Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Justice League America #57
Dec. '91
Breakdowns Part 9
"The Descent of ... Despero!"
Meaningless violence and a few stale jokes ... brought to you by those immortal masters of comic art:
Keith Giffen, plot 'n' breakdowns
J.M. DeMatteis, dialogue & complaints
Chris Wozniak, penciller
Bruce Patterson, inker
Bob Lappan, letterer
Gene D'Angelo, colorist
Kevin Dooley, hungers for more power
Andy Helfer, just wants out

Justice League Europe #33
Dec. '91
Breakdowns Part 10
"Mere Anarchy"
Keen-O Keith Giffen - plots
Germane Gerard Jones - script
Darin' Darick Robertson - pencils
Jostlin' John Beatty - inks
Wired Willie Schubert - letters
Genial Gene D'Angelo - colors
Kvetchin' Kevin Dooley - associate editing
Anxious Andy Helfer - editing
Billious Billy Yeats

At last, JLA presents the long-awaited return of Mitch Wacky. (And the Beefeater, but that's another story.) Unfortunately, JLE may well be his last appearance--it's unclear, but I think he might have been killed by none other than Dreamslayer, who has inhabited the body of--who else?--Maxwell Lord. Yes indeed, after the destruction of his body back in JLE #19, Dreamslayer's consciousness lived on, searching for an appropriate host body and conveniently settling on Max's comatose corpus. Using his powers of persuasion (which make Max's pale in comparison), Dreamslayer made Uncle Mitch abscond with the Extremist robots to KooeyKooeyKooey; there, Uncle Mitch was forced to return Lord Havok to working order, and now Dreamslayer and Havoc are ready to paint the town red, so to speak. Of course, the League remains blissfully unaware, seeing as they're currently tied up battling Despero--and that battle has so far leveled most of Manhattan, thanks to an ill-conceived earthquake caused by Major Disaster.

Not much else to say this week, I'm afraid. I still don't like Wozniak's art, but I think I'm getting desensitized to it. Robertson's work was strong as usual, although it didn't quite hit the high notes of last issue. Interesting to probably no one, JLE contained a 17-page ad, in comics form, for Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis, and then "Europinion" included this cover credits blurb: "THIS ISSUE'S COVER was computerized by the following programmers: Darick Robertson, John Beatty, and Bob Le Rose." (Remember, L-Ron was supposedly compiling the letters pages; nevertheless, with the advent of digital tools in the comics arena in the years since this was written, "computerized" feels like a poor, misleading choice of words.) No cover credits in "Justice Log," but JLA's cover itself, which offers yet another homage to JL #1, clearly shows the initials of Chris Sprouse and Bruce Patterson.

I think "Breakdowns" is wearing on me. Only three weeks to go...

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, #52/28, #53/29, #54/30, #55/31, #56/32, #58/34, #59/35, #60/36

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

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Justice League America #56
Nov. '91
Breakdowns Part 7
"Look Homeward, Leaguers"
The never-ending JLA-JLE "Breakdowns" crossover continues, courtesy of those burned-out old hacks:
Keith Giffen (plot & nervous breakdowns) & J.M. DeMatteis (recycled dialogue)
Aided and abetted by
Chris Wozniak, pencils
Bruce Patterson, inks
Bob Lappan, letters
Gene D'Angelo, colors
Produced by Kevin Dooley
Directed by Andrew Helfer, Esquire
With special thanks to Mark Badger's pal, Gerard Jones

Justice League Europe #32
Nov. '91
Breakdowns Part 8
"The Center Cannot Hold"
Keith Giffen - plots and breakdowns
Gerard Jones - dialogue and cheap W.B. Yeats references
Darick Robertson - pencils
John Beatty - inks
Willie Schubert - letters
Gene D'Angelo - colors
Kevin Dooley & Andy Helfer - paper trafficking

I wouldn't even know these issues were part of "Breakdowns" if not for the label on the covers. Gone is the breakneck pacing of recent months, replaced with some laid-back plotting that feels like it could have been plucked from any point of the JLI run. In other words, I thought these issues were terrific. JLA presents a "getting the band back together" story, wherein all of the Leaguers--from both sides of the pond--make their way to the cave on the outskirts of Metropolis to formulate their plan of action going forward. It's a fitting location, since the cave was the first home to this incarnation of the League.

As J'onn mentions, the Doom Patrol has been using one of the cave's darker recesses, and in JLE, Ralph, Ted and Wally decide to go looking for it, setting up a wonderfully absurd 6-page romp through the surreal that stands among the best moments any of the JLI books have ever offered. Indeed, this is one of my favorite issues I've read during this "60 Weeks" adventure--during which I probably haven't given due credit to Gerard Jones' terrific scripting. He's been knocking these JLE scripts out of the park ever since he joined the book's creative team, and he's showing no signs of slowing as "Breakdowns" rounds the halfway point.

JLE also sets up what are sure to be some significant plot points in the coming issues: Manga Khan hires Lobo to track down Despero, and the Extremists go missing from the museum where they've been on display. Oh yeah, and Maxwell Lord wakes up from his coma.

Once again, JLA's art does nothing to impress me, while Robertson and Beatty's work in JLE is on par with the best of the Kevin Maguire and Adam Hughes eras. JLA's cover does shine, though, and this time L-Ron gets the credits right in "Justice Log," too: "Humans Chris Sprouse, Bruce Patterson, Bob Le Rose execute pencilling, inking, coloring manifestations." In "Europinion," L-Ron lets us know, "Our cover was rendered by the following Earthlings: Darick Robertson on pencils and John Beatty on inks, with assist from Uranian Bob Le Rose on colors." Also from JLE's letters page come these fun facts: BlueJay's "real name is Jay Abrams, Sorceress's name is Laura Cynthia Neilsen."

And here's another classic movie from '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, #50/26, #51/27, #52/28, #53/29, #54/30, #55/31, #57/33, #58/34, #59/35, #60/36

Star Trek ad copyright Paramount Pictures. All other images this post copyright DC Comics. Original text copyright Jon D. Witmer/The Danger Digest.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Justice League America #55
Oct. '91
Breakdowns Part 5
"Bialya Blues"
"Breakdowns" continues, courtesy of Giffen, DeMatteis, Wozniak, Patterson, Lappan, D'Angelo, Dooley & Helfer. (Okay, we admit it--we couldn't think of any funny credits this month. Readers who subscribe only for the funny credits should contact our subscription department for an adjustment. They can use a laugh.)

Justice League Europe #31
Oct. '91
Breakdowns Part 6
"Things Fall Apart"

... And just like that, "Breakdowns" seems to break down. Story-wise, JLA is a fine piece of work, although it feels curiously like it ought to be the last chapter in this crossover. Sumaan Harjavti plays his hand, exposing the Queen Bee's mind-control infrastructure and snapping the Global Guardians out of their collective, brainwashed stupor. (Oh, and it turns out that all this time, the dude wearing Jack O' Lantern's duds wasn't the real Jack. Convenient, or just confusing?) Then, when the Queen tries to flee the country, Harjavti kills her, and by issue's end is being hailed as Bialya's new leader. Meanwhile, Camus exposes Heimlich (who this issue is named Rolf, although two issues ago he was Kurt, but I digress), sending the U.N. into yet another emergency session. Too bad the art makes all of this as hard to decipher as possible; these pages look like the worst that Marvel comics had to offer back in the early '90s, with some downright awful layouts that do their best to confound rather than guide the reader's eyes.

There are also a few lettering mistakes from Lappan that really pained me to see. While I'm still not sold on Schubert's work for the League, this issue of JLE features his best lettering yet, and furthermore, Robertson and Beatty's art is (for the most part) outstanding through all 22 pages. Even when Robertson decides to get creative with his layouts, they're still a pleasure to behold and easy for the eyes to follow.

Unfortunately, JLE fails miserably in the story department. As if it weren't enough that we're in the sixth chapter of a 16-part League crossover event, the plot here also ties into the DC-wide "War of the Gods" storyline, resulting in roughly half the book being wasted on a portion of the team fighting Thor, Baldur and Loki (but not the Thor, Balder and Loki you're thinking of). Perhaps most egregious, as a result of the "Armageddon 2001" storyline that ran through all of DC's annuals in '91, Captain Atom is now (apparently) dead, but all we get to signify the passing of this book's team leader is a cursory reference.

Ultimately, only a few pages actually advance the overall "Breakdowns" storyline: First, Despero (predictably) escapes after battling Khunds in the depths of space, and now (predictably) he wants revenge (again) on the League; and the U.N. revokes the JLI's charter, leaving uncertain the fate of the JLA and immediately disbanding the JLE. Somehow I doubt next week's installment here at the D.D. will be much cheerier...

In other League news, L-Ron here officially takes over duties on both books' letters pages, but the execution leaves much to be desired. Most interestingly, "Justice Log" had to be printed following page 6 of the story proper in order to accommodate two painful double-page spreads. (At the opposite end of the interesting scale, L-Ron lets slip that Green Lantern #18 will be a "Breakdowns" crossover. Yeesh.) "Justice Log" and "Europinion" also accidentally run the wrong cover credits--blame it on the robot--so here I'll put things in their proper order. For JLA, it's "Sprouse by Chris pencils, Patterson by Bruce inks, Le Rose by Bob colors ... Oops, circuits got a little crazy there." And for JLE, it's "pencils by Darick Robertson, inks by John Beatty, colors by Bob Le Rose." Finally, in a sign of the awful things awaiting the League following JLA #60, the letters pages include this ballot:

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, #52/28, #53/29, #54/30, #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, September 8, 2010


Justice League America #54
Sep. '91
Breakdowns Part 3
"The Boot!"
"Krazy" Keith Giffen, plot & breakdowns
"Jolly" J.M. DeMatteis, script
"Swiss" Chris Wozniak, pencils
"Bold" Bob Smith, guest inks
"Battlin'" Bob Lappan, letters
"Gallant" Gene D'Angelo, colors
"Kooky" Kevin Dooley, associate editor
Mr. Andy Helfer, editor*
*He's far too dignified for these kinds of idiotic nicknames.

Justice League Europe #30
Sep. '91
Breakdowns Part 4
"The Widening Gyre"
Keith Giffen - plot and breakdowns
Gerard Jones - dialogue
Darick Robertson - pencils
John Beatty - inks
Gene D'Angelo - colors
Willie Schubert - letters
Kevin Dooley - associate editor
Andy Helfer - editor

Here's hoping Kevin Smith paid for the rights to JLE's title--nevermind William Butler Yeats. Seriously, though, folks (yeah, I know, I just started this post with a bad joke followed by "seriously, though, folks"--what can I say, I've been reading too much JLI), "Breakdowns" continues at a breakneck pace in these two issues. In JLA, Ambassador Heimlich continues to mess with a good thing, firing Beetle and Ice and replacing them with Tasmanian Devil (who, according to the sacrosanct letters column, was a member of JLAustralia, anyway) and Doctor Light. (That's right, the same Doctor Light who wanted nothing to do with the League back in the beginning, but has no trouble showing up now, and in costume, no less.) On a bright note, it takes little more than a page for Tasmanian Devil to knock Guy Gardner on his ass, and that's always good for a laugh. Oh yeah, and apparently Manga Khan is in the process of bartering away Despero.

Meanwhile, it's revealed that Jack O' Lantern has allied himself with Sumaan Harjavti, the brother of the late Rumaan Harjavti, and the two arranged the assassination attempt on Max Lord to look like it was the Queen Bee's doing; Jack wants sole control of the Global Guardians, and Sumaan wants to rule Bialya. Speaking of Bialya, the members of the Ex-Justice League--namely Captain Atom, Elongated Man, Blue Beetle and Ice, aided and abetted by Crimson Fox and Inspector Camus--sneak back into that country in the hopes of getting to the bottom of the apparent Queen Bee connection, which leads us into JLE. Naturally, the heroes' snooping doesn't go according to plan, and when Jack O' Lantern catches them in the Guardians' Dome, all hell breaks loose. It's all pretty standard fare until Atom dodges one of Jack's power blasts, which winds up decapitating Little Mermaid. (Somehow, Jack keeps all of the other Guardians in a suspended state until he wakes them; they're all seated around their meeting table throughout this fight. And yeah, that's a little awkward. Also, and perhaps more importantly, until reading this issue, I had no idea there was a DC Comics character named Little Mermaid. What a world, you know?) Naturally, the erstwhile Leaguers are now charged with murder, inciting yet another Major International Incident. Oh yeah (again!), and it turns out Heimlich is one of the Queen Bee's drones.

The best part of these two issues is undoubtedly the banter between Ted Kord and Ralph Dibny--it's like the best of Beetle's repartee with Booster, and it makes me wish these two would have crossed paths more often during this run. I don't mean that to sound dismissive of the story, though; this is a big piece of work that feels as epic as DC no doubt wanted the readership to believe it was. After four parts, it seems to be shaping up as a fitting send off to this incarnation of the League, but it does suffer in the art department. (Tangentially, Lappan and Schubert swapped books this time around, and I'm still not a fan of the latter's work in this series.) However, I do totally love the awkward stiffness in this panel from JLE, showing Crimson Fox and Ice in the heat of battle while done up in their civvies:

"Europinion" reveals JLE's cover credits: "Chris Sprouse and Bruce Patterson, pencillerer and inkerer, Bob LeRose, colorer." I'm not sure about that, though, seeing as that although no cover credits are listed in JLA, the cover itself bears Sprouse's signature (as well as "PCR"--anybody?), and that cover's style looks nothing like JLE's. A mystery for the ages, I suppose. Also, in a sign of the shifting winds, Dooley does, in all seriousness, ask the readership in "Justice Log," "Should we put Hal in the League?"

Lastly, and apropos of nothing, if ever I should have access to a time machine, I'm totally going back to '91 and taking advantage of both of these offers:

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, #52/28, #53/29, #55/31, #56/32, #57/33, #58/34, #59/35, #60/36

Ball Park ad copyright Hygrade Food Products Corp. The Seagal ad's copyright is anyone's guess. All other images this post copyright DC Comics. Original text copyright Jon D. Witmer/The Danger Digest.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Post-Holiday Distraction...

...courtesy of patricidal inclinations in the guise of family fun. 1991 was a different era...

Wrasslin' ad copyright The Avalon Hill Game Company, Division of Monarch Avalon, Inc. Scanned from Justice League America #49, published April 1991 by DC Comics Inc.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Justice League America #53
Aug. '91
Breakdowns Part 1
"Blown Away"
Blood stained the steps of the New York Embassy of the Justice League International this morning as police searched for clues to the identity of the would-be assassin who pumped four bullets into Maxwell Lord. Police inspector Andy Helfer noted that Lord was found in the library after Professor Plum was seen leaving with a gun. However, this testimony came from a dubious Miss Scarlett who had spent several hours working over a large bottle of V.S.O.P. (continued on page 3)
"I've never seen two men so wildly out of control," said witness Kevin Dooley, as he stood on the street outside the Machismo Club in the West Village. "It was wonderful," Dooley added. The fight allegedly started in the back of the club's main phone booth when the two men dived for a quarter which fell out (continued in Lifestyle Section, page 4)
Photo: Chris Wozniak and Bruce Patterson

Justice League Europe #29
Aug. '91
Breakdowns Part 2
"Turning and Turning"
Keith Giffen, plot and breakdowns
Gerard Jones, dialogue
Darick Robertson, pencils
John Beatty, inks
Bob Lappan, letters
Gene D'Angelo, colors
Kevin Dooley, associate editor
Andy Helfer, editor

The JLA creatives get, well, creative with their credits this week, peppering them throughout the text on a splash page made to look like the front page, above the fold, of the Daily Planet. And the creative energy stays high throughout the first chapter of the paradigm-changing "Breakdowns" story, which features appearances from the Injustice League--and we all know I'm always happy when they turn up--and Manga Khan. More importantly--plot-wise, anyway--the U.N. General Assembly replaces the comatose Max Lord as head of the JLI with the mysterious Kurt Heimlich, whose leadership will not bode well for the cast of characters we've grown to know and love in both JLA and JLE.

Chris Wozniak takes on penciling duties in JLA, with inks by Bruce Patterson, and the team does a fine job; I would have been perfectly happy to see these two do some fill-in issues earlier in the run, either here or in JLE, but considering the importance of this storyline, it feels all wrong to not have Adam Hughes--or even Kevin Maguire--on pencils. Furthermore, Willie Schubert takes over lettering responsibilities, following the completely dynamite run of Bob Lappan (since issue #1!), and man, it just looks wrong. (To be clear, Schubert's work here is fine, but his style ain't the same as Lappan's, and after 52 issues--not to mention JLE--the change is jarring.)

Fortunately, Lappan's still doing what he does best in JLE, but there again (despite what the cover says) penciling and inking are handled by a different team than Sears/Marcos or Sears/Elliott, who set the visual tone for this title and should be aboard for the last big story. Instead, Darick Robertson does pencils and John Beatty inks; their work is strong, but it would have been better suited to a fill-in. Anyhow, the story really gets moving here, as Heimlich conducts one-on-one interviews with the JLE's members and begins his structural shakedown of the organization: Heimlich fires Captain Atom, replacing him with BlueJay as field commander, and Ralph Dibny is also out, but his wife Sue is asked to stay on for monitor duty. With clues surfacing that Max's would-be assassin hails from Bialya, Atom then flies off half-cocked to confront the Queen Bee, only to be taken down by the Global Guardians, who were tipped off to Atom's impending arrival by none other than Heimlich. (Oh yeah, and Jack O' Lantern and his teammates are alive and well. Also--but I could be mistaken about this--I think Harjavti might be back, too.) As if that weren't enough Mr. Bigger and his Metawise organization are still spying on the League by means of the camera they installed in the cat's eye. Yeesh. And to think, people used to write into the letter col and say nothing happens in these JLI books.

Speaking of letters pages, it's cover credits time. "Justice Log" notes, "Cover by Chris Sprouse; Robert Le Rose, colors." (To which I reply, "How come Sprouse never illustrated the inside of one of these books?") And "Europinion" tells us, "Bart Sears, pencils and inks; Bob Le Rose, colors." (To which I reply, "Does anyone else think that cover doesn't much look like Sears' style?") Also in "Justice Log," readers just keep on asking for Blue Devil to be added to the team.

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, #52/28, #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.