Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Retroactive - The 80's Part 3

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!


JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 - Born Again, written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis with art by Kevin Maguire and Terry Austin.

Look, I know I promised I'd cut down on the Justice League stuff as I came to the end of the 70's but this is a seminal issue - it's the "return to greatness" for the League following the dismal end of the Detroit-era; it's the start of the Giffen/DeMatteis League that would spawn an enormous franchise and have fans shouting "Conspiracy!" years later when several members of this incarnation were killed off around Infinite Crisis.

Ah, what the hell - I'm choosing it because it's fun, dammit.

Following Legends, the League has been brought back together and is assembling for its first meeting:

Nothing dates a comic like pop-culture references: "Alan Alda's out... Sylvester Stallone is in!" That and the fact that Guy Gardner states "This is the Eighties" I suppose. As more members arrive, Gardner - at the height of his obnoxious phase - quickly antagonises the lot of them while we're introduced to a new figure elsewhere:

Ladies and gents, I give you Max Lord's first appearance. Not much to speak of, is it?

Back at the League's headquarters, Gardner has provoked several members into physically attacking him, a situation which Batman resolves effortlessly:

Now that is how to take command, people.

The rest of the issue is taken up with the League foiling a terrorist attack at the United Nations, lead by a man called John Collins who has a bomb strapped to his chest, linked to his heartbeat. After being confronted by Batman, Collins takes his own life but the issue switches back to Max for the ending:

It would later be revealed that Max is under control of The Construct so his hiring of a mental patient who is then told to commit suicide in order to detonate a bomb that Lord knows won't explode is, I suppose, a little more forgiveable. Of course, since Infinite Crisis and the reveal of Lord as a villain all along, this scene shows him to be the bastard we'd all be surprised by in years to come.


COSMIC ODYSSEY #2 - Disaster, written by Jim Starlin with art by Mike Mignola and Carlos Garzon.

It's all Jim Starlin's fault, folks. The years John Stewart spent wandering around, crushed by self pity and despair? Doubting himself and his abilities? Convincing himself he'd killed a puppy when it was really his sister just like in the last episode of M*A*S*H*?

Okay, that last one was Winick all the way but the rest was down to Mr Starlin and this little beauty from 1988: Cosmic Odyssey #2.

Of course you may be nodding your head thinking "Ah yes, this is the one where John Stewart runs off half-cocked and causes the destruction of Xanshi."

And yet there he is, just a few pages in, cautioning the exact opposite. Sadly, though, that attitude doesn't last long:

And unfortunately it just gets worse:

John's arrogance and belief in the strength of his power ring blind him to the fact that most of DCU at the time knew that there was one thing the Green Lanterns were helpless against:

Have a big doomsday device you don't want a Green Lantern messing with? Paint it yellow as DC editor Andy Helfer has done here. No I don't know why Starlin or Mignola chose to put Helfer in as the bad guy here . . .

This issue's significance for John Stewart would last a long time as he dealt with the guilt of Xanshi's destruction for years to come.


JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE #1 - How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm After They've Seen Paree?, written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis with art by Bart Sears and Pablo Marcos.

Forget it, I'm not going to apologise for this one: if anything, I enjoyed the early run of Justice League Europe more than Justice League America. That might sound strange to some but it's true - right up until the whole Breakdowns thing, Europe won out over America for me, mostly because of the cast which included this much missed pair:

Ah, Ralph and Sue Dibny, how we miss you . . . though how Sue ever put up with Ralph spouting lines like "Hey! The skirts aren't bad either!" while she was stood right next to him (not mention the fact that Catherine Cobert takes no offence at that line) I'll never know.

Another pair that would provide amusement was the teaming up of Power Girl and the (at the time) immature Wally West Flash:

Flash was almost constantly horny in those days it appears and surrounding him with buxom women in tight clothing was enough to distract him from the most serious of events - like having a stranger burst into the embassy and die after uttering one word. Flash's reaction?

To hit on Wonder Woman.

Alongside the humour, JLE was as capable of being serious as its counterpart, culminating in the excellent Extremist Vector storyline a year later which . . . you know . . . I might look at next week as we inch into the 90's!


  1. The Early Justice League and Justice League Europe stuff was great. I miss these books and really enjoyed the Generation Lost series that just wrapped up. Very much looking forward to the new JLI series that is coming.

    As for Cosmic Odyssey, I was never that big a fan of the series, but then again...I have not read it since it came out. So my opinion of it may be better now than it was then. Loved Mignolas art here, even if it isn't some of his best stuff...he's better on grittier things like his own Hellboy...or the like.

  2. I'm with you there, Dave - loved the early JLA/JLE stuff and am looking forward to the JLI series.

    I think Odyssey has it's flaws - the whole Anti-Life as living entity for example - but for the most part I think it works. Of course, if it were done today, it'd be a multi-part crossover!


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