Synopsis "Royal Pain! Chapter Two: Shuffle Up and Die!"
This is the second issue of Len Wein’s three-part Royal Flush Gang story. A continuing theme from last issue is the luck of the draw. Roulette, a gambler and a foe of the Justice Society is playing cards against Amos Fortune, the probability altering Justice League foe, aboard Fortune’s private Mississippi Riverboat. This is no usual game of cards as each of them has taken up decks that connect them to real people. Fortune is playing with his Royal Flush Gang while Roulette is encumbered with the short staffed Justice League.
The remaining active members of the Justice League – Plastic Man, Doctor Light, Firestorm, Red Tornado and the acting leader Vixen – defeat a group of minor cards in Midway City with the help of Wonder Woman. However, Fortune sacrifices his hand rather than allow them to talk under the influence of Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth. Roulette’s remark on Fortune’s ruthlessness leads him to relate the origin of the Royal Flush Gang (his childhood gang) and how he’s built them into a national criminal gang that rivals Intergang.
For their own part the League are still having problems with their roster. Vixen had offered League membership to the Titans’ Starfire (referencing the latest issue of TITANS), but she was turned down. The skeleton League are forced to divide their forces further then the Royal Flush Gang hit three events simultaneously. I never really saw Vixen as the leadership type, but her experience makes her an interesting leader for this particular roster.
Fortune makes a reference to a playing card being able to embed itself into a melon to a depth of three inches. Now, I’m a fan of the Mythbusters TV show and I know for a fact that they’ve tested this particular stunt. In one episode they could only get a card to embed itself into ballistics gel (an analogue for human flesh) by less than an inch and declared this particular lethal method “busted.”
The Roll Call of sixteen Leaguers on the second page is amusing as the majority of them are greyed out because they have become inactive. Even several of those that are shown as active, Green Lantern John Stewart and Zatanna, don’t appear in this story. It wasn’t until I re-read the original appearance of the Royal Flush Gang (see my last post) that I realised that a short handed League was also a plot point of that story (a plot device to balance the Leaguers against the five-member Gang).
I really like Fabrizio Fiorentino’s cover. The black and white pencil drawing of the dead-hand and the cards is really nicely juxtaposed with the brilliant red of the highlights. Derrick’s interior art is, in my opinion, particularly effected by who is inking him. I like some sequences better than others, but it would have been nice to have a single inker throughout the entire issue (a pet issue of mine).
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