? Whatever was happening with him, I guess Booster Gold, Mister Miracle, Oberon, and Big Barda saved him.

Oh wait! There's one vision left: Maxwell Lord! This vision fills in the gaps of the effort to save Blue Beetle. Booster talks Max into mind controlling Bea to drop the charges and then he figures he might as well force her to hand over part of her business and then he decides to convince General Glory to lead the new JLA and then he almost certainly uses his power to get all of the new members to cut their hair like Guy Gardner. What I'm saying is that Waverider learned Maxwell Lord is still a controlling jerk ten years later.

The next chapter in Armageddon 2001 takes place in the Hawk and Dove Annual but I won't spoil what Waverider discovers there. I mean, he discovers nothing because Hawk isn't Monarch at all. At least not yet!

Justice League America Annual #5 Rating: I don't rate these things! The thing I find most interesting about this Annual is how Booster Gold never mentions what Blue Beetle is going to do if Maxwell Lord doesn't help him out. It shines an interesting light on what eventually became DC continuity. What if Blue Beetle was going to do something even worse than become Monarch? What if Booster Gold knew Beetle needed to be stopped by any means necessary? And what if minor things can change in continuity but major things are much harder to change. So at some point in the future, Maxwell Lord learns he must stop Blue Beetle but many other events have transpired and he can't get General Glory back. Fire isn't running a corporation that bankrupted Beetle. Ice and Guy aren't married. What if the only resource at Lord's disposal was a gun? And Beetle absolutely had to be stopped? Maybe Max Lord teamed up with Brother Eye not to become all-powerful and a Monarch of his own sorts. Maybe it was all a ploy to kill Blue Beetle before he does the horrible thing Booster Gold saw he would do! I'm pretty sure that's what happened and Max Lord saved everybody by being a huge manipulative fascist dick!

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Justice League America #62 (May 1992)

Covering Maxima's mouth when it's her eyes that shoot her psionic beams reeks of misogyny.

On the cover, Weapons Master uses the Green Lantern ring to cover Superman's eyes so he can't be blasted by heat vision. That makes sense. But he should then cover Superman's mouth to protect against his cold breath. Being that Weapons Master doesn't do that and instead chooses to cover Maxima's mouth, which is harmless, hints at a darker reason for what he's doing. If I only had one gag for these three people, I wouldn't even choose to put it on Superman. It's Guy Gardner whose mouth you want to shut up so you don't have to listen to his empty bravado! But this asshole chooses to stop the woman from speaking. I don't want to boil everything down to some guy being angry because he has a small penis because having a small penis makes a person a victim of "mainstream" society for nothing they had any control of. But it is a handy metaphor for a guy with low self-esteem who hates women because he fears rejection based on society's idea of what makes a man (i.e., the penis). Also, when a man says that a man who demonstrates some behavior he doesn't like has a small penis, he's actually proclaiming, "My penis is satisfactory." I don't want anybody making any assumptions about the size of my satisfactory penis so I won't blame Weapons Master's misogyny on having a small penis. If I did, it would just be as a metaphor anyway. But I feel that specific metaphor is harmful. Which is why I choose to use a different metaphor and say, "Weapons Master has a tiny empathic ability." Although that's not a metaphor; it's just a statement. Maybe our world needs to express things less in metaphor! Why lump nice guys with small dicks into the same category as the biggest jerk-offs on the planet? There are plenty of jerks out there with humongous penises and tight buttholes they don't deserve!

Wait. What was the tight butthole a metaphor for again? Oh, that's right! Being a prude! Never mind. I'm mixing my metaphors now! Let's just get directly to the point: Weapons Master, in choosing to gag the only member of this group that he has no reason to gag, makes a loud and clear statement about what he thinks of women. Unless it's just what he thinks of Maxima. She really gave him an ego drubbing in their previous encounter when she was all, "I'm the queen of everything and you're no Superman, you little dicked asshole!" That was Maxima using that disgusting metaphor! Not me! You can't blame me for writing character-driven dialogue!

When we last left the Justice League, they were being used as pawns in a "game" created by Weapons Master (unless the game was created by the three-eyed red alien from Justice League of America #1). I put the word "game" in quotes because it wasn't much of a game. Blue Beetle just had to put figures of the Justice League on a chessboard and hope he put them on Freedom Squares instead of Danger Squares. Pretty shit game, actually. So far Ice was placed on the game board in a Danger Square which transported her to a planet of lava where she's sure to die. Blue Beetle was pretty upset about this, according to the art.

He should have had a V-8.

Having taken Ice off the board in a failed effort to bring her back, Blue Beetle decides to place Superman on the square Ice's figure had been on. Superman is transported to lava world too and saves Ice's life. Then they fuck. Probably. It's what I'd do if I were Ice. For survival, I mean! Like when you're camping and a blizzard hits, you're supposed to get naked and cuddle up with your friends to conserve body heat. Well isn't the opposite also true in a total-lava environment? Ice and Superman need to get naked and cuddle so that Ice can keep their body temperatures down! Fucking is the only logical way to survive.

Look, you can try to convince me that two people can get naked together and not fuck but I won't be listening because I'll be imagining the two naked people fucking.

Weird. I thought Ice's vagina would have a lateral lisp.

Weapons Master gets upset with Beetle about the little stunt he just pulled. Maybe stick to guns and electrified nets, Weapons Master. I bet Games Master wouldn't have made this error!

Blue Beetle's next move is to put Booster Gold on one corner of the board and Maxima on another. In his head, he's experimenting to figure out more information about the board. In reality, he's just randomly placing his teammates on a dangerous device. I guess he figures if he gets the information he wants from this move, he'll be able to place Guy Gardner in the perfect spot to save the day. Or to make sure Guy dies? It's hard to guess at Beetle's motivations. Guy doesn't have his ring right now so it's the perfect time to get him out of everybody's hair forever.

Back in New York, Bloodwynd the absolutely, totally human magic-user confronts Maxwell Lord and Oberon. They're all, "How do you know so much about us? Are you telepathic like our old member, J'onn?" Bloodwynd is all, "I cannot say but I did find a clue telepathically from one of Weapons Master's weapons!" The clue points toward a mysterious yacht that probably hides a Dominator and Weapon Master's hot girlfriend. Sorry, young people, I don't know either of their names and resorted to reducing them to their race and gender!

The panels depicting Superman and Ice on the lava planet lead me to only one conclusion: Dan Jurgens is as hot for Ice as I am! I mean as I pretend to be! I'm going to show you two panels from this comic book and you are going to have to take a cold shower and try not to think about ice, no matter your sexuality.

I just have one thing to say: "Pudendum."

Booster Gold would kill to have that much of a bulge!

I've maintained for years that Ice has the sexiest outfit. Because it can do things like this!

Another huge plus of Ice's costume: extremely large fuzzy boot cuffs!

Superman tells Ice she needs to help herself stay cool because he somehow conveniently forgot about his frost breath. Unless he lost that power after Crisis. I can't keep any of that shit straight this many years out.

Ice makes a few "ice pebbles" which is cute if you like to picture them dribbling out of her butt like a farmyard goat (which I do). As she's dying in the heat, she asks Superman if he's married and then tells him her secret identity. This lava planet is making Ice one thirsty ho! Lois gonna have to beat the horndog out of her.

Back in the game room, it turns out that Blue Beetle's assumption that the opposite of the corners of the board would have some kind of connection is correct as Maxima and Booster Gold wind up on a strange planet together. To Maxima's dismay, really.

"The men of the Justice League are lucky Max Lord doesn't have a Human Resources Department," writes the guy who has been ogling Ice for the last five pages.

To be fair to myself (which we should all try to be extremely fair to because I'm a sensitive boy), I'd be ogling Booster Gold's crotch too if anybody would ever draw any kind of bulge down there. I'm guessing Dan will be the guy to do it. You can almost think he's attempting it in the above panels but it's really just the shine of Booster's glossy outfit and not a penis.

Maxima shoves Booster away and he gets angry and annoyed, yelling, "Hey! What gives, Maxima?" Maybe she doesn't need you constantly expressing how much you want to fuck her? At least not to her face. Save that shit for your LiveJournal, buddy.

No wonder all the women want to fuck Superman. The rest are a bunch of lechers.

Wally West has been nothing but a sex pest in Justice League Europe for the last three years. Blue Beetle and Booster Gold often fall all over each other hitting on any woman in their proximity (both have been pestering Maxima since she arrived). Even Ralph Dibny has been getting into the act. And Max Lord and Oberon can't be looked to as role models either! The only guys not sexually harassing their teammates on a near constant basis are Rocket Red (who is married (not that marriage matters, seeing as how Ralph is acting)) and Metamorpho (who is absolutely in love with Sapphire). Oh, and J'onn but if he were attracted to an Earth woman it would be weird. Like if I wanted to fuck the raccoons that come by my backyard at night. I do not want to fuck them, by the way. Just read my t-shirt that says, "I am not attracted to sexy raccoons."

I realize I didn't mention Guy Gardner because did I really need to mention that chauvinist? He's a given in this matter, right?

You know what? It's not only the men who have a problem in this League and a reason to get an HR Department set up posthaste. Crimson Fox and Catherine Cobert wouldn't get off Captain Atom's jock while he was still alive! I'm pretty sure Sue Dibny even fucked him in the janitor's closet in Issue #6 (and #7. And #3. And #13. Hell, every issue where Sue and Captain Atom aren't currently on-panel, really).

Weapons Master isn't much better as you'll see in the next panel. When do I stop attributing all of this pent-up sexual aggression to the characters and just start accepting, like everybody else already has, that comic book writers and artists are horny and lonely and can only gratify their sexual urges through their "art"? Like Weapons Master in that panel I mentioned!

"Light show," Beetle? Weapons Master is using the ring to create a stag film.

I can't believe I used the phrase "stag film." Where did I learn about pornography? From Happy Days?!

Maybe I shouldn't blame comic book artists for all of this weird expression of sexuality. I can't say that if I got a Green Lantern ring, I wouldn't first use it to make a bunch of naked women to have sex with. It's pretty much what The Fermata is all about! Nicholson Baker writes the most pornographic and rapey book he can imagine and yet it's maybe the best book about writing I've ever read. "Oh, I'm a writer who suddenly has the ability to stop time! I can get all the writing I want done at any moment! Except I'm mostly going to use all of this extra time jerking off."

Some of you might be pointing out he does quite a bit more than jerking off, like sexual molestation and assault. But that's just the metaphor! I was being literal about what keeps a writer from writing. I know the Internet itself is one of those things but The Fermata was written in 1994. At that time the two biggest distractions from getting your novel written were the urge to jerk off and your stupid cat demanding constant attention.

I just went to Goodreads to see what people are saying about The Fermata because it's full of sexual assault. I never thought it's main point was erotic fantasy. It's obviously a man taking advantage of women! But I always maintained it's a great book about writing. But on Goodreads, I didn't read one review that even mentioned it's a metaphor about writing. Did I not read enough reviews (probably?)? Everybody just seems to think either it's a gross book about sexual assault (it is!) or it's an awesome sexy fantasy about assaulting women (all the guys, probably!). Am I wrong that it's a metaphor about writers and how they allow themselves to be distracted so that, even if they could stop time, they'd still have excuses not to get to the writing? Was I super smart when I first read it back in the mid-90s or was I super dumb?!

You might also think, "Sounds like a pretty thin premise to justify a book full of sexual assault." But that's also kind of the point? Pages and pages and pages of Baker's writing are just him "jerking off." He's writing the most detailed descriptions he can of these sexual assaults, spending far too much time, using far too much of his writing ability, to describe page after page of these encounters. It's like an artist putting all of their effort in doodles because they're refusing to look at the real work set before them.

Weapons Master also makes himself a martini so I see he knows how to have a good time. He mentions Blue Beetle has two more pieces to move and that's when I finally remember Fire exists. Whoops! Sorry, Fire! I was too busy looking at Ice's underboobs to remember you!

Blue Beetle realized that when he placed a person's piece on the board, that person was able to interact with the environment for a few seconds before disappearing. So he plays Guy's piece hoping Guy has noticed too. Guy wakes up and calls his ring back to his finger. Guy doesn't warp to a strange planet but I don't know if that's because Beetle played his piece on a Freedom Square or the ring protected Guy. Whatever the case, Guy attacks Weapons Master who warps away only to return seconds later with a weapon that I presume can defeat Guy Gardner. Just like back in the JLA cave!

I'm supposed to believe Weapons Master doesn't have any weapons which shoot yellow bullets? Please.

Weapons Master retreats to his yacht where he has to kill the Dominator before it returns to Dominaria and reports to its superiors that Weapons Master sucks at fencing Green Lantern rings. I don't know if "Dominaria" is the name of the Dominion home planet. I do know it's the home of Prodigal Sorcerers, Grizzly Bears, and Savannah Lions.

Green Lantern's ring saves the other Justice League members by tracking their quantum particles or something. It's all done off-panel during the scene where Bloodwynd, having tracked down Weapons Master to his girlfriend's yacht, attacks.

"You may be fast but are you fast enough to interrupt this sentence with an amazingly long-winded threat somehow spoken in the instantaneous moment in which you warp away from me? Oh, you are."

Don't ask about Guy Gardner on the computer screen. I have no idea what's going on with that. Maybe Weapons Master has CCTV installed across all of his various pocket dimensions and lava planets.

Bloodwynd can't rescue the Justice League because J'onn J'onzz doesn't actually have magic powers. But he is able to disassemble Weapons Master's computer system, take it back to the Justice League Headquarters, plug it into their teleportation system, hire some hackers to write a program to communicate between the hardware, and eventually use the system to warp the team back home.

When the adventure is over, Max Lord announces that the Justice League have not only succeeded in their first mission which was really just the League defending Guy's ring from a thief but that they've gained two new members!

Max Lord telegraphing that these are diversity hires with, "They're certain to widen the group's appeal."

If they truly are diversity hires, that means Martian Manhunter is stealing the job that should have gone to Cyborg all these years ago! Fucking dick.

One last pic just to prove that Dan Jurgens is a professional comic book artist using the proof I mentioned in my Justice League Europe #37 review.

See? It took Dan until the last page but he got one of the female characters into a towel!

Justice League America #62 Rating: B. This two part story was satisfactory for introducing the new members of the League. It had all the usual beats of a team comic book. First they get defeated by the bad guy because they didn't work together and then they come together later, all using their particular talents, to defeat the villain. Aside from Fire who never moved from the table during the entire conflict. I guess Ice didn't do much but need saving. And Booster didn't do much but annoy Maxima with his crude suggestions. But Maxima helped because she cussed out Beetle when he put her piece on the game board! That helped Beetle realize that his teammates could act for a few seconds before being sent to some dangerous dimension. And because this wasn't a real mission and just a minor assault by Weapons Master that took place just before the League ever appeared all in one place together, I won't fault it for being a story where the villain attacks the League directly meaning no real "Justice" was served. So instead of the Justice League saving the world 0 out of 2 comics, I'll give them a pass on this one and start the tally next issue.