Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Jurgens League #6 - Blood Secrets

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 #76 - #77 - written by Dan Jurgens with art by Dan Jurgens and Rick Burchett.

So here we are, at the end of Jurgens's run on Justice League America and, like the Detroit League, it ends with something of a whimper.

Throughout his run, Jurgens had forced us to consider Bloodwynd as something of a mystery - prior to his run in with Doomsday Blue Beetle did little else other than obsess about the guy, forcing we readers to go along with his suspicions about Bloodwynd. After Beetle fell into a coma post-Doomsday, Jurgens continued with the forced mystery by having Black Condor join the team and hang around brooding about him.

At the end of the Destiny's Hand storyline, Bloodwynd was revealed as having been J'onn J'onnz all along, a fact which shocked Beetle back into consciousness and now, in the wrap-up of this iteration of the League, Beetle wants to know why he did it. Figuring it has something to do with the jewel that J'onn wore as Bloodwynd and which he is unable to remove even now, Beetle plans to do some investigation, unaware they're being watched from within the jewel.

Some big guy called Rott sits within the jewel along with Weapons Master, the first villain this team fought. Turns out Weapons Master found Rott by accident and while he's unable to free him, he's willing to help in return for the League taking a beating. Tucked away in the shadows is a . . . mysterious figure, hanging up as a prisoner.

Inspecting the jewel, Beetle thinks it likely that it contains another dimension and enlists the Atom who was still hanging around after the Destiny's Hand story. The Atom does what he does and shrinks down to microscopic size, slipping between the atoms of the jewel's surface only to be caught in a stasis trap by Weapons Master. Threatening the life of J'onn by forcing him to remove the jewel which causes him to waste away in seconds, Rott demands that the League send through their most powerful member:

While Jurgens never really found the humorous voices of Beetle and Booster as a duo, that last panel really works!

With the encouragement of Beetle, the Ray focuses himself into a beam of light and forces his way into the jewel dimension where he's confronted by the enormous Rott. Fighting back on instinct, Ray's power inadvertently fuels Rott, allowing him to break free from his prison and burst into the real world.

Back in the jewel dimension, the Ray and the Atom discover the mystery prisoner who turns out to be none other than the real Bloodwynd. Showing his inexperience, the Ray cuts him down a little too quickly:

This leads into Bloodwynd revealing his true origin: his ancestors were slaves owned and mistreated by Jacob Whitney. Having endured too much, the slaves banded together and formed the blood gem which they used to kill Whitney. Passing down through the generations, it was entrusted to Bloodwynd who also tells them that Rott is the living embodiment of the evil of Whitney and everyone else who has worn it.

Back in League HQ Rott explains to J'onn how he took control of him. When J'onn first saw Bloodwynd he was in agony and attempted to help him.

Rott then commanded J'onn to join the League in order to find a power source strong enough to release him. Cue the arrival of the Ray and Rott's entrapment of him.

As the Ray, Bloodwynd and the Atom attempt to escape by drawing Rott back into the gem, the Weapons Master appears and tries to foil them but without much luck:

Their plan works and the Ray manages to draw Rott back inside the jewel where Bloodwynd delivers a beating, before they head home, taking the captured Weapons Master with them.

And that's it - a two-issue story to wrap up the supposed mystery of Bloodwynd and Dan Jurgens is off to do other things.

On the whole, his run wasn't terrible. Superman and Beetle come off best as the most interesting characters - despite Beetle's obsession with Bloodwynd, he's consistently shown as an inventing genius which many people tend to forget. Ice and Fire, sadly, come out the worst with Ice being reduced to a simpering schoolgirl with a crush on Superman and Fire becoming a clothes horse for some of the worst costumes, both superhero and casual, ever. As Booster's creator, you'd perhaps expect Jurgens to treat him with some care but he turns into a complete git throughout the run with the exception of reaching out to Maxima.

Some of the stories weren't too bad - Weapons Master was a nice update on an old name though I don't think he's ever appeared again; Starbreaker's return was another nod to the League's history; and Destiny's Hand still stands up as a great evil-alternate world tale.

I'd always remembered this run with some affection but honestly? It's very hit and miss.

So there you go - Jurgens League is done with. Anyone want to nominate another League run to torture me with for me to re-read?


  1. How about instead of looking at another League, let's try to focus on some of the 'lesser light' superteams of the DCU, either:
    *A look at one of DC's two attempts at revamping the MLJ heroes: The early 1990s Impact Comics or the 2009-2010 attempt to integrate them into the DCU. (With 'New Crusaders' coming in 2012, it is time to take a look at the subject!).
    * Or at the many attempts to give focus to the Global Guardians, as the Global Guardians seemed to have never existed at all in the DCnU, so it is intriguing to see what went wrong with the G.G.!


  2. Hey Jeremy - I've been kinda sticking with the League mainly because I have a shed load of comics with them!

    I don't know that much about the Impact line so maybe that might not be the best place, but I do love the idea of looking at the Global Guardians. That might need some digging around and buying of back issues so it might take a while, but nice idea.

    I'll see what I can do.

    Meantime, anyone else have suggestions?

  3. Damn you, Dougie! That was all your fault, you know.

    Still, at least you apologised.


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