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Subj: Reading JLA 1972--Wrapping up Starbreaker
Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 at 04:13:17 pm EDT
Reply Subj: JLA movie equals another Batman and Robin?
Posted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 at 07:33:03 am EDT

#98 "No More Tomorrows" on sale March 7, 1972. F=Mike Friedrich, D/G=Dillin/Giella

We come to the thrilling climax of the Starbreaker arc and the cover, fit for a Lovecraft book, (and really pretty good) shows the JLA playing with a Ouija board or something and Sargon emerging in mist, like a popsicle out of the Good Humor truck.

Did DC have plans for this guy? Why not Fate and Thunderbolt, two stalwarts seen before--Sargon is a huh? on the order of Loudon Wainwright III (No Prize for identifying his contribution to pop culture). Anyway, before diving in, we note the faces board on the cover's left margin has changed, largely for the better, though Black Canary as Gloria Bunker is replaced by---Bambi Canary, pole dancer. Is this an Adams face? Whoever drew it, it looks like the standard issue to every high school washed-out-girl who could be pretty if she didn't exist on Sprite and bubble gum.

And away we go! Atom, the physicist, kicks things off wrong by jumping Sargon. Apparently F bought into the Denny O'Neill character trait for Atom as feeling massively inferior (cause he's so, so little compared to the strapping Leaguers, and by mathematical logic therefore useless) and compensating with either defeatist moans or hot-head antics. I hated this then, and now, as Atom was possibly the only hero in DC (meaning I can't think of another right now) who was a self-made COSMIC-LEVEL-POWER hero, fully functioning on a microscopic scale, which is pretty awesome and something only GL might pull off, but not easily or nearly as well as Ray did routinely.

Sargon sets Atom's cause back years by calling upon his "Ruby Of Life" (and I can't write that without hearing the Johnny Cash rockabilly number "Rock and Roll Ruby") to tick-brush ole Ray into a dusty satellite corner. Then Superman emits an "Arrgggh" when grabbing Sargon and the latter's street cred is established.

Intrusion #2--as I've said, I hate Superman being casually pushed around, especially by bunnies pulled from hats. Was ever a hero more abused on covers than Superman? To sell the book, just show the Elemental Enemies or Captain Incredible or some other justly-forgotten villain of the month belting Kal and behold, instant drama, and likely a sales spike. Luthor, even Wonder Woman I can handle dusting their knuckles on Kal but Sargon...he's wearing a suit...and a turban...and a ruby. He's a '40s stock figure you can find in a Crime Doctor or Boston Blackie movie. Paging Turhan Bey. "Arrgggh" indeed.

Right, back to business. Sargon sets up this issue's team beats by assigning the gang to recover some other rubies, which when combined with his rock and roll ruby will humble Starbreaker by generating "Love Power".

"Love Power". Savor the words, and you may picture Judy Carne and Goldie Hawn bikini dancing in cages, next to Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. "Love Power."

I'm dumbstruck. Thankfully, we have Hawkman and Batman, a detective and THE WORLD'S GREATEST DETECTIVE--World's Greatest, mind you, on hand to analyze the proceedings:

H: "How do you figure Sargon knows all this stuff?"

B: "Mystery to me."

Did F sub-contract the writing to his fourth-grader nephew?

Anyway, three teams gas up the Partridge Family's bus and hit the Haight Ashbury------ check that, but they do go into the past, present and future on Sargon's errands. This is an echo of the venerable Fox story construction and I always love the arbitrary teams that just seem to meet whatever need arises. Classic JLA and if you don't buy this premise, there's no point in reading the book.

The fun to be had in the rest of the book consists of Arthur and Dinah combing "Latin America" for the ruby and beating up "ayyy caramba" guys in the rain (need that hourly spray) when DC lunacy pokes through, with Dinah's wig being knocked off in mid-judo flip, to reveal--dark hair. And everybody on site mistakes her for the Latina wife of El Presidente--because---because---they're both brunettes? Well, as the heir to Sherlock Holmes would say, "mystery to me."

Starbreaker loses energy by the hour--because the plot demands that he lose it. He's arrowed by Arrow, pounded by others, and Batman gets two panels in which to shuck John Ritter and conjure, briefly, the Batman, by punching out Starbreaker (who's running from Superman in an alley as if Kal was trying to sell him insurance), leading Kal to admire "Batman. I yield to the master." Finally, a real moment for Batman, though F, or D/G, can't help festooning the alley with a battered sign reading "Last Performance--"The Vampire". The point is, again, shoved through my eye and right out the back of my head.

To remediate our view of Atom as sulking teen, we're told, by him, that Sargon "worked out a plan to fire atom-sized me into Starbreaker's brain, where my BIOLOGICAL knowhow (emphasis added) would implant a magical suggestion onto his thought patterns." Why not just have the entire JLA wake up and realize Starbreaker was only a dream?

But wait! Just in case you've assumed the John Ritter phase of Batman is over, we have this erudite exchange to close the story. Flash and Hawkman get into the kind of debate that we all had in a dorm, late at night, when avoiding that lab write up or paper on "The Faerie Queen":

F: "Magic may just be undiscovered science."

H: (pointing, so you know he means it) "Perhaps science is just unacknowledged magic."

Do you know that Hawkman is an interstellar-trained policeman/detective? Do you believe it?

But leave it to THE WORLD'S GREATEST DETECTIVE to have the last word:

B: "Sounds like an unsolvable mystery to me." He really says that.

And I suppose he followed it with "I gotta go help Mr. Furley get Chrissy's hand out of the bathtub drain--don't ask!!!" to a swell of canned laughter.

Next up--Johnny Appleseed invades Earth!!

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