Monday, December 26, 2011

The JLA Satellite Heroclix Map!

Like all decent citizens of the DCU's future, I celebrate Klordny; to Freedom, Friendship, and Frunt!

The "JLA Fortnight" series, chronicling the JLA's transition out of the Silver Age and into the Bronze Age and particularly their move from the Secret Sanctuary to the Satellite, has all been a build up to my Klordny gift to your: a custom Heroclix map of the JLA Satellite.

In designing the map, I had to review the published diagrams of the Satellite, which are rather inconsistent, except that they are all, you know... round.

Here's an excellent description of the history of the Satellite I found on an apparently inactive JLA site:

The Justice League's second headquarters was fixed orbit satellite orbiting Earth at Roche's Limit, 22,300 miles from the surface, and was constructed by Hawkman Katar Hol, Superman, and Green Lantern Hal Jordan. Originally, the main entrance was a teleportation tube (utilizing a Thanagarian Relativity Beam) inferred to be atop the building that at the time published DC Comics in New York City. It was never stated why this location was chosen, or whether this was the only terminal in existence. The JLA is shown to have the capacity to "beam up" people and things that are not in the terminal, ala the Star Trek transporters (JLOA-118, -129). This modification would, of course, eliminate the need for terminal tubes anywhere on the surface, since the teleporter could lock onto the homing mechanism in each JLAer's signal device and beam them aboard. Evidently it was an improvement Hawkman brought back from Thanagar (JLOA-117).

Although initial diagrams of the satellite depict but one of the decks (JLOA-78, -95), the entire satellite complex was eventually revealed (JLOA-130). These diagrams depict the satellite as it was at the time of its original construction. The varied appearance of the meeting room facilities would indicate that the space station was modified from time to time to fit the JLA's changing needs and tastes. Noteworthy areas were the Souvenir Room, the gymnasium, the computer facilities, and the outer rim (JLOA-104). An alien called the Dharlu resided in suspended animation in the station's computer terminal (JLOA-130). A device to travel to parallel dimensions called the Transmatter Cube was also installed (JLA-107). Another contribution from Hawkman's homeworld was the Thanagarian "healing ray" in the JLA's sick bay (JLOA-118).

The satellite was ravaged in the wake of a Martian invasion of Earth (JLOA-228-230). It was also subject to subsequent destruction following the Great Crisis in which a transformed Red Tornado exploded within the satellite (JLOA-A3). The remainder of the once-great orbiting headquarters fell to the onslaught of a rampaging Despero.

Ordinarily, I'd just link to such a thing, but I'm afraid the link will go inactive if the site is closed.

Anyway, the first diagram of the Satellite is this one:

DCU architects must be union. "You want more detail? That'll cost you extra, mister!"

A little later it got filled in a bit.

By "individual offices" we mean "phone booths". Only Clark and Ray seemed okay with them.

Eventually, the JLA seems to realize that the Satellite had no doors or hallways, which is inconvenient when only one of your members can vibrate through walls. So a new diagram was introduced. But first, a brief digression into utter madness!

Not NOW, Jean! Later!

In JLA 130, for no reason at all, DC re-does the "Hey, we have a new HQ in space" scene, replacing Flash for Green Arrow, even down to using some of the same dialog (which sounds ridiculous coming out of Flash's mouth, rather than Green Arrow's).

"Yes, yes! I was there! So get to the point!" Actually, Barry... that is the point. You were there... repeatedly. Flash was in the Satellite when it was introduced, had been shown to be in it repeatedly over the intervening FIFTY issues since then, and, in fact, was JUST IN IT LAST ISSUE (Justice League of America v 1 #129). In short, this scene one of the most flagrant, nonsensical, egregious, and pointless violations of continuity of all time. Oh, and it's stupid and out of character. Nice lettering, though.

Okay, I'm being unfair; this is presented as an "Untold Tale", an obvious excuse to re-introduce the Satellite with a new map. Still, writer Marty Pasko blundered badly in using Flash instead of Green Arrow. But this, I suppose, is far down on the list of crimes of the man who created Kobra and Ookla the Mok.

And it did give us this, the first multilevel diagram of the Satellite:

Hm. Architects on strike again, I see.

The original plan is kept as the "B" Deck. The all-important Observation Deck (which is just about the only part of the Satellite we ever really see) becomes "A" Deck. "C" Deck is added to house some HQ basics with private quarters on "D" & "E" Decks.

Once the Satellite goes multi-level, all architectural heck breaks loose in this next diagram from later in the series:

Oh, look there's an Annie's Pretzels next to the Apple Store!

Very thorough! WILDLY out of scale perhaps, but thorough. Somebody seemed to realize that imposing square room designs on a round satellite didn't make a lot of sense, got out their Trivial Pursuit pucks and went to town on this one.

This was the diagram that I used as the model for my first attempt at a custom Heroclix map for the JLA Satellite, but I found it unworkable; the six decks couldn't be well enough represented on even an expanded 3'x3' map. I would be "accurate" but awkward and not fun.

So, rather than go "literal" with the map, I decide to compose it in such a way as to include the elements of the existing diagram, with some more realistic proportioning. I also took inspiration from the way the Satellite scenes are drawn, rather than just the diagrams. So much of the action takes place on the Observation Deck that had to be the
key place on the map not just the top sliver.

Also, with changing times, certain rooms now make more sense than others (even in "the past", as it continues to roll up behind the moving comic book timeline). For example, a physical library seems amusingly quaint in a satellite and was omitted. Conversely, the idea of a 'virtual training room', seen on various media versions of the Satellite, seemed like a must. I also had to do some creative "explosion" of the sections of the Satellite: the four areas beneath the Observation Deck are 'exploded' out and placed in what would otherwise be empty space between the hub of the Satellite and the outer ring.

Note that they kept the table from the original headquarters. Because they would. Also note the color-coding of each member's private quarters and the connection between the amphibious quarters and the pool (because, stupid though that is, they would have it). And if you look really really closely at the Atom's quarters, you'll see that, sitting on a table, is a miniature version of the entire room, just so that he can relax there at his miniature size.

All in all, I'm happy with the result and hope those of you who've been eager to play a Heroclix game set on the JLA Satellite will enjoy it.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

JLA FORTNIGHT: Dennygration

So, as you've probably noticed, the architect of all this chaos for the JLA at the end of SilverAge was Denny O'Neil. DC's iconic characters definitely needed some sort of revitalization; the goofy antics of Generalissimo Demmy Gog (JLA #66) seemed horribly out of place in the tumultuous late 1960s. O'Neil did more than his part to shake up the Silver Age's goofy status quo. O'Neill:

  • made Batman's world a serious one again,
  • brought Wonder Woman away from her mythical fantastical connections and grounded her as a non-super woman on her own,
  • raised Green Arrow's consciousness,
  • tried to wake up Green Lantern from his brain-dead stupor,
  • shipped the toxically ludicrous Martian Manhunter off-planet,
  • gave Snapper Carr a very dishonorable discharge,
  • classed up the JLA by getting them out a cave in New England and giving them a high-tech palace in orbit.
O'Neil was, in short, the Geoff Johns of his day.

I haven't presented the whole process in a tidy order (hey, this ain't the Comic Treadmill!), so here's a recap:

JLA #66: Denny O'Neil comes on board. Writes the "General Demmy Gog" story, one of the worst JLA stories ever written. Really, one of the worst stories ever written period.

JLA #67: An all-reprint issue.

JLA #68: JLA fights another Giant Amorphous Godlike Space Entity/Simpleton (in this case, "Neverwas").

JLA #69: The revelation that Wonder Woman is now powerless; Diana Prince goes on "permanent leave".

JLA #70: Denny and DC try to foist the "Mind-Grabber Kid" on the readers. Crickets are heard.

JLA #71. The Martian Manhunter, who's actually been absent from the title since #61, finally makes it official and leaves Earth. Oh, and everything and almost everyone on Mars is destroyed. More crickets are heard.

JLA #72: Red Tornado arrives and becomes the guest who never leaves. The Atom seems to be the only one with the guts to talk about the problem out loud.

JLA #73-74: The Aquarius story, in which Larry Lance is squished flat by a giant lint ball and his widow, Black Canary takes two panels to abandon her entire life and moves to Earth-1.

JLA #75: The 'canary cry' is discovered and Black Canary joins the JLA. She is the first member never to have had her own book, making her the Patron Saint of every crappy also-ran ever to join the League (I'm looking at YOU, Ralph Dibny).

JLA #76: Another all-reprint issue.

JLA #77: Snapper Carr (who, like the Martian Manhunter, hasn't been seen in some time any way) betrays the Justice League to the Joker. Crickets clap loudly.

JLA #78: The Satellite is introduced. Remarkably casually, I might add.

In fact, the Satellite in introduced almost absurbdly casually, even for the breezy Silver Age. The JLA is needed, so Superman and Green Lantern pick up Green Arrow and his new ridiculous facial hair and take him to.... the rooftop of DC Comics. Oh, it's not mentioned by name, but it's "That publishing company that's always bugging us for stories."

Oh, I'm sure their just begging for stories about YOU, Ollie.

The folks at DC (in exchange for a few licensing rights, I'm sure) have allowed the JLA to install a teleporter on their rooftop. Because NO ONE will notice a teleporter on a rooftop. Fortunately, there's no flying machines in the DCU and no one other than the Justice Leagues can fly!

"Heh. You're a funny guy, Arrow. You do realize that if I were to, say, accidentally sneeze right now or have a hand spasm, I might easily crush your left shoulder into paste? Kind of hard to use a bow and arrow when you only have the use of one arm."

As to why it has to be in an incredibly insecure place like a rooftop in downtown Manhattan, well, I guess the signal from the teleporter needs to be unimpeded by a roof. Or a passing plane. Or a flock of a geese. Or the horizon, given the fact that the Satellite, being in geosynchronous orbit must be above the equator and the rooftop of DC Comics is WAY north of the Topic of Cancer, and... oh, never mind, I'm getting a headache.

"Heh, by Rao, you sure are 'comical', Arrow. Yes, the tube is small, but that would help contain the debris if were to, say, accidentally sneeze or have an eye spasm and nuke your insides with my super-vision till you explode in a bloody mess."

Anyway, the teleporter is handwaved as Thanagarian tech (presumably based on the Twin Dogs of Sebek, but that's another story), and the Satellite is explained as...


Um. Well, it's just... there. Who built it and when? How was it paid for? Who chose the color scheme for the decor? And how (literally) on Earth do the governments of the world feel about a Satellite of godlike beings hanging over their heads?

"Surprise! It's actually not a teleporter, just a big Kryptonian crystal cannon that shoots you out to land as a green blotch somewhere on the lower east side of a very large city on the Eastern seaboard! See, Ollie, I can be comical, too!"

And (most amusingly), how did all this happen without Green Arrow knowing a single thing about it? That, I think, says everything you need to know about Green Arrow's place in the Justice League (as even written by Denny O'Neil, who loves him most).

You know damn well the Martian Manhunter would have known about the Satellite. In fact, since he's a crazy homeless person, he'd probably already be living in it and named it something weird, like "M'artha".

And so, with the introduction of the Satellite (Feb 1970, by the way), the Bronze Age begins for the Justice League of America.

Tomorrow: JLA Satellite.... THE MAP!

Friday, December 23, 2011


So, who was it who ended the might "Secret Sanctuary" Era, which gave us the Justice League at their most iconic, reintroduced the superhero community back into the DCU, and set the model for all subsequent versions of DC's team of top-tier heroes?

Why, it's obvious, really: it was their weakest link, Lucas "Snapper" Carr.

As mentioned, Snapper Carr was the hip teenaged mascot of the Silver Age Justice League. Gardner Fox's idea of putting DC's greatest superheroes into one team was genius; his idea of creating giving them a "typical teenager" mascot for the readers to identify with... was
not genius.

Aaaand... that's Snapper riding a magic carpet with Merlin while singing the Air Force theme. Sigh.

Snapper's horrible, mangled faux-hepcat lingo was an assault to the senses, an icepick in the ear, the offspring of the English language being raped by a hundred maniacs. Poor DC; they were just trying to reach out to The Young People, but the writers--laughably unfamiliar with young culture through anything other than its dated, funhouse portrayals on television--were no more prepared to do so than your grandmother would be ready for her improv rap solo at karaoke night.

The pain of "Snapper-speak" aside, Carr's presence in the JLA was going to be a problem regardless. Snapper was put in the awkard position of either

(A) being a useless distraction for the JLA from actual crime-fighting
(B) of saving the day with some ridiculous "Wesley Crusher" moment.

In a series where you have DC's seven most powerful and popular superheroes--each of whom did (or could) fill one or more comics a month with their own exploits-- vying for panel-space, every second wasted on Snapper's birthday cake, Snapper's finals, Snapper's date at the funhouse, Snapper's flying jalopy, or Snapper's homework assignment was an eternity of wasted opportunity for the reader.

See? Crowded book.

Snapper was an attempt to connect the Silver Age Justice League with someone "ordinary". And that was what doomed them. In a story that was, per Denny O'Neil's usual style, an interesting underlying concept but terribly written, Snapper is seduced by a grassroots movement for 'normal' people, distressed at how extreme and super people like the JLAers were overshadowing the mass of regular people who don't just occasionally dabble in saving the world, but who keep its spinning every day with their efforts.

It's all about YOU, isn't it, Clark?

Snapper's seduction into this movement isn't well handled or made believable... but it
is a great idea. In Marvel, citizens are often shown to fear and distrust many of their heroes. This is a harder sell in the DCU, where any superhero worth naming has his own hometown museum and is on the authorities' speed-dial. But the idea that regular people would simply resent superfolk and worry about becoming reliant on them is quite realistic. This was also underlying concept of the well-written LEGENDS crossover miniseries that launched the post-Crisis DCU and was the only time, in my opinion, that Darkseid has ever been used well, if you're interested.

So Snapper-- the "JLA mascot"--becomes a movement spokesperson
against the JLA. It is a devasting PR coup for the Normal Movement, masterminded by "Joe Dough, the Most Average Man in America" (heavy-handed character name and sobriquet courtesy of Denny O'Neill, the Most Non-Subtle Writer in Comics). After "Dough" convinces Snapper to give him the location of the JLA's "Secret Sanctuary", he is revealed to be none other than... the Joker.

Ouch; that hurts. On the one hand, the Joker is a supremely odd choice for orchestrating the undoing of the Silver Age JLA. For one thing, the Joker, for all his popularity and cultural resonance, is not exactly a "take on the JLA single-handed" level of villain. Plus, his reveal at the end is a one-way panel throwaway twist at the end of the story. He didn't
need to be the villain of the piece at all; it might as well have been some 'normal person' bent on overthrowing the JLA.

On the other hand, the Joker is a perfect choice. First, he's "powerless", and his triumph (he kicks the JLA's asses with some crap from the Trophy Room)
is a victory of the non-superpowered over the godlike Leaguers. Second, although powerless, he is very very much NOT normal. At all. That the Joker, of all people, should pass himself off as the sympathetic spokesman and leader of 'the common man' is a horrifying deception. Third, the Joker's victory is ideological, ironic, and accomplished through superior psychological gamesmanship, all of which is very typical of the character. Fourth, after 15 years of fighting a host of new and entirely ad hoc universe-shaking adversaries, the JLA is taken out by a single villain from one of their member's Rogues Gallery-- in fact, the most familiar villain imaginable--is a cruel irony, indeed.

Perhaps it was a brilliant commentary by Denny O'Neill on the JLA's problem: they were too distantly focused on otherworldly issues (or Snapper's birthday) to focus on cleaning up their own backyards of the villains who preyed on the common folk. Or perhaps it was a lazy last minute twist. In either case, you do not mind-wipe the Joker, so the Secret Sanctuary's utility as a headquarters for the Justice League was over.

What's a supergroup to do...?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

JLA FORTNIGHT: Race war to the stars!

When we last left the JLA in the final throes of its "Secret Sanctuary" Era, the powerless Diana Prince and her blind guide, the absurdly named
I Ching, were at a carnival.

"Being with you is pointless, Ching; you are so Asian-y inscrutable."
"Of course you don't understand, Diana; you're a moron. And probably wearing something that makes you look highly scrutable, I'll wager."
"What in Gaea's name can I learn from CARNIES?"
"I don't know, Diana. Perhaps how to dress...?"

It's good to see some things never change, like the deep mutual hatred between Diana and Ching.

As luck, and Denny O'Neil's plot contrivance, would have it, there's some kind of crazy homeless person going berserk at the carnival!

"What causes commotion, Ching? Well, usually it's some sort of threatening disruption of...oh, you meant, 'what is causing the commotion'!"
"Yes, wise-ass. So it's a "man"? I guess I'll probably have to explain what one of those is to you, won't I?"

"Postpone our rest? Oh, really, Ching? And I was just about to pull up a lawn chair to watch!"

A crazy homeless person who is ....beating the
snot out of Diana and Ching.

Claude Raines 1, Emma Peale 0. And, YES, Diana, you did the judo move perfectly. You do everything perfectly, Princess. Yeesh.

"Ching, look out for--oh, wait, ha, ha! I forgot to warn him OUT LOUD. Pity. Still, he's getting the crap beat out of him. Why, it's like he can't even see the guy! Oh, wait... that's right...!"

As entertaining as it is to watch a violent homeless person bitch-slap Diana and Ching around, it's even more entertaining when you realize that that crazy, violent homeless person is, of course....

J'onn J'onnz, the Martian Manhunter

I think someone needs a cookie.

Yes! Godlike alien J'onn having a freakout and beating the tar out of a powerless dress shop owner and a tiny old blind guy. That's what comics are all about.

"This is it; I am never letting Ching pick out my outfit again!"
And, for the record, Diana; J'onn will NEVER regain his balance.

Oh, wait, there's only one more thing that will make this incident perfect:

Faceplanting Batman. "But... but I'm the goddaMMFFFPHHH!"
Eat sawdust, stupid Bronze Age Batman.

Wild man. Mad dog. J'onn J'onnz is insane, people.

Oh, but don't believe me; believe HIM.

That wasn't "something in your mind", JJ; it was your mind. How snapped is JJ? Let's just say that if his daughter is running for Homecoming Queen, pull your daughter out of the contest immediately.

So someone gives JJ a cookie to calm him down, and, while Diana and Ching are having their bones reset, he calmly reveals that,
"oh by the way, I've been lying to you about my backstory since I was introduced 15 years ago. I am essentially an escaped war criminal, and the Martian equivalent of Robert E. Lee."

That retcon is breezier than J'onn's Martian-breath. Still, the JLA is long since accustomed to rolling with whatever ridiculousness JJ spouts, since he's:

(A) powerful enough to kick any of their asses and
(B) crazy as a loon.

Therefore they do not say,
"What do you mean there's a planet-threatening war going on on Mars the entire time we've been working with you, during which we've jaunted off to about 30 different alien worlds and could have stopped off on Mars to lend a hand at any point, particularly since that war might threaten Earth? And why did you just beat the crap out of an old blind guy at a carnival? ARE YOU INSANE?" Because they already know the answer to that question.

So instead they say,
"Um, okay, J'onn sure. That sounds great; nice to know. Need a lift somewhere? Or will you just be wishing yourself into the cornfield now?"

There's never really any explanation why he's at the carnival, or dressed like the Invisible Man (particularly since he's a shapeshifter who can turn invisible), or freaks out violently just because there's a fire-eater there (dude; just walk away and get an ice cream cone, or better yet, just create one with your mind). But it's the Martian Manhunter, after all; if you are looking for sensible or even comprehensible explanations of his behavior then you've missed the point of the character.

Shhhhhuuuure, J'onn, whatever you say. Heh heh, yep, water is sure great.

Turns out that one of J'onn's previously unmentioned godlike powers is the ability to violate the Fourth Wall with his mind and telepathically influence comic book writers and editors, because they obligingly backed up J'onn's crazy story by retconning all of Mars to fit his babblings.

Suddenly there were two 'races" on Mars, the white and green, who'd been engaging in a long race war and J'onn had been exiled to the Martian desert wastelands by his enemy, Commander Blanx, for 13 years.

In a hilarious send-up of
The Lorax, Blanx basically sells off Mars to be strip-mined. In essence, Mars is the West Virginia of the solar system.

Denny O'Neil was fond of writing stories that contained veiled social commentary. If by 'veiled' one means "festooned in neon tubing, sparklers, and
'THIS IS OUR MESSAGE, STUPID!' arrows". This is one of the more subtle ones.

So JJ and the Leaguers go clobber B'illy Blanx's little mob of white Martians, but don't manage to stop him before he burns off everything on Mars including the atmosphere. A few Martians escape in a starship for parts unknown while J'onn, the perennially calm stable center of the JLA, beats Blanx to death with a Mars globe.
Yes, really.

Oh, and somewhere during all that, Hal falls asleep.

Yeah, well, staying up till 5AM with three Pan-Am girls will do that to you, Hal.

Unfortunately, Superman catches Hal right before he lands, or I'd be sharing with you a picture of
Hal getting hit in the head WITH MARS. Which would be impressive, even for Hal, particularly if, unlike Blanx, he survived getting hit in the head with Mars. Oh, how many licks does it take to get to the center of Hal Jordan's noggin? The world may never know.

The upshot of all of this is J'onn leaves Earth to search the stars for the S.S. Martian Minnow and the JLA lets him because he's

(A) powerful enough to kick any of their asses and
(B) crazy as a loon.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out, er, I mean, "godspeed!"

So, the Manhunter is put on a bus and Earth-2 rejects Red Tornado and Black Canary are sniffing around the campfire, begging for scraps of readership. What other disaster could befall the Silver Age Justice League?

I'll give you a hint: what is the sound of one hand snapping...?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

JLA FORTNIGHT: Black (Canary) Widow

Meanwhile, at "the beginning of the end" for the Secret Sanctuary Era of the Justice League of America...

As mentioned in our last post, after Red Tornado's disastrous arrival, Black Canary arrives to Earth-1. Like all Golden Age Heroes worth their salt (and associated with the Justice Society), when the Silver Age arrived Black Canary was determined to live on the parallel world of Earth-2. UNTIL...

a disastrous team-up between the JLA and JSA, where her husband got killed. For no particular reason (although I will blame Red Tornado), the JLA and JSA join forces to fight the usual Ersatzian Threat. You know, some cosmicky extra-dimensional, one-shot villain, with vague motivations. This time, apparently, the moon was in the seventh house, because they fought Aquarius, the Living Tiki Mug.

He really needs to be wearing a paper umbrella behind his ear.
The JSA Snowglobe is still the most popular purchase at the Earth-2 Gift Shop.

Aquarius (again, for no real reason) kills Black Canary's husband Larry with a giant lint ball.
"HA! Foolish human! You've fallen into my lint trap!"

Actually, Larry voluntarily jumped in front of the giant lint ball to save Black Canary's life. The lint ball was about to crush
HER instead, because she was stuck to the ground in front of it. And just why was Black Canary stuck to the ground in front of it....?

Green Arrow's stickum-shaft, that's why.

C'mon; you didn't really think I'd posted that just for fun, did you...?

Oh, and, to be honest with you; that's
NOT a ball of lint. It's a ball of cosmic power from Starman's rod. Yes, let's repeat that. Black Canary's husband was crushed to death by a ball of power from the cosmic rod of her ex-lover because she was glued to the ground with her legs open by the stickum-shaft of her future lover, Green Arrow. Top that, Scott Lobdell.

This is kind of ironic, since Larry was always a classless jerk, a shiftless freedloader and skeevy gumshoe who was a millstone around Canary's neck.

What a charmer. No wonder Green Arrow looked good to her.

Of course, what happens afterwards is even more ironic: she takes up almost immediately with another classless jerk, the self-righteous blowhard and skeevy crimefighter
who's the reason her husband is dead.

"We're both crippled, Green Arrow; you by your ridiculous facial by my 20 lb. Tammy Wynette wig."

You see, once Larry is dead, Black Canary does what any grieving widow would do...


Panel 1: "This entire universe reminds me too much of my husband."
Panel 2: A panel that reads very, very badly out of context.

In the process of migrating to Earth-1, Black Canary--somehow--acquires a superpower: -superscreaming.

Actually, if you pay attention to the story, you notice that Black Canary's power is NOT generated by her voice. It's psionic; the 'canary cry' is something that she generates with her mind, not her voice. It's more sensible, I think, and something I'd like to see reasserted when she is reintroduced as part of the Earth-2 JSA in the New 52.

Black Canary gains superpowers right after Wonder Woman loses hers. This is perfect timing, because now she can join the JLA to take the place of Wonder Woman, who having lost her powers, quits the group, and takes up a new hobby:

hating I Ching.

"What in Hades did you drag me to a carnival for, old fool? Can't you see I'm not dressed for it? Oh, that's right; you can't."

"To teach you the simple childlike delight of laughter, you brain-dead cow. Now LAUGH, wench, LAUGH."

Coincidentally, this blissful little scene of Wonder Woman and I Ching snipping at each other is the beginning of another nail in the coffin of the Secret Sanctuary era, which I like to call...

"RACE WAR TO THE STARS!" So, stay tuned.

Friday, December 16, 2011

JLA HQ FORTNIGHT: A Tornado is a disaster, by the way

So, it’s the Silver Age, and the Justice League of America has a sweet “modernistically outfitted” cavern headquarters, a host of one-shot, ugly, and incompetent foes, and a sidekick so moronic that even Green Lantern and Green Arrow look smart standing beside him. Their stories make absolutely zero sense; in fact, some of them are not merely nonsensical but actively anti-sensical, like a collaboration between Grant Morrison and Willy Wonka, as produced by the Brothers Krofft. But it doesn’t matter because they are the Justice League of America, and if they shat delicious Fruit Pies, readers would eat them up.

I think it's the antennae that really make this panel.

Nothing could possibly touch them….


Many are the world’s natural disasters; fire, flood, pestilence, famine, earthquake, Jean Loring, hurricanes, and slowly advancing glaciation. And the JLA was equal to them all. So it took an un-natural disaster to begin their eventual doom. I speak, of course, of…


Kill it, Barry; kill it NOW, while you can.

The well-schooled among you will already know that the original, Golden Age Red Tornado was a comedy character. Burly grocery owner Abigail “Ma” Hunkel was inspired by her children’s love of Green Lantern comics to cobble together an impromptu costume and clean up her neighborhood as the gender-blurred crimefighter, the Red Tornado. Originally a throwaway concept, the Red Tornado, as one of the earlier superhero parodies, gained immediate popularity and wound up engulfing her home strip/book “Scribbly the Boy Cartoonist”.

In the Golden Age this is what we meant by being a pot-head.

As part of the bizarre meta-miscegenation of publishers in the Golden Age, the Red Tornado migrated from American Publishing to DC Comics just long enough to pop her (potted) head in at the first meeting of the Justice Society of America. It’s odd. Somewhat less odd when you remember that Sheldon Mayer created both the Red Tornado and the JSA. But it’s still odd.

The Red Tornado: A Legacy of Dignity

Oh, but the Red Tornado’s revenge for not being invited to join the JSA would come later. Some 25 years later, the Silver Age decided to do with the Red Tornado what it did best: out-weird the Golden Age.

The Red Tornado was re-imagined as an android weapon designed by T.O. Morrow to kill the Justice Society and the Justice League. Which he did.

Don’t cry, kids; they died, but got better later.

See, Barry? You NEVER listen to me.

Essentially, the Silver Age Red Tornado was designed to f*** things up. He was, as his name implied, a walking disaster. He was a fumbling Frankenstein monster who ruined everything he touched. Don’t believe me? Fine; then believe the JLA members themselves:

Okay, we all know Superman's a dick, but when Wonder Woman tells you you're an incompetent boob, you better believe her. Because Wonder Woman knows boobs.

Anyone wanna guess how this turns out...?

Well, not a walking disaster, exactly; more of a twirling one, really. Speaking of twirling disasters, with the arrival of Red Tornado, the twirl-tastic Mars-halationing Martian Manhunter became even more redundant in the JLA .

I mean, nobody else could do that like J’onn. Except Superman. And the Flash. And Red Tornado. Or Wonder Woman twirling her lasso really fast. Or Green Lantern with a fan-construct. Or Batman using a Bat-bee-fan from his utility belt.

Plus, the devastating Tornado cleared a path for another ex-pat Earth-Two-er, Black Canary, to join the JLA and soften it up with all her tears.

Blah blah tragedy blah blah blah Black Canary blah blah suffering

But Martian Manhunter and Black Canary are the stars of the next two segments of the Demise of the Silver Age Justice League of America, part of what drives them off the Earth into the Bronze Age and the satellite 22,300 miles away. Stay tuned!