Wednesday, September 29, 2004

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breakfast with the JLA: issue 53

JLA #53, May 1967: "Secret Behind the Stolen Super-Weapons"
Breakfast: Cup of tea with lemon, half a grapefruit

The cover shows several members of the Justice League being attacked by their own weapons - Batman getting beaned by a batarang, and so on. This doesn't reflect the story at all, so let's hear it for the first instance of cover art bait-and-switch I've encountered. I'm keeping score.

The actual story involves a machine that can swap items with other items at long distance; "being attacked by their weapons" is actually "finding out that their weapons have been swapped with dummy versions." Detective work and impromptu fighting with non-standard weapons ensue.

That summary makes the issue sound much cooler than it actually is. It's actually a big freaking mess. It reads as though it were written Exquisite Corpse-style, with one guy writing a bit, and then another guy writing the next part without looking at the first part, and then an uninterested guy slapping on an ending. The first part of the plot shows JLA members finding out that their toys have been replaced with useless replicas. Not bad. Then the plot train gets derailed; when they confront the master thief in his lair, he - here it comes - animates stolen folklore statues to fight them while he gets away.

Hawkman battles the Monster of Leeds

Ignoring for the moment the totally inexplicable animation zappy device - holy crap, I have rarely seen a more blatant citation dropping sequence (and I was an LOEG fan). It's like Foucault's Pendulum for a nickel. The guy might have well have just written "I swear to God I read the following books, no really." Folklore creatures fought include the Doodang from Uncle Remus stories, the Monster of Leeds a/k/a the Jersey Devil, the Ring-Tailed Roarer from Davy Crockett's tales, and Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. I know this because each one got a large footnote citation panel, right in the middle of the fight. This on top of allusions to Yehud coins and Minoan bull-leaping elsewhere in the issue. Cripes, just because you get a copy of a Time-Life book on monsters and mythology, you don't have to jam it down my throat.

Once the folkloric ass-booting finishes, the third part kicks in, and you can tell that this guy just doesn't care anymore. Some nonsense about the tool-based heroes starting to disappear because they absorbed radiation from the replicas, and then we find out that these other random guys swiped the switchy device from the original baddie, only they've modified it to freeze people, and just when you think the new baddies are about to triumph, Hawkgirl gets a cool extended action sequence and busts a mace in their ass.

What junk. A lot of potentially neat ideas, but they were slung together like goulash. I liked Hawkgirl, though. She socked a few jaws. Plus she's pretty cute. The fact that "Hawkman" is married to "Hawkgirl" is a bit creepy, though. Pedophile.

Batman does some minoan bull leaping

Best Quote: "This is like wedging a cork in a bottle! The Doodang will fit in here so tightly -- it won't be able to wiggle out!"

1 comment!     click to join in

1 Jon Silpayamanant   (2:45pm - Sep 30, 2004)

wow--I vaguely remember having read that, but I know I don't have a copy. That is just too funny!

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