Saturday, September 30, 2017

Justice Society of America (vol.3) #19 (2008)

Justice Society of America (vol.3) #19 (November, 2008)
"One World, Under Gog, Part IV: Out of Place"
Story - Geoff Johns & Alex Ross
Pencillers - Dale Eaglesham & Jerry Ordway
Inker - Nathan Massengill
Colorist - Hi-Fi
Letterer - Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor - Harvey Richards
Editor - Michael Siglain
Cover Price: $2.99

We left off with the "birth" of Magog... and with Power Girl still stuck on Earth-2... annnnd, go!


We pick up on Earth-2.  If you recall, sensing she missed her friends, Gog sent Power Girl there.  Right now (following that still unread Justice Society of America Annual #1) she is trying to get back.  In her attempt, she finds herself seeking the aid of Earth-2's Professor Michael Holt... who is confused, but appears to be on board.  He quotes the Bible, which puzzles Power Girl.  He explains that his wife was in a terrible accident and left comatose.  Every Doctor he spoke to had told him she was a hopeless case.  Without hope, Holt considered suicide.  As luck would have it, just as he was about to hurl himself from a bridge... another fella was also there to jump!  Michael talked him down and took him to a church.  The man prayed for Michael's wife... who woke up the very next day!

Back on "real" Earth, Starman expresses concern for his newfound sanity.  Now, this is interesting.  Ya see, his dementia made his mind into a sort of labyrinth that even the best telepaths couldn't break through... his insanity was a safety measure!  Also, doing what he was sent from the 31st Century to do might just require him to actually be insane!

We join the Justice Society on the Fourth Day After-Gog.  They look on as the former-Lance, current-Magog trains with his new body.  Dr. Mid-Nite deduces that Magog's strength will soon rival Superman's... and his powers will soon eclipse Alan's mystic Green Flame.  Superman-22 is not at all pleased with any of this noise, and makes his reservations known.  Off to the side, Courtney and Maxine try to make sense of everything... they know they should be happy that David survived, but nothing feels right.  Like, does Gog's arrival signal the potential end of death on Earth?

Later, Superman-22 visits Magog in his room.  They have a pretty contentious little chat... clearly Superman doesn't trust Gog, while David owes him his very life.  The conversation peaks with Magog asking if Superman ever saved as many people as Gog has in just the past few days.  Luckily, Flash zooms in before long.

Meanwhile, Black Adam is crossing the desert, following the flowers of his fallen Isis... and a stylized lightning bolt burnt into the ground.

We jump back to Africa where Alan Scott's had about all's he can stands... he can't stands no more... he calls Gog out for putting on an "innocent act".  This doesn't exactly sit well with certain JSA members... and it's very clear that a schism in the ranks is forming.  Alan ain't hearin' none'a that though... he insists that they are done moving... and, for that matter... so is Gog!  The rest of the Society arrives to ramp up the discomfort.

The elder-statesmen of the Society begin to bicker over what their next move will be.  Green Lantern is steadfast in stopping Gog... Hawkman is a believer... and poor Jay seems to just want to keep the peace, but leans more toward Alan's side of the argument... after all, Gog can't just turn everyone he disagrees with into a tree, right?  Well, Hawkman suggests that sometimes killing is the only option... which brings us to a Justice Society standoff.

There's a bit of a calm... as though time stops for just a moment.  Gog defers to Magog... who insists that the opposing Society stand aside... or be forced to.  Hawkman starts to feel froggy... and before we know it, it's like we're reading a Marvel Comic... hero versus hero!

Somehow, the side who stood against Gog are zipped back to the brownstone.  There, they find Starman... who begins to panic.  A sort of portal opens in his chest... and out pops Power Girl... followed by, the Justice Society Infinity (from Earth-2)!


Yup... another excellent chapter.  We've got a little bit to unpack here.

Let's start with the open.  We get acquainted with a Michael Holt who, affected by a moment of profundity, has found faith.  Stands to reason that something like that happening in one's life could steer them toward (or away from) religion and faith in general.  I appreciate it being addressed here... and it actually feels pretty organic.  This isn't just "Earth-2 is opposite" sorta writing here, it's the story of a man who was effected by a single profound and life-altering moment.

I remember back in the mid-90's when the Age of Apocalypse happened... and we met a bunch of surface-level "opposite" X-Men.  The variances between "616" mutants and "AoA" mutants seemed mostly defined by their having different hair lengths.  Here, things are different, sure... but not stopping at surface-level, or being polar opposite just for the hell of it.

Onto Starman.  I'd forgotten the wrinkle that his insanity was a precautionary measure to ensure the secrecy of the 31st Century plan from any curious telepath.  That's really awesome... and makes explains why ol' Thom has been acting like Deadpool since the launch of this volume.  I love that, with his sanity, he almost immediately realizes this new vulnerability... and understands that with all of his faculties, he just might not be up to the job!

Now... the schism.  I'm very seldom a fan of hero vs. hero bits... especially after the barrage of them we've seen since the turn of the century.  I mean, whole "event" stories/series and feature films (BvS) are predicated on heroes fighting other heroes.  It just feels like the toys get more and more broken each time out.

Here, though?  I'm of two minds.  It would stand to reason that people like Damage and Magog (and a wanting-Citizen Steel) would stand by Gog... and I suppose Hawkman's "might makes right" mentality is in line too... but it still all feels a bit "sudden".  It's like... we get a few pages of disagreement, then we're throwing down?  Dunno.  Feels a touch inorganic... to the point where I thought for a moment that the JSA was putting on a show to see how Gog would react.

Speaking of "putting on a show"... toward the middle, as we get into the JSAvJSA tussle, the art begins to feel a bit wonky.  I mean, if we look at the two-page "standoff" spread... the heroes look stiffly posed, and a bit "smirky"... as though they're all saying "Put'em up, put'em uuuupp" like the Cowardly Lion or something.  Weird... because I generally love Eaglesham's work... even here in the beginning and end of the issue, it's great!  Not sure why the middle felt off to me.

Overall though... a highly recommended chapter from a highly recommended arc.  As I've been saying in many of my Justice Society discussions of late (and it breaks my heart to do so)... you'd definitely be better off grabbing the trade collection rather than seeking out the singles.


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Friday, September 29, 2017

Supergirl #10 (1974)

Supergirl #10 (September-October, 1974)
"Death of a Prez!"
"Her Brother's Keeper!"
Writer - Cary Bates
Penciller - Art Saaf
Inker - Vince Colletta
Letterer - Ben Oda
Cover Price: $0.20

Let's take a trip to Earth-12!  I know what everybody (okay, nobody) is thinking... "But, I thought Prez lived on Earth-72!".  Well, for whatever reason, The Crisis Compendium that came as part of the Absolute Crisis on Infinite Earths (2005) has designated this story as having occurred on Earth-12!

So, I guess we can imagine that our old pals Bob Hope, Super-Hip, Jerry Lewis, Binky, and the Inferior 5 are all watching this go down!


We open our first story with the President of the United States, Prez Rickard giving a speech at a Supermarket.  Well, how 'bout that?  The event is being televised, and watching from the dorms at Vandyre University is Linda Danvers.  She spies a man approaching Prez to shake his hand... but thanks to her x-ray vision, sees something the rest of the viewing audience cannot.  She suits up and rushes to Rosedale before the fella can assassinate Prez with his hidden gun.

After the police haul the creep away, Supergirl suggests that Prez be a bit more careful.  Ya know, as leader of the free world, he might wanna invest in some security detail... if only Presidents were armed with like a service, that was secret or something.  Anyhoo... a young boy approaches the President to ask if he can fix his father's watch... which had stopped when he was killed in Vietnam.  Prez pulls a dime from his pocket and fixes it right up... ya see, if he were an actual adult, he'd have pulled the dime from the boy's ear first for extra "magic".

Prez heads back to the White House, however, along the way he sees some signage for a Rare Antique Clock Auction in some barn.  Well, that's like catnip!  He pulls over the Presidential Caravan and hops out to take a look.  Worth noting, the other folks at the auction don't seem to be terribly moved as the President of the United States saunters in.  Anyhoo, he finds the one clock that doesn't work and decides he'll bid on it.  Just then... Supergirl swoops in, snatches the clock, and flies it clear before it goes boom!

She lands to again suggest he be a bit more careful.  We learn that Prez is being watched by a buck-toothed Gabe Kaplan (the Master Killer) and a voodoo witch named Hepzibah.  Mistuh Kottuh is pleased with how day has proceeded thus far, and has the witch use her Supergirl voodoo doll to make her kill the Prez.

Meanwhile, Supergirl suggests she fly Prez back to Washington DC straightaway to throw any potential observers off the scent.  When they get high enough in the sky, Supergirl is overcome by the suggestion to kill the Prez.  She dodges a pair of military jets before dropping the boy-leader into the drink.

We wrap up back at Master Killer's lab, where Supergirl swoops in and socks him in the mush.  He's disappointed to be caught, however, happy that Prez is dead.  Well, not so fast kemo sabe... Supergirl informs him that when she actually dropped Prez at the Fortress of Solitude... and the body she dropped was a (convenient) plastic Prez replica!  Ay yai yai.

Our second story opens at Vandyre University where Supergirl is visiting with a Dr. Forte who is conducting research on human cells to attempt to draw correlation between their cellular makeup and their physical traits... which, I thought was already a thing?  Anyhoo, Supergirl thinks it's a great cause... however, poor Forte has been refused University grant money.  He hints that Supergirl might be able to "find" him a fortune... but spoilsport that she is, she refuses.  Suddenly his electron-scope begins to spark...

Supergirl yanks off her indestructible cape and smothers the equipment before it can go boom.  She tells Forte that she'll return later and help him rebuild his equipment.  He thanks her, but says it doesn't really matter... without the University funds, he can't conduct his research anyway.  She flies off... feeling a sudden sharp pain on the back of her right hand.

Well, it turns out that Dr. Forte rigged a phony electron-scope to explode knowing it would grab Supergirl's attention long enough for him to enact his real plan.  As she smothered the stuff, a hidden Proto-Creator fired a beam into her right hand... grabbing a single Super cell, from which the Doc could create a duplicate Supergirl... well, sorta.

We jump ahead to the next day where in the skies over Vandyre University... a flying blonde can be seen!  One of the witnesses happens to be Linda Danvers, who knows something strange is afoot.  She hits the skies and meets her... identical twin brother?!

After a very short chat, Superlad (which I guess we're calling him) flies off into town.  Moments later, he returns with sacks of money from the bank he just robbed!  Supergirl tries to reason with him, quickly learning that he doesn't appear to know the difference between right and wrong.  The Superblondes briefly tussle... ending with Superlad pounding the ground, opening a fissure which Supergirl falls into.

After freeing herself, Supergirl spies a trail of dollar bills fluttering in the sky.  She knows that if she follows the bucks, she'll find the mastermind behind Superlad.

It's not long before she crashes through the wall of Dr. Forte's lab, where the Bad Doc has just finished telling Superlad that he's a synthetic being.  Forte commands his charge kill Supergirl... with a very wacky looking little pistol.  Supergirl tries to reason with the Lad that his creator is an evil man.  This is all really heavy for poor Superlad, who ultimately decides... rather than shoot Supergirl or Forte, he'll just blow his own brains out!  Wow, that ended on a dark note!


Woof.  A couple of pretty "ehhh" stories.

I think I might've built this one up in my head... thinking it would be cool seeing Prez interact with one of our "real" superheroes... buuut, it was pretty lame.  This whole book felt kinda like a Saturday Morning cartoon.  Silly plots, outta nowhere "fixes", and abrupt/clean endings.

The Prez story ended with a ridiculous bait and switch.  It's like, oh yeah... that Prez that was dropped was a plastic figurine which just happened to be at the Fortress of Solitude.  I mean, how many decoys do they have at the Fortress?  And, when did she make the switch?  Master Killer and Hepzibah were watching everything go down via their monitors... wouldn't they notice a few frames where she disappears and reappears with a no-longer struggling Prez?  Yeah, I'm thinking wayyyy too hard on this.  For a silly story, it's fine... for anything more than that, ehhhh.

The second story is also super-convenient... and ends with (sorta) super-suicide?!  I know the Comics Code had already gone a bit lax by this point, but still.  I mean, Superlad actually held a gun up to his head and pulled the trigger!  Of course, he's just a dupe... but, still a weird scene that I wasn't expecting to see!

Really not a whole lot more to say.  These were very convenient Supergirl stories... where things just "worked out".  Saturday Morning cartoon is really the best way I can put it.  The art was nice... and despite the silliness, I guess it was kinda fun to see Prez in a more mainstream book.  Probably worth checking out just for that novelty... (sorta) surprisingly, this is available digitally!


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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Superman (vol.2) #201 (2004)

Superman (vol.2) #201 (March, 2004)
"Strange New Visitor, Part Three"
Writers - Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist - Karl Kerschl
Colorists - Tanya & Richard Horie
Letterer - Nick J. Leighpez
Associate Editor - Tom Palmer, Jr.
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.25

Whatever Happened to the City of Tomorrow?

Let's find out...


We open with a bit of history for Mr. Majestic (Lord Majestros if you're nasty)... and, whoa... is that Grifter?  And a Wildcats mention?  Wow, wasn't expecting that.  Not sure why I wasn't... considering our guest-star, but still!  Back in the present, Majestic is cleaning house... seems he was rather peeved to have been exiled to the Phantom Zone.  Kitty Faulkner runs in to try and keep the peace, and winds up going into full-on Rampage mode!

She bee-lines it to Majestic... and with a single left hook, is put down.  John Henry and Lois are off to the side arguing... John's irritated that she let him out, however, she is still steadfast in her position that he is here to help.  Majestic tells the former-Steel that the Emboitement bomb will actually embolden the Time Storm and trigger the collapse of Metropolis.  Sooo, I guess it didn't go off last issue?  Could'a fooled me!  Anyhoo... he heads off to stop the Eradicator.

It isn't long before Majestic catches up.  Natasha Irons attempts to stop him, and catches a bellyful of eye-beams before plummeting to the ground.  Superboy has to chose whether or not he will stay and fight, or catch Steel before she goes splat.  Majestic continues on and catches up with Eradicator, who has just released the C.V.E. bomb into the Time Storm's vortex.

Majestic attempts to head it off before it goes boom, but the Eradicator catches him in a headlock.  After a brief skirmish, Majestic breaks free... and fires an eye-beam at the C.V.E. causing it to blow before reaching its intended target.

Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, John and the white-coats are frantic.  Their only hope of survival has just been yanked away.  A guilt-striken (and oddly chubby-cheeked) Lois runs outside, just in time to see a giant explosion.  Her City, Metropolis, has gone boom... and it's all because she let Mr. Majestic do his thing.

We bounce around Metropolis and see how the explosion has rocked the Daily Planet, Jimmy and Lena, and also Lana Lang.  Lois, in tears, drops to her knees... the last thing she says is "Clark, I love you..."

Just then she is swept up by... Mr. Majestic!

He takes her high into the sky to show her... Metropolis?!  Like, the old Metropolis... before the B-13 Virus stuff.

Ya see, Majestic was right all along!  He realized that the Time Storm, though violent, just needed to pass.  The B-13 Virus was a temporal anomaly... the technology wasn't for this world/time, and was being purged.  The people of Metropolis celebrate the fact that, ya know, they're still alive... though the Eradicator still smells a rat.  Majestic drops Lois off atop a building and gives her the old Superman speech of "If you ever need me, just look up" before abandoning her on some random building.

We close out the story with an epilogue... revealing that Mr. Majestic wasn't the only being that popped through from the WildStorm Universe...


Well, there we have it... after about four-years (our time), Metropolis is no longer a literal "City of Tomorrow".  While I definitely enjoyed the futuristic aesthetic, and sorta miss having it in the background, it was was probably about time for it to go.

This issue really illustrated the use of "inaction" as a means of getting something done.  I think that so often in superhero comics, the characters are preoccupied with "being the change" that they sometimes lose sight of the potentially detrimental result of their actions.  Bringing in an outsider like Mr. Majestic is a really good way of playing with that notion.

An outsider who nobody can truly vouch for suggests the heroes do... nothing... while a horrendous Time Storm rages above the city.  You can see how "off" that sounds.  Would it make any sense to simply trust Mr. Majestic and take him at his word?  Probably not.  Just because he sorta sounds like Superman, doesn't mean that he's got the same moral code.  Hell, he doesn't even really explain his theory either... not in any fleshed-out kinda way, anyway.

It's hard to imagine the white-coats at S.T.A.R. just standing back and letting this "happen".  It's like, streets, overpasses, buildings, and tram stations are just vanishing... how much sense does it make to just let this go down?  That's probably the key strength of this arc.  Nobody is "wrong" in their position... except maybe Lois, who is basing Mr. Majestic's "goodness" on a severe bout of projection.  Luckily it all works out... but, consider this... it just as easily might not have.  What if Majestic was a terrible villain?  What if he was a messenger from the WildStorm Universe with designs on/orders to destroying the DC Universe?

I know we have him acting heroically when we meet him... but it could be argued (or at least posited) that, at that point, Majestic didn't realize he was on an alternate Earth.  It isn't until he notices the "smell" of the air halfway through the story that he realizes he's not "home" anymore.  All's I'm saying is... this could've gone badly, and all because he reminded Lois of her husband.

At our conclusion, I thought it was pretty cool that Majestic would be remaining in the "real" DC Universe for a spell.  I pictured him joining up with a team or something... but it really wasn't to be.  This came out in 2004, not too far before Infinite Crisis which reestablished the Multiverse, where WildStorm would be designated as Earth-50.  By then, Majestic would have already had his miniseries and had made his return "home".

The art here is still kind of a mixed bag.  I really don't like the way many of the characters look... like, especially Lois... however, I will say that as far as backgrounds and architecture are concerned, they knocked it out of the park!  We get several one-and-two page spreads here, however unlike Part One, they actually felt necessary here... and they were great!

Overall, this was a really good little three-parter, and a fun month of Superman comics (which don't actually feature Superman!).  Well worth a read, especially if you were turned off by the "City of Tomorrow" era of Metropolis and wanted to know how and when that all went away!


Homage "Lenticular":


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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Adventures of Superman #624 (2004)

Adventures of Superman #624 (March, 2004)
"Strange New Visitor, Part Two"
Writers - Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Pencillers - Karl Kerschl & Renato Guedes
Inker - Oclair Albert
Colors - Tanya & Richard Horie
Letterer - Nick J. Napolitano
Associate Editor - Tom Palmer, Jr.
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.25

After all that build up yesterday, we get one page of Mr. Majestic?  C'mon, we can do better than that!

By the way, how 'bout that cover?  If this story happened today... you can bet that between this and Action #811 there'd be a lenticular variant (see below for my sad attempt)!


Picking up where we left off, Majestic is carrying Lois to safety... and rather than being, ya know, thankful... she's got questions.  He notes a vaguely different smell in the air and deduces that he is on a different Earth... likely a result of the Time Storm.  Before he can go much further, he hears people screaming and speeds off to help them.  Lois 'lone, heads to a phone booth and calls into the Planet, reporting to Perry on this strange new visitor.

The Chief tells her to stay away from Uptown, ya know for her safety... and so, we know exactly where she's about to head.  We rejoin Majestic... Uptown, where he's holding up buildings!

After getting one securely stood up, instead of being thanked... he gets another "who the hell are you?"  Man, Metropolitans are jerks.  Finally some emergency service folks arrive and do thank "Superman" for the assist.

We shift over to S.T.A.R. Labs where John Henry is a bit incredulous that the Eradicator is there to help.  Natasha and Kon vouch for the Artifact, claiming that hes provided access to Kryptonian Technology... which appears to be the only tech not affected by the Time Storm.  We again hear that the B-13 tech (and it's rejection) is at the bottom of this... and they concoct a plan to create a way to "blow out" the storm before it destroys Metropolis.

We return to Majestic as he rescues a boy and his (horny) grandmother.  Everybody is still referring to him as Superman... just thinking he's had a change in costume.  I will say, at a glance, dude could very well be the Man of Steel.  Anyhoo, it's now that a trio of baddies decide to strike.  It's the Masters of Disaster, Shakedown, Heatstroke, and Coldsnap... ay yai yai.  Majestic drops them with ease.

Lois returns to the Daily Planet where Lena Luthor reveals that she lost all connection to the B-13 technology.  Now, I suppose it's worth mentioning that "Lena Luthor" is an artificial intelligence.  Jimmy decides it'd be best to get her to S.T.A.R. Labs... I dunno, Jim... they might have their hands full already!

The Daily Planet building is hit by lightning, and as it begins to crumble Mr. Majestic swoops in.  He orders an evacuation, however, the staffers are far too enamored with him to do much.  He can tell that Perry is the man in charge, and asks him to take over giving orders.  While the gang evacuates, Lois and Majestic continue their chat from earlier.  He covers his Supermanly origin, and describes his Earth as only being slightly different... comparing their Earths to Pepsi and Coke.  Hmm, those can be quite different... I mean, just looking at a can of Pepsi will give me a day's worth of heartburn!  As they walk and talk they wander past some Superman newspaper clippings... and things being to make a bit more sense to Mr. M.

Lois takes Majestic to S.T.A.R. Labs so he can help the super-brains.  Some lab grunts run up to him with tachyonmeters, finding that he is off the charts with chronal energy.  John Henry shares their plan... they have assembled a Charged-Vacuum Emboitement using some Imperiex (from Our Worlds at War) tech along with a Phantom Zone Projector.  Majestic's all... Cool story, what's your Plan-B?  Ya see, he doesn't think this is going to work all that well.

This really seems to irk the Eradicator, who isn't used to being second-guessed.  And so, he... exiles Mr. Majestic to the Phantom Zone?!  Wow, talk about an overreaction.

John Henry appears annoyed at the Eradicator's antics, but realizes now's not the time for infighting.  Lois, on the other hand, is ready to throw down.  Irons then turns to her... and suggests she might be projecting a bit of Clark on Majestic, which... as you might imagine, she resents.  The All-S.T.A.R. Squadron then decides to move forward with their Emboitement-bomb plan.

The Eradicator, Superboy, and Steel head out with the bomb... and wouldn'tcha know it... it doesn't work!  Instead of blowing out the storm, Metropolis itself begins to collapse into itself!  Amid the madness, Lois is able to free Majestic... who, with a scowl on his face, informs her that they're all going to die!


A very good middle chapter to the Time Storm story.

I feel like Abnett and Lanning really captured the feeling of Crisis for the Metropolitans... from the folks on the street, to the Daily Planet staffers, to the whitecoats at S.T.A.R. Labs.  Hell, even the frickin' Masters of Disaster, who I probably could've done without, picked the right time to strike... or so they thought.

I appreciated Mr. Majestic's presence.  He was depicted as having a similar soothing and calming aura as Superman.  I think his being there added some hope to a hopeless situation... and made people feel safe.  He clearly wasn't there to loiter... he really made a difference in his short time in Metropolis.  As someone with very little Mr. Majestic experience, I gotta say, I really liked him here.

I really liked John Henry's accusation that Lois might be projecting a bit of her husband onto this Strange New Visitor.  I mean, it stands to reason... and projection is one of those things that we don't always know we're engaging in... until it's pointed out.  I really dug how quick Lois was to take offense... it was a knee-jerk reaction... she didn't allow herself to think about it.  Fitting in times of crisis... compounded with the idea that it might not be something she wants to consider in the first place.

The art for this chapter sees some improvement.  Early on Lois still looks "bubbly"... almost a cartoony "fetal" look.  Around midway through, however, it really tightens up.

Overall... I'm having a pretty good time with this story, though I might guess that it's not going to be everybody's cup of tea.  I will say, if you're buying a Superman title to see, ya know, Superman... you might be disappointed.


My Sad Attempt at a Morphing Cover!


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