Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Justice League of America #52
Jul. '91
"The Battle of the Century! Decade! Year! Month?"
Pull up a chair, sports fans, as those pusillanimous pugilists...
Keith Giffen, plot & breakdowns
J.M. DeMatteis, script
Trevor Von Eeden, pencils
Randy Elliott, inks
Bob Lappan, letterer
Gene D'Angelo, colorist
Kevin Dooley, trainer
Andy Helfer, referee
...get ready to knock you out again!

Justice League Europe #28
Jul. '91
"The Man Who Wears the Star"
Keith Giffen, plot and breakdowns
Gerard Jones, script and script
Bart Sears, pencils and pencils
Randy Elliott, inks and inks
Bob Lappan, letters and borders
Gene D'Angelo, colors and colors
Kevin Dooley, this and that
Andy Helfer, stuff 'n' nonsense

July 1991 was the month everything started to change for the ol' JLI, taking a turn for the serious and setting up the massive "Breakdowns" storyline that will run through both JLA and JLE for the next eight months. (Don't worry--that's only eight weeks for us.) And what  could trigger such a sea change other than this little cliffhanger?

(JLE also ends with this revelation--after all, this is where the two books' continuities become inextricably--irreparably?--combined.)

The shooting is all the more shocking because the earlier pages in the same issue of JLA are, for the most part, so much fun. After months of slacking off, Beetle decides it's time to get himself back in shape, but when he hits the gym he's mercilessly taunted by--who else?--Guy Gardner. General Glory proposes the teammates take out their aggression in the boxing ring, but when Beetle shows he's the better pugilist, Guy attacks from behind. The dirty move, which does some serious damage to Beetle's ribs, leaves J'onn with no choice but to expel Guy from the League.

The story honestly leaves me feeling sorry for Guy--sure he's an unrepentant heel through and through, but he's shown once or twice that he's made of at least a lit bit of heroic stuff, and he's always been good for a laugh. Art-wise, Von Eeden's pencils look very good, but his layouts (as seen above) are often clunky. (Elliott inks this title in addition to JLE this month, but his work here overall doesn't seem as strong.) The undisputed TKO in the art department, though, is awarded to Bart Sears, whose cover for JLE (with colors by Bob Le Rose) is insane in its detail--I'd hate to be the guy drawing all those stars. (Speaking of covers, JLA's was done by "Adam 'Hulk' Hughes, pencil; Joe 'Rocky' Rubinstein, ink; Bob 'The Rose' Le Rose, color," according to "Justice Log.") Sears and Elliott's work inside the book is nice to look at, too, as the Starro storyline wraps up in very satisfying fashion, with guest-star Ice playing a key role and Manga Khan making a brief appearance.

Be back here next week for the beginning of the end.

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, #38/14, #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, #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.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Justice League America #51
Jun. '91
"My Dinner with G'nort"
A profound psychological study of lonely, tormented spirits in search of truth ... as brought to you by DC's most sensitive soul-searchers:
"Svelte" Keith Giffen - plot
"Slim" J.M. DeMatteis - script
"Tall" Adam Hughes - pencils
"Big" Joe Rubinstein - inks
"Elliptical" Bob Lappan - letters
"Square" Gene D'Angelo - colors
"Amorphous" Kevin Dooley - asst. ed.
"Hexagonal" Andy Helfer - editor

Justice League Europe #27
Jun. '91
"The Vagabond King"
Still another Giffen, Jones, Sears, Elliott, Lappan, D'Angelo, Dooley and Helfer presentation

As if seeing Adam Hughes' pencils and Joe Rubinstein's inks return to JLA wasn't treat enough, Booster Gold also returns to the pages, dropping by the New York embassy to catch up with his former teammates. And what a night he chooses to return: After being banned from the League following a disaster with Justice League Antarctica (from JLA Annual #4), G'nort nevertheless drops by the New York pad to say hello, and he and Kilowog convince J'onn to join them for an aliens' night out on the town. Naturally, disaster ensues--even Black Hand returns, and ends the issue interred in the Home for the Terminally Bewildered--and Booster and Beetle get to enjoy it all together from the sidelines. This issue's a treat all around.

Apparently JLA #51 takes place before the current story arc in JLE, where Kilowog and the majority of the League's European branch get "starred" by Starro. (If years of fandom have produced an actual term for that process, I apologize for not knowing it and using it here. UPDATE: Issue 28 reveals that "starred" is, in fact, the proper term. Yo-ho!) The only members unaffected are Captain Atom, Rocket Red and Metamorpho, whose "inorganic coatings" prevent the face-hugging stars from bonding. The trio flies all the way to New York to enlist aid (don't ask me why Rocket Red doesn't have a communicator built into his suit that could keep him connected to the League's various embassies), and in the glorious tradition of the JLI, J'onn concocts a maybe-halfway-decent plan that falls all to pieces when he himself becomes the new host for Starro's central consciousness. This is a great second chapter in what's shaping up to be a Starro story for the ages--and yes, it's very much making me want to go back and re-read Grant Morrison's Starro tale from his later JLA run.

As usual, both books' letters pages offer cover credits. "Justice Log" notes, "Cover by penciller Adam Hughes, inker Joe Rubinstein, and colorist Bob Le Rose." "Europinion" shares, "Cover by Bart Sears and Bob Le Rose--pencils and colors." Also in "Justice Log," L-Ron drops by to respond to a letter from Matt "Elvis" Apple of Annadale-on-Hudson, NY, and writes, "This is my second letter column. You know, I could get used to this. What say you, readers? Shall I answer your letters and give this Dooley-person the metallic boot?" Hard to say whether there will be time for the transition, though, as the book races toward issue 60. Speaking of which, the "next issue" blurb is worth noting: "For those of you who think all we can do is humor, you won't want to miss the last page. Things are going to get real serious real fast, fans." Stay tuned.

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, #38/14, #39/15, #40/16, #41/17, #42/18, #43/19, #44/20, #45/21, #46/22, #47/23, #48/24, #49/25, #50/26, #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.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Justice League America #50
May '91
At last! The concluding chapter in the seemingly endless saga of General Glory
"A Blaze of Glory!"
Four years ago, Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Andrew Helfer launched the brand-new Justice League, and--heaven help us--fifty issues later, they're still at it!
Now, aided by Linda Medley, John Beatty, Paris Cullins, Dave Elliott, Gene D'Angelo, Bob "Does this make me an accomplice to an aesthetic crime?" Lappan, and that crazy kid from California, Kevin Dooley--the inanity continues!
Special thanks to Kevin, Terry, Al, Ty, Joe, Mike, and Adam--for helping make this book the great success (or miserable failure, depending on who you talk to) that it is!

Justice League Europe #26
May '91
"Stars in Your Eyes"
Giffen - plot
Jones - dialogue
Sears - pencils
Elliott - inks
Lappan - letters
D'Angelo - colors
Dooley - this
Helfer - that

And suddenly we find ourselves in the home stretch, with Week 60 not so far off anymore. Clearly, though, the action hasn't abated. The General Glory saga concludes in epic fashion, replete with WWII-era flashbacks, the clearing of General Glory's name and yet another membership shake-up, this one seeing Orion and Lightray bidding adieu while General Glory and the "new" Mister Miracle are invited in. Also, the whole shebang ends with Guy Gardner calling up Andy Helfer at DC Comics and demanding that Glory's artist, Joe Mason, be made the penciler for the League's comic book.

Guy's phone call offers the springboard into a wonderful--and completely nuts--15-page backup story written and illustrated by Kyle Baker, in which Guy storms the DC offices with Mr. Mason in tow, offering a raw portrait of JLA's creative team, including (clockwise from left) Helfer, Giffen and DeMatteis...

...and even Linda Medley.

Across the pond, Starro conquers the latest iteration of the famous JLI cover shot, while inside the book he plays helpless and penitent, duping the League into helping repair his spacecraft so that he might die peacefully back on his homeworld. As Inspector Camus moves into an office in the JLE's embassy (an office, by the way, he has to share with the cat's litter box), Kilowog leads the League through the repairs on Starro's ship, but when the spacecraft lifts off, it explodes in the atmosphere. For a moment it seems Starro's lost and gone forever, but the final pages reveal his face-hugging stars raining down over London, whose inhabitants are quickly taken up in the conqueror's thrall. It's an excellent beginning to what will hopefully be a solid chapter in Starro's history, and while the art doesn't sing to me quite like it did last issue, Sears and Elliott nevertheless deliver grade-A work that's always great to look at.

There are some good nuggets in both books' letters pages. Beginning with "Justice Log," we learn: 1) "Glorious Cover by Adam Hughes, Karl Story, and Gene D'Angelo"; 2) "J'onn twists the Oreos apart when he meditates, and makes decisions by how much cream remains on one side, then he dips each half in milk"; and 3) Jacob Gilbert of Troy, NY alerts us to a mysterious "Special" and writes, "Farewell, Huntress. We hardly knew ya, luv. We'll definitely miss you." (So, I guess we won't be seeing her in these pages anymore.) And in "Europinion," we read: 1) "Mr. Bart styled the cover with haircolor by Mr. Bob"; 2) Tasmanian Devil "is a member of the JL ... in Australia"; and 3) Mister Miracle's book is ending with issue 28--I never read it, but the preview summaries in these letters pages have sounded entertaining.

And finally--for this week, anyway--let's take some time to appreciate two ads that meant a lot to me back in '91:

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, #38/14, #39/15, #40/16, #41/17, #42/18, #43/19, #44/20, #45/21, #46/22, #47/23, #48/24, #49/25, #51/27, #52/28, #53/29, #54/30, #55/31, #56/32, #57/33, #58/34, #59/35, #60/36

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cereal ad copyright Ralston Purina Company and Mirage Studios. Rocketeer ad copyright Disney. All other images this post copyright DC Comics. Original text copyright Jon D. Witmer/The Danger Digest.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Justice League America #49
Apr. '91
"Glory Bound, Pt. 4: Glory and Shame"
Guns at the ready, a patriotic song on their lips, those freedom-fighting daredevils of DC strike again!
Keith Giffen, plot & breakdowns
J.M. DeMatteis, script & kibitzing
Linda Medley, pencils
John Beatty, inks
Bob Lappan, letters
Gene D'Angelo, colors
Kevin "Halls of Montezuma" Dooley, asst. editor
Andy "Montezuma's Revenge" Helfer, editor

Justice League Europe #25
Apr. '91
Keith Giffen, creepy plot
Gerard Jones, crawly dialogue
Bart Sears, squirmy pencils
Randy Elliott, wriggly inks
Bob Lappan, slimy letters
Gene D'Angelo, slippery colors
Kevin Dooley, squishy assistance
Andy Helfer, soil aeration

In the penultimate chapter of the "Glory Bound" saga, General Glory's accused of committing war crimes back in the Second World War, namely destroying an Allied P.O.W. camp and killing everyone therein. What with his amnesia and all, the good General can't say for certain that he's innocent, and goes willingly into custody--although Guy Gardner isn't quite so willing to stand by and watch this happen, and it takes the rest of the League to keep him from absconding with Glory and grinding the feds to pulp.

As the story unfolds, Schmidt takes flight in yet another Nazi superweapon, this one a flying sphere called "The Evil Eye." Meanwhile, Joe Mason, the artist of General Glory's old comic book, steps forward to help the League clear Glory's name. It's pretty fantastic (not to mention meta) that the fate of this hero seems to lie in the hands of his illustrator.

Speaking of artists, Medley continues to do excellent work in her fourth consecutive issue, but it's JLE whose pages really shine. The usual team of Sears and Elliott again handle the art chores, but Elliott seems to have upped his game significantly for the final chapter of the Crimson Fox origin arc, truly fleshing out Sears' pencils and adding three-dimensionality to the 2-D page. (Credit, of course, is also due D'Angelo's coloring prowess.) I've liked his inks since he joined this title back in issue 16, but here his contributions clearly elevate the already impressive art.

There being two sisters who share the cowl of the Crimson Fox, and my being pretty in the dark about the character beyond the JLE issues we've so far covered, I did wonder whether one of the two would prove to be expendable in the creators' eyes, but in usual heroic fashion, both D'Aramis sisters survive to continue fighting crime. There's no such happy ending for the giant worms, however, nor for the D'Aramis' sworn nemesis, Puanteur, whose thirst for vengeance completely blinds him to any practical considerations, such as preserving his own neck. This is a morality tale, after all.

"Justice Log" offers some fun facts this issue, great for keeping people entertained at parties, to wit:
The most important question we've ever been asked comes form Michael Thibodoeau, Edmunston, New Brunswick, Canada. It's "What does J'onn prefer most: Oreos, Oreo Double Stuff, or chocolate-coated Oreos?" Answer: yes, but usually the plain ones.
Lots of basic questions from Sigurdur Jonas Gudmundsson, Paris, France, like when we published and who was in our first JLA magazine. The first JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA was in 1960 and starred Superman, Green Lantern, Batman, and J'onn J'onzz. ... He asks who was DC's first character--probably Oswald the Rabbit in NEW FUN COMICS in 1935.
And of course, what's a letter column without cover credits? From "Justice Log": "Cover Credit Cards: Adam 'Mastercard' Hughes on pencils, Karl 'Visa' Story on inks, and Bob 'AMEX' Le Rose on colors." And from "Europinion": "Cover by Bart, Randy, and Bob--pencils, inks, colors."

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, #38/14, #39/15, #40/16, #41/17, #42/18, #43/19, #44/20, #45/21, #46/22, #47/23, #48/24, #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.