Sunday, December 21, 2008

Justice League America #62 (May, 1992)

We last saw the J.L.A. sitting at a table floating through swirling rainbow colored space, completely at the mercy of the Weapons Master. He had engaged Blue Beetle in a game of death using Despero's classic chess board, and when at first denied, set Ice's game piece on a square that teleported the actual heroine to a molten planet.

Beetle countered by moving Superman's piece to the same square, allowing the Man of Steel to provide aid, and deepen Ice's massive crush on him. "You-- you simpering fool! You... deliberately sent him there to rescue her! Try that, or anything like it again-- and I'll devise the slowest, most excruciatingly painful death..." Not the worst gambit, but Beetle grew more cavalier in playing with the lives of his teammates, switching Booster Gold and Maxima's positions to see what would happen. Both were transported to the same world, not quite instantaneouly. "Now that's something new! Maxima managed to get a few words out before she faded out..."

Meanwhile, at the offices of Maxwell Lord IV, he and Oberon were shocked by the sudden appearance of Bloodwynd. While the mysterious visitor offered warnings about the team's disappearance and requested information, Max and Oberon were suspicious. "Look, Deathwind, or Bloodsky, or whoever you are-- how do I know you're on the level?" Bloodwynd was in no way forthcoming, but concerned for his friends, Oberon finally conceeded, "Okay, okay! Speak your piece, Doctor X!" Bloodwynd explained, "I used my magics to telepathically examine one of Weapons Master's guns. I saw a psychic image of a yacht called Kiki's Dream. Your computers can help locate it, correct?"

On his next move, Beetle paused long enough for Green Lantern Guy Gardner to remotely retrieve his power ring from Weapons Master and put the villain on the defensive. Weapons Master returned to his yacht, where he murdered the Dominator that hired him to cover his bungling the case. Girlfriend Kiki squeeled "Ooo, like maximum gross-out! I am not cleaning that mess up!" Within seconds, Bloodwynd was also on the scene, and would not be so easily dispatched. "Release the Justice League. Now. ...Spirits, grant me strength that I might turn this craft-- and end this match on a victorious note!"

By this point, Blue Beetle had instructed Guy Gardner in using his power ring to locate and collect the lost Leaguers, who were viewing the action on Earth from a distant world. Booster proclaimed, "Whoever that guy is, he's kicking Weapons Master's butt!" Fire suspected "Something tells me that if we're going to leave-- it will be due to the efforts of our mysterious ally." Bloodwynd fired eye beams at his foe, as Weapons Master shouted "KIKI! Get over here!" The villain grabbed her hand and teleported to safety. "You may have ruined this entire operation but I'll be back! And when I am-- you'll rue the day you ever crossed Weapons Master!"

Bloodwynd found a monitor through which he could contact the League. "I cannot fathom the operation of this board. Despite that, there may be a way. Stand fast, Justice League. You will soon be free. So swears Bloodwynd." Over a span of hours, Bloodwynd broke down the computer and brought it to Oberon, who used it to locate and teleport the team home. Despite objection from the League, Max welcomed Maxima and Bloodwynd as new members. Superman left in a fit over this and Max's arranging receipt of a new headquarters from the U.N., leaving without a signal device in case his team needed him... again. Tora and Bea fought over the same, with Ice assuring, "Listen to Superman! He knows best!"

Guy was dismayed to realize Tora's feelings for Superman, as she'd taken to keeping a clipping of him in a frame by her bed. "DEATH! PAIN! KILL! DISMEMBERMENT! DISEMBOWELMENT!" While Gardner moped and fumed, Beetle was more worried about the expansion to their ranks. "Bloodwynd! He sure seems to know an awful lot about us for someone who just joined! I mean, how do we even know he's a good guy! ...It's almost like he's read the Justice League handbook! There's more to Bloodwynd than meets the eye-- and we have to find out what it is before it's too late!" The subject in question hovered Indian-style in his room, before diapappearing...

I'm not going to sugar coat here: Dan Jurgens' story sucked. It's about four shades of bad. The dialogue, when not nakedly expository, is just plain terrible-- especially when he tries to replicate the sarcasm of Giffen/DeMatteis. Example? Weapons Master: "The Green Lantern ring! Don't leave home without it!" Grrr-oan! Beetle's "plan" shouldn't really have worked, and how Gardner overwhelms Weapons Master after his previous defeat makes no sense. Since this turnabout takes place on page 13, you're left wondering what's left to tell. The League is left to passively look on at a Bloodwynd solo battle without resolution, and then some heavy handed b-stories & foreshadowing.

While still clearly providing his framework, Dan Jurgens's pencils was graced with finishes by Jackson Guice, a very palatable combination for my taste. While his usual inker was trying to ape the current hot style, Guice just provided lush embellishment, offering more mood and nuance than the story deserved. Both artists seemed particularly to relish drawing Ice, whose anatomy was delineated with much greater care than usual. At least they didn't use the heat as an excuse to strip her of her costume, though.

1 comment:

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