JLI Podcast #30 – Justice League America #30 & Justice League Europe #6

Dr. Jennifer Swartz-Levine joins The Irredeemable Shag to chat about gender roles in the JLI, plus they discuss Justice League America #30 in which Big Barda’s Mega-Rod falls into the wrong hands! Then David Ace Gutierrez stops by to chat about Justice League Europe #6 in which the team goes back to school to learn to speak French, unfortunately their fellow classmates are the Injustice League! Plus YOUR listener feedback!

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38 responses to “JLI Podcast #30 – Justice League America #30 & Justice League Europe #6

  1. For once, I have more to say about JLE than I do about JLA! (It had to happen sooner or later!)
    When I used google translate, Crimson Fox came up as Renard Cramoisi. (I used that name for my Crimson Fox inspired character in DC Universe Online)
    Is Ralph actually ogling Catherine’s tightly dressed behind?!? (If that would have been Sue in the scene I would’ve had no problem with it. on the other hand, Sue had ogled Captain Atom a few times (or joked about it at any rate!) so maybe Ralph was just getting in his wandering eye revenge.
    Wally’s predicament regarding the running gag of people preferring Barry to him has really had a resurgence of late. Back then, it was a gag and Wally actually grew beyond it. Now, It seems you can’t post anything complimentary about Wally West without having a billion Barry-Enthusiasts flaming you with “Barry is better!” “Wally has no business being the Flash!” posts.

    1. I love the idea of Ralph with a wandering eye, literally in his case – it’s up there with the classic ‘ear down the chimney’ panel. And why not, Ralph and Sue are, as they say, married, not dead 😉

  2. Very interesting discussions! Dr Swartz-Levine’s academic work sounds intriguing. She and Shag pointed out a lot to chew on re JL 30. Especially your thoughts on agency. David’s part was excellent too. Enjoyed your banter on the plot (classic comedy) and characters.

    I collected both these series as they were coming out. Really enjoyed DeMatteis’ scripting on JL. And I was subscribed to a Blue and Gold newsletter/fanzine you may remember.

    David, may I ask an off topic question? I understand from the Film and Water archives that you may be an Almodovar fan? Did you see Pain and Glory and if so what did you think? It really floored me.

    1. Dan S – I have not seen it yet? You recommend it? I need to carve out some time to check it out. Perhaps Rob Kelly can check it out as well!

      1. Thanks for the response! Man I really recommend it. I think it’s Almodovar’s best since Talk to Her. Banderas is fantastic in it. I’d love to hear you and Rob tackle this, if you guys have the time and interest!

  3. The feminism and JLA conversation was interesting and makes me want to hear some of Dr. Swartz-Levine’s lectures. Though I am interested in her points and references being basically to second wave feminist, it made me curious if she was doing this because of the time period of the comics or this was the experience lenses she looks through more. Especially since with Big Barda, it seems like besides the second wave that seems to be where they’re drawing jokes from, but she could easily be used to show third wave (which they were near the cusp of at that point) her continued fight against the patriarchy while trying to fit in because of not knowing the rules.
    I’d be very interested in hearing more about this.

    1. HI! Thanks for your kind comments, Sontaron! I was approaching this from a 2nd wave perspective mainly due to the time frame of the comic. You rightly note that a 3rd wave lens could be applied, but given the age of the comic, 3rd wave feminism wasn’t as much a part of our public awareness as it is now. But Barda’s status as an immigrant, essentially, (as Ward Hill Terry mentions below) could absolutely make “reading” her through a 3rd wave lens an interesting and rich means by which to understand her character.

  4. Great episode. Particularly loved the discussion of gender in JLI. Fascinating.

    You really brought up one of my weaknesses by covering the French lesson. I desperately need to learn French as my husband is French and we occasionally holiday with his family. This led to one of my most embarrassing incidents when I was attempting to talk to his cousin’s twin daughters. They were 2 at the time and we were watching cartoons and one of them handed me a toy sheep and I said “une vache” . They’re 5 now and they still look at me like I’m simple.

    Hearing you say Ms Kessler repeatedly was reminding me of something and I was wondering if she was a reference to someone and finally I realised Elizabeth Kessler was the comics colourist who was married to Greg Brooks. I wonder if this was intended as a tribute to her. It seems a bit inappropriate but I can’t imagine it being a coincidence. This issue is about a year after her death and I’m sure everyone working at DC comics must have known the situation.

    As you and Jenny noted Max’s treatment of Huntress is a violation and is particularly weird when you consider that this version of the character is a survivor of child sexual abuse. She specifically becomes Huntress so she can never be victimised again. As you say it’s a short step from here to super villainous Max.

    Looking back at that JLE I’ve got to say that in 1989 my Mum wore her hair the same way as Ms Kessler, wore similar glasses and often wore high -necked midi dresses. The only difference is my Mum was a redhead. This makes the sexualisation of the character deeply uncomfortable for me.

    Anyway I’ll be back next month for what I remember as the most tedious crossover ever.

  5. Before I listen to the Bat-Hound portion of the podcast, I want to write my thoughts about some things Dr. Jenny touched on. 1. Her papers on themes in comics sound fascinating. As you were discussing the depictions of Scott and Barda in various stories, it struck me that one could analyze those characters as immigrants assimilating. Barda and Scott are refugees from war, and are fully embracing American culture, especially as viewed through mass media. Dr. Coletta, has this paper already been presented at BGSU? 2. Barda in this particular story. First, she leaves the mega-rod in her car. This means that a.) Barda and Scott have a car, b.) Barda drives. I don’t recall why Barda was going to the embassy in the first place, but she drove into Manhattan from wherever their house is. Not as practical as public transportation or anti-grab discs. Then she found street parking! Near the Embassy! No wonder she forgot the mega-rod! Okay, that’s all in service to the plot. Similarly is why and how she is removed from the fight. The mega-rod in an undefined weapon. It does things to advance the story. Blasts that stun, blasts that take consciousness, blasts that teleport, blasts that kill. Barda’s approach to retrieval is perfectly in character. She commands that the thief return the rod to her. She is by training, essentially a Drill Seargent. She give commands and expects them to be carried out. I think the only reason she is knocked out by the mega-rod is because she is the Superman in this story. The dilemma for Justice League writers, from comics to cartoons (Hi Chris and Cindy!), is how can we stop Superman from wrapping this up in two panels? Either a humanitarian disaster on the other side of the world, or a mystery ray! So Barda is taken down by a mystery ray in order that the story doesn’t end too soon. Poor Barda is a victim of the plot for the whole book.
    As for the Huntress, she’s the reason Barda is not instrumental in the denouement. We need to see her ruthlessness. Now, I ask, is she also manipulative to the thief? I don’t know that, but we do know she does not care about what happens to him. In that context, how different is Max’s behavior toward Helena? He is most definitely manipulative (although, can one be manipulative if one does use one’s hands?), and perhaps just as apathetic toward Huntress as Huntress is toward the thief. Finally, could that scene be a kind of mega-text comment on a character being put on the team by editorial fiat rather than creative choice?

    1. Hi, Ward Hill Terry! Totally agree about Barda being an immigrant, That would, as I mentioned to Sontaron above, be a really cool way to think and write about her character. And yes, I’ve been to BGSU to speak a couple of times; the first paper I did on Power Girl was at the Ray Browne Pop Culture Conference a few years ago that BGSU hosts every year. I also did a keynote for the Batman conference BGSU had this past April to celebrate the Caped Crusader’s 80th anniversary. The other paper on Barda was for the Midwest Popular Culture Association Conference (but the Pop Culture Association and its regional affiliates owe their beginning to BGSU, too, so it’s all in the pop culture academic family!).

  6. From the height of academic discussion to…David. Well, it was an interesting episode throughout, anyway.

    I actually recall these two issues pretty well, and I agree with Dr. Schwartz-Levine on pretty much everything she said, but yes, Barda should feel some SERIOUS guild for leaving that Mega Rod in her car. Willingham definitely raised the thigh-lines on Huntress’ unitard too. Geez!!!

    It wasn’t until you brought it up here and on Who’s Who that I realized Barda WASN’T a full member! And this team is so loose, it seems especially weird. It’s almost as bad as being an “associate member” of the Defenders!

    The JLE issue was just a hoot, but I’ll admit I didn’t get the “Hot for Teacher” bit as a teen, because of the severe way Sears drew her face, which is a thing with him sometimes. I do think adding all those lines makes both men and women look pretty old. Look what those cheekbones did to the animated Superman and Season one of Justice League animated! (plug).

    Seriously, great show to all involved, and yes that means you too DAG!

    Chris

    1. Blame Shag! You try following Dr. S-L! Shag clearly set me up to fail.

      This is the chicanery Rob texts me about all the time.

  7. Wow, Dr Jennifer S-L was a fantastic guest! The conversation you two had was so great, I wanted more. Now I seriously need to plan a trip to BGSU for the library, and hopefully to meet Chuck and Jenny. Please tell me you’ll have her back on the show soon. I’ll wait. (*click* “Moooooooon Riveeeeer” *click*) So it’s all set up, yes? Good deal.

    Oh, and Dave was good too. I guess. Not sure I was listening. Still waiting for my banana raspberry smoothie, DAG…

    For JLA #30, I love Bill Willingham’s art, so that was great and the women were sure purty! Yeah, the cut on Fire’s top (so low!) and Huntress’ bottoms (so high!) are a bit blatant, and didn’t bother me when I was younger. Oy.

    And I’ll apologize right now about being a downer, but this was the last issue of the Giffen/Dematteis era including Big Barda. She’s in the Mister Miracle spinoff series, of course, but no more JLI for Barda. Her 16-issue inclusion on the team is over. Take that for what you will in regards to the membership debate. Although there’s one important question: did Barda ever perform monitor duty? If not, well…

    JLE #6: One of the funniest issues of the JLI era, if not THE funniest! There’s no bad pick for Bwah-hah-hah Award. I personally still crack up from chewing-gum-on-the-nose Multi-Man.

    In conjunction with the discussion about Wally’s behavior, a couple of VERY important character moments are coming up in JLE #8 and #9. Oooooh yeeeeessssss……

    And since I keep score, looking at this month’s issues, the “silly” JLA had less joke moments, and “serious” JLE was jokes wall to wall. Just sayin’.

    1. Oh wait! I almost forgot the most significant part of JLE #6! “The Mighty Bruce!” This was the beginning of his rise to stardom, culminating in the Jim Carrey movie where Bruce got to be God. And to think, it all started here-*… what’s that? “Bruce Almighty”? Ooooooooh. Never mind.

    2. Road trip! BGSU is a couple of hours from where I am at Lake Erie College, but Cleveland is in the middle-ish. You could see the exterior of the house where Jerry Siegel grew up (10622 Kimberley Avenue). And Cleveland has a great Superman exhibit at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage as well as a statue at the airport welcoming visitors. The Cleveland Public Library had a fantastic exhibit a couple of years ago with lots of Superman memorabilia, too. If you’ve not liked the Siegel Shuster Society on Facebook, please do: there are updates there about all things related to Jerry and Joe as well as information about events celebrating their legacy in Cleveland. And thank you for the kind words. Being on the podcast was a blast!

  8. Bart Sears didn’t just draw those women to look “sexy.” Those clothes were on so tight, they looked like the women wearing them had just come out of a swimming pool that they’d decided to dive in, clothes and all, before appearing in their scenes!

  9. Am I the only one who thinks because of the way they drew the biker on the cover he looks like the Corinthian from Sandman?

  10. One of the best episodes yet, Dr Swartz-Levine’s interventions were simply priceless and much needed. You Fire & Waters might think of giving her some sort of semi-permanent spot in the network, just sayin’…

    As to the Moving Day-French Lesson comparison, the thing is, there would be no French Lesson without Moving Day. JLI #8 is as powerful as it is because nothing like it had been done before, not even in that same title. It was a title-defining and era-defining moment, and not casually the go-to issue to explain the whole phenomenon. Anything attempting to replicate, refer or reproduce the effect will necessarily be derivative. Still, JLE #6: funny as hell.

    Argentina Embassy, BTW.

  11. Well done on this episode by two eminent guests. One’s a doctor and the other a small business owner (Katana Banana). Seriously, though, I did enjoy Dr. Jennifer Swartz-Levine’s talk on gender issues for JLI. These are things that just didn’t occur to me when reading it as a kid but gives a great context when re-reading the issues.

    And I enjoyed the history of Major Disaster by David. This version of the Injustice League was one I laughed at all the time. In serious stories where a hero fights morts like Calendar Man or Kite Man, the villains are still displayed as serious criminals that get beat up by Batman or whomever. With the Injustice League, you actually get to see that not every super-villain is some sort of ingenious mastermind. These are just regular people trying to get rich quick. The stories did lean into the kookiness a bit too much, but I did like the concept. Which is why I like Justice League Annual #4, the Justice League Antarctica story.

    Wait, what? Rob inked a page of one my favourite comics, Justice League Annual #4? Which panel?! Rob, did you have to ink The Mighty Bruce? This is something I need to know so I can find it in my copy!

    Well done again, everyone! Keep up the great work!

  12. Impressive pod cast. Most Impressive. Was cool to see Huntress again. I just recently got a tattoo of her on my arm. Her, Supes and a cross. This is kind of how I normally think of Helenea B. Or how she was in JLU. Any way the smile was great. And Max convincing her to join the JLI was kind of cool. Wish she had been in there for longer. BOP turned out to be the best place for her, but her on the team was kind of cool. I’ll probly skip the BOP movie. ut she was great on the BOP Tv show. And liked her bit part in Crisis.

    Barda showed how tough she was in this. And how strong her weapon really was. It’s a fun enough story.

    On to the JLE. Ah Flash was pushed a bit to far personality wize. In these. Well Sleazed wise.A little Sleeze is fine…just not that much. Ralf and Cobare have a fun opening bit. Though her mullet is borderline bee hive. Still they look great. She always dresses well. The inter actions were fun. I can see this reused as a plot on Legends with that group going back to school. The teacher was cool. Hey she’s covered head to toe. She’s just built well. Sue And Ralf ware fun together. Waaait his middle name is Randolph But his first name is Ralf… So he’s Ralf Randolph Dibny ? Red Fox… it’s good that was taken.

    There would be to many Sandford and Son jokes. Ah the fight was funny, but why is Wally dressed like Bill Cosby? He had better taste in his comics. He looked like a guy in his 20s there. More Band shirts less Cliff Huxtible. The Mitty Bruce lol. Metomerpho threating Clue masters was fun. The cops worked. And the Teacher scaring every one was funny. The cop bit was funny. Though I now hear him with Jean Reno’s voice now…sadly Steve Martin will notr be teamed with him. With his voice from the Pink Panther. Did I mention I have U tube channel? That Liz Anne Oswalt on U tube. Any way can’t wait to hear the next pod cast.

  13. Every time Shag and David talk about “Red Fox” I couldn’t help but hear the Sanford & Son theme song. Now all I can think is Booster getting upset at Beetle and faking a heart attack saying “I’m coming, Elizabeth!”

    Regarding the Bwa-Ha-Ha Award: Seriously? Neither of you picked Big Sur’s giant wad of gum? Big Sur is the unsung comic genius of this issue. Between the gum and him telling Wally that he liked Barry better, the dude is pure gold. (Yes, I know the Barry thing is a running gag, but when you read Big Sur’s dialogue out loud it’s so beautifully hilarious.) OK, OK, so you guys MIGHT be right on the funniest moment, but it still feels like you pushed by boy Big Sur to the sidelines.

  14. Whilst I’m still, slowly, going through the All-Star issues, and haven’t gotten to the JLE issues yet, it sounds to me that they were going for the bickering of early Power Girl and just went a smidgen too far into full-on “witch” mode. Though “my” Power Girl is the one who’s pretty comfortable with her body image and far from how she’s apparently shown in later issues. Not something I’m looking forward to when I (finally) get to this part of her life.

  15. Two great guests, two great comics, one of excellent host, how could I not enjoy this episode?

    Congratulations to Jenny on a fabulous Fire and Water Network debut. I used to read the Bowling Green journals when I lived with a bunch of American Jesuits, I’d love to have studied at than university. The male gaze came up a lot when I was doing my Film and English Studies degree, and I’d suggest that once it’s pointed out, it really does affect how you see movies. Has anyone ever done any research around the male gay’s gaze? I volunteer!

    The Willingham Rubinstein art was gorgeous, I’d love that team to have stuck around. I don’t think it was Giffen breakdowns this time, they seemed a tad more fluid.

    That delighted Huntress panel had me disliking her for ages, this was not a worthy successor to Helena Wayne.

    What was that music in between the sections?It sounds like something very Eighties. Have I asked this previously? I suspect so. Answer, dammit!

    If you want to hear about a previous visit by Metamorpho to France, Dr Bob and Dr Husband discuss the sixth issue of his original series in this week’s episode of the Checkered Past podcast, and it’s as funny as ever, even before we get to Rex’s ‘long calcium plucker’. Find the show at https://checkeredpast.podiant.co
    ///
    As regards the JLE issue, David makes an interesting point about there being too much dialogue for what’s happening in panels but I noticed this as a kid and quickly realised you have to ignore it or most of the superheroes genre falls apart. The panels are simply snapshots of a moment, they don’t depict all the time it takes to say the accompanying dialogue.

    Barry was not boring – he was a comic geek!

    His could anyone find Ms Kessler sexy in that Grandma dress? Agatha Harkness is hotter.

    A long calcium plucker

  16. Thanks for all the kind words, JLI-ers! You’ve been very welcoming, and I appreciate it. And David, I enjoyed getting to hear the overview of Major Disaster. He and the Injustice League are some of my favorite hapless baddies in this run and your take on them was fabulous.

  17. Bonjour, l’Ambassade Irlandaise ici. J’ai vraiment aimé écouter le podcast sur mes bandes dessinées préférées et……..ooops, excuse me, all the embassies received French lessons from Ms. Kessler, and as you can see, she was a very good teacher!

    JLE 6 was a very funny issue along the lines of Moving Day and also had the bonus of bringing in the Injustice League too. “Of all of the French classes, in all of Paris, the Injustice League had to walk into the JLE’s”. The comic timing was very good – the page where all the different charcters were thinking “There’s something about this person, something disturbing. But I can’t put my finger on it” was an excellent comedic beat. A nice one-off story before heading into the Teasdale imperative.

    JLA 30 completed the mini-saga with Fire, Barda and Miracle and saw the introduction of Huntress into the team. Unfortunately, as I recall, it is a very short stay in the JLA team for Huntress. The story itself was good, but thinking about it, the JLA team seemed to be on hold ever since they split into two groups. There was good stories in that period, but nothing that was like the JLA team going to Apokolips or even the JLE team going up against Queen Bee. I’m not complaining as the stories were good and they had some excellent beats in them, like the Beetle’s brainwashing. But since issue 24, J’onn J’onnzz has barely been in the JLA stories and none of them included the full team as a whole. The Teasdale Imperative will correct this though in a big way and I am looking forward to it.

    As an aside, JLA 30 was probably the last one of the Giffen-deMatteis run that I got to complete my collection – for a long time, I had searched for this book and it as a great relief when I finally found it in the wild!

    Dr. Swartz-Levine and DAG were excellent co-hosts and contributed wonderfully to the podcast.

    Looking forward to your coverage of the Teasdale Imperative next time out.

  18. Just catching up- great driving listening- it seems like I only catch this when driving so my comments keep being short –

  19. Ok. I’m new at podcasts. Definitely old at comic books. The JLI has always been a favorite of mine and I saw the link to these podcasts in the Facebook JLI group and, well, I ended up here. I’m not used to listen to these kind of stuff, and at first I was horrified at the length of the episode, but since I fear nothing, I thought “what the Guy”. And so, while I was doing dishes, cleaning the cats’ litter box and then, when I was drawing (obviously, I didn’t have much actual work to do), I listened to the whole thing and it wasn’t that long, actually, and I found it really entertaining.
    It does help a lot that I’m in the middle of re-reading the entire Giffen/DeMattheis run, so, things are quite fresh in my head after having revisited these books for the first time in decades, actually.
    Somewhere else I read that this series felt a bit dated. Well, I don’t feel it that way in general, but when it comes down to the way women are portrayed, it is not only dated, but it definitely looks like sue material, actually! Ha! I know, I know, I re-read the books with a grain of salt. It was written by the end of the 80s, but some stuff really goes overboard, that’s why I was so pleased to listen to Dr. Jennifer Swartz-Levine’s imput. It kind of gives a breath of fresh air to the perception of the book. Oh, and I so agree with her about Wally really crossing the line time and time again. Too bad, because I like the character, but he’s definitely not the kind of guy I’d like to have as a friend. At some point I thought he was going to redeem himself, right after Kara got seriously beaten down and he got this moment with the unconscious Power Girl, but it didn’t last.
    Anyway. The JLE issue reviewed was one of my favorite issues of the entire run. And the JLA was definitely in the top 10 (oh, I love Barda so bad).
    The school issue was hilarious from beginning to end. And i think I enjoyed it much better now than when I first read it, because, oddly enough, I didn’t like Bart Sears’ art at the time.
    Anyway, I subscribed using Apple Podcast. That’s a new one to me, too, since I’ve never liked iTunes that much (that interface must have been created by Manga Khan). I just hope I can link it on an Android phone, too… I guess I have some homework to do. And if by any chance you think of joining Spotify, well, you’ll have at least one happy costumer!
    Well, I’ll stop rambling. Great podcast. Real fun. Thanks for the taking the time and sharing the joy of this series with this world that seriously needs a sense of humor every now and then.

    1. Hi Christian – Welcome to the Embassy! Thanks for all the great feedback. Will address on the next episode. But thought you’d like to know we just added JLI Podcast to Spotify and Stitcher today! Been meaning to for a while. Thanks for the nudge!

      1. Ohhhhh, that’s pretty awesome! I’m going to follow it, or subscribe it, or eat it. I’m still learning the wording around this. :)

  20. this was the edition that made me like JLE, the best part is the fact that the injustice league is not a big enough threat even to go to jail. the French were smart, that’s your problem USA.
    unrelated, recently JLI started to be republished in a better quality here in Brazil. when i got to the gray man edition i was surprised with a page that was cut in the original brazilian edition (when creeper grabs the gray man and sits on him). for me what made this joke so funny was the fact that nobody could touch the gray man without passing out and suddenly without explanation no creeper appears sitting on him. anyway, I just shared this story to find out if there were similar cases of cutbacks in editions around the world from other listeners

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