Friday, November 30, 2018

Justice League of America #248 (1986)

Justice League of America #248 (March, 1986)
Writer - Gerry Conway
Pencils - Luke McDonnell
Inks - Bill Wray
Colors - Gene D'Angelo
Letters - John Costanza
Editor - Andy Helfer
Cover Price: $0.75

I was refiling the Crisis on Earth-Prime! issues of Justice League of America we've been discussing over the past few days (available on the Collected Editions page), and started flipping through the rest of the run for fun.

Came across this one, and couldn't recall it for the life of me.  The cover just looked completely (pardon the pun) alien to me!  Had zero recollection of it.  And so, what betta book to take a look at?


We open with Gypsy, Vixen, and Elongated Man... uh, caring for, a tentacled horror.  Apparently a baby tentacled horror, for which Gypsy seems to feel a strong maternal urge.  They're not sure what this thing is, or where it came from... and they wish the Martian Manhunter were around to give his two-cents on the issue.  Unfortunately for them, J'onn has returned to Tec'ing... and is currently hanging out in Brooklyn Heights on a case.

Turns out, the case he's investigating involves a young runaway.  From inside a building, he hears a scream... and a crash.  J'onn rushes into the building to find... a much older woman than he was expecting... and she'd been shot dead!

J'onn (or do we just call him "John" in his human guise?) picks up the gun... just then, a pair of police officers arrive!  They, naturally, believe J'onn to be the culprit and begin to treat him as such.  He tosses them the presumed murder weapon as a distraction, and vanishes.

He taunts the officers (for some reason... seems kind of a jerky thing to do) before shoving one off the stoop outside the building.  The Invisible J'onn reclaims the pistol and flees the scene.

From here, we jump to an interlude.  A green crystal spacecraft lands on a distant planet... where the red-skinned passenger is hailed by the sausage-headed aliens who live there.  Since this has been a Martian Manhunter story up to this point, I almost assumed this fella was Jemm Son of Saturn (it's not)... but I don't think their connection had been made until the late 90's.

We shift scenes to Zatanna, who has discovered a pile of ashes inside her Greenwich Village apartment.  She fears this might be the remains of Sheri Stanley, the girl who she sublet her apartment to.  She wonders if one of her enemies mistook Sherri for her, and decided to strike.

She goes to leave the room when she notices, out of the corner of her eye, a note on the wall indicating that something is going down at the Westside Marina at 9:00.  She whups up some winds and heads thaddaway.

We next hop over to De Bad Guy... Paco Ramone (hey yo).  He's putting down a deposit on some new digs... and is pretty proud of himself for finally having a home he can call his own.  Just then, he is approached by a pair of goons, who try and sell him some "insurance"... if ya know what I mean.  When Paco don't pay, they get rough with him... until he vibes out, and shakes them into the pavement.

Then, Commander Steel... who, in his civilian guise is a Hollywood stuntman.  He's dressed as a barbarian (of sorts) and is filming a scene with... a jackass.  Not an actual donkey, just a jerk of an actor who keeps trying to take liberties with the lowly stuntman.  Finally, Hank's had enough, and he bodyslams the geek.

We jump ahead five minutes, and Hank is leaving the set (fully dressed... which really says something about the studio's makeup department!).  Anyhoo, a woman named Robin Flynn calls out to him... she's the "continuity girl" (heh!), and she just loves what Hank did on set.  Fair enough.

We rejoin Gypsy and the rest as they search through the old Justice League Headquarters for a way to conduct tests on their tentacled horror (they've named it "Junior", by the way, and Gypsy is certain it's a "she"... except on this page where they call it a "he").  Vixen suggests they grab a scalpel and nab a sample of the thing... which freaks it out but good!

Vixen gives chase... but is suddenly overcome by a strange dizziness.  Then... there's something about a newly-mummified possum family in a box?  Okay... maybe that's what "Junior" does?  Mummifies rodents?  Either way, due to her power set, Vixen is feeling the effects.

Junior makes her way to the entry of the cave... and runs into the returning Martian Manhunter, Vibe, and Commander Steel.  Steel approaches... and Junior begins speaking in weird alien tongues.  Suddenly, Steel is engulfed in an inky blackness.

Vibe jumps in between Steel and Junior, and gets himself all inked up.  J'onn then shapeshifts into a similar tentacled horror... which provides ample distraction for Steel to wallop Junior with a punch.

Gypsy rushes over to the downed beast, and yells at her teammates for being so rough.  C'mon lady... really?  Were they just supposed to let this thing attack them?!

We wrap up this issue with Vixen stumbling out of the cave.  She collapses before the team... and looks as though she's aged several decades!


Well, not exactly what I was expecting... but not half bad either!

Judging by the cover, I was expecting this to be a John Jones, P.I. spotlight issue... and, I was kinda psyched for it!  So, it was a bit of a deflating surprise that much of this story was focused on a tentacled horror named Junior.

But, that's what we get... so, let's talk about it.  It's a (presumed baby) tentacled critter... who is rather skittish around scalpels?  It's also a girl... until the heroes (and Gerry) forget and begin referring to it as a boy.  It's got powers... and apparently a glass jaw... and it might mummify rodents?  Ehh, who cares...

Personally, if it isn't abundantly clear by now, I felt like the Junior scenes were the weakest of the issue.  I really dug the little vignettes of the Leaguers away from the team.  Vibe getting his first apartment was cool.  I like that his first instinct was to tell his friends that he did it all on his own.

Steel as a stuntman... well, I can't say that doesn't make sense, considering he's get all'a da mesh underneath his skin.  I'm kind of intrigued by the "continuity girl" who approached him after his outburst... and again, thought it as neat that his first instinct was to share that story with his friends.

Zatanna's discovery of ashes... another very intriguing beat.  I like that she followed physical/mundane clues (as obvious as the post-it note might've been) to plan her next steps instead of just magicking up an answer/path.

Then... the cover story.  John Jones back on the street investigating a runaway, and discovering a corpse.  This is definitely the story I wanted to see fleshed out a bit more.  Not sure why J'onn acted like such a jerk to the officers (who, really... were just doing their jobs)... but, either way, I certainly enjoyed this (all too brief) scene.

Overall... an interesting issue, to be sure... and one with a lot to dig (your tentacle monster mileage may vary).  This issue is not yet available digitally... so, this'll be a bin dive.  Shouldn't break the bank though!


Letters Page (featuring Beau Smith!):


Interesting Ads:


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Justice League of America #209 (1982)

Justice League of America #209 (December, 1982)
"Crisis on Earth Prime, Book Five: Let Old Acquaintances Be Forgot..."
Writer - Gerry Conway
Art - Don Heck
Letters - Ben Oda
Colors - Carl Gafford
Plot Consultant - Roy Thomas
Editor - Len Wein
Cover Price: $0.60

Greetings gentle reader!  Today we wrap up Crisis on Earth-Prime.  As is the case anytime we finish off an arc here at the humble blog, you will be able to find it in it's entirety over at our Collected Editions Page!

I've had a blast with this one so far... let's see if Gerry and Roy can stick the landing!


We open with the trio of... trios we followed during yesterday's issue, returning to Washington, D.C. to report in to President Roosevelt.  Our first few pages are a quick and dirty retelling of what went down the pages of the previous chapters... Roosevelt's right-hand man, Harry Hopkins jots everything down on a chalkboard so we can follow along.  If you wanna follow along... you can check out our Collected Editions Page!

So, as it stands... we've got 30 minutes til Degaton drops the bomb.  Out of the 27 nuclear missiles, 3 remain... and we've got two teams of heroes still out on assignment.  Before checking in with one of those teams, we see F.D.R. jot down a note regarding the Manhattan Project... and how he ought to look a bit deeper into it.  Not sure how much of this is revisionist history to assuage him of guilt... but at the same time, I suppose it doesn't matter all that much.

Next, we shove off to Switzerland and join the team of Power Girl, Commander Steel, and Firestorm.  No sooner do they land, than they find themselves attacked by a cluster of heat-seeking (non-nuclear) missiles!  Pee Gee punches one out of the sky, while Steel absorbs the impact of another.  Firestorm blows the roof off a nearby building revealing... the Degateam!

After dealing with the geeks, Power Girl enters the building to snoop out the nukes.  Only, she finds herself battling... Johnny Quick... the other Johnny Quick... the bad one, from Earth-3.  The one with the cone head.  Anyhoo... they fight!

Quick swats at a member of the Degateam... unwittingly knocking him right into the launch button for the nukes!  D'oh.  Firestorm swoops in and locks the baddie in a construct clamp so the good guys can plan their next move.

The heroes spend the next couple of pages dismantling the live nukes... and manage to get the job done before they go big-boom.  They return to Washington, D.C. and chat up Roosevelt.  They, again, speak of the horror of nuclear armament... and all hope they're never put into a position where they might have to make the decision to use such a thing.

So, all's well that ends well, right?  Well... no, we ain't done yet.  Remember, Degaton and the Syndies mucked about in Earth-Prime's Cuban Missile Crisis... and doomed it to Armageddon.  We've still gotta deal with that!  And so, we head over to Earth-Prime, and join Green Lantern (Alan Scott), Firebrand, and Zatanna as they're chatting up Professor Zee (Zee and Zatanna in the same scene?  Madness.) about his assistant Per Degaton.

They convince Zee (and a Professor Everson) to let them finish building... and use their time machine in order to travel to 1962, which, as it turns out, is much easier than it sounds!

And so, bada-bing, bada-boom... the trio of heroes finds themselves in Cuba... just as the Russians are collecting their nukes.  Moments later, a rip is torn across the sky... and from it emerges Degaton and the Syndies!

Meanwhile, back on Earth-2 (1942), the rest of the collective heroes discover where Per Degaton is hiding out.  He's underground at the location where the Pentagon is going to be built.

From here, it's pretty academic.  They heroes burst into the bunker... beat up the Degateam... and nyoink Per Degaton out by his collar.  Anticlimactic?  Kinda... but, really... it's not like li'l Per (great rap name, if anyone wants it) was ever going to go toe to toe with Superman and Co.

What the heroes weren't expecting was for... Owlman to be lurking nearby!  He gets into a tussle with Huntress... which is fitting... and she whups his butt.  Good showing for Helena during this arc... taking out both Power Ring and Owlman!

Meanwhile, back on Earth-Prime... the heroes and the Crime Syndicate start scrappin'.  The heroes win quite decisively... and Zatanna manages to snag Per Degaton before he can hop back into his time machine.

And now... everything can go back to normal.  The heroes and villains on Earth-Prime begin to fade away, because they were never really there to begin with!  The same thing happens with the heroes on Earth-Two.  As they fade out, Huntress comments that she can already feel her memories fading as well.  None of them want to forget this outing... but, ya know... it never happened, so there's really nothing to remember.

We rejoin the All-Star Squadron (Earth-Two/1942)as they are returning to New York from San Francisco... this time, however, they aren't attacked by Nuclear the Magnetic Misfit, or whoever that was.  Before entering their headquarters, Liberty Belle pauses... as though she remembers something... but it's only an echo of a memory.  Also, I'm gonna assume that's just a coloring error, and she's not seductively licking her lips.

Also in 1942, Per Degaton is working for Professor Zee.  He tells him of the dream he had about ruling the world... and Zee tells him to shaddup and get back to work.

Next stop... Limbo!  The Crime Syndicate is never freed by Per Degaton, and so... they remain trapped in that construct bubble.  They're discussing whether or not the JLA and JSA intend to keep them there forever... which, I imagine, must be the usual (only?) topic of conversation in there.

Finally, we head back to the JLA Satellite on Earth-One (1982).  The League and Society are preparing for their annual get-together... only this time, it goes off without a hitch!

We wrap up this Crisis, with the heroes celebrating their good fortune... after all, every time they get together, something bad seems to happen.  Not this time though... right? (this is where I'd wink to the camera... but, you already knew that.)


Okay... a little bit to unpack here.

First, the "mind-wipe" ending.  I think this works, for the most part.  It would stand to reason that if the story we just read never actually happened... nobody ought to remember it, right?  I'm okay with that... it fits within the "rules" of time-travel... kinda... I guess.

I mean, time-travel is such a sticky-wicket, innit?  The rules are written in Jell-O, and can change to suit whatever the story calls for.  With that understood... this "forgotten" ending fits.  I think.  Don't hold me to it.  It's kind of a shame that there's no memory of the All-Star Squadron and Justice League working side by side... but, whattayagonnado?

Where I'm kinda stuck is... how come Per Degaton doesn't remember?  When this started, he had that dream where he ruled the world... which somehow triggered his memory of his battles with the heroes.  Why didn't that happen during the "Animal House" segment at the end?  Professor Zee just tells him to shaddup, and that's the end of it.

Why doesn't he remember?!  Far as I can tell, his mind didn't get screwed with... did it?  Did we just "get lucky" this time around that he didn't make the connection?  Does this mean that any day down the line he might wake up from that same "world ruling dream" and get his memory back?  That doesn't seem like too conclusive an ending, does it?  There's really nothing stopping him from doing the thing all over again... right?  Unless I'm missing something... which certainly is possible.

There's a fair amount of lauding Franklin Roosevelt here.  There's a deliberate attempt to distance him from the Manhattan Project here... likely to assuage him of any connection to the event at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  This might make him appear innocent, but also pretty foolish.  To sign off on the Manhattan Project, and not really pay attention to exactly what they're doing?  That's pretty lousy leadership.  It's clear that Conway and Thomas are fans, and want to portray him in the most favorable light possible... but, making him ignorant to the potentiality of nuclear armament... ehh... not a great look.

Overall... despite a few "ehh" thoughts about how this all wrapped up, I had a really good time with this.  I mean, the ending was a bit anticlimactic, but... how else could this have ended?  Crisis (the big one) is still a few years away, so it's not like they were going to take one of the Infinite Earths off the table "for good" here.  This event needed to be "swept under the rug", and I feel like they did a great job of that... while giving us a really fun story to boot.  This issue, like all the rest, is available digitally.


Letters Page:


Interesting Ads:


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

All-Star Squadron #15 (1982)

All-Star Squadron #15 (November, 1982)
"Crisis on Earth-Prime, Book Three: Master of Worlds and Time!"
Writer - Roy Thomas
Pencils - Adrian Gonzales
Inks - Jerry Ordway
Letters - John Costanza
Colors - Carl Gafford
Plot Consultant - Gerry Conway
Editor - Len Wein
Cover Price: $0.60

Welcome to the penultimate chapter of Crisis on Earth-Prime.  Having a heckuva good time with this arc... feel like it might be ripe for a trip on a certain Cosmic Treadmill somewhere down the line.

Reggie and I are nuts for research... and, boy howdy... the marriage between real world... the multiverse... and the heroes of various Comics-Ages, definitely see the makings of fun episode (or two)!

Part One
Part Two
Part Three


We pick up right where we left off last issue.  Degaton and his Degateam are overhead watching the heroes... which leads to a neat two-page spread where they're all introduced.  As the Justice Society members come to, the others fill them in on what they've missed.  This ain't our first comic book, we know a recap session when we see it.  Can't get mad at it though, considering the comics market was still primarily newsstand at this point, and some readers may have missed out on previous chapters.

The JSA figures, since the others showed them theirs', they might as well share their story as well.  It's pretty basic, actually.  Remember how they found that "Mad One" in Earth-Prime (1982)'s underground last issue?  Well, after that... they decided to follow Per Degaton's "trail", and hop over to Earth-2 (1942).  That's it.  They showed up just as the first nuclear missile went off.

The heroes head back to Washington, D.C. to plan their next move with F.D.R.  Their chat is cut short by an audiovisual interruption... it's Per Degaton, and he's got more threats than you can shake a stick at.  Ya see, he's got two dozen nukes ready to go.  He gives the leaders of Earth five-hours to turn over all of their power to him, or else... boom.

The heroes turn to President Roosevelt for guidance, and he's all "why ya lookin' at me?".  Realizing the severity of their current situation, and the potential for loss of innocent life... F.D.R. is fully prepared to cede power over to Degaton.  The heroes ask him to hold off... for now.

The heroes split off into groups... the first one we'll follow includes Superman, Robotman, and Dr. Fate.  They're headed into space to deactivate Per Degaton's satellite... which is how he's able to transmit his messages (and potentially control the nukes).  As they tear into it, Robotman discovers a lead-lined box... which, despite Superman's warning... he opens!  Guess what?  It's Kryptonite!  I mean, what else are you gonna store in a lead-lined box, right?

Just then... Ultraman from the Crime Syndicate shows up!  He grabs the Green-K, and refers to it as "mother's milk".  He then proceeds to lay a beat-down on the heroes.  He tears off one of Robotman's arms and tosses him toward Earth's atmosphere.  He hurls Dr. Fate toward Superman... which, as luck would have it, nudges Superman further away from the Kryptonite.

Superman re-powers, and socks the baddie in the mush.

Dr. Fate then traps Ultraman in a bubble (lots of "bubble-making" heroes, ain't there?).  Superman takes off to save Robotman before his human brain burns up in the atmosphere.  As the trio of heroes head back, we learn that the timer has ticked down to four-hours.

The next team we join is Aquaman, Liberty Belle, and Starman.  They are headed toward Japan in search of a cache of Degatonian nukes.  Libby says she doesn't know much about nukes... only that they should never be used.  This leads to an awkward moment... since Aquaman and Starman know what's coming, and they don't exactly hide it all that well.

Starman and Liberty Belle arrive on the mainland to find a whole bunch of unconscious (but uninjured) folks.  Starman uses his rod to get a reading... and discovers radiation.  They follow the trail into a cave... where they discover, well I'll be... nukes!

A battle breaks out between the heroes and the Degateam.  Starman rushes toward the missiles, hopeful that his Cosmic Rod might be able to deactivate them.  He is, unfortunately, whipped by Superwoman's lasso!  Liberty Belle asks why the Syndies would work with Degaton again after he double-crossed them.  I think "double-crossed" might be a bit much... if you recall, the Syndies were going to attack him first.  Anyhoo, Superwoman reveals that they've "made up"... for now.  Once Degaton is in power, the Crime Syndicate will take him down and rule in his stead.

Eagle-eyed readers might've noticed by now that Aquaman hasn't arrived yet.  That's because he's busy asking for a favor from... a pair of 20-ton blue whales.  Superwoman (and the nuclear cache) is overcome by a tidal wave!  Worth noting, Starman mentions Jimmy Doolittle... which baffles Liberty Belle.

After the nuclear base explodes (yeah, it explodes... good thing the nukes weren't... uh... waterproof?  Your guess is as good as mine...) the heroes leave (Superwoman in tow).  Liberty Belle's all "Wassa Jimmy Doolittle?", thinking fast, Starman says he meant Dr. Doolittle... the guy who talks to animals, just like Aquaman.  Nice save...

Next stop, the Midwestern United States... our team: Hawkman, Johnny Quick, and Huntress.  They're following a Geiger Counter's readings to a farm... and deduce that they're either within range of the warheads... or flying over a Uranium mine.

Well, luckily... it's the former.  The heroes figure out that the missiles are being stored in grain silos.  Johnny Quick goes to do a speedy dismantling... only, they find themselves attacked by... Power Ring!

Since Power Ring... sucks, it only takes a single punch from Huntress to take him out.  Unfortunately, as he goes down... he "accidentally" fires a blast at one of the silos, which launches a nuke!

Hawkman flies Johnny Quick skyward, where he can speedily dismantle the missile before it goes boom.  Moments later, Quick has dismantled the lot of 'em.  Power Ring is still kayoed... because he sucks.

We wrap up with Per Degaton... and he's not exactly pleased.  His satellite has been taken off-line, and two of his missile sites have been FUBARed.  No matter, the third is sure to pack a powerful punch!


Before we get into it, I want to mention that this issue also came with the Masters of the Universe "Bonus Book".  If you want to check that out, take a look at yesterday's piece.  Click the image below!

Now, this is the kind of issue I refer to as a "procedural" one.  In every crossover we seem to get this kind of issue.  Where the teams intermingle, and split off into squads to achieve their goal.

One one hand, it's fun to see characters from different books (and Earths) interact and team-build.  On the other... this has gotta be the least efficient way to take care of a problem.  I mean, we've got five-hours to save the world... and three places we're going to investigate (this chapter).  Why wouldn't you send the Justice League to, say... the Satellite, the Justice Society to Japan, and the All-Stars to the Midwest?

I mean, it would stand to reason that you'd get the best result keeping teams together, right?  I mean, they're already used to working together... and probably have a bit of a synergy going, no?

If you've got all the time in the world... sure, have fun... mix up the teams... yadda yadda.  But, c'mon... in five hours, power is going to be handed over to Degaton.  Let's play this one safe.

Speaking of playing safe... howsabout blowing up the missile site in Japan?!  That doesn't seem like the wisest decision, does it?  I mean, I gotta assume the deactivated all of the nukes... considering that the entire island nation wasn't blown off the map by their antics... but, that's still a risky gambit, ain't it?  How can you be sure that the missiles are completely deactivated?  How can you be sure there aren't a couple more in the vicinity?  Just seems sloppy to me.

I did appreciate the nods to real-world history.  The awkward exchanges between Aquaman and Starman regarding the horrors of using nuclear weapons, and Jimmy Doolittle's bomber raid... all very interesting stuff.  I swear, I'd love to see a picture of Roy Thomas's work space during this time... it's gotta just be cluttered with maps and texts... newspaper clippings... old comics.  Least that's how I'm picturing it!

The bit in the Midwest was kinda neat... and shows us that this is not entirely hopeless.  Johnny Quick is able to rapidly (I wanted to say "quickly") disarm an entire cache... including one that had already launched!  So, even if worse comes to worst, all isn't necessarily lost.

Overall, perhaps a weaker chapter than the three that proceeded it, but by no means does that make it bad.  There's a little bit of "wonk" here, but nothing we can't overlook.  The Masters of the Universe bonus book still sucks though.

This issue is available digitally... and, thanks to reader Grant Kitchen, I can tell you that the issue of Justice League of America we covered yesterday likely does come with the Masters of the Universe "bonus book" (it's listed as being 40-pages).  This issue of All-Star Squadron, however, is only listed at 23-pages.  So, if you're only looking for He-Man... you probably ain't gonna find him here.


Letters Page (featuring... who else?  The Mad Maple!):


Interesting Ads:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...