Tuesday, December 11, 2007

JLA Classified #22 (Early July, 2006)



Martian Manhunter:”This team has a long way to go before it achieves the coherence it needs. [The elder Leaguers] and I can provide guidance--but only if you hear us. To that end, I’ve brought you four here [Biskotasi Peak in Ontario,] to train together on unfamiliar tasks, far from the Detroit streets you usually inhabit. It’s my intent to improve your trust in each other, and in yourselves.” Well, not just that, “...as my telepathy allows me to listen secretly—to your innermost thoughts... It’s up to me to make sure you all get better.” Also, to fix burgers, though Vixen asserted that using a portable, flameless electric stove is neither camping nor cooking. Anyway, thank retroactive continuity for explaining the lack of Martian mental powers for most of Conway’s run and those ugly JLA signal rings.

Steel: Had a nightmare his now mustachioed grandfather and Dale Gunn held him down fully conscious before ripping into him for the operations that turned him into a cyborg. He awakened from his revere en route to a hike into the Canadian woods, presumably after the mission against Amazo. The peace and quiet made Steel inconsolable, as his body was in constant pain from its modifications. He smiled and put up a false front for his teammates, though for readers, the angst was endless. Like his grandfather, he secretly acknowledged to himself “Second-stringers, third-stringers, and rookies. The Justice League has gone to hell.” Also, he thought of J’Onn J’Onzz, “He learned English pretending to be a cop... but he was pretending. Who knows what a Martian feels inside?” Henshaw was raised to be a hero like his grandpa, so he ran maneuvers with his team, despite his loathing of their status and his own. Later in the evening, members of the Royal Flush Gang tracked the team down and used mood-altering playing cards to cause the Martian Manhunter to attack Hank. Though Henshaw never landed a single blow in his brief row with the Manhunter, he was clever enough to deduce the cause of the attack and rush the Gang with an uprooted tree trunk. In the melee, he accidentally crushed Queenie and Ten of Clubs with rolling boulders. Hank was only too happy to gloat to himself over his decisive move, showing no remorse other than being part of a League characterized as losers by, of all people, the Royal Flush Gang.

Dale Gunn: Only up for a dream sequence this time out.

Vixen: Hopped around tirelessly for most of the issue. Came on to Vibe due to a mood-altering card, only to be backhanded by a close-fisted Paco.

Gypsy: Joined Vixen and Vibe against Steel in maneuvers, but the only panty shot was hers. Nearly asphyxiated by a playing card.

Vibe: You already read it, except the part where he got decked by Queenie before her untimely smooshing.

Zatanna, Elongated Man & Sue Dibney: Absent. They knew what was good for them.

Aquaman: The main continuity sticking point, as Vibe and Steel are in their second uniforms, both donned after Arthur quit the team. So let’s just pretend that after Aquaman and Mera returned with the League to Michigan, the couple decided to stick around a bit longer to see if they could settle in there. Arthur remained team leader after J’Onn’s disastrous first outing, but suggested the return trip to Canada to encourage team building, including much needed management experience for J’Onn. Oh, and Steel decided to test-drive his new suit, but it got all sweaty with grass stains here, so it was at the dry cleaners throughout Crisis on Infinite Earths. Did I mention a random walleye happened to overhear the Royal Flush Gang plotting to ambush the League, found the Scion of the Seven Seas swimming laps in Lake Erie, and warned him? Also, did I mention Jack Miller didn’t write that?

The Creators: ...It was actually Steve Englehart, clearly having a ball with the type of oddball super-heroes that made him famous. Tom Derenick supplied the gratuitous panty shot, though it’s really always been Gypsy’s fault for wearing a skirt to a knife fight. Derenick recalled Ron Lim and Chuck Patton in equal measure.

J’Onn J’Onzz’s Nicknames of the Issue: Still using the full name at times, but Steel, Gypsy and Vixen all drop just "J'Onn" most of the time.

Most Embarrassing Vibe Quote of the Issue: “C’mon, Jay-El-Lay! Le’s get ‘em!”

2 comments:

Luke said...

Steel certainly is an angst-machine, isn't he? I think it speaks to how young he (really, all four of the newbies) really is. It's not a new take on things -- being persecuted by your powers instead of blessed -- but it's a somewhat novel approach for the Justice League, at least. A character like this has to be in a team book. Because, let's face it, if we got 22 pages of Hank Heywood III bitching and moaning about how crappy his life is, well, his book would be cancelled as quick as his granddad's was, and he wouldn't be hanging out with the All-Star Squadron, either. But in the context of several other heroes, the Complainy Guy is a decent enough archetype. I think, had he lived, there might have been some resolution to the conflict between him and Hank Sr. -- a sign of growth and maturity. But of course we all know how it turned out for this Heywood. There's something tragic and poignant about that -- or at least there would be if anyone besides myself and Geoff Johns gave a rat's ass about the Heywood clan.

The stuff with the Martian Manhunter is more interesting. The idea of doing a team-building exercise with his younger charges is something which makes sense for the Maerian, as well as betraying his true "humanity." Who else than a human would want to go camping in the woods in order to bond with his teammates? And despite Vixen's objections, I'm sure a flameless grill is best suited to a green-skinned grillmaster, yes? (/DeathsHead) Still, as you say, doesn't explain the use of communicators instead of vast psychic powers, but a nice enough characterization for the Manhunter nonetheless.

Frank Lee Delano said...

Steve Englehart took some serious liberties with all 4 of the rookies characterizations. He portrayed Vibe as buffoonishly overconfident in the Guy Gardner mold, where both Conway and DeMatteis made it clear his posturing derived from deep insecurity. Vixen was written in that Native One With The Earth Spirits mumbo jumbo only middle aged white guys like Brad Meltzer can ever play straight (and this is speaking as the brother-in-law of Kiowa.) Gypsy-- whoo boy, was his Gypsy out there. Finally, his take on Steel, which was mostly problematic in its overemphasis, though I never got the impression Steel had disparaging sentiments toward his teammates. In fact, though my re-reading of the stories is a work in progress, I actually got the impression Steel was relieved to be a heavyweight on a light team, rather than face direct competition from Superman & co.

As I've mentioned before, my respect for the young Steel II has grown the second read through. I still wouldn't call myself a fan, but I'm glad Geoff Johns seems to be exploring similiar terrain in "JSA," though I have to rely on heresay there. I must again state though, "Citizen Steel" is a brilliant moniker, and I hope the new guy's ownage of the title will make the more afro-centric Steel take on the name of his "forebear" in "New Frontier," John Henry.