Justice League: Generation Lost #1 (Early July, 2010)
“Gone But Not Forgotten”
Story/Script – Judd Winick
Story/Breakdowns – Keith Giffen
Pencils – Aaron Lopresti
Inks – Matt Ryan
Colors – Hi-Fi
Letters – Sal Cipriano
Assistant Editor – Rex Ogle
Editor – Michael Siglain
Cover Price: $2.99
Today we’re going to take a look at one of my first (perhaps the very first) DC Comics I picked up after an extended bout of unemployment.
My first visits back to the comic shop were pretty strange. I could look at the wall and see dozens of titles that I had decent-sized runs of… it was kind of overwhelming to decide what to get. I mean, I was out of work for about a year… and boy howdy, what a year it was.
Comics had always been a thing I found comfort in… and when I needed them the most… well, I could no longer afford them. Upon return I weighed all of my options… and decided I would just stick to my “can’t quit” books… which means, Marvel (and more specifically, the X-Men books). I was 30 at the time, and figured it might behoove me to limit my comics purchases… and simplify my comics-caring. I came in as a Marvel guy… so those’ll be the books I stick with.
It wasn’t until I came across a thread on one of the comics “news” sites where disappointed Marvel fans began counting the actual pages of story we were getting for our inflated $3.99+. Now, I’m not a guy who counts pages… way I look at it, if I’m enjoying a story enough, that’s all that ought to matter. As I looked through this thread, however… it became more and more clear that the “repudiable” comics news site was in Marvel’s pocket. Fans were being flat-out mocked by Marvel “pros” and editors in the thread… and any posts with salient points were… deleted (or edited to mess with the context)!
I decided these weren’t the folks I wanted to support… and so, looked across the street to DC Comics… where I saw a much, I dunno, friendlier bunch of folks. There was less cynicism toward the product… and more importantly, less vitriol toward the readership (that would come the following year… but that’s a discussion for another time). I felt better about myself supporting a company that didn’t appear to hate it’s fans… or feel the need to strawman them to justify their shadier business practices.
And so, when I decided to shift back over to DC… I needed a good “jumping on point” to get my footing. I’d long been a fan of the Justice League International… and figured this series here would be as good a place as any to hop back in…
We open a day and a half in the past… the believed/once dead Maxwell Lord is approached by a pair of police officers. They yell at him to stop… but he has a different idea. We get brought up to speed quite nicely here with intermittent panels showing scenes of Max’s past… assembling the League, killing Ted Kord, taking over The OMAC Project, and ultimately… getting some chiropractic assistance from Wonder Woman. He uses his mind-control powers to force the officers to blow each other’s brains out… and wipes away the resulting trickle of blood under his nose. A little exposition for folks unfamiliar with this era… we know Wonder Woman killed Max in the lead-up to Infinite Crisis… he would “rise!” during Blackest Night, and be one of the handful of characters to remain alive going into Brightest Day… and that’s where we are.
We shift ahead several hours to the Hall of Justice where Superman has the floor. He is informing the media (and superhero community) about the apparent return of Maxwell Lord. Now, why all the hoopla? Glad you asked, when Max took control of The OMAC Project, he also found himself with full access of the Bat-Computer… which means he knows, ya know… pretty much everything… about everything.
We jump to the present, where Booster Gold is embroiled in battle with some armored mercenaries outside the former JLI Moscow embassy. He is shocked to learn that Power Girl had let those baddies escape and recapture them later to avoid a firefight in the city. Booster expresses a bit of justifiable frustration… he’s been sent all over the world on assignments that don’t appear to be very Max Lord-centric. It’s almost as though he’s being kept busy so he doesn’t screw things up too much.
We shift to Ice’s cruddy little apartment, and she’s watching the news of Max’s return while huddled against the wall. She unleashes a blast of… er, ice to destroy the television set. Her outburst is interrupted by a knocking at the door. It’s a man with a laptop… and, I’m guessing this is supposed to be Fire on the screen, but it’s not totally clear here. She finds herself dragged back into superheroics. Gotta say, some great work on her face/body language here!
We shift ahead a bit to a mission in the desert featuring Captain Atom, Fire, and Ice! They are flanked by several military vehicles as they track a signal which may (or may not) be Max Lord.
We rejoin Booster Gold at Rip Hunter’s time lab. He is staring at recent photos of the returned Max Lord in various locations all across the globe. He is still annoyed that he’s being left out of the “real” search… which prompts Skeets to posit that the League might be keeping Booster away for his own good. Perhaps fearing that he’s a bit too close to the situation… and, ya know… he’s got a point. Booster ain’t hearin’ none of that… and continues thinking aloud. He cites Max’s own arrogance and suggests he would return to the JLI New York Embassy to “hide in plain sight”.
Back in the desert, the trio is led to a cave by their radar tracking hoo-doo. Captain Atom enters in hopes of procuring Max Lord… but it’s a no-go. Instead of finding his former boss… he finds a bomb! It explodes, but Atom is able to absorb most of the blast… he launches into the atmosphere to release it a safe distance from Earth.
Back with Booster… he’s arrived at the JLI-NY Embassy, where he finds himself bombarded by electromagnetic pulses, which cancel out the powers of his suit. Before panic can set in… he’s bashed over the back of the head with a rebar with a chunk of cement on the end. Looks like Booster finally found Max!
Now this next scene is… really good. Max continues to beat the hell out of Booster with the rebar… all the while lamenting the fact that he had no choice but to kill Blue Beetle. He says the act haunts him… refers to Booster as his friend… who he misses. It’s pretty powerful stuff. He thinks back to his death at the hands of Wonder Woman… and suggests that if he was brought back, it must be for good reason… and he’s convinced himself that his purpose is to “save the damn world”.
He leaves Booster in a puddle of blood… and, as you might imagine, it looks quite dire. Michael manages to retrieve a communicator and send out an S.O.S. to Skeets. I remember reading this the first time and thinking that Max had just killed Booster… it seemed like when it came to Bwah-ha-ha Leaguers, all bets were off!
Booster wakes up some time later, and is surrounded by his former teammates, Fire, Ice, and Captain Atom. They are shocked to see the amount of blood loss… ant Atom searches the body for where he was hit. Booster is able to mutter that the pool of blood he is laying in… isn’t his own!
And so, we shift to Maxwell Lord. He is stood before a tub of ice water and has blood being pumped into his veins by a machine. He’s about to push the limits of his mind-control power… and knows that what he’s planning he’s gonna lose a lot of blood! He screams, blood goes everywhere, and he falls into the ice-filled tub. A wave sweeps over the entire planet… and we see that it’s even affected the big guns of the DC Universe.
Captain Atom leaves Booster to follow the trail of blood… to the blood-and-ice-filled tank in the next room. Max is already long gone… and the blood is already congealing. Superman arrives in response to the JLI signal Booster had sent, and asks what’s up. The gang tells him about the manhunt for Max Lord, to which he replies: “Who’s Max Lord?” Uh-oh.
We wrap up with a shot of Max enjoying a drink and a smoke atop the roof of a castle. Looks like business is about to pick up!
This is all it took to draw me back into DC Comics in a big way. I really enjoyed this, then and now.
Such an interesting concept for a story… I mean, Max Lord has the power to control minds, so why not attempt to control every single mind on the planet? What’s more… if you have the potential to touch every mind on Earth (and beyond?) why make the people forget you, instead of I dunno, worship you? Well, that might get in the way of whatever it is Max has planned.
Let’s stick with Max for a bit. His return to the living has affected him… as it would anybody. He feels that he was brought back for a specific purpose… a righteous one, at that! That scene between he and Booster was just crazy… Max telling him that he misses him was pretty powerful. He does a callback to walking Booster into the League, which is interesting, because even back then he was trying to pull a fast one, setting up the Royal Flush Gang to attack so Booster could save the day.
Use of the old International Leaguers is pretty perfect for a story like this. I mean, folks never really seemed to trust them completely, or hold them in as high a regard as the “magnificent seven”. Even the other superheroes kinda raise their noses at them. We see that here with Booster’s busy work, so he doesn’t get in the way. We can look at that as the other protecting Booster who may be too close to the situation… but there’ll always be that bit of doubt.
Being the only folks who can remember Max Lord opens up so many possibilities… and also facilitates them looking a bit loony. They’re going to have to walk a fine line to not lose all credibility with the public and the superhero community… and it’s going to be a lot of fun.
The art here is really nice. Lopresti has a very clean style and is able to convey so much emotion through faces. Just look at that Ice scene, that’s almost Kevin Maguire level of facial contortion. Excellent stuff. My sole complaint art wise has got to be… the cover. To my mind, it’s not terribly pretty. Fire and Booster look pretty twisted and evil. Everyone else looks cool, but those two really make me wince.
Overall, this is certainly an issue (and series) I’d recommend checking out. I think enough time has passed since the ending kinda got nyoinked away from us so they could usher in The New-52! that one could read this again and not be too annoyed (okay, I might be projecting). This issue/series is available digitally, and has been collected in a series of hardcovers… and those come without an awkwardly placed toothpaste ad (see below) slipping and sliding as you read the book! Worth checking out!
(Not the) Letters Page:
Interesting Awkward and Annoyingly-Placed Ads: