Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Justice League America #38
May '90
Story by Giffen & DeMatteis
Art by Hughes & Rubinstein
The parody of "Spy" in this issue is published with the permission of "Spy Magazine." "Spy" and "Separated at Birth?" are registered trademarks belonging to Spy Publishing Partners, LP.

Justice League Europe #14
May '90
"You Oughta Be In Pictures"
Keith Giffen, plot and breakdowns
Gerard Jones, dialogue
Linda Medley, pencils
Jose Marzan Jr., inks
Albert De Guzman, letters
Gene D'Angelo, colors
Kevin Dooley, best boy
Andy Helfer, key grip
And who says you can't do film in comics?

Judging by the letters pages all these many months, it was a minority of readers who wanted JLA to abandon its jocular tone in favor of grim 'n' gritty, no-holds-barred punch-ups. Nevertheless, being the giving people they are, the creative team decided to give that minority its day in the sun, beginning with issue 38. The book starts innocently enough, with five pages of Wally Tortolini's reportage for Spy magazine, laid out to look like the real publication. Basing his story on the clues found in the League's garbage, the journalist manages to connect a lot of dots, correctly identifying, for example, the alter egos of Fire and Blue Beetle. Fortunately for the League, the DCU's version of Spy is owned by Vivian D'Aramis, a.k.a. Crimson Fox, and she quickly and quietly kills the story before it hits the presses.

The JLA's problems are far from over, though. First, Booster and Claire Montgomery start laying the foundation for their own super-team by recruiting Maxi-Man to the cause. Far more seriously, though, the alien that emerged last issue is now clearly identified as a reconstituted Despero, and he wastes no time returning to Earth seeking revenge against the old members of Justice League Detroit. First, he rips what's left of Steel out of the life-support tube that had kept the hero hanging on by a thread, and then, without batting his third eye, he flies off to suburbia and kills Gypsy's parents. When Gypsy returns from studying at the library, Despero chases her across town, leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake. All hope for Gypsy seems lost until, on the last page, J'onn intervenes.

For anyone needing a bit of levity after all that carnage, things don't get any lighter than JLE #14. Unfortunately, there's too much fluff even for me. The story hinges on a nameless milquetoast who's basically married to his VCR and extensive library of VHS tapes (yeah, this one's a bit dated). One day, he receives the ability to transfer bodies with anyone--or anything--he sees onscreen. The sauce thickens when he travels to the Cannes Film Festival in the guise of movie star Flint Clintwood; when he finds himself in a pinch, he then becomes in turn a giant Godzilla-esque monster, a chainsaw-wielding murderer and "Winki" the dog. Lest you wonder what the hell any of that has to do with the JLI, Flash, Power Girl and Elongated Man (and his lovely wife, Sue) have also traveled to Cannes for a bit of PR, and once there they bump into Fire and Ice, who happen to be in France because, I don't know, nothing happens in America I guess.

Linda Medley's pencils shine when dealing with the Japanese monster, but her Flash looks like he fell out of an Archie comic. The worst offenses, though, lie with the plot, which is flimsy and riddled with holes I find hard to ignore even for a genre that consistently stretches the limits of suspending one's disbelief. Just one example: Movie-Man (my name for him, and I know it's not a good one) manages to outrun the frickin' Flash.

Anyway, and apropos of nothing, there's been something very strange about Mr. Miracle these past two issues of JLA.

The complete 60 Weeks with the Justice League on The Danger Digest:
#1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23, #24, #25/1, #26/2, #27/3, #28/4, #29/5, #30/6, #31/7, #32/8, #33/9, #34/10, #35/11, #36/12, #37/13, #39/15, #40/16, #41/17, #42/18, #43/19, #44/20, #45/21, #46/22, #47/23, #48/24, #49/25, #50/26, #51/27, #52/28, #53/29, #54/30, #55/31, #56/32, #57/33, #58/34, #59/35, #60/36

All images this post copyright DC Comics. Original text copyright Jon D. Witmer/The Danger Digest.

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