Saturday, December 29, 2007

Justice League of America Annual #3 (1985)

Taking an even worse beating than the Justice League was their old satellite. Besides being ravaged by Martians in the previous year, it was supposedly destroyed again during the Crisis, then here it was blown up by an overloaded Red Tornado and fell out of orbit. Good thing the team had vacated the property after the very first attack. Satellite pieces began falling into Earth's atmosphere, which was especially strange since the intact ruins of the satellite would soon pop up in yet another JLofA story featuring Despero. But hey, let's not get sidetracked by too may writers taking out their aggression on a defenseless piece of orbiting architecture. In the annual, Firestorm, Black Canary, and Green Arrow teamed up to stop the debris from destroying property in Detroit. They were soon joined by Superman, Batman and the Outsiders without fanfare or introductions. Red Tornado's consciousness popped up in electric machinery, which he used to contact his girlfriend, Kathy Sutton. Various weather catastrophes engineered by Reddy, or more likely the Tornado Tyrant, afforded him the energy necessary to re manifest in non-robotic form. The new Tornado wanted to use his Crisis augmented power to restart life on Earth from a clean slate, its old inhabitants be damned. “Perhaps his madness stems from his mind’s separation from the android brain that housed it!” Manhunter’s notion failed to impress, and even Kathy's plea for peace failed, but betrayal on her part did cause the Red Tornado to discontinue his attacks. Feeling totally alone in the world, R.T. disappeared from the comics scene for several years...his place in the League taken by the Manhunter from Mars.

Martian Manhunter: “My Martian Vision confirms our worst fears! That is the JLA satellite... and it is heading this way! How could this have happened?” Manhunter swooped down to pick up Steel and Vibe to carry into the fray. “Come, my friends, there is work for us to do!” Reached maximum flight speed to deflect through personal impact the largest burning mass of debris before the flames wiped out his powers. “The Martian Manhunter! He was willing to sacrifice himself to deflect that huge chunk... but it wasn’t good enough!” He missed his aim by a shade, but Firestorm recovered the ball prior to rebound. When Green Arrow and Vibe began playing rough, J’Onn chastised, “Paco! Oliver!” I imagine he had the same tone a years later when he’d scold, “Guy! Booster!” Firestorm, the “original hothead,” spoiled his one chance to play peacemaker when he got in Steel’s face for calling the missing Red Tornado “the robot guy?” Manhunter physically came between the two, explaining, “Hold, Firestorm! I’m certain no offense was meant! Steel is simply uninformed!” Um, who was offending whom again? As for Reddy, a scan of the area with Martian Vision revealed tiny bits that, “my friends-- is all that remains of him!” Later flew Steel to a dam the Detroit Leaguers fought to save. Deduced that lightning was striking a bit too precisely, and followed the bolts to their orbiting satellite origin. Teamed with the arriving Superman to overwhelm the satellite’s force field with their combined might. The twin titans then departed to tackle more of these satellites solo. Later, when the Red Tornado Tyrant was briefly frozen, Manhunter managed to contain him with his malleable form.

Vibe: Began throwing shade toward Black Canary and Green Arrow on sight. Punched and generally manhandled by Ollie Queen. Freed workers trapped at a hydroelectric plant. Blasted Red Tornado repeatedly.

Steel: Punched random bits of flying debris, which y’know, doesn’t make it stop being random bits of flying debris or anything. Somehow caught a dead falling Manhunter after his collision with the fiery mass, using the same fantastic speed and accuracy that allowed him to punch random bits of flying debris. Held together a collapsing dam. Manhunter thought, “Hank possesses a strong spirit! It’s probably never occurred to him to doubt that he will succeed...”

Vixen: Used the power of eels to absorb rampant electric while helping shut down the power plant.

Zatanna: Paired off with Ralph to investigate rogue weather controlling satellites S.T.A.R. Labs had launched and lost mastery of. Was then set upon by same.

Elongated Man: Ralph shouldn’t have hit the red button, as his attempt to cause the weather satellites to auto destruct just alerted them to his location. Held Kathy Sutton as she shed tears over her betrayal.

Gypsy: Ran around the power plant barefoot. Caught in a blast by Red Tornado. Went incongruously Mr. Wizard on us with, “Stopped the airflow, Zatanna? The cycle of heat exchange from the equator to the poles? But that would cause all the high- and low-pressure systems to just deepen... to keep building up without an outlet!” Did she study really hard for a science test right before running away, or was there more to that “drabardi” business that Englehart was selling?

Dale Gunn: Brushed off his lab coat, but failed to put Red Tornado back together again. Guided Vixen in shutting down power plant. Studied spacial warps and red skies tied into the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Sue Dibney: Fretted over her husband while buying groceries for the Bunker, concerned for his safety after the death of Supergirl and the seeming demise of Red Tornado.

The Creators: Rick Hoberg always had a bit of early Starlin in his Bronze Age melange, while Mike Gustovich’s classicist style recalled elements of later Starlin, yet the end product was more of the Neal Adams school. Pretty nonetheless. The story by Dan Mishkin was somewhat shy of enthralling, but pleasant enough, and the mingling of Satellite and Detroit Leagues was intriguing, not to mention mildly meta.

J’Onn J’Onzz’s Nicknames of the Issue: “JJ” – Firestorm
“Greenie.” – Vibe.
“Green Guy.” – Vibe.

Most Embarrassing Vibe Quote of the Issue: “Maybe if you old dudes took better care of your space junk... we wouldn’a had to mop up after you at all!”


Luke said...

I had this issue in my hands at the "Greenville Comic Con" (if it's in a Days Inn, it's not a Con), but ended up putting it back. I have to say that if you asked me to chose between Vibe and Green Arrow, I'd take Vibe every time. Like, in the current Outsiders. (Although they did just get Geo-Force, so that's a plus.)

J'Onn always seems to be playing babysitter, doesn't he?

Diabolu Frank said...

As you can tell, it was pretty busy, and the art was nice. Read way more straight than your average Detroit adventure, though. I'm pretty sure I got my copy free, which never hurts.