First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast Ep.36: L.E.G.I.O.N.’89 and JLE

Bass and Siskoid hit the Invasion spin-offs! The Starlag escapees find their way to Colu in L.E.G.I.O.N.’89 #1, then Captain Atom is rewarded for his role during the Invasion with a leadership of Justice League Europe in that book’s #1!

Listen to Episode 36 below (the usual filthy filthy language warnings may apply), or subscribe to First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast on iTunes!

Relevant images and further credits at: First Strike ep.36 Supplemental

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15 responses to “First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast Ep.36: L.E.G.I.O.N.’89 and JLE

  1. I never got into LEGION (I refuse to type all of those periods), mostly because it was comic shop only. By the time I was able to get to an LCS more often, the characters were all over the loose-leaf Who’s Who (plug!). It did seem interesting, but I just couldn’t keep up with all these Legion retcons, implants, etc. And the 5-year later Legion wasn’t the Legion I knew either, so it was all very strange to me, and kind of off-putting.

    I did appreciate that Justice League Europe was a bit more action-oriented, and I dug Bart Sears’ art at the time. I like what I see here, but sometimes he goes a bit too far into the over-roided look, and things get downright grotesque. I did think Captain Atom’s mullet was cool back then, I will admit!

    I hate to tell Bass, but I don’t recall Wally and Ralph ever becoming buds in this period. Ralph was constantly busting Wally’s chops for NOT being his uncle, and he honestly deserved it. I think Mike Baron removed Wally too far from the character Wolfman and Perez had developed well in NTT, and Bill Messner-Loebs took WAY too long to bring him around. There’s a happy medium between this approach and “up to snuff in four issues” as Siskoid discussed. I read all the Messner-Loebs run, and there are some highlights, but I still stand by Mark Waid, and his making Wally the WORTHY successor to the Flash mantle. By that point we were way past “put up or shut up”.

    Great show guys. Looking forward to Blasters next time…? A whole episode devoted to Snapper Carr. Will Rob let this on the network?


    1. Cfranks – there was an issue that specifically dealt with the Wally/Ralph relationship. It was a little wonky. I much preferred how they were show in Elongated Man’s Secret Origins tale – as detailed by our very Ryan Daly and his guest.

      I never got why the military guy had a mullet (Capt Atom) until I remember he was UNDERCOVER. Some people grow a beard. Some use an eyepatch. Some dye their hair and affect an accent. Our chromed captain grows a mullet.

  2. Siskoid and Bosk, another fine installment, gents. A couple of things. Years ago I asked Kevin Dooley about the use of Animal Man and Wonder Woman. Mind you, this was me recounting something from nearly 20 years ago, but I remember Kevin telling me that WW and Animal Man weren’t fully “cleared” by their respective editorial offices when the team was announced. I know that doesn’t exactly make sense, but you also have to remember Batman’s JLA use wasn’t exactly square w/ the Bat-offices either (at the time I think they were really trying to play up that ‘urban vigilante that no-one has seen’ nonsense). WW came and went – in fact she barely appears in the first four issues. Animal Man at least dealt w/ his own leaving the team in his own book.

    Wally West, even at his jerkiest, was an interesting character. I’m not a Titans fan. At all. Never understood the love that book generated, so any departure from that book was okay with me. Yes, Wally was a womanizing self-centered jerk who won the super-hero lottery, but he was a very 80s kind of character. Plus, I think Mike Baron was doing mountains of coke when he was writing those stories, making this time even more interesting! I think JLE didn’t quite nail his tone, though. It was a caricature of a character that already bordered on that, which made for a hollow experience.

    Still, JLE was MY Justice League book. I don’t know why, but I freaking loved it. Too many Americans, though – and that’s a problem that never really got fixed.

    Oh, Julie Delpy. I didn’t recognize who you guys were referencing because you pronounced her name correctly!

    LEGION was one of those books I always meant to pick up but never did. Maybe one day… Though that nonsense with Phase being Phantom Girl’s cousin (?) or whatever was TERRIBLE.

    Like you guys, not a fan of the multiple earths unless their alternate realities. I was one of those that was glad to see Earth-2, etc. disappear.

    1. Phase was Tinya until Zero Hour. After ZH, Tinya was half-Carggite, and her father had sold off two of the triplets to settle his debts. One of these was time displaced and became Phase. She and Tinya were eventually reunited and became one person.

  3. Sign me up for the Catflap of Horror podcast!

    L.o.v.e.d. LEGION and all it’s spin offs. The direction of the story was as hard to pin down as the morality of Vril Dox. I remember seeing a lot of Blake’s Seven inspiration in the writing with Vril Dox being very similar to the ruthless Avon and Garryn Bek having some cowardly Vila moments.

    I’m pro boob-window btw.

  4. Let’s see. These two great series share an episode, and Blasters gets an episode to itself? Umm…. okay….. that’s one way to run an after party…

    L.E.G.I.O.N. was lots of fun. Some nods to the LSH, but avoided feeling derivative. So many in the cast had less-than-heroic motivations. Dox and Lobo obviously, but even Stealth could surprise me. I enjoyed it immensely.

    Speaking of nods to LSH, (30+ year old spoiler) it took me a while to put together that Lyrissa’s daughter was the one cloned for the Great Darkness Saga. Not a crucial detail, but definitely included for us comic book nerds.

    And JLE. Oh my, JLE. It expanded the cast of my beloved JLI, and expertly so. I’d say its tone started the same as Justice League #1-6 and JLI #7, before the humor became the focus of that comic. JLE had plenty of humor-heavy issues (JLE #6 springs to mind), but it returned to this style more often than JLI/JLA.

    JLE #9 has the Ralph-Wally reconciliation, which brings all the feels. After that, Ralph continues to rag on Wally, but it comes off as more of friends ribbing each other from that point (typical JLI tone).

    At Heroes Con, Giffen stated at his panel that other books didn’t want JL “making fun of their characters”. That’s precisely why Wonder Woman only appeared in JLE #1. Perez had her yanked as quick as he could. Giffen was tired of fighting and arguing about it, so he just let it happen. When Helfer and others asked “are you going to explain why Diana left”, he said “no.” And just left it at that.

    Course I completely disagree with the attitude that JL “made fun”. I felt they were “having” fun with the characters. That makes all the difference.

    Bass, you win the podcast saying that “JLE is Rocket Red getting a spin-off like Frasier”! I love that SO MUCH! Dmitri is one of my favorite JLI-ers, and I’d never thought of it that way before. Thank you!

    1. Tim, if I had realized sooner that JLI had an unmarked afterparty issue, I would have paired it up with JLE and put Blasters in with LEGION. As is, you’ll get Blasters + JLI 24. Not that bad a deal.

  5. Yet another great episode of a great podcast.
    I have to tell you, I have a soft spot for Invasion! and all of its ecosystem of publications, and among them, specially for L.E.G.I.O.N and JLE. No secret there: I love Giffen, the Legion, Sears and Kitson’s art (which vary wildly according to inking, none of them well served in these #1s) and Power Girl, who I feel was best served by this series since her introduction in All-Star.
    Both books, and it’s a testament to the creative and editorial teams, ended up highlighting characters and situations which probably weren’t stated as such in the original premise, still, it’s interesting to see how much groundwork was laid here.
    To address some of your points on JLE: the Wally characterization was old already by this time compared to his book, Wonder Woman forced into the book, and their shared dynamic all wrong. Power Girl was kicking ass in what was to become her de-facto characterization, but the hair is very wrong (Sears improved that over time, alongside her oh-no-they-didn’t yellow and white costume). And I loved how much the book was centered on Dmitri, Rex, the Dibney’s and dear Catherine.

  6. I’m sure I was just bogged down, or maybe I froze up over the favorite alien question, but I’m still surprised that I missed commenting on the previous episode.

    The Spectre is one of those concepts Too Big To Function in a shared continuity, which is why Captain Marvel needed Earth-S and Jim Corrigan needs better excuses for not taking a more active role in super-hero calamities. A Spectremeter. Something. I like Tom Artis, but not on a book like this.

    There are a lot of parallels between Ghost Rider and Spectre because Howard Mackie straight up ripped off The Spectre for the second incarnation of the property, Danny Ketch. All that “Spirit of Vengeance” and “Penance Stare” stuff was just a grounded, Marvelized version of the DC character. The Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider was more the Demon Etrigan on wheels. Head-to-head, every Ghost Rider series has outlasted every Spectre series by a wide margin, with each of GR’s first two volumes lasting into the 80s. Marvel has the stronger visual and the better writing hook, although I’d argue they never reached the same creative heights as Fleisher/Aparo and Ostrander/Mandrake.

    For some reason, I couldn’t get past your covering JLE #1 before JLI #24. Only one had a direct connection to Invasion!, and the other one only had a direct connection to that one. It was niggling in my brain for the entire back half of the discussion.

    I never like JLE fractionally as much as J.L.A., even though it came out with flashy art just as the parent book was losing Kevin Maguire (and swiftly thereafter, my interest.) I have a soft spot for Captain Atom, but I hated the rest of the team make-up, and dropped the book after the first issue. Even then, it irked me that this was a “European” team made up of lower tier American heroes who spent the entire first arc belittling and battering actual foreign heroes. It was only ever “funnyish” at best. When I went back to read the series years after publication, I found JLE to be the more arch sitcom of the two JL books while J.M. DeMatteis was still scripting it (in contrast to the darker tone J.L.A. took on for much of the late 20s & 30s.) I think because “The Extremist Vector” is the volume’s best remembered story, folks assume it was a more serious take. The Sears art probably contributed, but just look at the language class story that preceded it and all that Hairballs/Beefeater crap that followed it.

    Unlike Siskoid and Hix, I always really liked Bart Sears’ style, at least into the ’90s. I applaud the equal time hypersexuality and hardbody fetishizing. That said, I vividly recall reading an interview with Sears in Wizard Magazine #4 when he stated that he had been following Keith Giffen’s layouts for years, but had decided to tell Giffen that he was going to quit doing that going forward. His McFarlanesque over-designing of pages on Eclipso worked for that title, but moving forward, Sears became more and more detached from storytelling fundamentals. By the time he launched Ominous Press, his comics were incomprehensible, and anyone who bought the Blade series he “wrote” deserved a full refund. Christopher Priest once blogged about how thoroughly Sears botched his first arc on Captain America & The Falcon by ignoring his script.

    Power Girl’s bust was a running joke of co-creator Wally Wood, who drew her breasts bigger in each issue to see how far he could push the line before his editor finally reined him in. Bart Sears was perhaps following suit?

    Captain Atom grew his hair out because he “quit” the military and was retroactively embracing the Summer of Love during its late ’80s pseudo-revival (and started hanging out with an older hippy chick besides.) Also, I’d argue his locks were universally long in a more hair metal way, rather than sporting an actual mullet.

    Perez was covetous of Princess Diana and kept her isolated, Rapunzel-like, in a tower for nearly six years. I’m sure her inclusion in JLE was under protest and perhaps in the vain hope for a sales bump on the solo, but either the Wonder Woman office was noting Andy Helfer to death or she was immediately yanked from the book with that international lost lasso arc as the cover story.

    My understanding is that Andy Helfer was crying on Denny O’Neill’s shoulder one day at DC editorial over his inability to secure commercial characters for the JL relaunch. Denny took pity on him, loaning out Batman on a provisional basis. He did eventually get yanked, but then 1989 happened and Batman was everywhere anyway.

    L.E.G.I.O.N. was a swell concept with some exemplary issues, but an awful lot of ho-hum throughout the Grant/Kitson run. Barry Kitson needed to be assimilated by Mike DeCarlo in those early issues. For me, the truly great material was written by Tom Peyer (preferably drawn by Derec Aucoin/Donovan) late in the run and on through the first R.E.B.E.L.s volume (Lyrl!) The second volume was one of the last DC comics I bought monthly and for the duration of its run, despite it’s rarely rising above “okay” into “promising.”

    I like how thoroughly Siskoid shut down Bass’ request for loaning out his L.E.G.I.O.N. library. Mr. Fixit recently suggested we’d see Wonder Woman 1984 together, and I had a similar if more acidic reaction involving explicit invective. NO.

    I’ll have to disagree with Chris Franklin on Wally West, since Wolfman also wrote him as a whiny little jerk who Raven compelled to go all Single White Speedster on her. I still found him to be a douche for the year or so I read Mark Waid’s run off & on, before he went full Superman surrogate (complete with an interepid reporter wife, and extended Speedman Family of Speedgirl, Speedboy, Grampa Speed, and Uncle Speed.)

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees the 2 Days movies as sidequels to the Before trilogy. I thought maybe I was being an ignorant American, but Delpy did contribute to the writing of her (similar) character(s) in four out of the five films. I like to think they take place between Sunrise and Sunset, but then there’s the offspring, so maybe that fling with Chris Rock contributed to the discord in Midnight? And now I’m trying to work Tape in there somehow as well. #Linklaterverse #SonyDelpy

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