Monday, December 26, 2005

100 Days of Justice League Prelude: Legends #1

Since its initial publication back in the day, Giffen and DeMatteis’s Justice League has been one of my favorite runs of a superhero series. For me, one of the elements of a good superhero story is humor. After all, it’s hard to take men in tights too seriously. I assume Giffen and DeMatteis recognized this and over time we got the Martian Manhunter eating Oreos, a Batman-Guy Gardner rivalry, G’Nort, Manga Khan and L’Ron, Kooeykooeykooey, Blue Beetle bwah-ha-haing, and a whole host of other goofiness. I’ve always believed that if superheroes were real, they’d be more like the Giffen-DeMatteis Justice League incarnation than any other. As often as not, they’d be selfish, jealous, and funny.

As a poor college student, I didn’t always have the cash to pick up the latest issues, so my reading of JL in the late 80s and early 90s was a little spotty. I read most of them, but missed a few. Over the years, I’ve picked up the issues I originally missed. Some of these I’ve read, some I haven’t. For those I’ve read, it’s been so long that I barely remember them. So, I’m embarking on (for me) a rather ambitious endeavor. I intend to read and discuss one issue of the Giffen-DeMatteis Justice League on roughly a daily basis (give or take) – all in all over a hundred issues of Justice League, Justice League International, Justice League America, Justice League Europe and the Annuals. I will be foregoing Justice League Quarterly because the concept was becoming seriously diluted by that point. Oh, I may miss a day or two here and there, but eventually I’ll weigh in with another installment. You could even think of this as a little ol’ reading circle if you want and read along and post your own comments. Justice League #1 is slated for January 1, 2006. Be there or be a shape of four parallel sides, equal in length, with each pair of adjacent sides forming a right angle.

First things first, though. The Justice League’s relaunch arose out of the events of the Legends mini-series. Editor Mike Gold sums up the premise: “Darkseid looks at Earth and is offended its residents create legends out of heroes when the only legend they needed was Darkseid.” Ironic, then, that Giffen and DeMatteis would take some of these “legends” and ultimately strip them of their legendary status, making them, instead, a band of everymen. In reading Legends, one could ask why these so-called legends are so legendary.

Legends #1
Story: “Once Upon a Time…!”
Plotter: John Ostrander
Scripter: Len Wein
Penciller: John Byrne
Inker: Karl Kesel
Letterer: Steve Haynie
Colorist: Tom Ziuko
Editor: Mike Gold

Darkseid is surveying his realm, the hellhole in space known as Apokolips, and admiring his handiwork.

Darkseid: Mwahaha. Man, I’m great. Apokolips is awesome! But something’s bugging me. You! DeSaad! Lackey! What’s bugging me?

DeSaad: The Earth heroes, master. None of them will kiss your rocky ass.

Darkseid: Zounds! I forgot! Godfrey! Bedlam! Get your doofy asses in—

Turning quickly, Darkseid fails to see them already standing there and the three land in a heap on the floor and struggle to extricate themselves.

Darkseid: Get off me, you idiots! Godfrey! Wipe that smirk off your face!

Glorious Godfrey struggles not to grin but his facial muscles are incapable of not grinning, so it’s tough.

Darkseid: You! Bedlam! Smirk more!

Doctor Bedlam makes a face like someone is running their fingernails down a chalkboard.

Darkseid: That’s better.

The pair looks at him trying to smirk or not to smirk as the case may be.

Darkseid: Well?

Godfrey: Well, what, your radianceness?

Darkseid: Get to Earth already, you nitwits!

Godfrey and Bedlam try to hold the other back, pushing and shoving each other to get out the door first.

Godfrey: Oh, wise guy!

Bedlam: Did he say what we’re supposed to do?

Darkseid: Mwahaha. Let me break this Captain Marvel action figure to foreshadow Captain Marvel’s downfall and symbolize how I will humiliate the Earth heroes . Mwahaha.

Next scene: A bunch of scientists are running around in space suits from some lame 60s comic even though this is a lame 80s comic.

Doctor Klyburn: Sure am glad we could get you to install the thingamajig in our watchamacallit, Professor Stein.

Suddenly, the watchamacallit explodes and this big, red King Kong Ghost Rider looking dude appears.

Brimstone: Raar. I’m Brimstone and I’m gonna kick your asses.

Professor Stein: Even though I’m a scientist and could probably figure out a way to solve this problem using my brain, I’m going become Firestorm instead. In addition, I won’t inform Ronnie Raymond first in the hopes that he will later find himself in an embarrassing situation.

Cut to Ronnie Raymond who’s squeezing off a round in the shower while fantasizing about the ass he’s going to tap later.

Raymond: Who’s your daddy?

Suddenly, he merges with Professor Stein to become Firestorm.

Professor Stein: Geez, Raymond, again?!

Raymond: What? I’m in my sexual prime.

Professor Stein: Never mind! We’ve gotta kill King Kong Ghost Rider.

Firestorm blasts Brimstone who swats him away.

Brimstone: Raar. I’m gonna kick your asses.

Firestorm: Man, I’m lame.

Next scene: The Flash is running around Wall Street while Deadshot shoots at him and speaks of himself in the third person.

Deadshot: Ratatatatat!

Flash: Why are you in New York instead of Gotham City?

Deadshot: Aren’t they the same? Wink! Besides, John Ostrander wasn’t allowed to use Batman and he needed someone to capture me so that I can subsequently appear in his upcoming Suicide Squad series.

Flash: Even though I just happen to have this steel pipe that I can use to deflect his bullets, I will not beat him with it. Instead, I will punch him.

Bystanders: We’re now going to say to you the kinds of stupid things that comic book fans say when they meet comic book creators at a convention.

The Flash engages in internal monologue.

Bystanders: He just ignored us. Asshole.

Flash: I’m going to Titans Tower so that I can have an inane conversation with the Changeling.

Next scene: The Changeling is watching G. Gordon Godfrey (wink!) on the Billy Batson Show.

Godfrey: Grrr. I hate superheroes.

Changeling: I’m a monkey for no reason.

Flash: Man, I’m lame.

Batson: Bullshit! Superheroes are fucking awesome, dude.

Godfrey: Grrr. I hate superheroes.

Changeling: Oh, boohoo! Want a tissue? “Oh, poor me. I’m the fastest guy in the world.“At least you don’t have green skin! Quit whining, change your name and get a new costume. Nobody’ll know the difference.

Flash: Even though that’s actually not a bad idea, I’d rather still call myself the Flash and be able to whine about how lame I am compared to my predecessors.

Godfrey: Grrr. I hate superheroes.

There’s a blackout at the TV studio that interrupts the broadcast.

Flash: Even though this is a state-of-the-art facility, I think we may have blown….another fuse?

Next scene: The TV studio goes dark.

Sally the TV Producer: Aaaaaaaggggghhhhhhh! We’re under attack!

Lighting technician: It’s just a blackout.

Sally the TV Producer: No. Seriously. Our transmission antenna was just ripped off the roof by a big dude in gold armor with an MM on his belt buckle.

Lighting technician: Gaaaayyyy.

Batson: Shazam!

Godfrey: Mwahaha.

Outside the studio…

Macro-Man: Raar. I’m gonna kick your asses unless I’m paid…(holds pinkie to bottom lip) 50 million dollars. Mwahaha.

Bystanders: Who are you talking to?

Captain Marvel: I will now punch him and talk about my powers for all the children who are unfamiliar with me.

Macro-Man: Grrr. I hate superheroes.

Macro-Man picks up Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel: He’s tightening his grip. Trying to crush me like an over-ripe tomato. On a bed of salad greens. Perhaps with a nice balsamic vinegar dressing. Shazam!

The lightning fries Macro-Man.

Batson: Man, I’m lame.

Next scene: Colonel Rick Flagg strides through the immaculate corridors of the Pentagon. He may or may not be lost.

Flagg: Hmmm, somebody missed a spot there. The American taxpayers demand that their military headquarters be immaculate! Hoo-rah.

Flagg opens a door designated as “Task Force X.”

Amanda Waller: I’m a big, black woman and I don’t take no guff. Read these files.

Flagg: I will now make a racially insensitive remark so that you can take me down a peg or two.

Amanda Waller: Blah blah blah. I like to hear myself talk.

Flagg: John Ostrander is doing more setup for his Suicide Squad gig.

Next scene: Cosmic Boy is eating in a diner.

Cosmic Boy: I love the past!

Brimstone: Raar. I’m gonna kick your asses.

Cosmic Boy: Holy shit. He’s bigger than a couple of villains who would only be familiar to people who read the Legion of Super-Heroes. I will now fly around him for a page and a half talking about what I’m going to do to him in my gay pink costume.

Cosmic Boy blasts Brimstone who swats him away.

Brimstone: Raar. I’m gonna kick your asses.

Cosmic Boy: Man, I’m lame.

Justice League: Need a hand?

Cosmic Boy: You really have to ask?

Justice League: Well, it sets us up to be able to do a roll call for all the children who are unfamiliar with us. Vibe! Elongated Man! Vixen! Martian Manhunter! Gypsy! Steel! Firestorm!

Cosmic Boy: Where the fuck is Superman?

Next issue: “Things get worse!” Holy shit. Is that possible?

Read More


Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I, too, am a huge fan of the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League.

That, though, is one EXTREMELY ambitious endeavor.

I wish you luck with it, Christopher!

12/26/2005 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger Christopher Burton said...

I did admit that I'll likely miss a day here or there. Really, I just want to get in the habit of posting regularly. Besides, if Dave Sim can do it, so can I. Or something. ;)

12/26/2005 11:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Ron said...

One of the elements I love best about the Giffen/DeMatteis run is the "Sam the Eagle" personality they gave to Hawkman when he finally guest-starred.

12/26/2005 11:42:00 PM  
Blogger Matt Butcher said...

I have most of that run and am ordering again to get most of the rest.I am rereading them now and should review them too...

12/27/2005 12:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Chuck T. said...

I know a lot of the Justice League Quarterly's sucked, but #4 is a single story issue, Giffen and DeMatteis (sp?) with Mike Mckone on art, and it's great. OK, the plot assumes you know a little about world history, Walt Disney, the Extremists, and Legion of Super Heroes trivia; but it's got Kilowog, a cover homage to Justice League #1, an Avengers riff, and Power Girl's cat!
Work that one into the rotation, Christopher, it'll run you three bones tops, and be totally worth it.

12/27/2005 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

That was funny.

Damn near "Bwahaha" funny!

Is there gonna be more Legends (boo!) or can we skip right to the good stuff?

12/27/2005 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

That was funny.

Damn near "Bwahaha" funny!

Is there gonna be more Legends (boo!) or can we skip right to the good stuff?

12/27/2005 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Christopher Burton said...

Thanks, Chuck! I'll plan to hunt it down. Heck, before I'm done, I may even change my mind about including JLQ.

I'm planning to cover the whole Legends mini, Mark. Sorry. ;)

12/27/2005 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I'm a laid back dude, so things really don't get me, like, steaming angry that often.

However, one of those things that infuriates the crap out of me is when I want to just simply provide a link to a past entry on Comics Should Be Good, but the goddamn link does NOT show up via either a blogger search OR a google search.


So I have to just search the archives until I happen across it.

Drives me nuts.

That being said, Christopher, here is an entry I did on "The Best of Justice League Quarterly."

12/28/2005 04:50:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher Burton said...

Thank you, sir. I appreciate it the trouble.

12/28/2005 09:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Jason Crane said...

Man, oh man. It just doesn't get much better than the League during the Giffen/DeMatteis run. I read these toward the end of my first phase of comic collecting, and I said the same thing about them then that I later said about things like That 70s Show (in the early days): "This is written too well to stay around for long." I'll haul out my issues and follow along. And I'll leave you with this:

"One punch! One punch!"

12/31/2005 11:01:00 AM  
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