Monday, January 7, 2008

Discount Bin Finds: Justice League of America v.1:no.245

I couldn't get to Borderlands this past Friday, so I did not end up getting any new comics this week (shock piles upon shock!). So, thanks to a little inspiration from my fellow comics blogger and Martian Manhunter enhtusiant Frank, I figured I would bust out this little gem, which I picked up for a cool 33 cents back last spring. Enjoy!

Justice Leage of America #245 -- "The Long Road Home," by Gerry Conway and Luke McDonnell
Steel, looking worse for ware, as typical, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #245
In this "Crisis on Infinite Earths" tie-in, Steel (Hank Heywood III) is mysteriously thrown into a strange and alien world, where he must battle weird creatures and technology! We meet up with young Hank (scribe Gerry Conway politely slips in a note that our hero is but 19 years old), he's disoriented and just about dead on his feet. Unluckily for him, some strange bugs have the notion to change his situation to dead in their stomachs. Steel is saved by a mysterious (and beautiful natch) woman named Olanda, who takes him back to her high tech shelter to recover. It turns out that he is in fact on Earth, in the faaaar future, thanks to a time warp effect from the Crisis, and his host is none other than the Lord Of Time, and that he has come here to the year 1,000,000,000 (!) to live out his years. I suppose so that he wouldn't feel lonely, Lordy also cloned himself several times, producing six "sons," and Olanda, his favored "daughter." Needless to say the Six didn't take too kindly to this, and stole the LOT's Time Cube, amassing an army of technology with which to get their revenge. Too bad they didn't count on one hot-headed hero to bust things up!

Meanwhile, back in the present in a storyline no one really cares about, the remainder of the Justice League stands and watches J'Onn J'Onzz drop some knowledge on the hospitalized Commander Steel's backside. You know, because it's a Justice League comic and not and issue of Showcase.

As a standalone issue, this is a nice enough Steel story, with a lot of action and some history thrown in for good measure. Steel gets his second costume here, the one which exposes his hair, but with little fanfare and I doubt much reader concern. It's a nice touch to have the baddies not be just generic Futurans, but to tie back to the old, old, incredibly old school JLA foe the Lord of Time. Too bad that I'm pretty sure neither the Six nor Olanda ever showed up again. Luke McDonnell's pencils are nice enough for the era, but there are some weird anatomical examples on display here, including the cover (itself part of a nice little tradition of showing the Heywood family in tremendous pain). Nothing eye-aching, but a few panels require a double-take. Conway though. Oooh Mr. Gerry Conway. I mean, it's plain that he really likes the character of Steel, and as such his portrayl of an angry young hero is pretty good. The main story is a nice twist on the "dystopian future" premise, as well, even if it does fall victim to a few of it's trappings. The rest of the League doesn't fare as well, as the female team-members have three lines total, with Gypsy not even getting to say "boo." Dale Gunn has a bigger role. Still, there's a few instances in the 23 pages of story here where one is forced to wonder if he being totally sincere with the reader, or that he is playing around. What do I mean?

Let me just say that any comic featuring the line "Send a Kill-Bot. We need the interloper alive." is either genius or madness. I leave it to you to decide.

Perfectly servicible comic which is only very loosely tied to "COIE," but that's okay since it would be indecipherable otherwise. Worthwhile if you like Steel, or the Heywood clan, otherwise it's safe to pass.


Diabolu Frank said...

The follow-up issue devoted a lot of pages to the aftermath of the Steel generational throwdown, as well. Figured that was worth noting.

I don't think very many people actually read these comics. Maybe thumbed through them before polybagging them to finish out their run of the book...

Luke said...

Surely there must have been some young kid, only having discovered the Justice League a year earlier, eagerly awaiting each new adventure for the World's Greatest Heroes? A kid who would later be irreversibly traumatized when two of his idols were cut down in brutal fashion, a third pushed to the limit, and the whole lot replaced with a bunch of "second stringers?" Maybe I'm just imagining myself in that role... or am I?!

Wait. Yes I am.

Diabolu Frank said...

I just don't know. I wasn't that kid, having never seen JLA on the newsstand growing up. I knew the team from other comics and occasional appearances in friends' collections, but I don't think the book got good distribution down here in the early 80's. Texas has pretty much always been a Marvel state, which surely didn't help.

Luke said...

>> Texas has pretty much always been a Marvel state, which surely didn't help.

Dude, I hear you. I'm from New York after all. And despite both of the Big Two's offices being in NYC, New York has always seemed to be more of a Marvel territory to me.