Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Jurgens League #4 - Doomsday!

And here we go again, casting our eyes back over an older incarnation of the Justice League, this time from the early 90's when Dan Jurgens was in charge. With that in mind, I had to call this the

JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA #69 - 71, written by Dan Jurgens with art by Dan Jurgens, Sal Velluto and Rick Burchett.

At the time of writing the League, Dan Jurgens was one of if not the lead writer on the Superman titles and when the huge Death of Superman story hit those books it seemed obvious that the League title would also be affected.

By the time the League get involved, Doomsday has broken free from where he lay buried and started a rampage, causing death and destruction along the way. Responding to the calls for aid, the League go in search of the creature while Superman appears as a live interviewee on the Cat Grant Show. While Blue Beetle's bug craft is brought down by Doomsday, Superman offers up platitudes and politican-style non-answers to many thing, including whether or not he is the leader of the League:

With the League on the ground, Guy Gardner foolishly heads off to take on the creature solo at a nearby LexOil refinery but finds the villain more than able to take care of him:

Fire then Bloodwynd arrive but fare no better, Bloodwynd being punched through an oil tanker and left to burn. Maxima, Booster Gold and Beetle arrive and as the others try to take Doomsday on, Beetle heads off to save Bloodwynd and gets something of a shock - after months of hints about how mysterious Bloodwynd is, Beetle manages to identify him:

But before he gets to inform us of the magician's big secret, Doomsday grabs hold of him:

By the time the Cat Grant interview is interrupted with news of the League's battle, most of the heroes are down. With a final punch, the creature sends Booster Gold flying into the sky with one punch where he is intercepted by the newly arrived Superman and gets to inadvertently name the enemy:

And, if you'll notice, Doomsday manages to take down the entire League with one hand literally tied behind his back.

From there the action continues in the Superman titles and by the time we get to Justice League America #70, the never ending battle has ended with the death of both Supes and Doomsday.

The League is now in tatters: Beetle is comatose following his beating; Guy Gardner and Maxima are at each other's throats; Fire lost her powers during the battle; Ice is injured; and Booster's suit - which grants him his powers - is in . . . well . . . tatters.

One by one, heroes begin to gather at the League headquarters, using it as a focal point to pay tribute to Superman. Members both past and present arrive, along with Justice League Europe and the Justice Society, the Teen Titans, Batman and Robin and, perhaps, the strangest guest mourner of them all: Etrigan.

He turns up, speaks a quick four lines of doggerel praising Doomsday which no-one reacts to and then disappears! There is no reason that I know of for his appearance here!

Oberon then arrives and dishes out some hastily made-up armbands which makes me think he had them tucked away all the time, as some newspapers have a collection of ready made obituaries waiting for someone to die. Even if that's the case, the heroes all pull them on as a mark of respect for their fallen comrade.

With the League a shambles, Max Lord sends out the handful of heroes to recruit others to swell the ranks. Guy Gardner heads out to find and enlist The Ray who at this point is a new kid just coming to grips with his powers. The Black Condor, again another new hero, is found by Bloodwynd and persuaded to join for the flimsiest of reasons - at first his rejects the notion of even being a hero but then . . .

Yep, with Beetle out of the picture, someone else has to carry the "Bloodwynd as mystery" can.

Maxima recruits another of Dan Jurgens's creations, Agent Liberty whose current problems with the law will be eased over by membership within the League.

With all the new heroes around, Jurgens briefly returns to his original members and wraps up the Fire / Booster conflict over Fire's calendar (see last week's post) by having the powerless Fire burn them the old fashioned way.

Talking of wrapping up, there's not much left to do with this incarnation. Wonder Woman joins the new recruits and takes over as leader, much to Gardner's disgust; Ice tells Booster and Fire that she is leaving to return to her people; and the recently revived Skeets tells Booster his suit is damaged beyond repair, thus bringing to an end his days as a hero.

The fight with Doomsday, the mourning over Superman and the recruiting of new members takes up these three issues but each somehow manages to appear lighter, content-wise, than that would suggest. You can almost sense that Jurgens was busy elsewhere, helping co-ordinate the whole Death of Superman storyline, leaving him little time for work on the League and it doesn't do the book any favours.

The worst example is Black Condor stepping into the role of Blue Beetle and deciding that Bloodwynd is a mysterious guy. That's just lazy storytelling, swapping one character's motivations for another's.

By this point, the book had been in something of a nosedive and it would take something a bit different to pull it out. Find out next week if Jurgens manages it!


  1. Last winter, I bought a sale copy of the BBC audiobook "Superman: Doomsday and Beyond" in my local bookshop. It's a dramatisation of the storyline, therefore also the place to hear Bloodwynd's dialogue spoken aloud!

    I originally suggested this era because of the bizarre line-up with Agent Liberty and Black Condor. Unfortunately, I think it's more feeble than JLA Detroit.

  2. A BBC audiobook of Superman? Weird!

    I remember enjoying this run at the time but re-reading it with a more critical eye, I can't help but notice the flaws so thanks for making me read it again, Dougie!


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