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Congorilla: Funny though, your father said much the same thing to me once.
Jesse Quick: Wait, you knew my dad?
Congorilla: For a short time.
Jesse Quick: An adventure back in the day?
Congorilla: Back in the day, absolutely. Adventure? Not quite. We made a travel documentary about Africa. 1953, as I recall.
Donna Troy: Wow, he was tough. I’ve taken on Robot Baba Yagas that weren’t as hard to beat. Actually that’s a live. I’ve never met a Baba Yaga, robot or not, let alone fought one. I just thought it’d be cool to say.
Synopsis "The Dark Things Part One"
Previously in JLA #44 and JLA #45: The Starheart – the vessel created by the Guardians of the Universe to hold the wild and chaotic magic left over from the early universe – is approaching the Earth. A part of its power originally flowed through Alan Scott’s Green Lantern battery and ring and through the birth mark of his daughter Jade. Her resurrection during the Brightest Day awoken the Starheart and it has brought her to Earth. The Justice League and Society have teamed up to help her, but Alan Scott and her brother Obsidian (Todd Rice) have already been possessed by the Starheart’s magical/chaotic energies.
Alan and Todd vanish leaving the JLA and JSA humbled. The two teams regroup at the League’s Hall of Justice and discuss their options. Wildcat challenges Jade’s identity and gets told off by Jesse Quick for his insensitivity. The Starheart is using Obsidian’s shadow power as a gateway to cover the world and cloak its presence from Mister Terrific’s T-spheres. Batman takes control and suggests that the Flash find an expert on shadows while Mister Terrific tries to find a way to stop the chaos energies overwhelming them. The rest of the JSA and JLA partner-up to corral the magical and elemental heroes and villains who have been driven temporally insane by the chaos energy.
Batman (Dick Grayson) and Supergirl (a new member of the JLA) team-up to protect Gotham City from the water elemental Naiad. Batman forces Naiad back into her human form with a blast of concentrated pollutants while Supergirl freezes her tsunami. Congorilla and Jesse Quick corral the Samurai in Japan, Mister America and Starman corral the Blue Devil, Power Girl and Lightning battle the Red Inferno, and Donna Troy and Jade battle Klarion. After defeating Klarion Jade and Donna go to Alan Scott’s home to see his wife. Jade learns that Alan was hurt that she didn’t come to see him after she was resurrected.
Jade borrows Alan’s Lantern and through it senses that Alan and Todd are on the dark side of the Moon. Starman (Mikaal Tomas) is sent to investigate and discovers that the Starheart has created an army of energy duplicates of Alan. It has also created an emerald fortress with a breathable atmosphere. The duplicates sense Mikaal’s approach and swarm towards him. He disintegrates the first wave with his chest crystal. However, the second wave vanishes and Mikaal is attacked by the real Alan/Starheart who rips the crystal from his chest.
- Naiad is weakened by pollutants.
- Congo Bill and Johnny Chambers collaborated on a travel documentary about Africa in 1953.
- Obsidian, Jade, and Alan Scott can usually sense each others presence with just a thought.
“The Dark Things” is the five-part JLA/JSA crossover that begins this issue, but it feels like we’re halfway into it as we’ve already had a two-issue lead-in and prelude in JLA #44-45. Secret Identity on Comic Vine took issue with that lead in
My other concern is that whilst this is the first issue of this arc it isn’t a very good jumping on point that you might expect from a crossover title. You really need to have read the previous two issues to truly understand why all these magical/elemental characters are acting violently. This shouldn’t be a problem for those who read the Justice League of America series but for those readers who collect only the Justice Society of America and will be picking up only the three issues that tie in they may find themselves a bit lost both in terms of story and character.
The general feeling I got from reading the various online reviews was that people thought that, as Wayland put it, “wasn’t a great issue, wasn’t a bad one.” I wonder if that is because we’ve got a smaller amount of main team action this issue. I’ve bemoaned it a bit – the spread out action – but this chapter does feel a little light when we don’t have those extra pages. The reason we don’t have those pages as that there is a Cyborg/Red Tornado backup story (which I’ll handle separately elsewhere).
In the main story, Alan Scott has been possessed by the Starheart and superheroes world-wide are going insane – queue the world tour team-up. The world-tour montage was something that Robinson did well in an issue of Superman when he had Mon-El visiting many different trouble spots and characters. This time around it’s a little more restrained and serves as a showcase for the traditional divide-the-team approach to JLA/JSA crossovers. The inclusion of the Samurai will either have you smiling knowingly or your rolling your eyes at a Super Friends reference.
This team is beginning to take an interesting shape and we are starting to see some of the relationships that James Robinson has talked about at conventions. The issue opens with the flirtatious banter between Dick Grayson’s Batman and Supergirl. Ralph reviewing for the Superman Homepage observes that,
This is a sensitivity that I would expect from Dick, but not necessarily from Bruce, his mentor and namesake.
Dick Grayson was never wound at tightly as Bruce was and it has been fun seeing a more personable Batman running around the DC Universe. Mark Bagley brings a certain WWII Belle quality to Supergirl. The way he draws her face makes you imagine it painted on the side of Flying Fortress.
This could unfairly be called a replacement League, but that would have more weight if each of these characters weren’t so interesting in their own right. Having Jade, Jesse, and Donna together could make for an interesting dynamic. Max at Comic Bulletin remembers James Robinson’s Golden Age Elseworlds series:
A throwaway comment by Congorilla (about doing a nature documentary with Johnny Quick in ’50s) reminds me that James Robinson wrote the brilliant 1993 Golden Age mini-series, in which Johnny and Alan Scott were some of the main characters. It’s no coincidence that their daughters should begin to bond for the first time during a Robinson-penned story, I think.
These developments and pairing are just getting going so I hope the title stays stable long enough for them to be played out fully.
|Reviews Portal||Comic Book Resources||Greg McElthatton||2/5|
|Reviews Portal||Comics Bulletin||Maxwell Yezpitelok||4/5|
|Community Reviews||Comics Vine User Reviews||Av. of 4 reviews||3.5/5|
|Community Reviews||iFanboy||366 Pulls||3.3/5|
|Character Site||Supergirl Comic Book Commentary||Anj||B/B+|
|Character Site||Superman Homepage||Ralph Silver||3 (story) & 4 (art)/5|
|Reviews Blog||Comic Book Bin||Herve St-Louis||8.5/10|
|Reviews Blog||A Comic Book Blog||Wayland||75/100|
|Reviews Blog||Comics Per Day Reviews||Timbotron||Fair|
|Character Site||Captain's Justice League Homepage||Jason Kirk||2.5/5|
1.1 The “100-Minute War” is the name for the conflict in Superman: War of the Superman #1-4 (written by Sterling Gates and James Robinson). It was the bloody conclusion to the cold war between General Zod’s New Krypton and General Lane’s Project 7734. New Krypton was the Bottle City of Kandor which had been enlarged and extrapolated to an entire planet using sunstone technology. General Lane, Lois Lane father, was in charge of the US military’s response to alien attack. He saw the emergence of New Krypton as a clear and present threat to Earth and sought to engineer a conflict that would give him an excuse to wipe them out.
Supergirl’s father, Zor-El, had been the leader of Kandor, but he was assassinated by one of General Lane’s agents. He was succeeded by his wife, Supergirl’s mother Alura. She freed General Zod from the Phantom Zone and appointed him to lead New Krypton’s defence forces. During the 12-part World of New Krypton series Superman sought to guide New Krypton by giving up his residency on Earth and joining them. Alura forced him to join the military guild and serve under General Zod as Commander Kal-El. However, his efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.
Lane and Zod were engaged in a complex web of espionage and conspiracy against each other that eventually boiled-up into an all out war. General Lane destroyed New Krypton and its civilian population (including Alura) with a suicide bomber. Only Alura’s last-minute sacrifice saved Supergirl’s life. The surviving members of Krypton’s military held Earth responsible for Lane’s actions and launched a full-scale invasion. General Lane’s careful plans meant that the war only lasted for 100-minutes and resulted in the near extinction of the Kryptonian race. Superman was forced to return the battle crazed General Zod to the Phantom Zone and General Lane committed suicide rather than face court-martial.
2-3.1 Swamp Thing was the first Elemental, the Earth Elemental, in Alan Moore seminal comic book series. Before those characters floated off entirely into the Vertigoverse it was explained that there was actually a complete pantheon of different elemental entities – Earth, Fire, Air, and Water. In the 1980s Firestorm series John Ostrander ran a storyline called “Elemental War” that pitched the various Elementals against each other. Firestorm and Red Tornado were revealed to have been the Fire and Air Elementals. The Water Elemental was a new character called Naiad. She was Mai Miyazaki, a Japanese environmentalist who was killed at sea and resurrected as a living embodiment of the oceans. This is probably her first appearance in over 15 years.
4-5.2 Ye gads! I didn’t think anybody remembered Primal Force. It was a short lived 1990s magic based superhero team that span out of the Zero Hour crossover. Red Tornado, the air elemental was a member of Primal Force, but I can’t remember Naiad being one.
6.2, 6.3 Jesse Quick’s father was Johnny Quick. He was a Golden Age speedster, a contemporary of the original Flash, and a core member of the All-Star Squardron. In his alter ego as Johnny Chambers Johnny Quick was a camera man and documentary maker. James Robinson wrote an excellent mini-series called The Golden Age which explored how the WWII superheroes transitioned into the 1950s. It’s one of those is/isn’t in continuity stories – its an Elseworlds story, but Robinson has incorporated parts of it into his Starman run. Johnny features as one of its main characters.
Johnny Quick was killed a few years ago fighting a Flash villain and his spirit merged with the Speed Force – the quazi-mystical energy field that powers all speedsters in the DC Universe. He’s appeared briefly to people who have touched that energy field – Bart Allen in Infinite Crisis #4 and Barry Allen in Flash: Rebirth #3. That gave hope to Jesse that he too might return to life, but her hopes were dashed.
6.5 Johnny Quick got his powers by saying a mantra “3X2(9YZ)4A”. It’s never properly been explained, but it’s meant to be a description of the Speed Force. Meditating on it can grant a speedster easier or more direct access to that power.
7-8.2 The “Samurai” as Congorilla calls him bears a very strong resemblance to the character of the same name from the Super Friends cartoon – one of the ethnic heroes introduced to stop the Justice League looking too white. He had the power to manipulate the winds. However, that character was outside of normal DC continuity.
7-8.3 Edgar Wallace was an English writer and journalist. Congorilla is referring to him because he was the co-writer of the plot for the original 1933 King Kong movie – the one in which a large gorilla climbed a skyscraper.
7-8.4 “Kaze no yo ni hayaku!” was shouted by the Samurai in Super Friends when he transformed into a whirlwind.
7-8.5 “Kyo wa yameyo, waga yusha yo!” – I have no idea. Anybody?
7-8.6 A Gimlet is a cocktail. Wikipedia quotes a Raymond Chandler novel for its description, “a real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice and nothing else”. And wouldn’t you just guess who is a Raymond Chandler fan.
9.1 This is Mister America and Starman versus the Blue Devil (himself a former Leaguer from immediately before Grant Morrison took over the title)
9.2 Power Girl and Lightning versus the Red Inferno (the Red Tornado’s evil “brother” from the recent Red Tornado mini-series) over Sydney, Australia (the harbour bridge and opera house are visible).
9.3 Donna Troy and Jade versus Klarion. The look of his Klarion makes him look like the version that was introduced during Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers project.
11.1 “The other ten”, Wildcat thinks that eleven people returned from the dead, but it was actually twelve. The running plot in Justice League: Generation Lost is that Maxwell Lord has made everybody forget about his existence.
11.5 Jesse Quick is drawn with a crop top – you can see the line across her tummy – but, it’s coloured as reaching her belt.
12.1 Jade doesn’t know who this Mister America is because he first appeared while she was dead. She was killed during the events surrounding Infinite Crisis, but this Mister America first appeared in a JSA story that immediately followed Infinite Crisis when the title’s name was changed from JSA to Justice Society of America.
12.3 The Flash is sent to find an expert in shadows? I think it’s a fairly good bet that he’s being sent to find the Shade.
12.4 Power Girl’s weakness to the chaos energy is ascribed to her powers being derived from the sun (light and darkness). They were once magically derived when her link to her parallel universe Krypton was erased from reality.
13.1 The cat is Klarion’s familiar, Teekl.
13.2 Jade acknowledges that the visual appearance of her power has changed – it’s not just a difference in the artists. Jade’s mother was the Golden Age villainess Thorn (not Molly, the woman married to Alan Scott that Jade and Donna visit later) who had the ability to control plants. Look carefully at Jade’s constructs and you can see that they look like vines and tendrils – a possible connection to her mother.
14.2 Robot Baba Yagas? Baba Yaga was an Eastern European folk monster – a witch whose house walked around on giant chicken legs.
14.4 Now we come to the issue of Green Lantern Kyle Rayner’s love life. He has a history of dating within the profession which makes it difficult when another writer wants to reclaim his current girlfriend for another story. He was dating Donna for most of his first run, but she went back to the Wonder Woman franchise and was replaced by Jade. At least that was until Jade was killed and Kyle moved on. He’s now dating a fellow Green Lantern.
15.2 This is Molly Scott, formerly Molly Maine. Alan Scott has been married twice, both to former enemies. His first wife was Jade and Obsidian’s mother Rose Canton, alias the Thorn. She was unstable and deserted Alan when she found out she was pregnant with twins. She gave them up for adoption and they were raised separately. Molly is Alan’s second wife. She was the original Harlequin. She had a crush on Alan and created her costumed identity so that she could be closer to him.
16.3 Energy field linking Alan, Todd, and Jenny. Obsidian and Jade are twins which partly explains their connection, but the note about it including Alan is strange. As mentioned above, they were raised separately and didn’t meet each other until they were adults. If there was a connection between them you’d have thought that the truth would have been revealed earlier.
17-18.1 The Oath is the original Green Lantern oath as used by Alan Scott during the Golden Age of comics (before Alfred Bester wrote the more well-known “In brightest day, in Blackest night” version). The symbol behind Jade is the Blackest Night – the Black Lantern – symbol. The presence of death still holds some power over those that have returned. In Brightest Day Aquaman is only able to control dead sea-life and in Generation Lost Maxwell Lord’s mind control power is killing people. It would seem that Jade’s power is also affected in some way.
19.4 Mikaal only recently discovered that he could survive in space in JLA #44 when the Starheart’s meteorite containing Jade clipped the JLA Watchtower as it fell to Earth.
20-21.1 An Emerald fortress in space. There is an obvious parallel with Alan Scott’s orbital refuge from Kingdom Come or even Dr Manhattan’s martian retreat in Watchmen.
20-21.3 The figures that are swirling around the fortress look like Alan’s various costumes and past lives. The two shown fully here are Sentinel (top) and his original Golden Age Green Lantern costume (bottom).
24.1 The armour Alan is wearing here is a variant of that Alex Ross designed for him in Kingdom Come.