Thursday, November 30, 2017

Justice League of America 1983 Annual

Justice League

Justice League of America 1983 Annual

Say “nighty-night” to the Justice League for a while

Plotter – Paul Levitz
Wordsmith – Len Wein
Penciller – Rick Hoberg
Inker - Dick Giordano
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Gene D’angelo
Editor – Len Wein
Annual 1983 

If you are looking for a fabulous bedtime story, I’ve got one right here.

It’s the league in action against the villainous Doctor Destiny again, only this time his plot is way more thrilling. This was one of DC’s huge annuals from this era so we’ve got a lot of story to get though.

Let’s get crack’n, shall we?

Our splashpage introduces a chapter title but no story title. No time to worry about that, dear reader. It appears the opening of “If I should DIE before I wake…” begins with these five robot dreadnoughts appearing on the JLA satellite and tearing up the place.

In the League’s corner we find Superman, Red Tornado, Firestorm, Flash and the Elongated Man. The amazing thing is that any of the Dreadnoughts are still standing given this team of greats.

Part of that might have to do with the fact that the silver robots are almost as fast as Flash and near Superman caliber in the strength department. The Leaguers are having a hard time resisting them, with Ralph having the most trouble.

In fact, Ralph feels way out of his (pardon the pun) league here. The fact he isn’t able to do much in this fight works at Ralphs insecurity with his powers and how much help he really brings to the league. I’m not sure why he should be having these feelings though. If these guys give Superman a hard time, they are above pretty much everyone’s level of dangerous robots.

It’s then that Ralph notices one Dreadnought going to smash the space window and kill every leaguer that needs air.

Ralph does his very best to stop or at least delay the automaton…

…but it isn’t enough! The Robot smashes through the window, all the air blows out and possibly two leaguers die including Ralph.

As he floats helpless in the void of airless space…

…Sue Dibney wakes him from his moaning in his sleep. Appears the entire thing was a dream brought on by Ralphs anxieties. Or is it just Ralph’s worries on overdrive that caused this…or someone else?

Well of course it’s someone else: Doctor Destiny, to be exact. The crazy skeletal Doc Dee has recreated his Materioptikon again and is using it against various league members. Appears he is looking for a cure to his appearance, but didn’t find the answer in Ralph’s dreams. He calls Ralph a fool for having insecurities, which is actually pretty normal.

We then learn that Doc Dee runs some kind of sleep clinic, hiding his looks and running studies on test subjects under the guise of research. This is providing him no answers either and he vows to kill all the Justice Leaguers as retribution for his ugly puss.

We move to the following morning at the JLA Headquarters, where Commissioner Gordon has arrived looking for Batman. This occurs during the first two issues of Batman and the Outsiders, so Wonder Woman is forced to disclose that Batman has quit the league and is invading a foreign county.

The League is still interested in Gordon’s problem though and that concern becomes evident when they find out that Doctor Destiny has managed to escape confinement.

The League rushes into action by…

Did you say “splitting up into teams”? Because they totally split up into teams.

And first up we have Hawkman and…Hawkgirl? Did she get demoted or something? I thought Shayera was always Hawkwoman…anyway—the Atom and Firestorm. They are trying to track Doc Dee via a high concentration of delta-wave radiation from orbit, which sounds like a dicey gamble given the size of the Earth and all…

…but you know, comic books…so it totally works in just a bit but first Shayera has to keep Hawkman away from the device because he doesn’t have the best luck with technology…

…why would he be wearing his mask to cook? Or eating food directly from the food processor?

Anyway, they end up at the Atom’s stomping grounds of Ivy University at a campus lab sleep study. Suddenly Doc Destiny sends the sleeping college students’ worst nightmares after the Quadro of superheroes.

Firestorm gets a pair of cute girls harboring STDs, Atom gets knocked around by campus security and the Hawks are tackled by linebackers. After a brief struggle, Firestorm escapes his dates from hell and gets to the root of the problem.

After Ronnie zaps the machines connected to the college students in the sleep study, the monsters vanish as quickly as they appeared. Doctor Dee gloats that he has found a “secret weapon” which will destroy them in their very dreams from his hidden remote monitoring headquarters and we move on to the next team.

And in our third chapter, we find Aquaman, Green Arrow and Black Canary in Greenwich Village tracing some artists who have all gone missing mysteriously.

The trio meet up with Mrs Klein seeking some “clues” but instead all they find the artist had in common was participation in the art show and the fact that the made the three horrible statues you seen in the first panel.

Right about then the statues come to terrifying life, each a little bit of Lovecraftian goodness. Aquaman easily gets rid of his with the help of a few of those ever-present electric eels that are so plentiful in New York Harbor.

However Green Arrow and Black Canary have a bit of a harder go disrupting their playmates, until the realize the key is destroying the statues. Watching from his hideaway, Doc Dee again vows vengeance for how he looks.

On to chapter four, where Wonder Woman and the Flash are racing through the Batman-less Gotham skyline, focusing on finding the missing artists, when they are unexpectedly joined by Green Lantern John Stewart.

With GL’s help, they sniff out the artist in no time, however the trio of sculptors are asleep and strapped to machines. Waking them might mean their deaths.

John isn’t taking that for an answer. His move of destroying the machine frees the artists from sleep but also creates green dream duplicates of JLA enemies Doctor “rapes-a-lot” Light, Amazo and Tornado Tyrant.

While Flash runs rings around Tornado Tyrant before he can give out any blow jobs…

…John Steward shines a light on the Doctor’s sexual predator activities…

…And Wonder Woman wraps up the not-so-Amazo. The trio then go to grab Doc Dee…

…only to have him vanish before they can reach him, seeing to fade INTO his Materioptikon.

Which leads us to chapter five’s team rushing into the dream stream, that team being Zatanna, Red Tornado and the Elongated Man.

As soon as they materialize there, three glowing green Doc Dees appear…

…and attack them, but the league quickly dispatches them, even Ralph who has been doubting his powers since page one.

The swift appearance of the trio of Destinies is enough for Zatanna to call in ALL the Leaguers, drawing them all into the Dream Dimension exactly as Doc Dee planned.

So chapter six find the JLA assembled racing around the dreamscape as one, unknowingly playing right into Destiny’s hands.

And soon they find a glowing yellow building that contains not only the demented dream-doctor…

…but also his prisoner, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s version of the Sandman. I didn’t know too much about the character, but from this reading he has magic “sleep dust” (which I think Gaiman linked to his character Dream as well) and a whistle to call monsters from the dream realm to aid him and can enter/leave the Dream realm at will.

But apparently not if he’s trapped in this tube.

Dee uses Sandy’s whistle to send a fleet of monsters after the League…

…but even after battling through them, the leaguers are unable to overcome the sleep dust Doctor Dee also lifted from the captive Sandman.

One by one they get knocked out, exactly as Destiny planned, right up until he’s faced by Ralph…

…who before passing out, releases the Sandman from his captivity.

Doctor Destiny doesn’t even miss him, so intent is he on bottling his new acquisitions and forcing them to become as hideously ugly as he himself. 

Meanwhile the Sandman has fully awoken and proceeds to fill in the gaps as to how he came to be imprisoned. He was distracted by the powerful dreams of one individual, dreams that were truly vivid and unique, when Doctor Destiny snuck up on him and knocked him out.

But now that he’s free and on Earth, he can seek out the dreamer, who somehow holds the power to defeat Doc Dee. How can that be, you might ask? We’ll have to follow Sandman doing a little “B and E” to find out.

There lies his “beautiful dreamer” who ends up being none other than…

…Wait for it! Doc Dee has sent some monsters for Sandman to battle with…

…Holy, spit take! It’s Superman!

The duo take the express train into the dream stream and Superman takes out all of Doctor Dee’s best monsters, distracting him…

…so that the JLA can sneak up on the good doctor. You’re nabbed, bad guy! But WAIT, weren’t the JLA no more than a series of test tubes?

So on to the epilogue, where the JLA show via flashback how they escaped to an incredulous Sandman.

And then Firestorm offers him honorary membership in the JLA…

…but Sandman declines, leaving back into the dream dimension to which he must return. He does answer why he was so attracted to Superman’s dream before departing though, and it is a dream all the Leaguers share.

This was epic. So many chapters and the art was great throughout. I’m going to admit that the individual stories weren’t as varied as I hoped nor were the heroes forced to interact much. On the plus side, This was really an "Elongated Man gets to show he is worthy of JLA inclusion" tale and I’m a HUGE Ralph Dibney fan.

Enjoyable and worth the price the Crapbox paid for it.

I’m putting my coverage of the Justice League to bed for now. This will be my last League focused post for a bit. They will still pop in now and again, when the mood strikes, but for the Crapbox, it is time to move on into December.

For most of us December means holidays and presents. For the Crapbox that means looking at some of the best (and worst) toy tie-ins in our annual Kid’s Stuff “run up” to Christmas day and Santa Claus.

(oh, and there might be a few Star Wars related books as well. Heard something about a new movie coming out or something. Hamill actually has a speaking part in it, I think.)

See you tomorrow!