Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Justice League America #71 (February 1993)

Judging by what I can see, the new members are Liberace, a gun, and Wonder Woman's tits.

This fake cover over the real cover must have been conceived before the invention of covers with cutaways that reveal the real cover underneath. You'd think that technology would have already been invented by 1993 because remember how that book everybody read in junior high, Flowers in the Attic, had a peekaboo cover? That book came out in 1979 and had a little window on the cover showing a girl's face and then you opened the cover to reveal that she was fucking her brother. V.C. Andrews' books were the junior high equivalent of Judy Blume's books in elementary school. Unless you were one of the freaks reading Stephen King. It came out in 1986 and while most people were all, "Big deal, you read horror!", those of us reading Stephen King in junior high and high school were all, "Do you know a bunch of twelve year olds have a gang bang in the sewer in this? And have you read 'The Lawnmower Man'? Not a hint of virtual reality in that thing! It's just a naked guy slithering around eating grass leavings! And don't get me started on the existentialist torture porn of Gerald's Game!"

Let's check out who's really joining the JLA (according to the cover which probably won't wind up being reality because Black Condor ain't the kind of guy to join a team like this and we know Wonder Woman never fucking finds the time for this shit, no matter how many times the creative team hints at her joining). I wouldn't mind the new roster being the one I wrote in the caption but some would suspect that it's quite improbable.

Holy shit! Underneath the fake cover is a cover where the team is breaking through the cover!

This cover, in an effort to minimize the usually fraud perpetrated by lying comic book covers, adds the question, "Is this the new Justice League America?" Because the answer to that question is, "No, it is not. It never will be. It's more a reminder to readers that The Freedom Fighters have recently had some legacy versions of those old heroes pop up in their own monthlies. But where is the new Phantom Lady? Va-va-va-voom!

This issue begins with Maxima, realizing the Justice League are now seen as huge pathetic losers, rebranding her image. She decides her costume needs less flesh showing and should maybe be purple instead of green. Nobody will recognize her as one of those Justice League failures now! She acts like she's honoring Superman by not giving up after losing one battle but she's acting like an electronics corporation that was recently found to be selling the organs of Chinese children which wants to continue to do business without a bunch of pesky liberals judging them. She's not planning on changing her name though so my analogy is imperfect. My analogy is also imperfect because a lot of people now be thinking, "Wait. What electronics corporation was found selling the organs of Chinese children? Did I miss that story?" Look, I just made that up. The analogy works because people wouldn't be surprised to find out that's something Apple was doing. My guess is one of the major components of the iPhone uses the ACL from toddlers but that's just speculation backed up by evidence. Not evidence that there's an organic component in the iPhone or that there are an inordinate number of crippled Chinese children near iPhone factories! The evidence is simply that Apple is just as evil as every other corporation and if something would make them a profit, they'd engage in that practice.

Maxwell Lord comes by to talk to Lady Maxima. He does call her "Lady M" at one point so I think Dan Jurgens is trying to make sure the readers note that two characters in this comic book basically have the same name. Was that intended? To portray Maxima and Maxwell Lord as two sides of the same person? They're both arrogant jerks who must control every situation. Also they're both villains but they don't really know it.

While Max whines at Maxima that his League might be dead without Superman (forgetting that Superman has only been a part of it for about ten issues), Oberon tells Booster Gold that his suit cannot be fixed with the Justice League's limited technology (limited in that it's 20th Century technology and not 25th Century technology). So obviously Booster Gold blames Oberon in the most offensive but it's the '90s so this is actually a joke, I guess, way!

Oberon is watching . . . Booster's ass as he leaves.

Booster realizes he's a huge ass who shouldn't have attacked Oberon the way he did in the very next panel but there aren't any panels of Booster actually apologizing to Oberon. Blue Beetle continues to "slip deeper into his coma" which is that a thing? Do comas have levels? I just figured our position in the universe was always either coma or not coma, not near a coma or deep in a coma or hanging out in a very shallow coma listening to people talk about you. That could just be my ignorance though. Maybe by "slip deeper," the doctor just meant "another day has gone by and the longer Beetle remains in a coma, the worse his odds of recovery are"?

I just remembered that website where an actual doctor would review episodes of House! What the fuck was that site? He was also a big comic book fan so he'd sometimes review medical emergencies in comic books as well. I haven't thought about that site in years. Probably since House ended!

Maxwell Lord's plan to hire new members for the League is to send out current members to hunt down heroes instead of inviting them all to a huge recruitment party. That should go about as well as the draft in America during the invasion of Vietnam.

Guy Gardner has been sent to collect The Ray. Hopefully nobody blames Guy Gardner when he beats the shit out of the kid and they realize Max is at fault for sending fucking Guy Gardner to recruit somebody. Of course it's going to wind up in a fight! Even when Guy isn't looking for a fight, he winds up in a fight. He's just one of those guys. We've all known a guy like that! Either they start some shit for no fucking reason or somebody starts something with them because guys who start shit can smell their own. I was still pretty young when I got tired of being friends with guys like that. Can I even call a guy like that a friend? A friend is somebody whose back you'd have if some kind of fight broke out but with this kind of guy, when you suddenly realize he's engaged in fisticuffs with some other jerk, you just shrug and think, "Enh, I'm sure he deserves whatever beating he's about to get." I was doing a disservice to them calling them my friend when really I was just another bystander watching them get their ass beat. But then, another kind of awful guy is the kind of guy who backs up a shitheel like that! The kind of guy who is all, "My friend just started some shit with some guy just standing around doing nothing! I'd better back him up and help beat the shit out of that guy!"

Anyway, why the fuck do I like the character of Guy Gardner?! I guess I'm like Ice. I know better but I just can't help myself! Also I feel compassion for him due to his brain damage and the way everybody treats him like shit without considering the brain damage!

1993 wasn't that far away and enough of us felt like The Ray here and still had the correct attitude toward cops: fuck 'em.

People hated cops for a century or more (and any "rules enforcer" since civilizations began). But then all the cop shows trying to portray them as the first line of defense against having your VCR stolen or the only people keeping the public space safe began flooding the airwaves. And then 9/11 happened and somehow cops were entangled with all the real heroic first responders and people began to worship their fascist asses. The split where people began to worship cops probably really began to take place in the Reagan era '80s though. By the '90s, you could see it writ large during something like the OJ trial where people actually existed who couldn't even conceive that Mark Furhman was obviously a huge sexist, racist who might have planted evidence. For decades prior to this, most people would have been, "A racist cop who hates dames planting evidence? Which one did it?" There were probably a lot of racists who hated cops but suddenly found themselves siding with cops when they fiercely wanted OJ found guilty. I remember my cousin's girlfriend at the time saying, "I'm not racist but this trial might make me one." As if rich men weren't getting away with murder constantly! But suddenly a rich black man has the means to hire lawyers that would stop at nothing to keep him out of jail was the unjust straw that broke your racist camel's back? Please. Any time you blame some other event that has shit-all to do with you for making you racist, you were already fucking racist, fam.

Even though The Ray flees, Guy doesn't shoot him in the back and then tell everybody that he thought he had a gun, forcing the Justice League to cover up his murder like they've covered up all of the other murders by cops. I mean heroes. Guy just grabs him with gigantic yellow tweezers and asks him to join the League. The Ray probably jumps at the chance. But meanwhile in New Jersey, Bloodwynd is hunting Black Condor who definitely does not want to join the Justice League. He doesn't even want to stop crime. Ever! He just wants to live in the Pine Barrens and pretend to be the Jersey Devil to lost hikers.

"Shirk your duties"? Fuck you, Bloodwynd, you arrogant conservative asshole Martian.

This is why The X-men could tell a wide variety of stories and retain a semblance of narrative reality that DC often had trouble with. Somebody in the DC Universe who can fly should be obligated to fight crime? What the fuck is that about? In the Marvel Universe, people with powers aren't expected to fight crime specifically. They even have a place to go where they can learn about their powers and be accepted for who they are. I never really read The X-men so maybe Professor X was a lot like Bloodwynd here and constantly pressured the kids at his school to join up with The X-men. I mean the ones with useful powers! Not like those jerks in the special class that Grant Morrison created. Although I sort of loved that beaked kid.

Maxima hunts down Agent Liberty. He's the guy with the gun on the cover because we all know liberty only exists because a guy with a gun kills people. Obviously he kills all the right people some how, even though one aspect of "liberty" is living your life without the fear of some coward with a gun blowing your head off because they've convicted you of some imaginary bullshit on the spur of the moment that demands the death penalty, even if it's just shoplifting (or the belief that you were shoplifting, most likely). I guess he's DC's '90s version of The Punisher but worse because he's tarted himself up to look like a patriotic good guy while The Punisher was all, "I'm going to name myself The Punisher and wear a skull on my chest so that nobody thinks, 'Oh, this guy loves America and is killing for all the right reasons!'" The Punisher just kills who thinks needs to be killed without having to polish his murder turd. The problem with this guy is his righteousness. Oh, and his patriotism! Fuck this guy.

This is how dumb this character is.

Just like every gun wielding asshole who thinks they're protecting freedom and loves America and worships cops and the military, he can't wait to shoot a cop in the face if the cop tries to constrain his liberty (his liberty being murdering people). I'm sure DC wants readers to see Agent Liberty as a real hero though so he probably won't shoot at the cops. But if he did, he wouldn't think he was in the wrong at all! Liberty to these assholes generally means "I get to do whatever I want at everybody else's expense." If they do something horrible to you, it's liberty and freedom. But if you try to do what they're doing to you, it's oppression and deserves a death sentence.

Not that I'm defending the cops in that panel! Their first instinct is to shoot the fuck out of Agent Liberty when they see him. Every fucking asshole with a gun (even cops who are supposed to be trained and, you know, brave) automatically assumes every other asshole has a gun and so they think self-defense means being the first person to shoot the other person in any sort of conflict. And you have to make sure to kill them so they can't get on the stand in court and testify to not having had any kind of weapon on them at all nor were they even thinking of escalating the situation to violence.

Only with Superman dead would somebody like Agent Liberty be asked to join the Justice League. Now, if he acted out of righteousness in stopping crimes but refused to kill people, he'd be Batman. I guess that's why he kills. And also why he loves America?

Back at JLA headquarters, Booster Gold continues to search for a solution for his destroyed suit from the future. Fire arrives to show him the final product on the 12 Months of Naked Fire calendar they "collaborated" on.

What the fuck is Fire wearing?

You know Dan Jurgens drew this picturing Fire simply in one of Ice's half-tops and her underwear. But the colorist, Gene D'Angelo, probably got a late night call from Assistant Editor Ruben Diaz screaming, "Augustyn let the shot of an obvious naked Maxima go because we knew the coloring of her suit would make it seem like she had clothes on! But what the fuck is Fire supposed to be wearing?! She's practically naked here! The Comics Code people will shoot my Augustyn's dog if we try to publish this! Color her fucking green so it looks like she has something covering her legs and tits!" You know the call went straight to D'Angelo because nobody drew any lines to show where her "green clothing" ends. Because of artist unions, I don't think colorists are allowed to draw black lines.

Fire informs Booster that she burned the calendars. She claims it's because Booster printed them without her permission and yet she was happy to be paid for provocative photos for a calendar before she knew Booster was behind it. I'm not sure she can argue consent in this case. She's just sorry that she was helping a sexist asshole who makes her sick get rich. If I were Booster, I'd sue the fuck out her.

Oh wait. He's threatening to murder her? I guess I'm back on Fire's side now. Mostly because of the underboob.

Booster Gold digs Skeets out of a box in the basement so Skeets can repair his super suit. No wonder Skeets wound up getting worms in its head and nearly destroying the entire DC Universe. Booster Gold should have taken better care of the poor little thing! Anybody else in that situation probably would have made friends with the first nerd caterpillar to come along as well.

The last new member is the new leader: Wonder Woman! Was that a surprise? Had you forgotten the cover by now? Seeing as how she appears 19 pages into the issue, I think Jurgens was hoping the reader would have forgotten by then too.

Superman is dead. Blue Beetle is in a very deep and getting deeper coma. Fire has lost her powers. Booster Gold has lost his powers (meaning his suit broke). And Ice decides to quit. That leaves Maxima, Bloodwynd, and Guy Gardner as the only remaining members of the League. Which is why they've hired, for a limited time anyway, Black Condor (who doesn't want to be there because he's not a hero), The Ray (who doesn't want to be there because he's so young), Agent Liberty (who doesn't want to be there because they're all Narcs), and Wonder Woman (who doesn't want to be there because she never seems to actually want to be there and always disappears after only a few issues). So that's the new League! A bunch of dumb jerks who don't even want to be in the League! I can't wait to see how they work together!

Justice League America #71 Rating: C+. I know Justice League recruitment drives always rely on spotlighting characters that need more support for their monthly comic books (or perhaps editorial is interested in having a monthly and gauging interest), but this feels even worse than usual. Max Lord has gone after three "heroes" who have no reason to be on the League and nobody in their right mind would have tried recruiting them in the first place. How long does this shit last? I guess all the DC fans who couldn't fucking stand the goofy Justice League finally got their wish! Now they have a useless Justice League with a non-hero, a murderer, a rank amateur, the villain Maxima, Martian Manhunter faking diversity, an apathetic Wonder Woman, and fucking Guy Gardner. I must have continued reading because I love watching things fall apart and centers not holding!

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