Sunday, August 06, 2006

Geez, Hawkman, it's not like they're asking you to save Spokane or something.


Red Tornado blows up, check; Green Lantern concussed, check; Wonder Woman does more amazing feats here than in any given issue of her comic, check...all this and more, in Justice League of America #129, "The Earth Dies Screaming!" Written by Martin Pasko, art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin. From back in the day when aliens attacked earth from other dimensions, Hostess ads were plentiful and amusing, and a helluva lot happened in a monthly comic.

This issue is cool, but weird: Green Lantern's ring gets passed like a mic, with Atom and Flash both giving it a spin. (John Stewart is mentioned, but not called up. Jerks. Probably wanted a chance to play with it themselves.)

The villain of the piece, extra-dimensional fear-eating alien Nekron, is one crazy design. (Actually, he seems more thought out than the current Necron, who is DC's devil character, and slightly less effective than the Robot Devil of Futurama. But more fem.) Nekron's purple, to make him contrast to the green, blue, and red garbed heroes and heroines of the JLA. He ate "d-fear," or fear of death, like a drug; and was repelled by bravery. He's got a crazy pre-Giger mouth with goatee going, he seems to change size a lot in the course of this issue, and he's got this--speech--pattern--going--that--is--positively--Shatner-esque--and--annoying--to--type.

OK, maybe they just threw a bunch of stuff together. He's got fear gas, he's got robots, he launches a "solar prominence" at Midway City; later Nekron pulls a Kryptonite-blaster "from deep within one of his bizarre body-pouches." That's a polite, Comics-Code Approved way of saying "out of his ass." Well, Nekron's or the writer's, I suppose.

The JLA had apparently been doused with Nekron's fear gas, with the exception of Wonder Woman, who hadn't been a member at the time and Nekron hadn't prepared for; and possibly Green Lantern. (I believe this was just after Wonder Woman's 'New Look' white jumpsuit phase.) GL's ring had made it's little way to the JLA, but was now out of power, and GL himself was nowhere to be found. Wonder Woman and Superman have the ring at different points in the issue too, although they don't use it the way you use your roommate's car when he's passed out. Actually, Diana holds it like someone asked her to be Mrs. Hal Jordan, and her face asks you if no frickin' way is unclear.

The fear gas made all the affected Leaguers unwilling to risk their lives for any reason, so Hawkman refuses to try to save Midway from that solar prominence. Um, no offense, but how was Hawkman going to do that, anyway? 'Flying at it and hitting it with a mace' or 'ask a bunch of birds to stop it' don't seem like viable plans. Wonder Woman reasons that Hawkman wouldn't want the deaths of everyone in Midway on his conscience, so she uses the magic lasso (neatly lassoing around his wings--that lasso is magic!) to counter the fear gas. Why Nekron doesn't just gas WW too, I don't know: the gas is kinda spendy, it's like breaking out a whole can of Raid when you've got one bug, it's fun watching her lasso people...throw out your own answer here.

Diana tries (the other end of) her lasso on the solar prominence, but finds Nekron can control it somehow: when someone other than Hawkman tries it, it ceases to exist. So, WW's left with a pickle: does she have the right to make Hawkman risk his life? She can't make that decision, but under the influence of the gas, he can't either. Boy, if only the JLA had someone on it who could change people's minds for them...Anyway, they decide to start evacuating the city instead.

Meanwhile, Red Tornado apparently missed all this, and is wondering why the hell everyone's acting like such a bunch of nancies today. Well, he's too polite to say that, but he's totally thinking it. And Flash, gassed as well, has decided to resign from the JLA after getting beaten by Captain Cold, then running away like a coward. Cold, for his part, looks less impressed with his victory than surprised he hasn't been beaten up by then. And yeah, maybe a little disappointed too.

Elongated Man points out that Flash was fear-gassed like the rest of them, and Batman realizes Red Tornado shouldn't be affected. Leaving that slow-onset insight aside for a moment, I can't remember if Batman had or hadn't fought the Scarecrow, and his fear gas, several dozen times prior to this incident. Well, Nekron's affected Superman, so it's probably super-fear gas (Now with Kryptonite! 38% More Effective!) or something.

Then, the floating head of a Guardian of the Universe, Green Lantern's boss, appears to drop some exposition: GL unconscious, the JLA's got the uncharged ring so they can't contact alternate John Stewart, earth doomed, etc.

I'd also like to mention, I've been trying to find a copy of the old British sci-fi movie The Earth Dies Screaming for years now. Supposedly, it was an influence on George Romero in making Night of the Living Dead, and it just sounds cool as hell in a b-movie way. Moving on:

Meanwhile again (or still), Red Tornado, once again tired of everyone sitting around yapping, takes matters into his own hands; and is once again blown up. He may also have been cheesed about getting one line the entire issue, or perhaps at having to die disguised as Hawkman. I'm pretty sure this is going to be Reddy's 'characterization' in the new JLA comics: every time there's a lull in the action, or the other team members have a conversation for more than four panels, Red will attack and be blown up. I'm not sure this particular sacrifice is warranted in a cost-benefit analysis, though: is the city of Midway, minus the inhabitants, worth more than a super-android? Let's see, figure 1976 dollars, real estate and building prices of a medium-large city versus building and development costs of sentient computer...factor in economic benefits of reconstruction against Red's bus speed...let me get back to you on this one.

After the Guardian finishes the info-drop, Superman and Flash go looking for Green Lantern, who had been beaten and left at the Grand Canyon, just like your dog on that vacation when you were 6. (Boo!) Nekron had left a robot, complete with Kryptonite eye beams, to guard the area and the invisible power battery.

1 comment:

Devon said...

This just may be the single greatest Hawkman page EVER!