Thursday, April 24, 2008

Justice League of America #251 (6/86)



Steel: Finally took that continuity girl from his botched film shoot out on a date to the Met. She liked him because he wasn't a phony, but when she's almost killed by a taxi, Hank pulled a Christopher Reeve move, but without the guile. Staring down the mangled cab, Hank felt he had some explaining to do...

Batman: Taskmaster mode in full effect, the Dark Knight badgered his new team while putting them through their paces in the Secret Sanctuary's newly modified gymnasium. Still low rent, the only visible equipment in use was a pommel horse. With a straight face, stated, "Vibe has potential, Vixen, but he's undisciplined."

Vibe: Nearly crushed by falling debris released by his own vibratory power while in a training session. Was browbeat by and sneered at Batman before threatening to quit the team.

Vixen: Rescued Vibe and defended her team against Batman's criticism, noting "If that's how you handled the Outsiders, I'm not surprised you guys parted company." She may have actually hurt his feelings, as he continued brooding about being out of place on a hillside hours later. Mari found him and offered kind words. "You ask a lot... from yourself most of all. Trying to be the parents you lost long ago. I've been there. C'mon. You're probably hungry. So if you promise not to tell, just this once I'll cook dinner..."

Gypsy: "Say J'Onn J'Onzz, have you seen Zatanna lately?" Manhunter hadn't, but explained she was likely on a case, and that only past Leaguers picked up the old distress signal from the previous issue. Gypsy continued to press the Sleuth from Outer Space with questions, and despite his clear wishes, followed him on a case of his own. The bonding between these two characters had clearly begun in earnest at this point, as Gypsy was set on aiding Manhunter, whether he liked it or not.

Martian Manhunter: "Not at all, Gypsy. The Batman and I discussed it this morning... Zatanna's been worried about a young woman... who sublet her apartment... Undoubtedly, Zatanna is occupied looking for her. In addition to our League responsibilities, we have our own private concerns, after all. Such as my concern with this murder weapon..." Gypsy tried to look with her hands, to which J'Onzz simply admonished simply "no" while pulling it away. This was the instrument, lacking any discernable fingerprints, intended to frame private investigator John Jones. "Martians don't have fingerprints... At the Batman's recommendation, I've installed teleportation tubes at various locations in Metropolis, Gotham, and New York..." Gypsy didn't much care, until J'Onzz noted that he was stepping into one of them to abandon Gypsy's inquiry in favor of his own. John Jones next appeared to question his former employer, Burt Biloxi, while running bad Spillane monologue in his head. A file on the runaway Jones had been assigned to locate, Pamela Cross, was simultaneously lifted invisibly by Gypsy. Jones caught up to the Gypsy outside, revealing possibly for the first time in the Detroit run his power of telepathy. He had used it to locate his maverick teammate, and to scan Biloxi's mind, full of anxiety but short on information. That left only Cross' file...

"Hey, she's a kid. She can't be much older'n me. Why'd she run away?"
"Why did you, Gypsy?"
"I had a reason. Maybe she does, too... You check the parents. I'll find the kid."
"Gypsy, I cannot-- I will not allow-- Gypsy?"

Zatanna: Nude and bound to a hospital bed by advanced technology, Zee's sublet turned co-captor Sheri Stanley explained why she had set the heroine up for capture. A yuppie unable to handle her stresses, Sheri turned to self-help guru Adam and his cult of self-interest. Adam himself continued, explaining that he had in his genes the same elements of the mystical Homo Magi as Zatanna, but not to the same degree. His intention was to use Zatanna's blood to extract the power of her bloodline, mount it to a retrovirus, and infect himself. Adam also made it clear he did not respect Zatanna's personal space...

Elongated Man & Sue Dibney: No mention.

Despero: Destroyed the Justice League Satellite, for really reals this time.

The Creators: Why are the Caped Crusader and the Manhunter from Mars so much cozier than most? I say it's because J'Onn J'Onzz is one of the only fellow heroes to call him "THE Batman." Anyway, traction gained last issue through association with better characters was lost to the wealth of unresolved subplots that dominate this issue, and will in fact outlast this creative team. A shame, as the more serious turn the book took from the frivolity of the Detroit year really improved the title. That change can be traced back to the Amazo arc, but the revolving door of artists undercut the tension there, as did the slew of Crisis tie-ins and the underwhelming "Junior." Here, the twin menaces of Adam and Despero are quite frightful, although the latter's presentation was so over-the-top as to near camp. I'm certain, whether intentional or not, it influenced Keith Giffen's development of the Lobo character. Also, after letting things get a bit sketchy on the extra-length anniversary issue, Luke McDonnell and Bill Wray are back to fighting form. Rather than fighting back the darker aspects of Conway's work, they dive in headfirst, lending it weight it would otherwise lack.

J’Onn J’Onzz’s Nicknames of the Issue: “JJ” and "Big Green" -Gypsy.

Most Embarrassing Vibe Quote of the Issue: "Ridin' me like your own personal donkey. I'm telling you, get off."

2 comments:

Adama said...

You know, for the longest time, I thought that picture was showing someone aiming a machine gun at J'onn's eyeball..

Frank Lee Delano said...

I can see that, but I still love the associative test of how people fill-in an image without context.