Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Justice League America #44
Nov. '90
Let's have a round of applause for those adorable little rascals:
Keith Giffen, nervous breakdowns
J.M. DeMatteis, psychobabble
Adam Hughes, going on vacation
José Marzan, Jr., inker
Bob Lappan, letterer
Gene D'Angelo, colorist
Kevin Dooley desperately wants a promotion
Andrew Helfer actually went on an airplane

Justice League Europe #20
Nov. '90
"Rue Brittania"
More sequential panel art fun from:
Keith Giffen
Gerard Jones
Marshall Rogers
Bob Smith
Bob Lappan
Gene D'Angelo
Andy Dooley
Kevin Helfer

Despite telling Max he needed some time away back in issue #42, J'onn is still taking it easy with the rest of the League--and mind you, I'm not complaining. More importantly, after showing up in some bizarre duds, Orion's back to wearing his traditional threads this ish. These are important points, dear readers, because the JLA needs to be at its very best to take down "Wally, the amazing Tortolini-Man." Armed with all of the gadgets he won in last issue's poker game, Wally tries to hit the road but is immediately thwarted by a team of mysterious operatives working well outside the law. Undaunted, the erstwhile reporter decides to give his weapons a field test, and based on those weapons, Sonar, Black Mass, Brainstorm, Crowbar, the Cavalier and Blackrock are all assumed to be the parties responsible.

It's a delicious mix up that leads to a fun--and mercifully short--punch up between the League and the band of accused villains, all of whom wind up in the clink by issue's end. Adding to the good times, of course, are Hughes' pencils, which feel better complemented by Marzan's inks this time out--it's a weak point to make, no doubt, since I can't put my finger on just exactly what it was that didn't work as well for me about the inks last issue, but this time the whole package just feels a bit more put together. As for Wally himself, all the excitement prompts a change of heart, and he decides to hand over J'onn the notebook he's been carrying filled with the JLA's secrets.

JLE, meanwhile, welcomes Marshall Rogers to the fold with mixed results. Some of his pages and character acting are great, but others feel rushed or like a halfhearted attempt to mimic the Maguire/Hughes style. All the same, it's an important story in that it sees the accidental destruction of the Paris embassy at the hands of the Beefeater, otherwise known as Michael Morice, the caretaker of the League's London embassy. I suppose this is what happens when readers keep writing letters demanding Europe be better represented in these pages.

Both books only present one page of letters apiece, as opposed to the usual two, but manage nevertheless to fit in cover credits. From "Justice Log": "This issue's cover art by Adam Hughes, color by Bob Le Rose." From "Europinion": "Cover by Marshall Rogers, pencils; Bruce Patterson, inks; and Bob Le Rose, 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, #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.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Justice League America #43
Oct. '90
"If You Play Your Cards Right..."
Kevin Dooley, DC Comics' finest assistant editor, proudly presents
Keith Giffen, plot
J.M. DeMatteis, script
Adam Hughes, pencils
José Marzan, Jr., inks
Bob Lappan, letters
Gene D'Angelo, colors
Andy Helfer, editor
(There, Kevin--isn't that better than a raise?)

Justice League Europe #19
Oct. '90
"The Extremist Vector Part Five: Pushing the Button"
Uncle Keith Giffen, plot & breakdowns
Gerard Jones, words
Bart Sears, pencils
Randy Elliott, inks
Bob Lappan, letters
Gene D'Angelo, colors
Kevin D'Ooley, stuff
Andy D'Helfer, nonsense

As mentioned last week, JLA #43 was one of the two issues of this series I actually acquired during the book's run, so there's a certain degree of nostalgia involved in turning its pages again now. However, I don't think I pored over this issue quite as intently as I did the previous book--once again I no doubt wondered who these characters were, and even Blue Beetle's not as prominent this issue. Nevertheless, reading the book now, the story's a winner. (Hughes' art is also a welcome sight, although Marzan's inks give it a different flavor than I'd been used to with Art Nichols--there seems to be a stronger emphasis on dense shadows, for one.) Giffen and DeMatteis dug deep into DC's back catalog to unearth such forgotten villains as Sonar, Crowbar, Black Mass, Blackrock, Brainstorm, Cavalier and Quakemaster. Rather than forming their own Injustice League, however, they all get together to play cards at the hole-in-the-wall bar known as The Dark Side, whose clientele exclusively comprises super villains. Earlier in the issue, intrepid garbageman/journalist Wally Tortolini rescues Sonar from a run-in with the League, and in return Sonar (a.k.a. Bito Wladon of Modora) brings Tortolini to the card table. Hoping for a story, Tortolini instead leaves armed with the villains' myriad accoutrements.

Meanwhile, JLE presents a jumbled mess of a conclusion to "The Extremist Vector." I trust you're sitting down for this. The explosion set off at the end of last issue by Carny--who, it turns out, was also a robot--does indeed awaken "the Visionary," otherwise known as "Uncle" Mitch Wacky, the creator of Wacky World. Back in the day, Uncle Mitch caught the flu, which is fatal in his dimension, and so he placed himself into a cryogenic slumber. Now, of course, he awakens to find his world destroyed, but making things really convoluted, the nuclear holocaust actually wiped out the Extremists who caused it, and it turns out the Extremists currently terrorizing "our" dimension are robots built after the Armageddon to lend an air of excitement to Wacky World. Naturally, the robo-villains went rogue. So, Silver Sorceress (who survived last issue's blast unscathed) transports everyone--including Uncle Mitch--back to our Earth, where Mitch uses a kill switch only he can operate to shut down the Extremists. Well, except for Dreamslayer, who turns out to still be the original and not a robot duplicate. Then Dreamslayer tries to cast a spell on Crimson Fox, but she turns out to be Silver Sorceress in disguise. And so on and so forth. Anyways, the good guys win, but I think Uncle Mitch bit the bullet along the way. Ah well. The pictures are pretty; I really like Elliott's inks over Sears' pencils.

Oh, yeah, and apparently Dr. Light's been hanging out at the League's Japan embassy. I'm trusting that was covered in an Annual somewhere along the way and this wasn't as out of the blue as it first struck me.

"Europinion" gives us these cover credits: "Bart Sears, pencils; Randy Elliott, inks; Bob Le Rose, colors." No cover credits mentioned in "Justice Log," but there are some other noteworthy nuggets. In the spirit of transparency, Dooley responds to Mike Alleni of Staten Island, NY, who wonders why Fire's clothes don't burn: "Do you want a made-up science answer (unstable molecules, I'm sure) or can we just point to that stamp on the cover?" And in response to Greg Schienke of Charlottesville, VA, Dooley offers this insightful summary of what this whole Justice League experiment is all about:

[Justice League] was set up as a sitcom. Read JL #1--most of the action is bickering. Read Andy's intro to 'A New Beginning.' JUSTICE LEAGUE always was about 'the environment our characters inhabit,' 'the simple interrelationships of heroes,' and making the heroes 'act just like people,' funny, silly. As we've said, in this industry of 'normal' seriousness, JL is the aberration. And as Will Rogers put it, "We are all here for a spell, get all the good laughs you can.'

Lastly, remember this show? Boy howdy, was I excited.

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, #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

The Flash ad copyright DC Comics, Inc. and CBS, Inc. All other images this post copyright DC Comics. Original text copyright Jon D. Witmer/The Danger Digest.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Justice League American #42
Sep. '90
It's the album of the decade brought to you by those lovable mop-tops:
Keith Giffen, acoustic & electric guitars
J.M. DeMatteis, lead vocals
Mike McKone, bass
José Marzan, Jr., piano
Gene D'Angelo, percussion
Bob Lappan, drums
Management: Kevin Dooley
Produced by Andrew Helfer

Justice League Europe #18
Sep. '90
"The Extremist Vector Part Four: The Happy Place"
Keith Giffen, plot/breakdowns
Gerard Jones, script
Bart Sears, pencils
Randy Elliott, inks
Bob Lappan, letters
Gene D'Angelo, colors
Kevin Dooley, wacky
Andy Helfer, wicky

I've been looking forward to this week with both excitement and trepidation since beginning this whole "60 Weeks" experiment. Indeed, for me, JLA #42 is where it all began. Back in 1990, I'd only recently gotten into reading comics, but it didn't take long to hear about the Justice League of America, the premier assemblage of the World's Greatest Heroes. Superman! Batman! The Flash! Other characters whom I was still getting to know! I explained the premise to my folks and how this must surely be the greatest comic book ever put to press, and, if I recall correctly, my dad soon thereafter brought this and issue 43 home for me after stopping by Cleveland's Super City Comics on his lunch break. Admittedly, it wasn't exactly what I'd anticipated--who were these strange characters on the cover? (Hell, I asked myself the same thing before reading it now, in 2010.) At least this Blue Beetle guy looked pretty cool.

Now though, with 20 years having passed and having finally read the previous 40 issues, I must say this issue is fantastic through and through. Hands down one of my favorites of the series. Even McKone's art seems to have taken a quantum leap forward into greatness since just the previous issue, where I was still dogging it; his characters here show tremendous acting chops, and his layouts are all first rate. He still might not be an Adam Hughes or a Kevin Maguire, but he clearly stands on his own and knocks this membership-drive story right outta the park. And speaking of the story, let's finally get to it.

Recognizing the need for more muscle on the team, Max sends Blue Beetle and Fire out to recruit El Diablo, Guy Gardner to recruit Starman, and Ice and Huntress to recruit Hawk and Dove. Each bit, more or less, turns out like this:

Complicating matters further, J'onn feels the need to take some time away to clear his own head after the Despero debacle. His absence should have been mitigated when the real Scott Free returns to Earth after completing his indentured servitude to Manga Khan--it turns out that kooky Mr. Miracle that was blown up and then buried last issue was one of Manga's robot duplicates--but instead he decides to let the world continue thinking he's dead while he takes some time off to barbecue with Barda. All's not completely hopeless, though: First, Max trades the test-tube remnants of Despero to Manga Khan for Manga's erstwhile robo-servant L-Ron; then, on the last page, New Gods Orion and Lightray arrive at the embassy, ready for action.

JLE's also a fine piece of work this time out, and definitely the most entertaining chapter yet of "The Extremist Vector" storyline. Trapped in Silver Sorceress' nuked-out dimension, the Leaguers are summoned to Wacky World, a pristine amusement park populated by lifelike robots who, in turn, demonstrate a religious devotion to the park's "visionary" (apparently a sort of cross between Walt Disney and L. Ron Hubbard) and his living servant/prophet/freakazoid, Carny. Carny, in turn, has been holding Silver Sorceress captive, and now he's bent on keeping the JLE imprisoned in his house of horrors. Zaniness ensues, and when said zaniness goes against Carny's plans, the big boy throws a fit and blows up Wacky World. The League, protected by Metamorpho, appears to be safe; the Sorceress' fate is less clear; and the last page reveals a mysterious figure waking from some techno-slumber contraption. Perhaps it's the visionary himself?

"Justice Log" alerts us to these cover credits for JLA: "Adam Hughes, pencils/inks; Bob Le Rose, colors." No letters page this month in JLE--instead, there's an ad for Justice League Quarterly, which I won't be covering during this initial 60 Weeks project, but I do hope to come back around for sometime next year--but how about that cover, referencing JLI #11?

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, #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.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Justice League America #41
Aug. '90
"Maximum Force"
The birth of a new super-hero as only Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Mike McKone, B.D. Patterson, Bob Lappan, Gene D'Angelo, Kevin Dooley and Andy Helfer (as Harry Von Zell) can bring it to you!

Justice League Europe #17
Aug. '90
"The Extremist Vector Part Three: On the Brink!"
by Giffen, Jones, Sears, Elliott, Lappan, D'Angelo, Dooley, Helfer

Mike McKone returns to the pages of JLA to bring us an extended dream sequence in which Max dons a ridiculous costume and assumes the moniker "Maximum Force." Thus garbed, he uses his powers of persuasion to wipe out crime in a decidedly lethal manner. (Note the tube in his nose to keep his nosebleeds--which he experiences whenever he uses his power--from soiling his suit.)

In those pages not dedicated to the dream, Max does use his power to lure Wanda (seen above), a "fiction editor over at Partisan House," from a party back to his apartment, where he promptly, drunkenly passes out. The whole issue's pretty forgettable, and I'm still no fan of McKone's work from this period. On a bright note, the letters page brings us this great nugget, regarding issue 37, from David J. Harrington of Fort Edward, NY: "Booster Gold cannot quit! This is worse than when they changed the taste of Coke." And speaking of the letters page, this issue's cover credits go like this: "Adam Hughes, pencils/inks; Bob Le Rose, colors."

Meanwhile, in JLE, the Extremists launch every missile in the world's nuclear arsenal, and Dr. Diehard uses his "magnetic powers" to hold them in space, ready to rain destruction at a moment's notice. Faced with such a predicament, the nations of the world more or less acquiesce to the Extremists' demands and order all superheroes to back off and not engage the enemy. Amazingly, everyone in the world listens to this order--everyone, that is, except the JLE.

The fight goes pretty well, except that when Metamorpho imprisons Diehard in copper, the villain loses his control over the nukes and the Earth very nearly meets its end. Suitably embarrassed, the Leaguers more or less try and talk things out with the Extremists, but the last page finds them transported via Dreamslayer's spell back to the Extremists' already destroyed homeworld. Oh yeah, and along the way, we also get a cameo from George Bush (senior, that is):

No cover credits in "Europinion" this issue, but we do get this terrific explanation of Silver Sorceress' bunny hat, courtesy of Kevin Dooley and in response to a query posed by Grant Thornley: "Her 'ears' are necessary to ... pick up the ... magic vibrations to make her powers work." Additionally, in response to Julio Diaz of Tampa, FL, Dooley finally details Crimson Fox's powers: "The Crimson Fox has fox-like senses, reflexes, and speed. Her fingernails can extend to become strong, sharp 'claws.' She can also emit powerful pheromones to ... well, just you never mind."

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, #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.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Justice League America #40
Jul. '90
"Hell on Earth"
Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Adam Hughes, José Marzan Jr., Bob Lappan, Gene D'Angelo, Kevin Dooley, and Andy Helfer present perhaps the strangest Justice League tale ever! (And considering how weird this book usually is, that's saying a lot!)

Justice League Europe #16
"The Extremist Vector Part Two: Conquest"
Keith Giffen, plot & breakdowns
Gerard Jones, dialogue
Bart Sears, pencils
Randy Elliott, inks
Bob Lappan, letters
Gene D'Angelo, colors
Kevin Dooley, sound
Andy Helfer, fury

First, a confession: I was remiss in my duties last week and failed to mention the debut, in JLE, of Power Girl's new threads. Of course, looking at the outfit, perhaps you'll wish I'd continued to spare you from acknowledging this embarrassing historical footnote.

So long as we're taking people--myself included--to task for clerical errors, let's also note that JLE's cover credits mistakenly name DeMatteis in place of Jones. Inside the book, I failed to recognize that Randy Elliott took over inking from Pablo Marcos this issue, but I suppose that just goes to show you that editorial did a bang-up job finding a replacement for Marcos. The story itself finds the JLE boarding a borrowed JLA cruiser to fly to Moscow, lest the Extremists slaughter them as they materialize in the transporters. By the time the League arrives, however, Moscow--and her protectors, the Rocket Red brigade--have been laid to ruin, and it doesn't take long for the Leaguers themselves to be incapacitated, leaving the Extremists to go destroy the next city they encounter. This is gonna be an ugly, protracted battle, I suspect.

Most bizarre in this issue of JLE is a completely unnecessary retcon of the Blue Jay/Silver Sorceress/Wandjina backstory. I understand that the creative team is trying to work in the Extremists, but saying Blue Jay and co. jumped back and forth between worlds a couple of times, and then showing them trading punches with Hal Jordan, is completely uncalled for. We know how this stuff played out back in Justice League #2, and boy howdy, this ain't the way it was:

Over in America, I'm not entirely sure the book lives up to its title-page promise of being stranger than ever--Kooey Kooey Kooey is still fresh in my mind--but it is a pretty fascinating read, ably complemented by guest inker José Marzan Jr., who does a fine job filling in for Rubinstein, although I hope the latter returns soon, all the same. Divided evenly into two acts, the book's first half finishes the Despero storyline, with J'onn infiltrating Despero's mind and offering the alien villain "mayavana," a once-in-a-lifetime Martian offering that creates a perceived reality in the receiver's consciousness that's even more convincing than the actual reality in front of his eyes; with this gift, J'onn convinces Despero that he's succeeded in defeating the Justice League and destroying the Earth in toto. The whole experience reduces Despero to a fetus-like state of suspension (from which he'll no doubt be resurrected again down the line).

Complete with costumed heroes attending a funeral and bold black borders lining every page and panel, act two is all about mourning for Scott Free, a.k.a. Mr. Miracle, whom Despero blew up last issue. Forgive me if I sound callous here, but JLA and JLE's letters pages run solicitations for Mr. Miracle's book, so I feel confident he's not actually dead. However, my confidence isn't shared by the cast of characters. Barda blames Max and lets him know with a powerful haymaker. Superman tells Batman (who in turn tells Max) that the League hasn't got enough muscle, and unless it gets more, Scott will be the first of many casualties. After thoughtlessly trying to recruit Gypsy for his new team at the cemetery, Booster gets scolded by Beetle and returns to his new Conglomerate office, where he's in no mood for Claire Montgomery's news that Praxis has sent "a confirmation." And then, there's Guy and Ice:

It's time once again for cover credits! From "Justice Log":"Adam Hughes did pencils 'n' inks, Bob Le Rose did colors 'n' stuff." From "Europinion": "Bart Sears on pencils, Joe Rubinstein on inks, Bob Le Rose on colors, Andy Helfer on lead guitar."

Meanwhile, the Dick Tracy marketing train keeps chugging along:

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, #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

Dick Tracy ad copyright Disney. All other images this post copyright DC Comics. Original text copyright Jon D. Witmer/The Danger Digest.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Post-Holiday Distraction...

...courtesy of Capri Sun. And bad puns. Lots and lots of bad puns.

This six-part Capri Sun Adventure is copyright Capri Sun, Inc. Scanned from Justice League Europe #s 14-19, originally published May-October 1990. Sadly, writer and artist(s) names are unknown; if anyone has any info, feel free to pass it along.