Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Justice Society of America (vol.3) #22 (2009)

Justice Society of America (vol.3) #22 (February, 2009)
"One World, Under Gog, Part VII: Thy Will Be Done"
Story/Script - Geoff Johns
Story/Painted Pages - Alex Ross
Penciller - Dale Eaglesham
Inker - Nathan Massengill
Colorist - Hi-Fi
Letterer - Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor - Harvey Richards
Editor - Michael Siglain
Special Thanks - Mark Waid
Cover Price: $2.99

"Thy Will Be Done"  Okay, folks who had the bet that they'd use that title for this issue?  Oh, all of us?  Well, fair enough.

That's right... after a very long time, we're finally going to wrap up the Justice Society of America spectacular Thy Kingdom Come!

If you need/want to be caught up... maybe use the handy-dandy Search Box to the right that I'd forgotten was even there!  Here's a quick link: Thy Kingdom Come Search.  Hopefully that worked!


We pick up right where we left off last issue... Gog's ticked, and is in the middle of taking back all the gifts he'd given.  He decides, however, to give his herald Magog, one more chance to "come around".  He doesn't... but thankfully, by this point the cavalry has arrived!

Gog fights through the onslaught... and proceeds to mocks those he'd just taken from, including Damage.  Remember, he made Damage handsome again... well, not anymore.  At this point, poor begotten Citizen Steel steps to the plate...

... and punches Gog square in the shin!

This is, surprisingly, enough to get the big man off his feet.  The Society swarms!  Cyclone whips up a... er, cyclone to cover the baddie in rocks.  Alan ties him down with green energy, then Magog... er, decapitates him!  Looking at it quickly, I thought for a moment Alan had garroted him with a green-beam! 

Superman-22 hoists the severed head over his, um, head (picture included, because this is a pretty awesome shot).

Then, he and Starman take the head of Gog on a one way trip... to the Source Wall!  All the while, Gog lambastes Superman for leaving his Earth... and dooming it to die.

This makes Superman realize that... Gog's right!  He needs to return to Earth-22... he has to try and make things right.  He has to try and stop the bomb.  And so, using the Multiversal Map on Starman's costume... does just that.

He arrives on the battlefield, just after the United Nations' nuclear strike.  He sees the bodies strewn before him, including that of Kara.

Back on Earth, the Justice Society reconnoiters and licks their wounds.  It looks like most of Gog's "gifts" have been rescinded... Damage is ugly, Dr. Mid-Nite is blind... strangely, however... David Reid is still Magog!

On Earth-22, Superman heads to the United Nations building, and welds all of the exits shut... and he looks to be getting ready to topple the building with all the Delegates inside!  He is stopped by Norman McCay... you know, that old guy from Kingdom Come.  He appeals to Clark... telling him if he goes through with this act, he'll only be proving the U.N. right.  Further, he tells him he must first forgive himself if he has any hope of moving forward.

Superman thinks on it a bit... and realizes the old feller is right.  Just as he comes to this decision, he is reunited with the superheroes who did survive the bomb.

We wrap up our Earth section with Starman returning to the Justice Society and informing them that Superman decided to head back to his own Earth.  But not to worry for him, because Starman already knows that Clark Kent's future... and in just a matter of moments, we will too!

One year later, Earth-22 time, Clark turns Kansas into a memorial for all those lost.  He is joined by Wonder Woman, who gives him a pair of glasses to improve his sight.

Ten years later, the next generation is born.

Twenty years later, his best friend Bruce Wayne passes away.

One Hundred years later, Clark and Diana ship their son off Earth as civilization undergoes something of a... great disaster?  A hundred years after that... it's beginning to look a lot like Kamandi.  And finally... One Thousand years later, the Legion of Super-Heroes takes flight... and they appear to have one very special fan.


Now that's one heckuvan ending!  I apologize for being so picture-heavy toward the end there, but, c'mon... not only is it some beautiful work by Alex Ross, it also gives us over a millennia worth of story for the Superman of Earth-22.  It ties just a perfect bow on that timeline/Earth... and is a great way to let us just put it back onto the shelf.

I've said throughout our reread of Thy Kingdom Come that it felt like "decompression done right".  That is to say, there were chapters in which very little seemed to happen, however at the end of each one, I walked away satisfied.  I feel the same way here... and was beyond happy that the ending and epilogue were fit into a single issue.

So often these days we fill an entire extra issue with epilogue-matter.  Sometimes that's the right thing to do... but often it results in some sparse and empty-feeling issues.  I think of recent "epilogue" issues, and remember thinking that the first 2-3 pages were pretty spectacular... but the rest kinda just "happened".  I think if this were to come out today (or from Marvel) the Alex Ross bits would have been a standalone book... with a price tag of at least $4.99.

Enough about that... what of the story?  Well, Gog was dispatched with the quickness.  I feel like maybe they took him down a little too easily.  The entire fight only lasted a handful of pages... which after nearly a year's worth of build-up feels kind of weak.  Not that I wanted this entire book to be a giant (pun!) fight scene or anything... just expected a bit more than this.  Perhaps some emphasis on brains over brawn... ya know?

The real "meat" of the story is the second half though.  We were given some brief scenes of the Justice Society licking their wounds... which is fine, because they'll actually be coming back next issue.  The main focus is squarely put on Earth-22... and it's pretty great.  As mentioned above, this really feels like an Earth that can just be put back up on the shelf and left alone.  If a writer really wanted to revisit it... well, there are a thousand years worth of stories they could tell.  If nobody ever decides to?  Well, that's fine too.

Overall... brevity of fight aside, this was a pretty spectacular issue.  Excellent writing from Johns... and wonderful art from Eaglesham and Ross.  This is the kind of "single issue" I look at and become even more annoyed when I see people dismissively refer to them as "floppies" (can we please stop that?).  Highly recommended... Thy Kingdom Come is must-reading.


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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Action Comics #791 (2002)

Action Comics #791 (July, 2002)
"The Invitation"
Writer - Benjamin Raab
Artist - Derec Aucoin
Colorist - Moose Baumann
Letters - Comicraft
Assistant Editor - Tom Palmer, Jr.
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.25

The advantageous thing about having a reading "project", like our ongoing #Action100, is that there's always something to read.  Not that there's any shortage of "unread" books in my library, but... the project gives me a little bit of momentum.

Not gonna lie, burnout is a thing... 

Let's try and work through those feelings with a random ol' issue of Action Comics.


We open in Metropolis where Clark Kent receives a letter from Smallville High School's Homecoming Dance Committee... and he's shocked by its contents!  Lois snatches it from out of his hands to give it a peek herself.  This causes Clark to book it out of there with the quickness.

Lois reads it over and learns that Clark has been invited to be the Master of Ceremonies for this year's Homecoming Dance... and wonders why her husband reacted so strangely to said invite.  Clark spends most of the day being super... including playing a game of chess with Plastic Man.  He returns home to find his bags already packed!  Lois has decided they're going to Smallville!

We shift ahead to the Kent farm where Lois chats up Martha about how strange Clark has been acting since receiving the invite to Homecoming... turns out there's a story attached, and one that Ma has no problem sharing.  Ya see, there was once this girl... a heavy girl, named Marge.  She was relentlessly bullied, and referred to as "Marge the Barge".  Ya see, Smallvillians are far more creative than the kids I went to school with, they'd have probably just gone with "Large Marge".

Clark, Lana, and Pete look on... and don't seem terribly pleased by all of the bullying.  Lana quickly shifts gears, however, and hints that she'd like Clark to invite her to Homecoming.  He doesn't.  That night he talks it over with Ma and Pa, and it's "decided" that he asks Marge to the dance... because that's "what a hero does".

And so, the next day... Clark asks Marge to Homecoming, and, suspecting it's a trick, she turns him down.  Fair enough!  As she walks away, she informs him that by the time of the dance... she's be "long gone".  Clark's suicide-sense starts to tingle.

Later, we see Marge talking to herself in a bathroom mirror.  She giggles to herself at the thought of being on the arm of Clark Kent for the dance.  Her joy, however, is short-lived.  She overhears Lana talking to Clark about his would-be date (Lana even busts out a "Marge the Barge").  He tells her that he was just trying to be a nice guy... a hero, even!

Marge runs out of the school, and Clark gives chase.  Oh man,  I just noticed that the kids spray-painted Marge's car with "Bargemobile", what a buncha of a-holes!  I didn't notice that the first time through... maybe Smallville needed a Superboy!

Anyhoo, he follows her to the Old Mill Bridge.  Ma describes it as a place where "lotsa folks put an end to their misery".  Soooo... Smallville has a "suicide bridge"?  Really?

Marge notices Clark and loses her footing... falling into the water below.  To... uh, help (?) her, Clark uses his heat vision to cut a branch off a nearby tree for her to use as a flotation device... but, from the art... it looks like it just crushes her!  I mean, take a look:

Yikes.  At this point, it's revealed that when Marge said she'd be "long gone", she just meant that she'd earned early admission to College, and would be leaving Smallville High!  Well, this is what happens when we assume.  Anyhoo, Marge decides to take Clark up on his invitation, if it still stands.

And so, we head to Homecoming and Marge has a great time.  She and Clark are even named Homecoming King and Queen... well, sorta.  Lana reads the winning ballot... and kinda fibs.

After the dance, Marge thanks Clark for what might be the greatest night of her life... and heads off to say "goodbye" to the Old Mill Bridge.  Unfortunately, the "actual" winning Homecoming Couple are driving that way now... and they're quite lit.

Clark hears the crash, and arrives just in time to see Marge... die?!

We shift ahead to Lois meeting up with Clark at the Old Mill Bridge... and she talks him through his troubles.  Together they decide they should go to the Homecoming Dance.

And so, we wrap up with them doing just that.


Well... this one sure escalated, didn't it?

Not really the kinda story I want to read about... but, at the same time, I can't get mad at it.  I mean, this was a time where there were four Superman titles, so a "quiet" issue like that that tells an untold story of Clark's past works well enough.

Gotta say... these Smallville kids are the worst!  I mean, what's their problem anyway?  They just relentlessly bully poor Marge... even spray-painting her car?!  I mean, isn't that illegal?  Shouldn't the authorities be getting involved?

Bullying is bullying, and who among us has never felt that sting?  But spray-painting the poor girl's car?  She probably had to work two summers sweeping floors at whatever podunk Smallville shop to save up the dosh for that thing!  Just awful.  With kids this bad, I'm surprised that Clark didn't actually become Superboy to dole out some justice!

There was some silliness... like that Suicide Bridge.  If there was really a Suicide Bridge in Smallville, you'd think we'd have heard about that by now, right?  Maybe Smallville is a much darker place than I'd ever thought!  Suppose with how seriously they take bullying (it's like a competition!), it shouldn't be much of a surprise.

Marge's reaction to Clark asking her out... felt right!  I mean, why wouldn't she think she was being set up.  I think we've all seen movies and shows where the "outsider" gets invited to the dance by one of the popular kids... and it's all a gag, and the kid winds up humiliated.

The fact that... well, she dies at the end... that was a bit heavy (no pun intended).  It's no wonder that Clark wouldn't want to attend this Homecoming.  It's because of his wanting to be a "hero" that poor Marge wound up dead!  I'm not one for giving Superman a Peter Parker-esque guilt complex... but, what's done is done.

Then again, maybe I'm just reading too much into that.  They don't really discuss the fact that had Clark just gone to the dance with Lana, there's a pretty good chance Marge would still be alive.  Just one of those "perfect storms" where everything just falls in place.  If Ma never told Clark to ask her... if Clark never did ask her... if Lana didn't lie about the Homecoming King and Queen... so many variables, with the underlying theme "No good deed goes unpunished".

The dialogue for the most part was quite well written.  I wasn't really keen on Clark referring to himself as a "hero".  Seems like he'd be the last person to ever suggest such a thing.  The scene at Ma and Pa's table was fun... I like Pa telling Clark that "Lana's a looker" before clearing his throat and suggesting he "listen to his mother".

The art was also nice.  There were a few creepy Lois faces (see above) and the scene at the Suicide Bridge was a bit clunky (it really looked like Clark clonked poor Marge with the tree branch).  The cover art (by John Paul Leon) was really nice.  I'd recently seen Leon's work on Mother Panic, and had no idea he was doing work back around the turn of the century!

Overall... ehh.  It's a one-and-done... and to my knowledge the events within are never referred to again.  Not one I'd tell ya to rush out and grab, however, if you were to come across it on the cheap, you could do worse.  This issue is available digitally.


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Monday, February 26, 2018

Angel and the Ape #3 (1969)

Angel and the Ape #3 (March-April, 1969)
"The Curse of the Avarice Clan!"
Writers - Sergio Aragones & Bob Oksner
Penciller - Bob Oksner
Inker - Wally Wood
Letterer - Ben Oda
Editor - Joe Orlando

Taking a look at something pretty weird today.  Before we move into the spoilery synopsis, just want to mention that this issue had no creator credits... so I had to cobble them up from my usually researchery haunts.

Can't speak to their reliability tho...

If anyone out there knows something different, please lemme know and I will make corrections!


We open with the brief history of Avarice Island.  It's plainly a take on the English Settlers buying Manhattan Island for a song... but different in the results.  Turns out there's something... not-so-kosher about old Avarice.  That brings us to today, where Angel O'Day is being brought to the Avarice Estate by lawyer Mr. Quail to act as a live-in nurse for Cadwallader Avarice.  Ya see, the Avarice Clan is cursed... they all seem to die tragically on their 60th Birthday... and you'll never guess what today is!

Angel and Quail cross the rickety bridge over to Avarice Island... and no sooner do they arrive than the bridge collapses.  Well, that's probably not a good sign.  Inside, ol' Cadwallader isn't pleased to see that he's been given a nurse... that is, until he sees her in her nurse's outfit!

Cad then starts bouncing around the room on his cane, Uncle Scrooge-style proclaiming that he is quite ill... and in dire need of Ms. O'Day's healing touch.  From here we meet his potential heirs... and ooh boy, are they a Who's Who of Human Oddities.  There's Burton, the wannabe actor... Gabrielle, the gabby (get it?) gossip... Milo, the Musclehead... Gunga, a water-obsessive who looks like Floyd the creepy barber from Andy Griffith... Psyche, a Spiritualist... and finally Torquemada, a practical joker.

Suddenly... the lights go out!  Then a spotlight hits... causing Burton (the actor) to rush in to accept his ovation.  What he gets instead, if pumped full'a lead.  Oh Burton, how little we got to know you!

We shift scenes to... well, whatever city Angel and the Ape normally operate out of.  At this moment, Sam Simeon is climbing up the side of the DZ Comics building on his way to turn in some pages of art.  While waiting for his editor (and reading an issue of Anthro), the Big Cheese of DZ Comics enters and regales our man with some horrible jokes.

Back with the Avarices'... that weirdo Gunga is getting ready for a dip in the pool.  It's raining out, so he's carrying an umbrella so he "doesn't get soaked".  Anyhoo, turns out there's a man-eating shark in the pool... and before long, it's got the weirdest indigestion of its life.

Back in the city, Sam is introduced to a frumpy secretary.  This is a pretty mean scene, that doesn't add a whole heckuva lot.  Figure I'll include it anyway!

Back to the Avarices'... where Psyche is holding a seance in attempt to deduce who the killer might be.  She manages to summon a disembodied voice... who tells her that he's dead... which gives her a fatal heart attack.  I mean, what was she expecting?  Aren't seances held to speak to the dead?  I'd be more freaked out if they got a "live" one...

In the doorway, Angel scans the (thinning) crowd.  Among the Avarices (Avarici?) are the lawyer, a butler and a maid... hmm.  Angel recalls that Gabbi was holding Psyche's hand when she died... and decides to chat her up about it.  Unfortunately, by this point... poor ol' Gabby has fallen down an elevator shaft!

Back in the city... things are getting really weird (and that's saying something!).  Sam heads back to his apartment where his is assaulted with kisses by his near-sighted (well, I hope he's near-sighted) landlord.

Then, we're off to the Mildew Asylum for Sprung Brains... where we meet quite the array of oddballs, including Julius Caesar, Napoleon, and of course, Adolf Hitler.  Luckily the heroic Captain Emeritus is also present!  Cap is an offbeat lad named Stan Bragg... and he wields a garbage can lid, like a certain other Captain brandishes a patriotic shield.  Also, Batman is here.

Well, okay... it's not really Batman... but he thinks he is!  Bat and Cap take the fight to the baddies.

Suddenly, Batman joins up with Hitler!  Together they hurl Captain Emeritus out a window.  Luckily, he falls into the water below.  He uses a hollow reed to breathe... but, if you'll recall... it's raining!  A single drop falls into the reed, almost causing our man to drown.  His life is saved by some mouth-to-mouth delivered by... the Avarice Butler?!  Well that's convenient!

Wow, a lot of stuff going on here... and we're only to the staples folks!  Back at Avarice, Angel is searching for secret panels... and unbeknownst to her, finds quite a few.  Back in the city, Sam begrudgingly reads some Darwin while the news reports that Stan Bragg might be headed to Avarice Isle.  I guess Stan blames Angel and the Ape for his incarceration?  So, he's now out for revenge?  Okay, we'll roll with it.

Meanwhile, the practical jokester Torquemada uses one of the oldest tricks in the book to try and fool a passer-by.  Unfortunately for him, the passerby happened to be a hungry lion.  Well, maybe it wasn't hungry... but it ate him just the same.

We join Sam, who makes the leap to Avarice Island.  Upon arrival, he gets into a few fistfights... but, c'mon... he's an ape.  These geeks ain't gonna be able to hurt him.  And of course, Captain Emeritus is also lingering about... waiting for his chance to strike.

After some hooptie-doo, the Maid (Miss Hemlock...) tries to force a sandwich down Angel's throat!  You'd never guess, but a woman named "Hemlock" was trying to poison our gal!

Elsewhere, Meathead whatshisface is off lifting a barbell.  Unfortunately, he didn't notice that his weights had been replaced with (lit) bombs.  Whoops!

After some more hooptie-doo, it's revealed that Mr. Quail was in cahoots with the Maid and Butler to inherit the Avarice fortune!  Also, Captain Emeritus gets monkey-flipped (literally) out a window.  Cad finally manages to plant one on Angel... then succumbs to a heart attack!  We learn that Angel is a distant relative of the Avarice Clan... and so, she inherits everything!  The Manor, the island, and a cool $37.50 (that's $256.06 in 2018 monies!).

Angel considers using the Manor as a base of operations for the Angel and the Ape Detective Agency... unfortunately, the entire island has been designated a National Shrine.  The Manor will be demolished and be replaced with a Memorial.  O'Day is paid off... $1.35 ($9.22 today!) for the whole kit and caboodle... and they set to blowing up the manor... including poor Captain Emeritus!


This is one of those books it's hard to really "review" (if... that's even what I do here).  I can say that I had a lot of fun with it... but, at the end of the day it's a Silver Age humor book... and those are always hard to be analytical about.  I've got a few Peter Panda's and Fox and Crow comics from the late 50's-early 60's that I haven't shared here because... I mean, whattaya say about a humor book?

Was it funny?  Yeah... there were funny bits here.  Some haven't aged all that well, but for the most part I felt my lip curl a few times.

Was it well-drawn?  Hell yeah.  I really like the way this looked.  If it makes any sense... it has humor "elements" without going "full-cartoon".  I mean, it's got a talking ape and all... but it still feels somewhat like a "normal" comic book.  The addition of a dude in a Batman costume (while completely unexpected and ridiculous) really adds to that as well!

The story... while suitably silly, was a fun take on the classic "whodunnit" between heirs to a... er, "fortune".  It's nothing we haven't seen before, but it's neat!  The comic format allows them to be quite creative with the way they "off" the heirs.  Probably the funnest "inheritance" story since The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case in 1930.

Overall... if you come across this one in the wild... I'd say grab it.  Don't break the bank (or your back), but I think you'll have fun with it.  It's worlds better than the Angel and the Ape miniseries' that followed!  Doesn't look like it's been collected... nor has it been made available digitally.


(Sort of the) Letters Page (featuring Rob Reiner?  Maybe?):


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