Sunday, February 5, 2012

Review #31: The Justice League and the Beasts Who Broke Promises

Justice League of America #131-132

Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin
Published: DC, 1976

Alright, Justice League. What wacky shenanigans are you going to get into this time, in this two-issue story arc called "The Beasts Who Thought/Fought Like Men"?

Well, we seem to have a sickness that is spread by money [?] driving everyone in the USA crazy. So, a professor over at STAR labs decides that, instead of trying to cure the mysterious disease, everyone should just be given a special credit card and then nobody has to use money anymore! Huzzah! But, a few days later, trouble strikes again, because animals all over the States are escaping their cages and wreaking havoc! So, the JLA is on the case. They discover that the animals seem to be acting smarter and that people seem to be acting dumber. The plot thickens! They also encounter an old enemy of theirs, the Queen Bee, and a swarm of bees attacking New York. Queenie claims to be a under the control of the super-intelligent bees. Then some other old foe of the JLA, a guy named Sonar, reveals that he has been the cause of the human/animal intelligence reversal. You see, he was the one who was behind the money plague in the first place, and he created the special credit cards while working in disguise at STAR labs! The credit cards have a special secret sonic signal that  “created a brianpower link between humans and animals” [?] but he doesn't know how to control it!


So, the JLA, with the help of special guest star, Supergirl™, capture the bad guys and discover that Queen Bee was lying about being controlled by the bees and had figured out how to control the “brainlink”. That bitch!

"sorry, Supergirl, what are you saying?... we are too busy staring at your legs."

The writing is better this time around. Less gaping chasms in the plot. The whole “brainpower link” thing is very stupid, but that's mostly just an issue of bad science, rather than a complete lack of logic, as per the last JLA review. I genuinely liked the idea of the plot, and the inclusion of the two bad guys kept it the real culprit from being super-obvious™.

I called Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin's art “generic” last time, which isn't to necessarily say it's bad. It's probably better than I could draw. There's just nothing special or noteworthy about it. There are some problematic matters of perspective in a few of the drawings.

look out! Sonar is attacking Green Lantern's model of the Capitol Building!  

My review of issue 122 took a stand against plots that make little-to-no sense. These issues, 132 in particular, got me thinking about another prominent concern of mine: false advertising on comic book covers.

I have noticed it many times over the years, but it seems to be less prevalent these days. These old JLA comics though... hoo boy! The last crappy issue I reviewed had Aquaman's funeral on the cover, which never happens. All that happens is the bad guy thinks that Aquaman is dead for a few hours when he is, in fact, not!

These two issues both also feature covers depicting scenes that don't happen in the comic! I'll focus on 132, because that's the one by which I felt most ripped off. The cover shows something so stupidly awesome and it fails to deliver. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

a gorilla with a golden machine gun? why hasn't this been made into a feature-length film?

First of all, I was under the impression that these “Beasts Who Fought Like Men” would be the main adversary of the story, which is not true. The League spend most of their time fighting bees or Sonar. There is a short part in the middle of the comic [a scant two pages] where they fight the animals depicted on the cover. However, that brings me to the second thing: these beasts DO NOT fight like men! At no point do they wield weapons, like on the cover. They just use their god-given teeth and claws and crap. So, really, they are just beasts who fought like beasts.

If the comic had delivered what the cover had promised, like an elephant beating Aquaman into submission with a morning star, maybe it would have been one of the greatest comics of all time. Instead, it is merely so-so, and will be forgotten by comic book historians.

Oh, also, there's this funny “public service” comic strip in issue 132 that features this:
"uh...can I come with you guys?"

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