Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Justice League #184

Justice League
Justice League #184

Now we are talking!
Darkseid vs the League and the Society under this very cover!
Or does he?

"Crisis Between Two Earths or Apokolips Now!”
Writer – Gerry Conway
Artists – George Perez and Frank McLaughlin
Letters – Ben Oda
Colorist – Gene D’Angelo
Editor – Len Wein
November 1980

So now DC has me wondering: is every other book with Darkseid’s head on the cover just a marketing ploy?

Look throughout this issue and you’ll end up with ZERO actual Darkseid content. Sure, it is part two of three part story, but by now the big man should be making an appearance, right?

Nope. Not until issue three does he ACTUAL take stage and …well, I’m saving that reveal for tomorrow.

What do we have then? Let’s take a look, shall we?

Splash page (oh look! We have Earth-1 and Earth-2 shenanigans in this issue) ...

…following splash page…get to the story, will ya?...

Ah, yes! Heroes…

…fighting third-and-fourth sting villains. Shade, Icicle, and the Fiddler?!? THIS is NOT what I signed up for!

And here we have to pause so I can state that I’m not impressed by McLaughlin’s inks over Perez’s pencils. Perez typically has a huge degree of minutia in each of his panels that McLaughlin isn’t enhancing or something. The book BARELY feels like Perez pencils. Heck, given the way it’s credited, it is possible this is Perez layouts and McLaughlin pencils/inks. It still looks good, mind you, but I have come to expect HUGE things from Perez and this is kind of ordinary. It fits in with the Dillin stuff that preceded it and perhaps that’s what they are going for: consistency. But they should have changed inkers and let Perez do his thing. Release that beast, I say.

And I mean that about Darkseid too.

But in spite of my wishes, we have the standard Justice League story template. The team of heroes is split into four groups of manageable size and then made to accomplish four separate-but-equally-important tasks.

Since the beginning of the Justice League title, this is what readers were used to. I suppose the worry would be the stronger heroes would always “save the day” or something, leaving little for the others to do. To me this is a bit of a letdown. The key motivation in reading Justice League or Avengers stories is to see ALL the heroes acting in concert and to watch the occasional upstaging of the powerhouses by the characters with more finessed skill-set. That’s what made Giffen’s Justice League so fun.

I’m asking too much of the silver and bronze age material to get that, however. So let’s just kick back and watch as Firestorm, Power Girl and Orion get their butts handed to them by three villains that wouldn’t last one mission on the Suicide Squad.

First off, Orion gets a face-full of Shadow energy from Shade right before Firestorm takes him permanently off the chessboard by transmuting his staff into a pogo stick.

On the plus side, he could probably get a REALLY good bounce if he lands right on that thing. Instead however Firestorm puts him in a pot of water before getting the hero gets the ice-ice-baby treatment from Icicle. Power Girl is the only one left a full fighting force, so she swoops in to the rescue.

At least it looks that way at first…then we get a blast from the side as Orion’s Astro-Force beams take out Icicle’s super-snowball attack. Really, what good would that do against Power Girl. She’s essentially Superman. The two flighted good-guys team up for a double-whammy and while it ISN’T fighting Darkseid, I did get a huge tickle from this conflict.

Sadly we are left with the Fiddler. I know he from when he fought the Teen Titans and Duela Dent, The Joker’s Daughter, took is ass out. This will be a cakewalk for these three heroes. Bingo, there ends the Darkseid threat.


Yeah, one sniper length blast by Firestorm and that fiddle would have been a large red snapper. Or an Astro Force pulse reducing it to splinters. Or Power Girl’s heat vision (she had that, right?) making it so much kindling. But NO! No. no. The FIDDLER handily defeats these three astonishingly powerful superheroes. Hmm…I’m gonna have to take points off for that one, guys.

And he goes right back to bringing Darkseid back from the dead by playing his fiddle…???

I’m going to have check the rule book on that one too guys. I don’t know if I can suspend belief on fiddling back the dead.

Let’s turn to some other folks while we wait for the big guy to actually make and appearance, shall we?

Who is this sneaking into Granny Goodness’s Orphanage?

Why it’s Supes, Wonder Woman (Earth-1), and Big Barda. Looks like the A-team is going to go toe-to-toe with the morally bankrupt daycare worker. Wonder if she will be the trim version from Darkseid New Year’s Evil or the fat one from Byrne’s take on her.

Appears our trio is being lead around by one of Granny’s lost children, who takes them to a resistance cell made up exclusively of kids which freaks Supes out. I wish this panel were colored differently. Perez even throws in come Kirby Krackle, but the colors flatten the art out too much and it just ends up looking odd. The weird perspective doesn’t help either. This is some kind of fish-eye view as we have characters all around the outer edge of the page standing yet by the angle of their bodies, they are all pointed in different directions off the page.

I get what he is going for, but this is a miss. Let’s move on.

Barda gets some GREAT moments here with this young lad…

…(who looks a lot like Starfire, right?) and they have a guide into the Orphanage proper, as dangerous as that might be. But not before the heroes hang out with all the kids…

…and learn about HOW the three petty criminals came to be on Apokolips from this little “multi-cog”…

Appears Shade and the Fiddler were doing all the heavy lifting on this armored car heist while Icicle was basically screwing off, when suddenly…

They all turned on one another. This is the “Injustice Society”? Because they are rank amateurs who have neither the intellect nor the strength to take on ANY version of the Justice League. I mean Vibe, Gypsy, Vixen, and Steel could take these three down in a matter of seconds. Never you mind what you saw in the first five pages of this mag, these guys are NOT DC’s best and brightest.

Anyway, aside from the rumbling between them, there is an ACTUAL rumble and the ground does this.

Okay, is this some power Darkseid has that I was unaware of? The power to manipulate stone from beyond the grave? Because this is the second time we’ve seen this. I’m saying perhaps it’s a superpower.

Anyway, he proves he rocks…(heh, he’s made out of rocks too)

…and the lame villains promptly join up. Huzzah! Which leaves us back with our heroes, who still have some questions about WHAT Darkseid’s plan is. And those questions mean getting to Granny Goodness, so off the three go following their pint-sized tour guide.

Meanwhile, Hawkman saves a skydiver whose chute won’t open and finds out the asshole didn’t have a backup chute because he was carrying around a pack full of Chocolaty Hostess® Cup Cakes. Good going Hawkman, but I’m not sure how this helps save the universe from Darkseid. Maybe assist the team going up against the Fiddler or something? Wouldn’t take much. Just pick up a large rock, fly way up high and drop it on him. Bingo! Done. I should be a member of the Justice League.

Also meanwhile, we have Green Lantern (Earth-1) and Doctor Fate (YAY!) following Oberon’s lead to a tower that still is heavily guarded for some reason. Darkseid had to be keeping something HUGELY important in there given that he didn’t pull those troops away to guard the villains bringing him back to life. The trio has just wiped the floor with those guards and are following GL into the structure. Oh! That last panel indicates there’s something special on the next. Turn that page carefully…

WOAH! It’s a trussed up Izaya, the High-Father of New Genesis.

Doctor Fate makes short work of the chains and now this has turned into a rescue mission.

Or at least it would be, except Izaya knows what his brother is contemplating and off the heroes go to Armegedda, the capital city, to stop him.

I have to state that around here I start feeling the Perez a bit more. It has taken most of the book, but it is almost like he let loose the further into the comic we got. The page above in particular is very reflective of his Crisis work and the panels only get better from here and into the next issue.

Onward to our last team, the trio of Batman (Earth-1), Huntress and Mr. Miracle. What a great trio to send on a stealthy, fact-finding mission. Here’s two creatures of the night scaling Darkseid’s imperial palace to find out his evil plans…

… and while they continue to slither deeper into the belly of beast, Scott surprises two guards with these…

…gunk bombs that encase them in cement like silly putty. Being only moments ahead of Batman/Huntress, Scott peeks at the plans and the rushes the dark knights in to see…

…that Darkseid plans on moving Apokolips across dimensions to the Earth-2 universe, where there is NO New Genesis and he can easily conquer the galaxy there. But the worst part is that Apokolips arrival would doom Earth-2 to destruction!

Wow! That was some issue, huh? Love all these characters and where this story is going. My one wish? MORE interactions. Putting Earth-2 and Earth-1 characters on the same page is GREAT, but the team idea that permeates early JL stories never worked for me. I loved the Avengers style, where even though you had varying power levels in the group, they all came together to fight the big-bad simultaneously.

What that gives you is everyone gets a chance to interact, not just character A only getting to talk to character B. I know this is a personal preference, but this formula of story for JL is overdone. I like the stories where it doesn’t happen a lot more.

That said, this is STILL a great issue. Buy it! I am so happy the Crapbox could afford a copy, and better yet: the issue following it too. Tune in tomorrow as we see DARKSEID RISING!

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