Justice League Europe #6 (1989)

Justice League Europe #6 (September, 1989)

“No More Teachers’ Dirty Looks…?!”
Writers – Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis
Penciller – Bart Sears
Inker – Pablo Marcos
Letterer – Bob Lappan
Colorist – Gene D’Angelo
Editors – Kevin Dooley & Andy Helfer
Cover Price: $1.00

When I first dove in to the Justice League books some many many years back, I always wondered why they would have a European team.  I kinda felt like it was the West Coast version of the Avengers… and in many ways, it was.  It was a way to have a second team, and perhaps focus on some contemporary stand-outs as well as second stringers in their respective universes.  This was, of course, a time before EVERYBODY is or has been an Avenger or Leaguer, so membership was still something special.

If there’s one issue in particular I picture when thinking of the JLE… it’s this one.  This is the type of story you can only do once, and it’s done to damn near perfection here.  So, let’s join the League when they decide (oh yeah, oh yeah) what they need is adult education.

We open with Ralph Dibny and Justice League Europe liaison Catherine Cobert having a cup of coffee.  They are discussing Captain Atom’s recent decision (at Ms. Cobert’s suggestion) to sign the Leaguers up for French classes at a local school.  At the same time, across town longtime JLA foes the Injustice League are lamenting the fact that none of them speak French.  Wouldn’tcha know it, there just happens to be a few seats available in a certain classroom…

In that classroom, we see our venerable heroes all seated and ready to learn.  Captain Atom warns Wally West to take the class seriously… Metamorpho is clad in a trenchcoat and fedora to hide his odd appearance… and Power Girl hints that perhaps Wally shouldn’t be checking out their teacher Ms. Kessler’s keister.

Led by Major Disaster, the Injustice League enters the classroom… Clock King is quick to offer that they are, in fact fourteen minutes late.  They take their seats, and a strange feeling fills the room.  Both Leagues feel like there’s something up… something they just can’t put their finger on.  Ms. Kessler catches Multi-Man chewing gum during class… which means he’s gonna have to wear it.

Back at the Embassy, the Dibny’s and Catherine are discussing the recent reports of a new costumed individual making the rounds.  She goes by La Renard Rouge… which opens us up for a few panels of Sanford and Son jokes… ya big dummy.  This is an early appearance of the hero we will soon know by the nom de guerre Crimson Fox.

It’s the BIG one, ‘Lizbeth… I’m comin’ to join ya honey…

At the Police Headquarters, Inspector Camus is approached by an officer called Francois.  Franc informs him that both Leagues are currently getting their French on.  That’s all Camus needs to hear… he calls all units to the school.

Inspector Camus was a Warren Ellis character before there were Warren Ellis characters…

Back at the school, the jig is up… Major Disaster realizes that their classmates are in the members of Justice League Europe.  As such, he does what any other diabolical villain would do… attempts to pass this information to his men via a folded-note.  The note makes it nearly across the room, going from Injustice Leaguer to Justice Leaguer the whole way.

Don’t be such an apple-polisher, Animal Man…

This ain’t Kessler’s first rodeo… she catches the students in the act, and demands the Mighty Bruce hand her the note so she may read its contents out loud for all the class to hear.

Once the note is read, all members of the Injustice League raise their hands… to go to the bathroom.  Ya see, they all drank some bad Mexican water… sounds legit to me.  Before they can go answer nature’s call, the sound of police sirens fills the area.

The two Leagues enter into a titanic tussle, which ends in a stalemate when Ms. Kessler bellows out a call for attention.  Camus and crew burst in guns drawn.  Kessler demands the geeks lower their guns in her classroom.

Back at the Embassy, the Dibny’s get the call that their entire team was arrested for their conduct.  At the jail, the League spends several hours behind bars.  Catherine Cobert arrives and is confused as to why Captain Atom and company didn’t play their diplomatic immunity card in order to get out of jail free.

A fact that the rest of the team wouldn’t soon let poor Nate forget…

How much fun is this one?

We are firmly in the bwa-ha-ha sitcom era with this one… and it’s sooo good.  I miss the days where we could get a story like this every now and again.  These days, everything has to be stiflingly serious… everything has to be dark “like the movie”.  A silly throwaway like this does so much more for the reader and the team than most of what fills the shelves today.

In this issue, we were offered the opportunity to observe these (relatively) new teammates in their civilian guise.  Let’s not forget, we also saw how a super villain team may act when they’re out of costume.  It was issues like this that make the Giffen/DeMatteis era so magical… so fondly remembered… timeless.

This team is the classic dysfunctional family.  Many other groups in comics can make the same claim, however, to my knowledge no other mainstream superhero team book has ever dived this deep into the realm of sitcom… and still not sacrificing characterization to boot!  Save your Avengers sharing trendy-speak rapid-fire “conversation” around the breakfast table… this is how you do comic-as-sitcom.  While on that subject… save the snark, just give me the funny.

My only sticking point with this issue is with the art.  Bart Sears, though incredibly talented, never really did it for me on this title.  I never liked the way he drew women’s faces/heads.  They all had such large and pronounced chins that made their faces come across as rather masculine, in my opinion.  His action scenes are great, and the way he draws the male Leaguers looks fine as well… it’s just the women that kinda make me furrow my brow.

Definitely recommended.  It is easily found (at least locally) in the cheap-o bins.  It has been collected, and is available digitally and in (apparently out-of-print) Trade Paperback format.  Add this one to your collection, it really is a treat.

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0 thoughts on “Justice League Europe #6 (1989)

  • I would have thought that Metamorpho of all people would speak French. After all, before he became the Element Man he was Rex Mason, international treasure hunter, who explored the four corners of the world in search of priceless relics for his boss Simon Stagg. Someone with that background would surely know several languages besides English.

    Okay, my apologies… I'm being pedantic. Yes, I realize that Giffen & DeMatteis were less interested in such minutiae and more in evoking as many bwah-ha-ha-ha laughs as they could.

    • Hello Benjamin! Thank you for taking the time to stop by & comment.

      You know, I never thought about that! It would stand to reason that Mason would at least be able to speak/understand conversational French (at least enough to speak with local law enforcement anyways)!

      I must admit that I have limited pre-Outsiders experience with Metamorpho… though, that SHOWCASE Presents has been giving me the eye… may have to pull the trigger on that sooner than later.

      Thanks again for the comment!

  • Jeremy Daw

    Such a good issue. It wasn't all belly laughs in the DeMatteis/Giffen era (this issue comes a month or two before, iirc, The Teasdale Imperative), but their ability – and willingness – to change things up like this is, compared to the present crop of Rebirth comics, incredibly refreshing.

    I know what you mean about Sears' artwork. His Power Girl seemed to be modeled on an extraordinarily well-built female bodybuilder, for example. But he could do a range of facial expressions well enough – he was no Kevin Maguire, but then, there's only one Kevin Maguire! I have very fond memories of this era of the JLA/JLE and a re-visit is always welcome. Great review!


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