Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Flashback: Justice League Of America #18

(This is an article I wrote back in 2007 that I just uncovered. Thought it was worth finishing)

For my second official post, I thought I'd set the Wayback Machine to March of 1963, and bring you all into the days when comic books were still fresh. When you didn't have people talking about Civil Wars, rapes, blood, breasts falling out of costumes, and Rob Liefeld still getting work. Heck, I'm not even sure Rob Liefeld was alive in 1963, so, bonus!

(And if he was, it'll be a lot easier to find him and beat him up at that young age than now. Now, he's expecting it.)

In 1963, the Justice League was still in its infancy, consisting of some of the biggest powerhouses the DC Universe had to offer. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, Flash, Green Arrow, the Atom, Aquaman! They were -the- go-to guys (and woman) to get the job done. You knew it, I knew it, your grandma knew it, and as this story shows, even microscopic universes knew it, as you'll find out.

The story starts with Snapper Carr complaining to his girlfriend Midge (no, not the one from Archie comics) that as of late, he's been the resident 'bench warmer' of the Justice League. Y'see, in those days, taking a teenager with you into battles against super villains was par for the course. Batman had Robin, Superman had Jimmy Olsen, and Wonder Woman was forever being followed by a young Hugh Hefner, gathering souvenirs from battles and offering to dab a towel on her skin when she got sweaty.

(This, one might point out, could possibly be a feat that Japan studied with some interest, viewing how in about 90% of their animated works it falls upon students to save the world when they have trouble diagramming sentence structure and can barely work out where the Alps are on a world map.)

The Justice League had Snapper Carr, a 'hep cat, daddy-o' who didn't really bring much to the "already-crammed-with-that-graham" super team, but he owned a nifty hot rod (the Justice League even installed a device in it that would allow it to fly, obviously hoping a passing Air Force plane would shoot it down) and snapped his fingers a lot. My personal theory is that they wanted someone expendable to take point, on the off-chance Doomsday showed up early.

When Snapper finally arrives, he finds that the Justice League is gone already! Despondent, he gets out his Streisand albums, puts them on, climbs into the tub, and slowly picks up the razor blade a-

Sorry, got lost in my own little fantasy there. Anywho.

It turns out the Justice League has been MINIATURIZED. After a brief scene where the Atom has to figure out where they've gone, he joins them in a miniature universe. Once they land on the proper atomic-sized planet (lucky aim, I'm thinking) they find that they've been brought there by the champions of that world for a serious reason.

To kick their asses.

No, I can't make this up. Y'see, it seems the protectors are androids powered by a strange energy source to be able to handle any invaders, be them by land, sea, or outer space. However, these same energies are also shortening the lifespan of each generation of the native people, so the androids finally realized that they have a humdinger of a problem. If the civilization dies, then they have nobody to protect, see? Unfortunately, the energy sources, they claim, make them impossible to defeat, so they need the League's help.

So, the league breaks into three teams to face the androids, and promptly get their asses kicked six ways from Sunday. Meanwhile, the native people are letting out a collective "I knew we should have gone with the Green Hornet!"

Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern, after getting their butts handed to them on silver platters, are trapped in a cage, where the Protector that beat them up claims that 'Not even Superman can break through those bars!' And sure enough, the Kryptonian's 'super-muscles' (his term, not mine) are of no use.

That Superman. He's a regular cheerleader, isn't he? A superpowered ray of sunshine.

That's nothing. Read the first panel of the next page:

"Now get back in the cage-kitchen and make me a damn cage-sandwich, woman!"

Who knew, huh?

Anyway, Batman finally figures out the secret of the protectors of this little hellhole. They have spooky mind-powers. Once someone says something, ("You cannot defeat us." "You cannot break those bars." "You will enjoy Gigli, dammit.") the people who hear it are forced to believe it, no matter how ludicrous ("The Seattle Mariners will win the World Series!")

And no, you can't override one comment with another. Once you tell someone they can't, nobody else can tell them they can.

So, if you're the world's greatest super team and you just realized it's impossible for you to beat a foe because they told you that you can't, which would seem to be your best option?

a) Send the Atom back up to recruit another hero to combat them, telling them it's /vital/ that they wear earplugs the entire time. Say, the Metal Men. Or Hawkman. Or Metamorpho. Y'know, someone who could possibly take them down on their own.

b) Figure out a way to pitch the androids into battle against each other, using the infinite loop you caused to somehow send them rocketing off into space, never to harm anyone again.

c) Send the Atom back up to recruit highly-trained soldiers that would have the skills and abilities to take down these three android threats with minimal help from the League members.

d) Go find Rick Jone- er, Snapper Carr, a teenager with little to no real training, shrink him down, plug his ears, and then play offense for his quarterback, blocking the blows and allowing him to destroy the androids.

If you answered d, then you skimmed ahead.

"Must remember," the mighty Martian Manhunter repeats on the next page, "I wait until nobody is looking, then just hold his head underwater. Two minutes, tops."

And where the hell is Flash running from? What does he do, wait fifteen seconds after everybody is gone, then zip out catch up?

Anyway, since Snapper can't hear the Protectors, the League is able to give him several boosts that allow him to smack them down like they were teenage Thai prostitutes (so I'm told), and take away their power sources. The aliens are so thankful, they happily return the League to their home world, and Snapper Carr gets to impress his girlfriend.

And he better be doing the ol' "wet and bubbly" with her. I mean, the character idea might've been good back then, but let's face it. Who wouldn't use "Oh, yeah, then I totally saved Superman's life" to get themselves a little sumthin' sumthin'?

...man. Female muscles.

No comments: