The L.A.W. (Living Assault Weapons) #3 (1999)

The L.A.W. (Living Assault Weapons) #3 (November, 1999)

“The Past is Always Present”
Writer & Inker – Bob Layton
Penciller – Dick Giordano
Letterer – John E. Workman, Jr.
Colorist – Tom Ziuko
Separator – Digital Chameleon
Special Thanks – David Michelinie
Assistant Editor – Frank Berrios
Editor – Joey Cavalieri
Cover Price: $2.50

Ehh… why not?

We open in full-blown flashback mode.  We’re watching the original Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett taking on a crew of robots being commanded by Ted Kord’s evil uncle Jarvis Kord.  The flashback ends with Ted being thrown into the Elector machine… which, despite its name has nothing to do with voting nor public service.  Ted wakes up and shakes the cobwebs as he, Question, Judomaster, and Salt continue their trek toward the Avatar.

We pop in on the netherworld dimension, current home of the Justice League.  We find they are all locked in a sort of suspended animation… all of them besides a certain Manhunter from Mars, that is.  J’onn reaches out with his mind… sending an interdimensional S.O.S. in hopes that any passersby may answer the call.

We shift scenes to a hotel in the south of France.  Eve Eden is there… and she’s got her eyes on a trio of turbaned men, who happen to be escorting her Uncle Yves… somewhere.  They toss the old man into a.. . closet, maybe… and reveal themselves to be hellspawn demons sent by the Avatar!  Boy are they surprised to find that Nightshade had already sniffed them out… ya see, she used her interdimensional powers to observe that none of the (identical) turbaned men had a shadow.  Ya know, I’m no Sherlock Watson or anything, but I think I’d have noticed something like that too… Anyhoo, she grabs Unc, and hops through a portal.

We get a creepy post-coital scene with Sarge and Justine.  She comments on the sheer number of bullet holes in his body, and expresses happiness that none of that mess affected his… performance.  Man, gross.  Anyhoo, she can’t keep her hands off of him… couldja blame her?  Blech…


They are summoned to Command and Control where they meet Nightshade and Yves.  She asks that they keep him safe, and hops a portal back out.  While she’s here (and getting paid), Justine decides to stop looking at Sarge’s saggy bullet-ridden hide and looks to a radar screen.  It looks as though the Avatar is laying in wait for their “away team”.  Sarge tries to abort the mission… but it’s too late!

The Bug is overrun with hellspawns who absolutely tear into it.  The ‘spawns also overtake Peacemaker-1, causing it to explode (!).  One beastie gets into it with Judomaster, and when it realizes it can’t beat him hand to hand… it simply pushes ol’ Rip out of the plane.  Could’a done that five minutes ago, chief…

As Judomaster plummets, the Avatar looks on… surprised.  The Peacemaker makes his triumphant (?) return… it’ll take more than being on board an exploding jet to put him away… I guess.  He boards the Bug and begins blasting away without prejudice.  The hellspawns flee, but not before Peacemaker can tag one with a morph probe.

The battle-damaged Bug comes to a landing, and the foursome on board collect their thoughts.  They’re sure that Judomaster is dead, and they seem kind of okay with it.  The Question proves to be the only one thinking straight… either that or he’s already read issue-two… he’s thinking there’s a mole among the Peacemaker Organization.

Speaking of the Organization, back at the command post, the Avatar is “bringing it… via satellite” for ol’ man Steel.  He’s planning to open a gate to Hell in 72-hours.  He goes on about Holy Wars and the like… and says nobody has anything to worry about if they don’t raise up arms against him.  Hmm… yeah, sounds legit.  After addressing the issue with a bunch of other old men, it is decided to finally bring the G.O.R.T. online to deal with this.  Ya see, the G.O.R.T. is the crazy GPS thing that Beetle sold for a half-billion a hundred years ago in issue one.

We shift to the Avatar’s home for wayward youths… I mean, seriously, the orphans being held here look like they’re having a great time!  Definitely not a “hard knock life” up here.  He’s receiving some intel from Doctor Bhattacarja about the G.O.R.T. being brought into play.

After disconnecting from the Doc, Avatar turns his attentions to Captain Atom… who’s still napping in the crystal.  It sucks that Cap’s not gotten any action up to this point.  I wanna see how his new duds look in battle.  Anyhoo, Avatar gives him the business about how he’s gonna make the superheroes and military pay, yadda yadda yadda.

He then leaves, feeling a bit weak.  He walks down what looks like a cave hallway… man his space station is diversely decorated… and takes a drink of the Soma… the Elixir of Immortality… for exhilaration and enlightenment!  He then turns his attention to his newest captive… Judomaster!  Of interest, Judomaster recognizes the evil bastard as his old sidekick Tiger!  Woop woop.

I’d say this one was about at the level of the second issue.  Better than the open, but no great shakes.  At least the second issue had that cool piece by Dick Giordano about the old Charlton days!

It’s mostly action… and rather pedestrian action at that.  I’m really struggling to think of anything interesting to say here… not that I’ve let that stop me before!

I will give this series one thing… it’s aimed at fans of the old Charlton characters.  I mean as far as I know, the last time we saw (or heard of) Judomaster or Tiger (to this point) was in the mid-1980’s All-Star Squadron series.  The reveal at the end was a true “deep cut” and had I been around (and reading) during the heyday of the Charlton Action Heroes, I’m sure I’d have gasped… perhaps even audibly… okay, probably not… but still, the reveal would have mattered to me.

While this series certainly isn’t for me, I will definitely give it props for staying true to its roots.  This was a series for the fans of the characters… this isn’t distilled down with the hopes that a “casual” comics fan would pick it up and glom on to it…. or even a “seasoned” fan who has little to no history with Charlton, for that matter.  I really like that.  Too many books these days (and I apologize for actually typing “these days”) are written for people who don’t and won’t read comics.  L.A.W. (Living Assault Weapons) isn’t reaching for the kid who just watched Suicide Squad, Batman v Superman, or the latest Avengers film… this is a comic book by fans of the Charlton properties for fans of the Charlton properties.  It revels in its irrelevance… and for that reason alone, I can’t completely write it off.  Is it for me?  Hell no… but it was never meant to be.

I’ll do the research so you don’t have to… Tiger was Judomaster’s young sidekick during the Charlton days, and would grow up to be Nightshade’s martial arts instructor.  Now you know why the reveal could (in theory) mean something.

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I remember really digging this show when I was like 18… I bet I’d be embarrassed to watch it now!

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