Monday, June 7, 2021

JLA: Year One #6 (June, 1998)

At Doom Patrol Headquarters, The Chief used technology mostly cribbed from Robotman's spare parts to offer the Justice League temporary prostheses to compensate for their missing parts. Fitting for the era and for why such devices aren't the focus of Niles Caulder's life's work, the devices are very bulky, cumbersome, inaccurate, and overpowered for use by the general public. With the exception of J'Onn J'Onzz and the fully able-bodied Aquaman, the dismembered Leaguers were also hobbled by doubt, anxiety, and self-pity. In the case of the Manhunter, he had a large dome visor covering most of his head that aloud him to see with poor depth perception and delays as through a fog. Caulder had done his best to navigate the maze of a Martian nervous system, and wondered how many senses his subject possessed. "With my eyes missing? Eight."

The Leaguers weren't sure if they could function well enough to continue, but Manhunter insisted "We... We have responsibilities, nonetheless. Thanks to the Brotherhood, the people of Manchester are equally... disadvantaged. We must reclaim the Genegraft device that caused all of this... and reverse it." Back in Alabama, the Brain had used his power ring to build his own energy construct castle, and refused to surrender any of his ill-gotten gains to the Locus attack force buzzing outside. The Brain wasn't using his, simply employing the League's eyes, voice box, and legs for natural purposes. He focused solely on the ring, unaware of its vulnerability to the color yellow and limited charge. Robotman and Aquaman not only made a fine pair... but they also exploited those weaknesses.

Black Canary, Martian Manhunter, and Elasti-Girl were the second group. Rita Farr tried to offer solace over her partners feeling like freaks, but J'Onn J'Onzz did her one better. "Which is what puzzles me most about Earthlings-- How they can perceive such differences between themselves. Even with my eyes, I could see that people were distinct... but not truly different. Not enough to drive such wedges between them. Some days, I fear that I will never understand the artificial divisions you create among yourselves. Other days... I fear I shall... I've been meaning to tell you, Ms. Farr, how disappointed I am you're no longer making films... When I first came to Earth, television was my window to language... to culture. I saw many of your 'chiller' pictures, and... well... I suppose I became a fan." Elasti-Girl gave him a kiss on the cheek, then saved the Leaguers from Monsieur Mallah when they proved useless against him.

Green Lantern, Flash, and Negative Man were clearly the most effective fighting unit, though what exactly caused the castle to collapse was never made clear. Regardless, The Brain still massacred the Locus forces and imprisoned most of both super-teams with his power ring. Canary tried to administer first aid to one trooper, who spoke of a coming holocaust. Flash and Aquaman teamed up to bring an end to the matter at hand, as the Sea King used his superior will power to command a ring construct cutlass to decapitate The Brain. Hal Jordan confided to Larry Trainer, who had recognized his fellow pilot, that he was shaken to see the ring used for a potentially lethal action (aft-shadowing "Emerald Twilight.") Every body was restored, and the two teams gently ribbed each other about dibs on hero of the day Aquaman. Rita assured J'Onn that Sigourney Weaver would have approved of him, and explained to her cohorts that the heroism they'd learned from being ostracized from society simply came naturally to the League.

"Sum of Their Parts" was by storytellers Mark Waid / Brian Augustyn / Barry Kitson with Michael Bair & John Stokes. Haven't read this issue in a couple of decades, so it's fun to rediscover the Doom Patrol from a place of greater knowledge. Madame Rouge makes a good case for how stretching powers work better for villains willing to fully exploit them for creep value. Cliff Steele really is just Ben Grimm at this point. It's fun seeing the JLA riff of character logos being statted into the openings of spotlight scenes, but with the twist of lesser-knowns like Black Canary and Negative Man. I'm guessing they're still using Xerox instead of Photoshop though, because they are tiny with a curious disparity in sizes. It would have been nice to have gotten an older vintage Manhunter logo than 1987, but it's still his best one, and DC's later offerings since have been so hideous that it's more than welcome to see. Also, I just realized from this issue that one of the most endearing aspects of J'onn is that he's the Linus van Pelt of the League. He's the one who'll grind the story to a halt to explain the subtext in a heartfelt but objective way. It's a comic book, so that's exactly what super-heroes should do, and anyway, Linus is the best character in Peanuts. Not sure if that makes H'ronmeer Baby Jesus or The Great Pumpkin, but there it is.

1990s, Aquaman, Black Canary, Doom Patrol, Flash, Green Lantern, Justice League of America, Justice Society of America, Martian Manhunter, Retcons,

1 comment:

kevin from new orleans said...

He's definitely the Great Pumpkin!