Tuesday, June 11, 2024

The Weird #1 (April, 1988)

A fit blond white man with roughly half his physical form replaced by a jagged green crystalline substance sat cross-legged on the bathroom floor in his apartment and conjured an atomic energy form. This was an intended "bridge" for his "friends." A red gem of similar coarseness to his own body began to form in midair, but then an energy escaped it, leaving the gem to crumble away. The man, Jason Morgan, was shocked and dismayed.

The small energy ribbon hovered in the sky above Metropolis, and Superman investigated. The energy had no atomic structure-- no mass-- but when the Man of Steel passed his hand through it, he was knocked back three miles. By the time he flew back, J'Onn J'Onzz and Captain Atom had arrived to observe the energy. An hour later, there was a military cordon and a No Fly Zone, then the new Justice League were on the scene. Examinations through varied disciplines were attempted, including a science team on The Bug aircraft consisting of Blue Beetle, Batman, Black Canary, and more. When Doctor Fate's mystics were stymied, Green Lantern Guy Gardner attempted to probe deeper with his Oan Power Ring. An energy surged knocked out Gardner and blacked out the Bug and city as a whole.

Two probes were fired off by the energy ribbon in opposite directions. One was pursued by Superman, as it passed immaterially through a genetics lab's fluid beakers and into its complex computers. The other was followed by Manhunter to a funeral parlor, where the Martian met repeated resistance in contrast to the immediate aid and trust conferred upon the Kryptonian. The energy went into a service in progress, and caused the body of Walter Langley to vanish as mourners looked on in shock and horror. The probes reunited with the core energy, and the gathered heroes watched as the borrowed elements slowly coalesced into a new physical body of a lanky adult male in a queer red and black garb. Super senses detected that this being was not quite right, a sort of cosmic Frankenstein made up of misfit parts that were not quite human. The being collapsed into unconsciousness from the effort, and was taken to S.T.A.R. Labs for testing. Super senses determined that the Weird being, as dubbed by Blue Beetle, was molecularly unstable to a degree that its energies threatened a detonation that could destroy the Earth.

The Weird awakened and assisted upon attending to tasks that "he" refused to take the time to explain to the super-heroes, who attempted by failed to detain him/it by force. The Weird had its vibratory patterns thrown off by the proximity of the super-beings during its maturation period, which had altered the form in unexpected ways. This allowed The Weird to unintentionally push the Alien Atlas across a room, although the Manhunter fared better in a follow-up physical altercation than most of the rest of the League with their varied abilities. Regardless, the Weird at least briefly laid low everyone but Batman, while Superman had left prior to the fight to correct a compromised passenger jet's flight elsewhere.

The Weird sought out "The Jason," the half-crystal man that had been conjuring earlier, but found only his empty apartment. It/he declared the Jason to have a "dark and twisted nature" that would see him pursue world domination. However, a misalignment of the harmonic vibrations in the apartment would prevent Jason Morgan from attempting another inter-dimensional bridge for 18 hours, so the former Walt Langley had some time to kill, The Weird retained some of Langley's memories and motivations, causing him to visit Walt's former home. His widow, Eva, bemoaned his fatal mugging and the scene at the funeral parlor. "I don't care what the police say, I'm sure it's all the doing of that terrible green man." Meanwhile, in the back yard, young Billy Langley recognized his visiting father, even in this altered form...

"Conception" was by Jim Starlin, Berni Wrightson, & Dan Green. Following by introduction to Justice League International with their eighth issue, my reintroduction to the Man of Tomorrow via John Byrne, and a broader exploration of the Post-Crisis landscape moving out from the Millennium event series, I was a target audience member for The Weird house ads. However, I don't know when I had access to individual issues, and do know that I only read the first issue at some point after the final one. Neither experience was satisfying, and I won't know if I ever bothered with the meat of that story sandwich until I move on to covering the second installment. One quarter of "The Studio" and the crown prince of cosmic comics were long time friends who would prove a formidable pairing... on Batman: The Cult. This excessively long warm-up session noodles for 38 pages of heroes impotently watching stuff, then getting trashed by the second in a series of very powerful but rather boring sci-fi/magical Mister Spocks based on the visual template of Syzygy Darklock. I do like though that both Starlin and Wrightson are clearly a more comfortable fit on the Sleuth from Outer Space over Superman. Wrightson seems to relish his dark, exaggerated features over an off-model Man of Steel, with a broad flat nose and thick lips suggesting a less Caucasoid interpretation of the Manhunter, with the strongly implied prejudice that goes with it. I do wonder if Grant Morrison was influenced in his views of J'Onn J'Onzz here (and I think that's the only name he's been referred to in the issue.) Also, Wrightson's horror background gives the takedown of the heroes a more ominous quality than the story would seem to dictate, a sort of accidental element of interest in what otherwise feels more akin to a Radio Shack rudimentary science edutainment giveaway. The issue is way too long to accomplish so little, and I do wonder if this was initiated as a prestige squarebound mini-series for more niche audiences that was either determined not to rate the expensive ask, or was diverted to take advantage of the JLI's building heat on the newsstand.


Kevin from New Orleans said...

I remember being surprised that the weird did not join the J.L.I. after the mini, & then during the new 52he joined Stormwatch after J'Onn had left.

The Deadend Kid said...

always *meant* to read this and yet never have

Diabolu Frank said...

Yeah, I always meant to read the Starlin Stormwatch issues, but then I read stuff like this that reminds me why I passed.