Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Retroactive - The 80's Part 2

As DC Comics are celebrating the creators that made an impact in the 70's, 80's and 90's, I thought I'd wander through the same decades and pull out my favourite comic of each year.

Welcome back to the 80's!


GREEN LANTERN #180 - Aftermath, written by Len Wein with art by Dave Gibbons.

The Guardians of the Universe have long been interfering little buggers, like the time they told Hal Jordan he was spending too much time on Earth and forced him to head off into space and save a planet. Of course, that would just have to tie in to the time when Ferris Aircraft came under attack from the Demolition Team as part of a plan by Congressman Jason Bloch to ruin the company. So a normal, typical day for Ferris Air, then . . .

The destruction visited upon Ferris, though, ended up in casualties and injuries, not least of which was Clay Kendall, one of the leading scientists/engineers, who is rendered paralysed in the attack. With her company in tatters and her friends injured, Carol Ferris has to lash out at someone:

And it's Jordan who gets the brunt of it. After years of taking back seat in his life due to his commitment to the Corps, Carol lands him with an ultimatum: her or the Corps.

Where's a fearless hero to go when the love of his life makes him choose? It's not like he could end up on the Oprah Winfrey Show, is it? No, instead he heads off to his friends Superman, Flash and Green Arrow. Superman tells him the choice has to be his, Flash (in the midst of being tried for murder) has his own problems and it's only Green Arrow who gives him a straightforward answer:

All of which builds to a final panel which really does have dramatic consequences:

It may be the next issue where Jordan actually quits, but I chose this one as it gives his motivation. I think it's a little unfair of Carol to force him to make that choice after all these years - if anything she should make a choice between sticking with him and dealing with his commitment to the Corps or dumping him and getting on with her own life, but that's soap opera for you.


CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #7, Beyond The Silent Night, written by Marv Wolfman with art by George PĂ©rez, Dick Giordano and Jerry Ordway.

It will probably come as no surprise to regular readers that if I'm wandering through the 80's picking out my favourite stories I'm going to select Crisis on Infinite Earths for 1985, in particular #7 which features the death of the pre-Crisis Supergirl. In the unlikely event that there's a DC fan who doesn't know what Crisis... is, feel free to check out my annotations here. (And please forgive the blatant plug!)

So at this point in the story, the heroes are readying themselves to head to the anti-matter universe and take on the Anti-Monitor direct but first Alex Luthor gathers representatives of the remaining universes to give them a bit of a history lesson.

That lesson gives the origin of the Multiverse following Krona's experiment which also gave rise to the anti-matter universe of Qward and, as the Guardians are inextricably linked, it also had a passing mention about the Green Lantern Corps:

Strange that Harbinger says the Guardians went from the Manhunters straight to the Corps with no mention of the "Predecessors of the Green Lantern Corps" as seen in Green Lantern #90 . . .

But all that's by way of preamble; the attack on Qward goes ahead and the stakes are raised as even Superman of Earth-Two is vulnerable:

And if one Kryptonian can be wounded here in the anti-matter universe, another can be killed. Supergirl destroys the Anti-Monitor's machines that in turn would have annihilated the positive universes, but at the cost of her own life.

It's a truly touching moment even after all these years and a good example of a character's death being used within an important story, not used simply to make a story important.


LAST DAYS OF THE JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA, written by Roy Thoma with art by David Ross and Mike Gustovich.

Crisis on Infinite Earths attempted to clean up DC's tangled continuity and multiple alternate Earths which, apparently, were causing so much confusion. I never bought into that argument myself - alternate Earths are a straightforward concept and if they could be understood in the 60's, why not the 80's? Anyway, cleaned up they were and one thing to pushed aside was the venerable Justice Society itself. Roy Thomas, writer of the Earth-Two based All-Star Squadron, was given the task of getting rid of them. Rather than kill them off, he came up with an idea to shunt them into an alternate dimension.

At the end of World War II, Thomas contended, Hitler had tried to use the Spear of Destiny to bring about Ragnarok, the end of the world. Due to the Spectre's involvement in the Crisis, he was able to tap into the Spectre's power in 1985 and use it to destroy the world in 1945! As an unwitting conduit, the Spectre is able to alert the Justice Society in 1986 to Hitler's plan in 1945 and have Dr Fate take them back in time to prevent it happening. Confused? How do you think the Spectre felt?

In the midst of the frankly convoluted story, that one panel - both in terms of art and dialogue - just works a treat.

So back in time they go but, because they already exist in 1945, Dr Fate takes them through to the realm of Asgard to prevent Ragnarok from happening there, reasoning that if they can stop it happening in Asgard, it won't happen in 1945 and the world will be saved.

To allow them to battle the Norse demons, Fate merges the heroes with the Norse gods and Starman ends up fighting Loki, decapitating him with his Star rod. His victory, though, is short lived:

In one of the most ludicrous deaths ever, Starman's killed by the horns on Loki's head spearing him in his back as it falls to earth!

One by one the heroes of the Justice Society die, killed by the stronger Norse gods. But, as Dr Fate points out, he and the Spectre know that in Asgard time is a circle and the Society are restored in order to continue fighting:

Continue fighting . . . forever.

Or at least until Armageddon: Inferno brought them back six years later!


  1. I loved all three of these.

    This is where I really started reading Green Lantern, so it will always have a place in my list of faves.

    Crisis was nothing short of amazing at the time...it's flaws have been revealed over time, but the art will always be something to behold.

    I hated and loved The Last Days of the JSA. I love the JSA and was sad to see them written out like this, but loved the story itself and the artwork.

  2. Yeah, I can't help but like Dave Gibbons on Green Lantern.

    Crisis is still the story I've read the most and the one where I have the most copies of it - the originals, the trade paperback and the absolute edition!

    Not a huge fan of Roy Thomas's way of getting rid of the JSA but at least he imprisoned them allowing for a return rather than killing them off which was what he was (apparently) told to do.


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