Sunday, 19 September 2010

JLA Incarnations #3

So, we'll pass right by my last post, which inflated a minor mistake into an entire blog entry, before making a huge error at the end of the article. Thanks to Michael Bradley for catching that one for me in the comments!

I'd also like to return a shout-out to Kevin Cushing of the Geoff Johns Podcast, who read out an e-mail of mine on his second episode and plugged the blog a little. The Geoff Johns Podcast is a new podcast looking at the work of Geoff Johns. In a few episodes time, the podcast will alternate between the current month's worth of Geoff Johns work, and the same month 11 years ago (starting at the beginning of Johns' writing career), but for now the podcast is playing catchup with current titles and storylines to provide context for future episodes. I've really enjoyed the first two episodes, even with the second episode being a Brightest Day catchup (not a fan of Brightest Day, which seems to be heading towards Countdown standards as opposed to 52 standards). I hope you'll be able to find some time to catch this podcast, as once the 'historical' episodes get underway I think Kevin will be covering some really interesting titles.

Anyway, it'll be a very long time before we cover any Geoff Johns work here at the World of Superman. Today, we'll be looking at John Ostrander. Please open your issues to page 1.

Like A Tombstone In The Sky

Writer: John Ostrander
Penciller: Val Semeiks
Inker: Prentis Rollins
Colorist: John Kalisz
Separations: Heroic Age
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Assistant Editor: Steve Wacker
Editor: Dan Raspler
Cover Artist: Val Semeiks, Prentis Rollins, John Kalisz
Cover Date: September 2001
Release Date: 11/07/2001

Having been established for some time, the Justice League outgrows its original headquarters and builds itself a satellite headquarters in orbit around the Earth. Green Arrow resents the symbolism of the League looking down upon the Earth, and concerns over the 'sitting duck' nature of the satellite. Superman tries to address his concerns, telling him that only the League know that the satellite is there. However, Superman is wrong, as Lex Luthor gains positive confirmation that the satellite exists. He draws his plans against the League.

In the next few weeks, a new terrorist organisation known as Kobra makes itself known when an all-out attack on Cheyenne Mountain is routed by the Justice League. WLEX reporter Tully Reed presents footage of the attack, which is seen by Lex, who makes contact with the head of Kobra and reveals the existence and location of the League's satellite. Kobra plans to attack and destroy the satellite in retribution for the League destroying his mobile base of operations during the Cheyenne Mountain attack.

Green Arrow gives an inflammatory performance during an interview with Tully Reed, criticising the League for getting above its station and not doing enough for social issues. Hawkman takes offence at Arrow's comments, saying that the interview has jeopardised the League's UN backing and funding. He calls for the League to censure Green Arrow, but before they can do so, Arrow quits. Green Lantern follows his friend, and two talk. Green Arrow is having a mid-life crisis, and wonders if he needs the League as much as it needs him. Their conversation is interrupted by an emergency call from Black Canary, who is alone on the satellite and has detected a horde of Kobra spaceships heading towards her. The satellite is boarded and although Canary fights hard, she is overwhelmed by sheer force of numbers, and is captured by Kobra. As the the heroes prepare to rescue Canary, Atom tells the League to rendezvous at LexCorp.

The League confronts Luthor, who protests his innocence, claiming that Kobra stole LexCorp equipment to mount his raid on the satellite. He then turns on a screen broadcasting Kobra's message to the world -  a trussed up Black Canary and an ultimatum for the League to surrender to him. Although they doubt Luthor's innocence, the League realises that Kobra has laid a trap for them. They decide to distract Kobra, and Green Arrow teleports to the satellite to be that distraction. Taking out the first few guards, he fires an arrow into a control panel before announcing his presence to Kobra and drawing his troops. Alone in the control room, the arrow starts to shape-shift - it was really a disguised Martian Manhunter.

Green Arrow is quickly captured, and is beaten and brought to Kobra. Green Arrow taunts his captor, telling him that Martian Manhunter has already disabled his traps and bombs. The League then burst in to confront Kobra, whilst out in space, Superman, Green Lantern and Firestorm take care of the spaceships. With the Kobra troops defeated, the League search for Kobra himself, but find that he has managed to escape. However, they find the badly beaten body of Green Arrow, and transport him to a government hospital for him to receive treatment. Recovering in bed, Arrow decides not to rejoin the League, although Atom tells him that he is family and will always be welcome.

There's not a huge amount to say about this issue from a Superman point of view. He is listed on the opening splash page as a reserve member, a status he holds with League pretty much until the Watchtower era starts in JLA #1. There's a good moment where Green Arrow is freaking out with the League's self-appointed protectorshipbenevolance and humanity shines through. Green Arrow's response, a semi-mocking 'You're not the same as other people', speaks volumes about how he views Superman.

Although Superman doesn't really contribute to the rest of the plot, he does get to use his powers against Kobra a couple of times. These are nicely rendered by Val Semeiks, who really gives some panache to the battle scenes in the book. I particularly like the splash page where Superman, Green Lantern and Firestorm take apart the Kobra spaceships, especially the bits where Firestorm turns the ships into stone. Semeiks does a great job with the issue, bringing a real sense of unease to Kobra, especially his temple.

The issue opens with the construction of the iconic Justice League satellite, then jumps forward in time with the caption 'Some time later...' on page 8. This leap in time covers the most notable incident to occur on the JL satellite, the rape of Sue Dibney by Doctor Light and the mind-wiping of both Light and Batman. Although not specifically stated in this issue, the League's actions in the aftermath of the assault is the trigger for Green Arrow's feelings towards the League and his actions in this issue.

There are a few continuity errors in this issue. Luthor is shown with his kryptonite ring, an item he wouldn't acquire until Superman #2, a year or so down the line. He's also pictured in his post-Underworld Unleashed body, taller, slimmer and more well-built than his original Man Of Steel body, which was shorter and stockier. Luthor should also have some red, receding hair, and I do get a little irritated when the Luthor from the Man of Steel era is rendered as fully bald, as one of the nice touches throughout the original miniseries was how Luthor gradually lost his hair across his appearances. In a wider DC sense, Ollie and Diana were residents of Star City at this time, not Seattle.

The Geeky Bits: On the topic of Superman and the JLA, around the time of this issue, three Justice League of America story-arcs from the Silver Age featuring Superman as a member/reserve member can be definitively said to have occurred in the Post-Crisis history. The first, issues 96-98 from 1972, contains the original appearance of Starbreaker, who would return in Justice League America #62-65 (1992), Adam Strange: Planet Heist (2005) and Justice League of America #29-34 (2005). The second is issues 120 and 121 from 1975, which featured the marriage of Adam Strange and Alanna. The last, issues 185-187 (1981) show Superman's first time on Apokolips and his first encounter with Darkseid. This story is important, as during the Legends crossover, Superman exhibits knowledge of Darkseid that he would otherwise not have had the opportunity to gain.

Next on World of Superman: I really don't want to do this, but I'm going to have to unleash the continuity-challenged JLA: Classified #49 upon you all. Put on your finest continuity cop uniforms, and meet me back here in a few days time.

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