Justice League America #70 (January, 1993)
“Funeral For a Friend/Grieving”
Words/Layouts – Dan Jurgens
Finishes – Rick Burchett
Letterer – Willie Schubert
Colorist – Gene D’Angelo
Assistant Editor – Ruben Diaz
Editor – Brian Augustyn
Cover Price: $1.25
Happy Thanksgiving, friends!
I was wracking my brain trying to think up an appropriate Thanksgiving-themed review… but came up empty. It doesn’t help that my longboxes are still (mostly) in disarray. For an actual Thanksgiving-themed discussion and review, check out last year’s super-fun JSA #54.
So instead, we’re going to discuss an issue that always reminds me of Thanksgiving… likely due to when it hit the stands.
I’ve told this story before, but these Doomsday-era issues of Justice League were my introduction to the team… and boy was I confused. These didn’t feel like the A-List of the DC Universe… and there was a good reason for that. It was because of these issues that I decided to eventually start collecting the title, and really kicked off my affection for this “other” Universe of comic book heroes.
Let’s check in with them during the “mourning after”.
If you’re interested, Reggie and I discussed this issue during a recent episode of the Cosmic Treadmill… part of our 25th Anniversary Celebration of The Death of Superman.
We pick up right where we left off following Superman (vol.2) #75. Ice and Bloodwynd have arrived just moments too late to help their teammate take down Doomsday. Ice takes Superman’s tattered cape off the post it’s been swaying on, and lays it over her fallen comrade.
Meanwhile at the hospital, Booster Gold and Maxima have just gotten word of what has just gone down. As you might imagine, they’re pretty torn up over the whole thing. Their pity party is interrupted, however, by the arrival of Guy Gardner. We can see that he’s pretty messed up himself by the fact that his bowl haircut has a band-aid on it. He has a few choice words for Maxima about her would-be Super-mate.
Later, Booster heads into Ted Kord’s room where he gets even more bad news. His bosom buddy is in a coma… and the doctors can’t promise that he’ll ever come out of it.
Booster, Oberon, and Max exit the room and chat in the hallway. It’s here that we learn that the League isn’t just down Superman and Beetle… it’s also down Booster! During the Doomsday Massacre, Booster’s costume was shredded beyond repair. Considering all of his powers derive from the costume, it looks like he’s outta luck!
Elsewhere, Fire checks in on Ice… and they cry.
Outside, Flash is running through Metropolis on his way to the hospital. I’m probably going to be saying this a lot but… where were ya a couple hours ago, Wally? Anyhoo, he notices that all of the flags in the city are at half-mast… which is a great way to show what a huge deal this is to the universe.
Wally arrives at the hospital and chats up Booster for a bit, when suddenly they’re joined by… Aquaman! So Arthur, where were you while Doomsday was tearing up the United States?
As if that isn’t enough, Batman and Robin swoop in next… well, Batman does… it looks like Robin’s about to take a header into the concrete.
… followed by Hal Jordan and Hawkman…
… then Starfire, Nightwing, Jay Garrick, Alan Scott, Power Girl, and Elongated Man…
… Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Etrigan the freaking Demon! Seriously now, where were you people a few hours ago???
Anyhoo… the heroes are greeted by Oberon who proceeds to hand out some (highly-collectible) black armbands.
The assembled heroes slip them on in tribute.
Ollie… being Ollie chides Bloodwynd about the League “crashing down”. Wow dude, bodies aren’t even cold yet! Bloodwynd is adamant that the League will live on… and in the background we can see Black Condor flying by… but that’s a story for another time.
Ice decides to pay tribute to her fallen hero by creating a giant ice sculpture in his likeness. Nearby, Guy Gardner looks on… and with a yellow construct snags an armband for himself out of respect for… well, a fella he didn’t always get along with… but appreciated none the less.
We wrap up back in Beetle’s room, where Booster is er… keeping him company? He tells his best pal that he doesn’t know what he’ll do if one day he has to wear an armband with a beetle on it.
You can almost feel that chill in the air.
I think many of us can kinda relate to having urgency thrust upon us. Whether it’s for a good reason or bad… we’ve all gotten that phone call… somebody’s in the hospital. Maybe they suffered a fall… maybe their water just broke. Regardless, an otherwise normal morning becomes something more.
You bundle the kids and rush out the door. You see your breath as you unlock the car… you breathe in that strange “too early for me” morning air… and you head out. In such a big rush… just to sit around and wait. Maybe a few hours later a familiar face arrives with some coffee… or, in the case of the book, black armbands.
Okay, maybe I should cut it out with the (very specific) analogies and just talk about the book.
This issue hit the stands the very same day as Superman #75… and, lemme tell ya… doing it this way was an awesome idea! Superman #75, despite being a very definitive ending… was still something of a cliffhanger. I doubt anyone could read that and not ask “Okay… what happens now?”
Thankfully, comics enthusiasts (and their mothers) were able to grab this issue and find out!
The League… and the hero community at large has taken the hardest hit they’ll ever take! Losing someone like Superman really puts into perspective how fragile they all are… and how dangerous the work they do really is. That’s an idea I wish they went a bit deeper into.
Let’s talk absentee heroes. We joked a bit about this during the podcast… but, c’mon… where was everybody while Doomsday was tearing up the United States?! I’m sure they knew what was going down… did they just have that much faith that Superman would pull through? Must’ve, right? Otherwise, it makes them the worst friends ever.
Even though this is a Funeral For a Friend tie-in, it’s still very much a League-centric story… which I definitely appreciate. We see that they’re down three members… Superman’s dead, Beetles in a coma, and Booster is depowered.
The team members all deal with the loss in their own way. I appreciated the brief scene between Fire and Ice. Ice has fostered a crush on Superman for awhile by now… and while he never reciprocated, he was always kind and respectful. I’d definitely imagine that out of the Leaguers, this loss would hit Ice worst of all.
Perhaps an even more powerful scene was Guy Gardner snagging an armband. He and Superman got along like cats and dogs for the most part, however, at the end of the day… they were teammates and shared a begrudging respect for one another.
Overall… a wonderful issue, and well worth your time. It’s a difficult book to recommend, as if you’re reading this blog… you’ve very likely already read this issue. Even if that’s the case, maybe pick it up again… it’s been 25 years, right? A great “bridge” from The Death of Superman and Funeral For a Friend.