Bonus Book #7 – Justice League International (1988)

Bonus Book #7 – Justice League International (October, 1988)
“Raising the Roof!”
Writer – Mark Askwith
Pencils – James Webb
Inks – Mark Pennington
Letters – Duncan Andrews
Colors – Danny Vozzo

Been a minute since we looked at a Bwa-ha book here!  Well, we’ve got one today… only, it’s not by the usual creative team.  Can another writer even hope to evoke that style?  I guess we’re about to find out.

This bugger (along with a grip of ill-placed ads) was slotted into the center of Justice League International #18 (October, 1988).

We open in whatever suburban town Mister Miracle volume two was taking place in… and, it might be Thanksgiving?  I dunno, maybe not.  Whatever the case, Barda is roasting a turkey while Scott attempts to iron his costume.  Barda’s pleased that Scott is finally lifting his weight as it pertains to household chores… regardless of how successful he’s being.  As she un-cans the crans and violently stuffs the bird, she asks why Scott doesn’t just ask Oberon to help out.

Turns out, at present, Scott’s “diminutive little pal” (redundant much?) is stowing away some Mister Miracle gear in the basement.  He mutters to himself how he’d rather be ironing than doing this sort of labor… and reflects back to the way his old boss, Thaddeus Brown, treated him.  As he waxes nostalgic, he accidentally bumps into one of Thad’s old gimmicks… and, wouldn’tcha know it, it looks like that’s gonna spell trouble for the Frees!

Oberon books it upstairs and informs Scott and Barda that they’d better git while the gittin’ is good… because, whatever it was he’d just bumped into is about to go boom!  They evacuate the house just in the nick of time to discover that this Miracle Gimmick was actually an old promotional fireworks launcher… and so, their house is destroyed amid a burst of Mister Miracle-themed pyrotechnics!  Now homeless, the Frees have to turn to their friends at the Justice League Embassy.

And so, the Frees move in… and, it’s not the most comfortable of situations… for anybody.  Ya see, Barda has that alpha-personality… and really prefers things to be her way.  She also doesn’t mind doing her fair-share around the house… thing of it is, she decides what her “fair-share” is… and that might come across as the teensiest bit invasive and overbearing on the mostly-chill Leaguers.  She vacuums at all hours, cooks horrendous food, and worst of all… eats all the Oreos in the place.

Finally, when she decides it’s time to rearrange all of the furniture in the joint, of all the Justice League members, it’s J’onn who tells her to chill the eff out!  She gets rather annoyed, and shouts at the team to just get themselves a Maid… because they won’t have her to push around anymore.  Not that anyone actually asked her to tidy the place… but, whattayagonnado?

Booster, Beetle, and J’onn realize they’ve crossed the “rubicon”, and it’s time to employ drastic measures.  Well, when we’re in this era of the League, that can only mean one thing… it’s time to call in, the Batman.

Batman is once again the smartest person in the room… he’s already got a plan concocted.  Ya see, what better way to get rid of Barda than… rebuilding her suburban home?  Occam’s Razor in action, folks!  With the press of a Bat-button, the plan is put into action.

Before we know it, we’re at the hole-in-the-ground that was the Free home.  The League has assembled all of the necessary building supplies, and are ready to get some dirt under their nails.  Speaking of “nails”, Guy Gardner’s brought a whole bunch of em to aid in the construction.  Why am I pointing that out?  Well, you’ll see.  Barda’s a bit upset that she doesn’t get to take part in the rebuild… which begs the question, why didn’t she just rebuild the house herself in the first place?!

Next door, the Furbells (was that Scott and Barda’s wacky/annoying neighbors’ name?) are pleased as punch that their super-neighbors are gone.  Just then, a whole bunch of the wreckage is dropped on their lawn to clear the land for the rebuild.  Whoops.

After Batman grabs Barda to take her on a “shopping trip”… really just getting her out of the League’s hair for a bit so they can get their build-on, the rest of the team takes a look at the blueprints.  It would seem that they all have drastically different ideas on how the house should come out looking…

Guy, who I believe is still in his head-bonked “nice Guy” phase, dutifully delivers nails to all of his teammates to do his part in getting the job done.  Why am I mentioning this?  Well, you’ll see.

Time passes, and Batman returns with Barda.  She is overjoyed at the… rather odd and schizophrenic architecture stood where her house used to be.  Ya see, each member of the League had decided to put their own “spin” on the construction… and, what we’re left with is something out of Frank Lloyd Wright’s worst nightmares.

Just then, the Police arrive… ya see, the Furbells (if that is their name), have called in the disturbance.  Batman slides in to try and smooth things over… at which time, Guy Gardner realizes that his ring is about to run out of juice.  Why is that a big deal?  Well… 

Guy leaves the scene to recharge… at which time, all of the nails he brought begin to glow… and then, fall out?  Uhhh… what?  Is that how Green Lantern powers work?  Were these actual nails… or just construct nails?  Because, if it’s the former, than this shouldn’t happen… and if it’s the latter, who in their right minds would let Guy build with nails that were dependent on his recharging his ring every 24-hours?!  So dumb.  Come on, really?

Anyhoo, this story ends with the League, once again, stood before the hole in the ground that was the Free home.  Wonk wonk wonnnnnk?

Ehh, this was a cute enough story, right?  Thought the ending was perhaps a bit too ridiculous, but… you know what they always say: it’s about the journey, not the destination.  And the “journey” portion of this story was… pretty good!

The Mister Miracle series from this era was a lot of fun, and is one of my favorites (well, at least the first-half of the run)… so, it’s always neat to catch up with Suburban Scott and Barda.  The only egregious thing I can point out is… canned cranberries?  C’mon, Barda… you shouldn’t cut corners like that… especially when fresh sauce is so easy (almost too easy) to make!  Though, I suppose that might just be further commentary on the supposed mundanity of suburban living?

The members of the League all “get their stuff in”.  Which is both a good thing, and a bad thing.  I feel like this is sort of a “reductive” approach to writing this-era Justice League.  There’s a near-understanding of what makes the characters and concept “tick”, but only just.  These characters are supposed to be (in my opinion) sorta silly… not brain-dead.  This strikes me as “that season” of your favorite sitcom where the characters lose the entirety of their personalities… barring their one “quirk”.  The quirk becomes what defines them… it’s their only character trait.  If a character is labelled a “neat freak” in Season One… chances are, by Season Four, they’ll only ever be seen with a Dustbuster in hand!  It’s inch-deep, mile-wide characterization… and it’s sort of what we’re getting here.  Thing of it is, this take on the League is only like a year-and-a-half old at this point!  Though, in fairness… this isn’t our normal creative team… and, it feels like Mr. Askwith is attempting to evoke as Giffeny and DeMatteisy a style as possible.  Can’t fault him for that.

Speaking of Askwith… let’s meet him.  Wow, forget about the DC Wiki… this fella actually has a real Wikipedia page!  He’s most well-known (and found most of his success) in sci-fi and television circles, but does have a fair amount of comics under his belt.  At DC, he would go on to write the four-part Prestige Format Prisoner series… which, has been in my “to read” pile for… jeez, fifteen years at this point?

Let’s hop across the table and meet James Webb… whose work here I found pretty exceptional!  Unfortunately, (if the DC Wiki is to be believed) this story is the only work he’d do for DC Comics.  There isn’t a whole heckuva lot about him online… but, it would appear as though he took a rather long break from the field, and returned fairly recently.  There is a “Jim Webb” who created The Adversary which ran in 2000AD… that may or may not be him?  In some of my research haunts it’s attributed to him… other times, it’s not.  Whatever the case, I really enjoyed his work here!  He had a great handle on the characters… would have fit in perfectly with the regular artists of the day!

I don’t usually mention inkers here… not out of a lack of respect or anything, but because these shorter-subjects are supposed to be saving me a little bit of time… which, has not been the case.  These pieces are taking upwards of two-hours to complete!  However, today’s inker, Mark Pennington, as Bio-ed (seen below) works for Hasbro Toys… and even hails from the home of Hasbro HQ, Pawtucket, Rhode Island!  I don’t talk about this much, but for a time, I worked for Hasbro Toys too!  It isn’t often you see the word “Pawtucket” in print.

Did you know that Rhode Island, home of Hasbro, observes Victory Day?  It was always a weird (though pleasant) surprise getting that extra paid day off in August!  We’ve actually covered a story that mentions Victory (VJ) Day just about a year ago.

Anyhoo, that’s about all I’ve got for this one.  A cute story… though perhaps overly reliant on established character quirks.  The ending, however, I did not like.

(Not the) Letters Page:

0 thoughts on “Bonus Book #7 – Justice League International (1988)

  • Charlton Hero

    What is this Hasbro Toys story you talk about? Bro
    ..cant leave us hanging!

    • Haha, not much of a story to tell. During my "temp years", I worked as a Phoenix area Merchandiser for Hasbro. Had to stock a lot of My Little Pony dolls for dudes in their 20's and 30's! Also, had to not-stock a bunch of new Star Wars figures that nobody wanted!

  • Matthew O'Hara

    Really digging this art. Kind of a less cartoony Joe Staton mixed with Alan Davis. And they did a good job with two non-constumed characters having a conversation while preparing food in a kitchen. That's the kind of scene that throws most newbie artists who've spent years filling sketchpads with super-heroes punching each other in the face. Then I saw in his bio that Webb studied under Eisner and Kurtzman, so mystery solved. It's a shamed he didn't do more comics. Pennington, on the other hand, went to a long career (most notably on SHADE, THE CHANGING MAN).

    I read Askwith's PRISONER series about ten years back — immediately after watching the show — and quite enjoyed it. It's the kind of sequel where no quarter is given, so I'd definitely recommend that strategy.

    • Staton x Davis might be the perfect way to describe Webb's style… it's very evocative of both! It's definitely a shame that he wasn't more prolific during this era… and beyond!

      The PRISONER is a weird one for me. I love the concept, and I've listened to a fair amount of lectures and panels discussing the themes, a few even by Patrick McGoohan himself… and they're always just SO interesting… and yet, I've never been able to get through the actual series itself! I always find myself kinda bored about halfway through.

      If you're a fan of the PRISONER, I gotta recommend the 1990's series NOWHERE MAN starring Bruce Greenwood… it is quite thematically evocative of PRISONER, and just a great show! Last I checked, it's on YouTube in its entirety.


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