Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Jurgens League #5 - Destiny's Hand

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 #72 - 75, written by Dan Jurgens with art by Dan Jurgens, Rick Burchett, Bob Smith and Romeo Tanghal.

I've touched on the Destiny's Hand storyline before and it was fun to pick it back up and read the whole thing through, particularly after the last couple of storylines.

Last week, we left the League dealing with some new members in the wake of Superman's death, with issue #71 closing with a shot of the new team. #72 caused some confusion as within the first couple of pages we see J'onn J'onzz not only take down Blockbuster and the Floronic Man but also break Sinestro's arm

and then vaporise Star Sapphire, an act which Hal Jordan isn't that concerned about. Sinestro manages to escape, briefly evading Black Canary and Green Arrow before being brutally apprehended by Hawkman with a mace to the face:

Something was very clearly not right as none of these characters had been part of the League for some time by this point and while Hawkman had often been the hard man of the League, even his actions were a little over the top.

Things became stranger still as Hawkman stole Sinestro's ring and ordered both his arms amputated, Batman claims the JLA are doing the right thing while in China the government determines to launch a nuclear attack against the JLA satellite. The Flash and the Atom sabotage the attempt causing a massive nuclear explosion:

We then see this strange, militaristic version of the satellite era League condoning the action against China, with the exception of Green Arrow who still maintains his more liberal attitude. The President of the USA almost suffers a breakdown with the realisation that by asking the League to help in an "activist role" he's put the world in danger; even more so when it allows vice President Green Lantern to take over his job.

Things are very, very odd and the only hint of an explanation comes with the last page where we see a cell in Arkham Asylum and a very old League villain:

Issue #73 does the same thing, dropping us straight back into the usual League without pause or explanation. New member Ray is being put through a series of tests to determine his power levels and, unknown to him, the rest of the League is thoroughly impressed. With Blue Beetle still in a coma following his beating by Doomsday, Jurgens uses another new guy, Black Condor, to remind us that there's something mysterious about Bloodwynd:

Honestly, the only thing mysterious about Bloodwynd is how they let him join with no background checks . . . which is exactly what they did with Black Condor.

Anyhow, the Ray's trials are cut short when the US military gets in touch with the League asking why they've brought back the old satellite without telling anyone. Of course, the League are as bemused as the rest of us were last issue and send Ray, Gardner and Bloodwynd off to investigate where they're greeted by Firestorm who sends them hurtling back to Earth where they discover China's been nuked and their own JLA headquarters doesn't exist.

Meanwhile the rest of the League head to Nevada to investigate energy readings similar to those from the satellite only to find an armless Sinestro stumbling through the desert trying to escape from the bad League's supervillain prison. While Black Condor manages to save Sinestro, it's only a temporary respite as Hawkman arrives soon after:

While both Justice League's are at each other's throats, we once more return to Arkham and Dr Destiny who manages to escape even without his Materioptikon. And then, on the last page, we get an idea of maybe why the Atom was hanging around with the League not so long ago:

Not so dismissive of the League now, are you Mr Palmer?

The battle in Nevada doesn't go well as Maxima is brought down by Red Tornado and Agent Liberty by Green Arrow. While Wonder Woman manages to subdue the Flash, Hawkman's threat to kill Black Condor forces them to surrender. Elsewhere, Gardner and the Ray are captured while Bloodwynd escapes.

Back at the real League's HQ, the Atom's been found and hooked up to a diagnostic machine.

There's no real reason why Blue Beetle's connected to that at all; Beetle was last seen comatose in a bed, safe and sound. Oh and as an aside - Jurgens seems determined throughout his run to have Fire appear in the most dreadful outfits possible. First there's the hideous green, white and black thing; then her can't-be-bothered-to-lace-up costume; and then the dreadful green leotard and orange T-shirt combo. Now he has her in a purple leotard. Ugh.

When he wakes up, the Atom reveals that someone has been in his head, making him dream of his old satellite-League partners and how they rule the world with an iron fist. Sound familiar?

Back in that reality, Bloodwynd meets Batman who reveals he's come to the conclusion that the League are wrong and need to be brought down. To do that, he's enlisted the Wizard whom he's rescued from the League's grip. Together the three of them head to the Nevada compound where they find the other League members held captive by the . . . other League.

As Dr Destiny arrives in New York and makes his way to the League's HQ, Bloodwynd attacks the fake League's Martian Manhunter, the pair of them trading blows until Bloodwynd's form alters, revealing his true self:

Back in the League HQ, Blue Beetle's still comatose body goes into convulsions while Dr Destiny manages to sneak inside and knocks out both Oberon and Fire, while in the other reality, Beetle makes his own appearance:

In moments, the revived Beetle sets his friends free, leading to a battle between both teams. It's Green Arrow who has the moment of clarity and realises that his League has become something dark, something that has perverted what they set out to do, encouraged in his doubts by Batman. Unfortunately, the classic animosity between the archer and Hawkman is resolved in an all too final manner:

And just like that, Green Arrow's killed. Up on the League satellite, the Atom too has a change of heart but this time it's because the real Atom has ended up inside his own dream. As he convinces Black Canary to let him use the satellite's defenses to attack the Nevada prison, Dr Destiny launches his own attack against Booster and the comatose Atom and Beetle in the real HQ.

As the Nevada prison is destroyed, Beetle manages to get everyone to hold on to him as he dematerialises from the dream and back into the real world where, after waking up, he's managed to knock out Dr Destiny, thus negating the dream world.

The reason Beetle woke up at just the right time?

It was the revelation that Bloodwynd was J'onn all along!

Seeing well-known and noble heroes go down a dark and twist path is always a good plot device and it works a treat here. The fascistic Justice League, willing to kill to enforce their rules, can't help but cause a thrill in the reader. We all know we're supposed to root for the good guys but when we see them doing something morally wrong, even (or perhaps especially) in an alternate reality, it does our heart good to see it. Would Batman be such an enduring figure if he killed his villains rather than incarcerating them? Probably not. Part of the appeal of comics is their on-going, never-ending battle against the bad guys and if they start killing them, how can they come back?

To see it happen once in a while, though, safely tucked away in a dream or another dimension and we can get a glimpse of how it might be while safe in the knowledge that things will go back to how they're supposed to be by the end of the tale.

This is one such story which really was all just a dream, but it proves to be the highlight of Jurgens's run on the title.

Now we only need to find out, as Beetle says, why J'onn was pretending to be Bloodwynd and we'll do that next week.


  1. It was amusing to see the recently-introduced Black Condor wind up in the team!

  2. Yeah - him and the Ray, both new characters suddenly end up in DC's premier super-team! And yet this line-up gets none of the anger levelled at the Detroit League.

  3. Love, love! this storyline. Pure Jurgens, but man was it good story-telling.
    I remember collecting this when it came out, and thinking the same thing, "What the hell's going on!?"

    Just awesome, and he art too. And to see the classic versions, dark or not even for just one more time was well worth the read. And Dr. Destiny almost won if not for Beetle. So go Beetle for getting an important win back after getting such a beatdown by Doomsday.

    1. I really liked the way Jurgens just dropped you right into the story with no explanation at all! And yeah, you can't fault classic Jurgens art, can you?

      Even if it all turned out to be a dream, it was the best story he came up with on his run.

  4. Always loved BB mentioning how good Wally's costume looked in black. It really works and I'd love to see a Flash wear it permanently.


Thanks for wanting to leave a comment, but this blog is no longer maintained. Feel free to visit my new site/blog over at


Look forward to seeing you there. :)


Related Posts with Thumbnails