Justice League America #45 (December, 1990)
“A Date With Density, Part Two: Hell on Ice!”
Plot – Keith Giffen
Script – J.M. DeMatteis
Penciller – Russell Braun & Adam Hughes
Inker – John Beatty, Jose Marzan, Jr., & Malcolm Jones III
Letterer – Bob Lappan
Colorist – Gene D’Angelo
Assistant Editor – Kevin Dooley
Editor – Andy Helfer
Cover Price: $1.00
Heyyy, it’s been a little while… but, today we have a request!
Good pal Jody Yerdon (@regalfan) suggested we take a look at this very issue of Justice League America. He tells me it’s his all-time favorite comic!
And as luck would have it, we’ve already covered the “pre-req” for this issue, way back in the long ago when we read Justice League America #28 (1989), which featured Ice and Guy’s first date… with density.
As this is labelled a “Part Two” to that issue… I think we can even toss ’em both onto our “Collected Editions” page!
Big thanks to Jody for the suggestion (and his patience)… at the risk of “spoiling” what’s to come… this is one helluva fun issue! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to revisit it!
We open with Max Lord and Oberon having a little heart-to-heart conversation. Ya see, his good buddy Scott Free just came “back to life”… it’s a long story, maybe we’ll cover it someday… and seeing as though, the Frees are some of the few folks he actually considers “family”, he’d really like to spend some time with them. He tells Max is might be time for him to step back from his responsibilities with the League. Oberon steps out of Max’s office… and right into the usual craziness of the Embassy… including, a quarrel between Guy Gardner and his would-be “main squeeze”, Ice.
Looks like this time around, Guy took Ice to the most romantic of spots… a cock-fight. Last time we accompanied them on a date, it was a skin flick… so, I guess your mileage may vary on what direction the “Guy Gardner’s ideal date” needle is moving. He begs her for one more chance… and after promising to behave… and to let her choose the spot (even crossing his heart and hoping to die) Tora finally comes around.
As they both prepare for their night out, it’s revealed that their destination will be… the Ice-Capists! Bea continually badgers Tora over her decision… and tells her she should reconsider the whole shebang. Elsewhere in the Embassy, Lightray gives Guy enough rope to hang himself when it comes to describing exactly what “The Ice-Capists” is. Both excellent (and funny!) scenes. Speaking of funny scenes, upon arrival to Madison Square Garden we get a one-off line I don’t think we’d see in 2018.
Back at the Embassy, Blue Beetle gets wind of the Guy/Tora date… and deduces that it’s the perfect time to pull a prank. Bea isn’t on board… so Ted heads off to find Kilowog… who also isn’t exactly keen on the idea. Somewhere (off-panel) Beetle is able to convince them both.
Back at the Garden, The Ice-Capists Show heats up. Looks to me like they’ve been visited by the Tamaranean Ice Dancers Federation.
Backstage, Beetle, Bea, and ‘Wog are chatting up one of the stagehands. Ted tells him they’ve got a big surprise for Guy Gardner’s “birthday”. He calls for his manager… and whatever Ted’s got planned is okayed.
Outside the main theatre, Guy waits for Ice to finish using the restroom. Not a very exciting scene, but it does provide this panel… which is definitely worth sharing.
Guy and Tora make it back to their seats just in time for a big announcement… tonight’s special attraction will be: Guy Gardner on Ice. Well, I’m sure that’s how Guy wanted the night to end… but, I’m guessing this is isn’t quite what he had in mind.
We shift ahead… back to the Embassy where Guy is still in a catatonic state from his pent up anger. After letting out one great big Garden-shaking scream… he just shut down!
Ice helps him to his room… and thanks him for the nice night. He actually conducted himself like a proper gentleman… though, going catatonic before the night was through probably helped. Guy enters his bedroom to find…
The jig is up, Guy immediately knows that Beetle was behind the whole thing. As he stomps through the Embassy, the ruckus wakes… Orion, who is none too keen on being awakened. He blows past Oberon in search of the source of the racket.
We wrap up with Oberon… who stands for a moment and ponders. He calls out to Bea… who doesn’t even hear him over all the craziness. It’s then clear to him that his time with this group of yo-yos in done.
What a great issue! They really don’t make books like this anymore, do they?
I feel like when people discuss this era of Justice League, they sometimes lose themselves in the “bwah ha ha-iness” of it all. Or, they just think “heh heh, one punch, heh heh”… but, this issue proves that there is so much more to it than that. Just look at our open and end… Oberon has to make the decision as to whether or not to remain with the team. That’s some heavier than expected melancholy for a book many folks dismiss as simply being “silly”.
Max refers to Oberon as the “heart” of the League… and, when you really think about it… it’s hard to argue. Since this League came to be, Oberon has always been there. Never really a “prime time player”, but integral to the team’s dynamic. Even if he was just the target for an insult… or the provider of one, Oberon was important (and irreplaceable) to this team.
The ending with him walking out the door… without any pomp and circumstance was heartbreaking… and all too real. I think a lot of us become wrapped up in ourselves… and feel like if we were to, say, quit our jobs… it’d be just as life-changing for our co-workers as it is for us. Then, reality sets in… and you realize that you’re just you… and life doesn’t wait around long before “going on”. It’s really just you walking out a door.
Okay, well after bumming everyone out… let’s talk about Guy Gardner on Ice! This was a lot of fun… and really showed the strength of J.M. DeMatteis’ snappy dialog chops. I mean, the conversation felt so natural in every situation. Sometimes I forget just how good this fella is!
Whether it was Fire and Ice talking about whether or not she should do on the date… Guy being razzed by Lightray… Beetle trying to convince his fellow Leaguers to prank Guy… everything felt “snappy” without being “rehearsed”. Today’s concept of “realistic” dialog is, unfortunately, whatever we got from a Kevin Smith movie 15 years ago. “Banter” is definitely among those art forms that has been lost.
The only place this issue kind of struggled was with the unevenness of the art. It’s pretty clear who did what in this issue… because there are some excellent pages… and some, not-so-excellent pages. Wouldn’t say any of it is “bad”, but… certainly could’ve been better.
It’s funny, but while flipping through my longbox, I discovered that it’s just after this very issue that my “love affair” with this era of the League kinda wanes. From here we jump into the General Glory mishagoss… get a couple of good issues… then right on into the 700-Part “Breakdowns” crossover. Such a rapid shift that you could just tell that there was a change on the horizon.
Overall… definitely check this one out! This is one of those issues… and one of those runs… that I’d say you need to have in your comics library. Now, you know me… I’m a single-issue (not floppy) kinda dude… but if you can’t track it down, I suppooooose you could nab it digitally.
Big thanks again to Jody for the suggestion! Requests are always welcome here… we love em! And by “we”, I mean “me”, because I’m the only one here!