Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 (1985)


Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 (October, 1985)
"Beyond the Silent Night"
Writer/Editor - Marv Wolfman
Penciller - George Perez
Inkers - Jerry Ordway & Dick Giordano
Letterer - John Costanza
Colorist - Tom Ziuko
Cover Price: $1.25

If you listen carefully... you can hear the sound of a bugle solemnly belting out Taps.  Ya see, we stand on the precipice of... the end.  For today, Super-Blog Team-Up passes into the great hereafter.  Nothing lasts forever (and we both know hearts can change).

With the heaviest of hearts I welcome you to... the Death of the Super-Blog Team-Up.



Now, we've covered some pretty big deaths here at the ol' blogfront... from Superman to Terry Long!  Today we're going to discuss one I'd long shied away from... because it's a biggie, and boy howdy is it dense!  This one's gonna be tough to synopsize...

--



We open with Lyla, Pariah, and Alexander Luthor stood on a rock which hovers above the final five universes remaining in the multiverse.  Pariah utilizes his superpower of whining to question why he's still involved with this whole Crisis mishegoss.  Whattaya mean whining's not his superpower?  It's gotta be!  Anyhoo, with all of the questions still lingering, it's decided that it might finally be time for some 'splainin'.



We shift over to Earth-S, home of the Marvel Family.  Here we see Dr. Sivana who is flanked by Ibbac while he attempts to concoct a plan to conquer the last remaining Earths.  Captain Marvel arrives on the scene... now free of the Psycho Pirate's influence (earlier in the series he was attacking other heroes).  Before any actual physical confrontation can begin, Sivana and Ibbac vanish from sight... only to arrive aboard Brainiac's ship, where they are greeted by a whole slew of other baddies.



The Marvels are joined by other heroes including Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Black Canary.  They try to make sense of things, however are interrupted by Lyla.  She requires one representative from each Earth so she can share the mysteries of the Universe(s).  At the same time, similar meetings are occurring throughout the abbreviated multiverse.  To catch us up, five universes remain... however, representatives from six still live (discounting Earth-3's Alexander Luthor since he's hangin' with the big-wigs).  The representatives present for the big explanation will be Superman (Earth-1), Superman (Earth-2), Captain Marvel (Earth-S), Blue Beetle (Earth-4), Uncle Sam (Earth-X), and Lady Quark (Earth-6).



Now, with the representatives accounted for, Lyla begins sharing the story of the origins of the present Crisis.  Like so many things in the DC Universe, her story begins on Oa.  We learn of the curious Krona, who sought knowledge of the origin of the very universe.  Oan legend dictates that seeking such knowledge would lead to great calamity.  Well, Krona ain't got the time for none'a that blibbuh blabbah, so he continued his research.  A 1965 Green Lantern story is cited, in which Krona used Oan technology to witness the origin of the universe... and in so doing, created a great evil.



That great evil was the Anti-Matter Universe... the Multiverse was also a result, though your multiversal evil-ness mileage may vary.  The only planet without a doppelganger is Oa itself... though Qward is referred to as Oa's "sister planet".



Krona is stood before council and found guilty of unlawful universal knowledge.  He is sentenced to being reduced to atoms and an eternity of floating throughout the universe.  Sounds just as bad at the Phantom Zone!  From here we get some more Oa-gins (yeah, yeah, they can't all be winners).  From the Oan's use of the Manhunters, to the formation of the Green Lantern Corps... the latter of which caused a schism within the community, and a great civil war.



Now, both Oa and Qward had moons (boy, this is dry)... Oa's moon birthed the Monitor... and Qward's birthed his opposite number... the Anti-Monitor!  It wasn't long before the Anti-Monitor (and his army of Thunderers) took over Qward.  Not satisfied with what he'd conquered, the Anti-Monitor wanted more.



This is when he began to sense that he wasn't alone in the vast universe(s).  He sensed his "other" self... out there, being, ya know... not evil.  And so, they go to war... a war that lasts one million years, and only ended when they kayoed one another.  They lay unconscious for over nine billion years!  Dassalongtime.  Superman thinks this is all fine and dandy... but how then, did the Anti-Monitor awaken and free himself?  Well... this is where our old friend Pariah comes into play.  He did it... in what he calls the first of his sins.



Now our story shifts to a Pariah flashback... brace yourselves for excitement.  Turns out he was a brilliant scientist on his unnamed/unnumbered Earth... he'd cured disease, done a lotta good stuff for the folks.  He, however, like Krona before him... had a curiosity about the origins of the Universe.  His Earth has similar legends as Oa... where, ya don't look too deeply into the origins of the Universe, lest some bad hoo-doo go down.  Despite all that, Pariah did the thing.  Now, his experiment was a bit more tragic than Krona's... ya see, he built a protective chamber so all the icky anti-matter wouldn't get all over him.  That, unfortunately, doesn't take into account what would happen to... ya know, the rest of the universe.  The Anti-Matter winds up destroying all life in his universe... except him!  He winds up floating in nothingness all alone for... millions of years!



Tapping into the antimatter caused the Anti-Monitor to awaken... which he refers to as his second sin... but, I thought it was his first?  Didn't he just say that?  Hmm, okay... maybe destroying his home universe is Sin #1... Waking the Anti-Monitor can be Sin #2.  Anyhoo, the Anti-Monitor's strength grew through destruction of Universes... that is to say, the more "worlds will die", the more powerful he will become.  You can probably guess where this is headed.



Next, Lyla pipes in... revealing that while Pariah is responsible for the Anti-Monitor's awakening... it's also because of him that the Monitor was revived.  The Monitor got right to work trying to stop his "brother" from destroying the Multiverse... and decided to use Pariah to aid in this endeavor.  Pariah had a sense about what worlds were about to go kaput... and so, the Monitor would simply follow him from one doomed universe to the next.  Oh, and the more "worlds will die" the less powerful the Monitor becomes... ya follow?



Superman interrupts the story to inquire just where in the world Lyla came from.  She reveals that the Monitor had found her drifting in the sea as a little girl... nice chap that he is, he saved her... and, ya know... put her to work as his assistant.



As the Earths grow ever closer, we get some vignettes bouncing around the severalverse to explain why certain heroes will be taking part in a trip to the Anti-Matter Universe... while others will not.  Alexander Luthor uses his "positive matter self" to open a portal to the Anti-Monitor's stomping grounds.



As they pass through, the heroes face all of their fears and uncertainties, however press on in spite of them all.  Once on the other side, Pariah uses the Anti-Monitor's own evil to lead the way... to a glowing asteroid.  I think Captain Marvel's "Holy Moley!" says it best...



Inside the strange structure waits the Anti-Monitor... and his fair-weather friend, the Psycho Pirate.  The former commands the latter to use his emotion-controlling powers to overcome the invaders.  Well, unfortunately for the A-M, P.P. is quite exhausted from controlling the emotions on three Earths at once!  The big-bad realizes he's on his own this time around.



The heroes arrive, and begin working their way through the odd architecture... when it begins attacking them!  Of particular note the Earth-2 Superman gets socked in the mush... which actually causes him to see his own blood!



The heroes continue battling the bricks.  While Superman (Earth-1) struggles to free himself from their grasp, Captain Atom blasts a portion of the structure into bits.  Supergirl then uses her super-breath to scatter the pieces throughout space... buying the good guys a bit of time before the rocks reform.



Superman (Earth-1) breaks away and begins searching for the Anti-Monitor.  Along the way he runs into Dr. Light... er, make that "the female" Dr. Light (it's what they call her)... who just watched Pariah get crushed under a pillar of stone!  Don't worry, he'll get better.



"The Female" Dr. Light then guides Superman into the heart of the structure... the housing of a solar collector, with which the Anti-Monitor can convert starlight into energy... and probably make "worlds die".  Superman decides the best course of action is... ya know, smashing it up.  The Anti-Monitor, as you might imagine, has a different idea.



Anti-Monitor unleashes a blast of energy into Superman's back putting him down for the count.  From afar, Supergirl can hear her cousin call out in pain... and rushes to his aid.  She plows through the planetoid past her allies (including the now-okay Pariah) and delivers a kapow to the big bad.



This punch shatters the Anti-Monitor's "body"... he is rapidly becoming a being of pure (negative?) energy.  He realizes time is short, and decides to drop the hammer.  Supergirl asks "The female" Dr. Light to take her cousin to safety... and goes in for another go-round with the big A-M.



After a brief tussle, Supergirl becomes momentarily distracted by Dr. Light... at which time, the Anti-Monitor delivers the killing blow.



Amid the chaos he has wrought, the Anti-Monitor flees to lick his wounds.  Superman rushes to his cousin's side.  She tells him not to be sad, she knew exactly what she was doing.  She says she did it all for him... then, she passes away.



Superman swears vengeance... but is brought back to his senses by his Earth-2 self.  He reminds him that Kara died to give them the opportunity to save their worlds... and not to waste such an opportunity on foolish revenge.  The younger Kal agrees.



The chapter ends with the world (assuming this is Earth-1) and it's heroes celebrate the life of Supergirl.  Batgirl delivers a eulogy to a packed crowd.  Meanwhile at the Fortress of Solitude, Superman wraps his cousin in her cape to take her into space one final time.



--

Whew... some stuff happened here.

I gotta say, it's been... dang, over twenty years since I'd last dug my teeth into Crisis.  When I started this blog, these were some of the issues I told myself I'd never be able to cover (which is kinda weird considering the name of this blog).  The synopsizing was just so overwhelming.  When I started writing today... I felt like I was just listing characters... and not really covering a story.

But... there was a story.  A couple of 'em actually.  First we went through the origins of the Monitor Bros.  It's so weird to consider that by this point we're already halfway through Crisis on Infinite Earths... the Monitor is already dead... and we're just now getting the backstory.  My first time through this was in collected edition so this didn't really stand out... I was just reading one giant story and not a single chapter.  Crisis was actually one of the first DC bookshelf books I'd ever bought... which probably wasn't the best way to come in... but, whatayagonnado?

I really dug how Marv brought some Oan lore into the start of the Crisis.  Even tying it in to Krona's quest for knowledge... seems a relatively deep cut referring to Green Lantern (vol.2) #40, but I'm glad it was there.  Anytime a writer can pull from an older story and make it work within the wider continuity is welcome.

Pariah is as annoying as ever.  I found it strange that we start the issue with him whining... questioning why he's even involved... then a few pages later, he's whining... revealing that the entire Crisis is sorta-kinda his fault.  Oh yeah, and he also wiped out his home dimension.

Then... Supergirl dies.  I think I've said it before, but outside of the Peter David run, I was never really big into Supergirl.  I think it's more my post-Crisis upbringing more than any real distaste for the character... but I unfortunately didn't really get the gravity of this the first time I read it.  I'm sure knowing about it ahead of time might have tempered my reaction a bit though.

The scene itself is quite well done... which is no surprise considering the folks crafting it.  Kara gives her all so that her cousin might have the opportunity to save the multiverse.  I felt like Superman (Earth-1) didn't really get the best showing here, but it served the story, and facilitated Supergirl's sacrifice.  I think I've said this before, but perhaps not... I often find characters most vital, just before they die!  I felt the same way about The New-52! Superman.  Thought he was a jerk most of the time... but right before he died, felt he really came into his own.  Supergirl, while never a jerk, didn't feel all that important to me... however, in watching her final battle, I almost "get it".  There's that panel where she's grimacing... readying herself for one last burst of offense.  She's bleeding from her face and her eyes show such fire.  That's a character I hate to lose... however, I suppose that's the point.

Overall, if you haven't read this issue... or the series, you really ought to.  Marv and George bring there... is there anything higher than A? game, and deliver an unforgettable chapter... of an incomparable event series.  It's been collected a whole lotta times, and not surprisingly... you can also get it digitally.

In closing... If this really is the end... (and c'mon, if we've learned anything from comics it's... without seeing a body it's wise to be skeptical...) I would like to humbly and sincerely extend a thank you to the Super-Blog Team-Up for including this nobody comics blogger... and making him feel like a somebody comics blogger a few times a year.  My bloggy-brother, Mike Carlyle of The Crapbox of Son of Cthulhu recommended me to the head honcho very early on in my blogging "career", and I am most grateful for the opportunities, fun, and friendships being part of the group has afforded me over the past year and a half.

After our usual "interesting ads" section you can find the offerings from the rest of my cohorts.  Please give'm a look!

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Interesting Ads:



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Super-Blog Team-Up Continues... One Last Time:



The Crapbox of Son of Cthulhu

The SuperHero Satellite

The Unspoken Decade

The Retroist 

Comic Reviews by Walt

Between the Pages

Longbox Graveyard

Coffee and Comics Blog

In My Not So Humble Opinion

Chris is on Infinite Earths

536

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Action Comics #766 (2000)


Action Comics #766 (June, 2000)
"D.O.A."
Writer - Joe Kelly
Penciller - Card Nord
Inker - Jason Baumgartner
Colors - WildStormFX
Letters - Comicraft
Assistant Editor - Maureen McTigue
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $1.99

When I first decided to collect DC Comics in earnest, I had a list of characters/titles that I gave special priority to.  Mainly shorter-run series that would be the easiest to complete... your Blue Devils, Suicide Squads, Mister Miracles, etc.  There were also some pie-in-the-sky collector goals... like Superman's entire output since Crisis on Infinite Earths.

I mean, that's three to five ongoing titles, one-shots, annuals... and also, Action Comics went weekly for almost a year!  I was looking at a long road of collecting... and although Superman comics are among the easiest to procure from the cheap-o bins, this was still going to set me back a few bucks.  

Over the past decade or so, I've made quite the dent.  As it currently stands, I only need ten or so comics to complete the run.  When I peruse the covers of the books I still need... something stands out... Batman (or a Bat-villain) is usually somewhere on the cover.  Yesterday I was raiding the bins at a semi-nearby shop when I came across this issue... and it was marked a fair amount higher than others from the run.  And so, I did something I almost never do... I paid the Batman Tax.  Only reason I did so is it was the only thing standing in the way of my Action Comics run being complete going back to before Crisis.  Completionism (obsession, and insanity) will do it every time!

--


Superman's been infected with radiation poisoning!  Lois has been abducted, and replaced by Parasite (eww)!  There's only one man Superman can turn to in this, his time of need.  Well, if the cover (and my preamble) didn't spoil it, we are of course talking about Batman.  Much/all of the narration done in this issue is from Batman's point of view... and is written in a very antiseptic and procedural way.  Something I like... and dislike at the same time, but we'll get there.  Superman promises his full cooperation if Batman helps him find Lois... dead or alive.  The pair head out to follow up on a potential lead.  During the car ride, Batman continually refers to Lois as "Victim"... something that Superman does not appreciate in the slightest, and he lets him know it.


The World's Finest arrive at a seedy backwoods Roadhouse bar, and Batman enters to rattle a few cages.  He approaches a cliche hillbilly tough guy who isn't keen on answering any questions... and so, Batman takes him out in just-one-pu... er, flick to the forehead.  Whew, just barely sidestepped a trope there!


Turns out, one regular patron to the bar named Mike was abducted just like Lois... but, the geeks are being a bit tight lipped about the whole thing.  That is, until a green glowing Superman ambles into the doorway.  At which time, everyone becomes rather cooperative.  This vexes Bruce a bit... he can't wrap his head around the fact that, even seeping radiation, folks still love (and don't fear) Superman.


Their next stop is another interrogation spot.  Superman agrees to wait in the car, however, when he realizes Bruce has been gone a bit too long for his liking finds out that his partner locked him in.  Batman's forensic narration refers to Superman only as "complainant".  Again, like/dislike that... but we'll get there.  Superman manages to escape the Batmobile and rejoins Batman... who is surrounded by a bunch of kayoed fools.  When Superman insists they take them to a hospital, Batman refuses.  Superman is adamant, and reminds him that "they're still people".  Now, here comes the hook that the entire rest of this issue is bent around... Batman doesn't see these folks as "people".  He can't... otherwise, he would become too emotional to be effective.  He can begin thinking of them as "people" again once the case is closed.


After receiving one hell of a lecture, Batman asks Clark to make himself useful and use his supervision to check for clues.  He is able to locate five grains of red clay.  Batman runs the data, and discovers the origin of the red clay is Harpur State Preserve outside of Metropolis.  So, next stop... there.  I should mention that Superman's health is becoming progressively worse by the page.  Nice attention to detail, that.


Once they arrive, Batman once again refers to Lois as victim... which sets Superman off on sharing some Lois facts.  He says she roots for the Dodgers, hates her feet... stuff like that.  Batman wants to keep this as impersonal as possible, but Superman will not allow that.  Batman will view Lois as a person... even if the worst is to come.


Later that night they arrive at the cave the clay led them to.  They enter... and discover that it's being used as a sort of burial ground for the civilians who had been "touched" by Parasite.  Turns out that for Parasite to become a proxy, he absorbs both a victim's energy as well as their physical and mental makeup... the longer he proxies... the more essence and energy he steals.  Superman gets a funny feeling from one of the bodies and rushes over to check it out.


It turns out to be... a blonde woman, not Lois.  Batman, who has been doing his research, says the victim's name... but Superman stops him before he can finish.  He's beginning to understand how making things personal might cloud one's judgment in situations such as this.  For now, he's okay with referring to Mikalia Shepard as just a blonde victim.


In the silence of the somber moment, Superman begins to hear... breathing.  He notices a boulder lodged up against a wall of the cave, and proceeds to push it out of the way.  In his weakened state it takes quite a bit out of him.  Behind the boulder is... Lois!  Alive!


After a touching reunion, the radiation in Superman's body becomes too much for him to bear... and, he dies!  Should go without saying that this sucker is... [to be continued]!  Worth mentioning, they use a radioactive version of the Death of Superman era "Bleeding S" for the To Be Continued bumper... which is pretty cool!


--

I liked this one a lot more than I thought I would.

I think, if you're a comic creator, you've got that list of scenes you really wanna write/draw.  Just those tropes that have been done dozens of times before.  If you're on the X-Men, you wanna do the next great baseball game.  If you're on Spider-Man, you wanna do a scene at "that bridge".  If you're on Aquaman, you wanna have some schmuck make a "talks to fish" observation.  And, if you're writing a (post-Crisis) Superman and Batman story... you want to explore the differences in their approaches to heroism.  Nothing wrong with that at all... and very well executed here, it's just we're not really blazing any trails.

Not every story needs to blaze trails though, but worth mentioning that so many (post-Crisis) Superman and Batman stories are so focused on the differences between them, that the actual story sometimes falls to the background.  Here though, Joe Kelly was able to tie the dueling methodologies in with the main story, so that wasn't a problem in the slightest.

I think my main problem is Batman behaving like a detective robot.  His narration here, and I know what they were going for, was... I dunno, kind of annoying.  Regardless of how "on the case" he is, I don't see him ever referring to Superman as "complainant".  I mean, if we were reading his post-mortem documentation of the case, sure... but actually during the story?  Just seems a bit try-hard.  We know Batman's "all business", this only made him seem clownishly so.

The art here was a bit mixed for my liking.  I think Nord knocked it out of the park with everything... except Superman....'s face.  I dunno, I guess maybe I have a sort of precise idea of what Superman's face ought to look like... and this really wasn't it.  Not fair of me to hold it against any artist for taking me outside my comfort zone, but I'll still mention it.  Sometimes Superman artists who I start off disliking become a favorite... Doug Mahnke, for example.  Perhaps Nord's take would/will grow on me.  Who knows?

Overall, had a far better time with this than I thought.  Was it worth paying the Batman Tax.  Well, for someone like me... yeah.  That is to say, a completionist idiot.  For folks not as wrapped up in their collections as me?  Maybe.  It's worth mentioning that this was collected as part of Superman: Critical Condition.  These were the "numbered" trades that collected the "Berganza" era.  Fans not as stringent in their "gotta catch'em all" mentality might get more out of the trade paperback.  It is also available digitally.

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Letters Page:


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535

Monday, July 17, 2017

Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #1 (1999)


Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #1 (August, 1999)
"New Kid on the Block"
Writer - Geoff Johns
Penciller - Lee Moder
Inker - Dan Davis
Colorist - Tom McCraw
Separations - Heroic Age
Letterer - Bill Oakley
Assistant Editor - L.A. Williams
Editors - Chuck Kim & Mike Carlin
Special Thanks - Courtney
Cover Price: $2.50

Remember when you first came online... or better yet, when you first listened to a comics podcast?  Besides the excitement of hearing actual radio shows dedicated to our beloved hobby, we were also afforded the opportunity to hear how other people pronounce creator names.

You'd hear Nee-cee-ay-za's and Be-yoo-see-ma's and Byoo-sik's, with various inflection and cadence... it's not uncommon for us to just scan words in the credits without giving a whole lotta thought to how the names would be said aloud.  It makes me recall the first time I saw the name Geoff Johns in the credits... and my peanut brain mentally pronounced his first name as Gee-off.  So dumb.

Before we pop into our spoilery synopsis of some early Johns, I wanna mention the special thanks listed in the credits.  The character we're going to discuss today, Courtney Whitmore, was inspired by Geoff's own sister, who tragically passed in a plane crash in 1996.  TWA Flight 800 crashed 21 years ago today (which is coincidence, not something I was planning), and I still remember returning home from a night out and finding my mother watching the news.  At the time we lived ten or so miles away from the site.

Anyhoo, let's get right to it.

--


We open with Star-Spangled Kid delivering a whopper of a kick to a Foot Soldier looking fool wearing a tunic with a spiky snake on it.  S.T.R.I.P.E. bashes through the wall to lend a hand... and lecture our gal on the folly of stealing superhero paraphernalia... we'll get there.  A foot soldier cinches in a sleeper hold, and Courtney asks herself how she wound up in such a spot... sounds like a flashback transition to me!  And so, we flash back to the day Courtney moved to Blue Valley (from Beverly Hills).  Her mother had just remarried, a man named Pat Dugan.  That name might just sound familiar.  While the folks discuss how exciting their new lives are going to be, Courtney gazes longingly at her old yearbook.  I was sad to see she attended Beverly Hills High, I was hoping for West Beverly... then we might look forward to a Dylan McKay cameo!


Speaking of schools, we shift scenes to Blue Valley High, where a couple of nogoodnik kids are about to spray paint a Kid Flash-laden billboard with a disparaging remark about their Principal Sherman.  Remember, Blue Valley was the home of Wally West for a long time.  Anyhoo, smoke begins pouring out of a nearby manhole... and a pair of creepy green-gloved hands reach out.  Next thing we know, the boys are gone... and the only graffiti on the billboard is in the shape of that spiky snake.


We jump ahead to the following morning... and it's Courtney's first day at her new school.  The hallways of this school are jam packed with adolescent humanity... and it's here we meet Courtney's first new friend, err, the red-haired one.  After asking for some directions to class (including European Art History class... what kinda high school is this?) a meathead bully shows up to steal some lunch money.  For real... this seven footer is trying to steal pocket change from girls.  Courtney delivers a kick right to his face.  Passersbys hunky Josh and his girlfriend (?) with the white streaks in her hair see this all go down.  Josh seems impressed... his lady friend scowls and drags him away.


By now, Principal Sherman is on the scene and proceeds to read Courtney the riot act.  I mean, did he not see the big clod trying to steal lunch money?  Maybe he's in on it!  I dunno, he escorts Courtney to biology class... where it just so happens to be, you guessed it... frog dissection day!  Our gal sidles up to her red-headed friend, and new lab partner... just as she frees her frog out the window.  Not sure how well frogs that have been kept in jars for awhile do in the wilds of the midwest... we'll assume he got away fine and lived a long life with a fine frog family.


Next up, lunch!  Courtney and the redhead (we know her last name is Kramer) are discussing the patriotic dress code for the Spirit Dance that night.  She also brings up how a bunch of kids nobody remembers have been vanishing of late.  It's pretty neat how Kramer describes it... she says it's the kids in the "middle" of the class.  Not the brainy kids, or the dregs... the ones that are just "there".  Kids that nobody would miss, because nobody even noticed they were there in the first place!  As the pair heads to a table... Josh's girl with the streaks trips Courtney who falls directly into Principal Sherman!  It just ain't Courtney's day.


And so, she 's dragged to the Principal's office... where she is assigned a thousand word essay on tomato sauce stains.  Well, I suppose we gotta make sure the punishment fits the crime, eh?  After Courtney leaves, Sherman drinks a can of 30-weight oil.  Ehh?


The school day finally ends, and Courtney returns home.  She gives Pat some sass before heading inside.  In her bedroom she gazes at a locket with her birth-father's picture in it... and wonders where he might be.  One of Pat's boxes was mixed in with hers... and so, she dumps it out on her bed to be a nosy jerk.  It's here that she learns that her stepfather is actually Stripesy!


Courtney thinks it's pretty lame... and suggests Dr. Mid-Nite or Doll-Man would be cooler, and I can't really argue that.  Her mother knocks on her door to inform her that she's got a(n important) dentist appointment the following day... oh yeah, and also... Pat's going to be chaperoning the Spirit Dance tonight!  Court is ticked and confronts her step-dad.  She also tells him that his costume sucked.


At the dance, we finally learn that the redhead's name is Mary... and it's also the first time we see Courtney in her patriotic costume!  Chaperone Pat is less than pleased... ya see, that cosmic belt she's wearing is kinda dangerous.


Before he can convince her to take it off... the belt, that is... there is an explosion in the gym.  It's the foot soldiers from earlier.  Pat triggers a button on his watch... then gets punched in the gut.  Courtney is overcome by a strange sensation, but shakes it off to deliver another kick... this time, a super-powered kick!  Mary unmasks the foot soldier, and we see that it's one of the spray-painting kids from earlier!


At this point, we go right back to the open of the issue where S.T.R.I.P.E. bursts through the wall.  A fight ensues, and we see our high-viscosity Principal is not pleased by the proceedings.


The (not yet) Star-Spangled Kid and S.T.R.I.P.E. rush out of the dance, all the while Pat reams Court about swiping that belt.  A shadowy man is watching the whole thing occur... and sends out another throng of foot soldiers.  The cosmic belt picks this most inopportune time to fizzle out.  Whoops.


--

This was... okay.

I'm sure I got a lot more out of it the first time I read it... almost twenty years ago.  I think back then something like this was such a novelty that I couldn't help but to like it.  In 2017, we're bombarded pretty hard by stories with quirky school drama and a non-traditional/animated art style.  Reading it today, it doesn't really stand out as anything special.

I'd forgotten how unpleasant Courtney was back in the day.  I always remembered her as the girl next door... not the girl from 90210.  That being said, I feel like her reactions to her new lot in life are pretty well done.  While abrasive, she is in a weird adolescent flux... it's only natural for her to lash out every now and again.

Courtney (and S.T.R.I.P.E.)'s designs are pretty great.  I really like the new Star-Spangled Kid costume, and the robot looks cool.  The Golden Age strongman look might not have flown back in 1999... a robo-suit is as good a substitute as any.

The art.  You ever see that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry dates the "two-face"?  I think it might be the Festivus episode.  He's dating a girl who looks good in certain light, but downright ghoulish in others.  That's how the art feels to me.  There are panels where everyone looks fantastic, and others where faces are over-contorted and over-lined... which really contrasts with the animated style.

Overall... like I said above, this was okay.  I'm not sure you need to break your back tracking this down... but then again, I wouldn't try to dissuade you either.  This series has been collected in two trade-paperback volumes under the JSA Presents... branding.  It is also in the world digitally.

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