JLI Podcast – Meanwhile… JLA Annual #4 and JLE Annual #1 (1990)

Aaron Bias joins The Irredeemable Shag to chat about Justice League America Annual #4 featuring the introduction of Justice League Antarctica! A team composed of G'nort, Scarlet Skier, and the Injustice League -- what could possibly go wrong? Plus, one of the creative contributors to this Annual drops in to discuss their work! Then Shawn Myers stops by to discuss Justice League Europe Annual #1 where the Global Guardians visit the Paris Embassy. Chaos ensues courtesy of the Queen Bee of Bialya! Plus YOUR listener feedback!

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33 responses to “JLI Podcast – Meanwhile… JLA Annual #4 and JLE Annual #1 (1990)

  1. This is the comic that I have most associated with “Jl vs DK” debates, that happened at my LCS. I was pro-humor in Superhero stuff, but other fans were calling it “unrealistic”. However “The Dark Knight Returns” was the example of “realistic”. My view that both were good and nothing with Superheroes was “realistic” didn’t have much support. I suspect that fans seeing this run as “anti-DK” is a large part of why this run is often looked down on.

    This issue however is the one that planted me on the “JL” side of the debate in the eyes of the other debating fans. My actual position was still “both are good, neither is realistic”. However I had been playing in a Champions RPG where my character’s pet was a killer penguin for almost a year when this came out. “Brad is OK with Penguins.” would be the end of a lot of debates after that.

    1. It’s strange because “The Cat Saga” is where I accepted my position as “Defender of the Funny”- but this annual is where I remember my friends started dismissing my arguments as me not taking things seriously enough. —- That first lil-RedNeck LCS had a lot of what we would now call “toxic fandom”. I stoped having conversations in the store because of “Penguin guy” or “Hey Cobblepot” comments. So in my mind “The Cat Saga” is where I as reader decided humor was cool for my personal reading. It’s a positive memory and I’ve read those far more often.
      My defense of this annual however was the end of my discussion of comics in public for several years, until a second LCS opened. I got bullied for liking it and the argument caused by my not putting up with the bullying was the death of a Champions campaign. It’s a great issue, but it had so much drama associated with it on my memory I get tired thinking about it.

  2. I was planning on coming here and commenting how much I hate these two issues since I saw the announcement, but upon hearing the podcast, I’m a little more subdued.
    JLAnt is definitively a Jump the shark moment when it comes to humor for humor’s sake, and one of these issues that unlike the rest of the regular series, I hardly ever revisit. I realize now it’s a much more tight and controlled piece that the all-around mess it felt like at the moment. One of the reasons for the dislike, I have to say, is McKone, who I never really could get into. I find that his people are usually ugly and very inconsistent and that distracts me from the enjoyment. Great G’nort, though.
    The JLE annual…it’s just MEH. I really don’t find the overall point, and as mentioned, this leads into some JLQ stories, but both these 2USD and the pricey JLQ are a little too much dollar for actually too little.
    I’m glad you stopped to talk about Linda Medley. At the time she was the target of much hatred and vitriol, on hindsight, probably just for being a woman. Also, “animated” cartoony art had not become the rage it would become shortly after this. Glad you mentioned the Arthur Adams inked piece, because whoever came up with the pairing saw the potential for Linda to become and Adams-like force. Glad she finally got the accolades with Castle Waiting.
    Loved Shawn’s take on the gay shenanigans a the Aussie embassy.

    1. Great call on Linda Medley, Gus! I really enjoyed Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting, Vols.1, 2, and 3! She has a great cartoony style and some really good storytelling so I’m sad to hear that she got hate at the time.

    1. To be fair, of all the times he’s told it, this was the best.

      Am also glad Aaron didn’t screw the G’nort and did a fine job, or else we could resent his calling dibs.

  3. I took the JLAnt issue all the way from Australia to the Raleigh Galaxy Con in July 2019 because I knew Giffen and DeMatteis would be there. Unfortunately Keith cancelled, but when I caught up with J.M. I told him this was my favourite ever issue of the run. He confided that it was his favourite as well.

    Now, I seem to remember a certain Doom Patrol podcaster sharing a JLAnt easter egg with a certain JLI podcast host last year. Whatever happened to that piece of information… .

    Two great guests. Kylie Minogue is a goddess!

    1. Yes! Thanks for the reminder Paul! While prepping for WAITING FOR DOOM, Paul stumbled across this page from DOOM PATROL v5 issue #15. Check out the sign on the ground under the penguins! And of course, written by Keith Giffen. Sorry I forgot, but in my defense you sent it to me over a year ago, and via Twitter. I mean really, who uses Twitter as a primary form of communication (other than Nazis)?!?!?

  4. Firstly, let me say that I will never, ever tire of Robert Kelly telling that story. I give Robert a lot of grief, but who wouldn’t be proud of their JKS days? I’m envious he attended.

    Aaron Bias was a great guest! I hadn’t read this particular JLA annual until years after its publication as I’d parted ways with the League at this point. The comedy overtook the action and I wanted to see more of the mainstays of the DCU. I’d throw my money toward mutants instead. Great annual, though. A nice detour!

    As for JLI…yeah. Sorry, Shawn. You were great, but this issue…my condolences!

    Good job as always, Shag!

    1. > Firstly, let me say that I will never, ever tire of Robert Kelly telling that story.

      Agreed! I’m sure I’ve heard that story at least 5 times. It never gets old. It’s a joy to listen to it. Just like Rob making the monkey sounds. Never gets old!

  5. For me, JLAntarctica annual is one of the high points of the JLI run! I remember buying it right off the shelf at our LCS, bringing it home, and the whole family cracking up at it. Loved hearing your analysis and don’t have a ton to add, except:
    -Scarlet Skier is a goofy character but nobody made him look cooler than Mike McKone!
    -One of the best things about the Injustice League is how earnest Major Disaster is while all the other guys are very cognizant of the fact they’re a bunch of losers. He is taking everything dead seriously and keeps trying to behave with gravitas and it just adds to the comedy.
    -Major Disaster’s transfer to super-heroics was also previewed in the KooeyKooeyKooey storyline where he uses his powers to help there, too (albeit with a lot of arm-twisting from Aquaman).

    The JLE annual wasn’t a favorite of mine. One, two superhero teams vs a giant robot wasn’t very compelling. Two, as Shagg and Shawn noted, the Global Guardians are just a bunch of thinly-sketched characters and not written to be interesting. It’s worse when, with foreknowledge of what’s coming, you realize the Queen Bee mind control storyline ultimately doesn’t really go anywhere. As far as other appearances of the GG, they were in some Infinity Inc. stories where only 4 to 6 of them appear at a time and we get to know them better. I liked that approach because you avoided the “mob of heroes” problem this JLE annual had. The Dome itself popped up in issues of Teen Titans Spotlight and the Wein/Cullins Blue Beetle series. Reading those, one notes that there are two other GG members who vanish and are never heard from again: Belphegor (a German telepath who also was in the backup story in JLI #8 closing the Dome) and Fleur-de-lis (who being French, it was odd she wasn’t in JLE as a member and never even showed up). The GG’s appearances in the 1990s continued the trend of not doing these guys any favors…in the post-Breakdowns JLE, they are mind controlled AGAIN (by the revamped Sonar), and in JLQ several of them are killed off and they get some new members who we never see again (btw, Seraph returns in those JLQ stories so whatever embargo that may have been put on the character was evidently lifted). As you guys noted, it all seems like a huge missed opportunity. They could’ve been interesting repeat allies/rivals to the JLI. As it is, they were just mind controlled stooges or cannon fodder. Too bad because I really liked some of them, like Jack, Owlwoman, Taz, Rising Sun, Tuatara, and Bushmaster.

  6. I know it would be somewhat insensitive to his family and loved ones, but dammit I want Rob to produce a Xum-style podcast where Tex Blaisdell is a recurring character, just to hear him do that voice.

    I’m glad Aaron got to talk about this issue he so loved. I know it’s a favorite of many, but for me personally, this was the time when the peanut butter to chocolate ratio was going a bit out of whack for me. My Resse’s cups were now oozing PB everywhere, and I was starting to not like the flavor so much.

    Having encountered the Global Guardians in one of my very first comics (as discussed on For All Mankind episode #7), I was always excited to see them show up (although maybe not as excited as Shawn, but who is?). I wasn’t as big a fan of Queen Bee however. I didn’t get the appeal of these “untouchable” villains back in the day, and DC seemed full of them. Luthor, Queen Bee, everyone involved in Task Force X that was at odds with most of the heroes. I guess this old school late Bronze Age kid wanted some justice served, and some bad guys put behind bars. I did enjoy Linda Medley’s take on the character and her art in general. For some reason I thought she had a longer career as a penciller at DC. Turns out mid-90s she shifted to work as a colorist. Too bad, because I liked her style…even though Power Girl’s left leg is very stumpy on page 43! We’ll forgiver her, since her bird’s eye perspective shot on page 22 was fantastic and on point.

    Great episode Shag and all three guests!

    Chris

  7. Impressive pod cast. Most Impressive. Hmm, I wonder if the crazed Penguins was them making fun of Bat-Man returns? The cover is funny. Doing the reverse of the First JLI issue. Oy Multi Man having the mood swings is funny. Big Sir was fun in this. Ah them becoming super heros by accident is funny. What is the Mayor warring? A Checker board Brown jacket with green pants… why just why? Colin Baker wouldn’t ware this. Ah a Super villan turn heroes …. with G’Nort. Oy.

    Bumber they disbanded this team. Moving on. the GG vs the JLE. Cool cover. Though Ralf’s expression on the cover is perfect. Queen Bee is a decent villain, but can’t see her getting the Agatha All along theme song. Still smart of her using Eupen favorite heroes to set up the JLE. And probly turn them against them. Don’t really see TD and Joshua flirting, but sometimes I mis those things. I mean Catherine Cobert and Captain Atom flirting is a bit obvious.

    Did they date? Don’t remember. Crimson Fox is cool in this…even though she doesn’t look like a fox. Also the next to Bush Master… is he a ghost? Or did the inker opps and ink the line threw his head for the wall? Ah Queen Bee is a bit messed up on how she treats her servant. Metamorpho is funny as always. So does this make Owlwoman the X-24 moon lighting? The Team working together to stop the robot is kind of cool.

    As for the table getting bigger. They could have added leaves. And a few chairs. No lines in the table, but it’s a cartoon style so they may not have them drawn in. Or Queen bee bought a new table. She owns a country. She might have the money to put in a new table and a few chairs. Can’t wait to see the next episode. Was cool hearing this after lesioning to Shagg on Two True Freaks with Paul. Talking about Spidey with Leap Frog and son in Back to the Bins.

  8. You guys were wondering who Bushmaster looks like. He absolutely looks like Agent Liberty. One is orange and blue and the other is yellow and blue. Or Space Ghost minus the cape. Ravager, Flag-Smasher, Quakemaster have similar looks. But in Bushmaster’s first appearance, he had a more reptilian-looking mask. I think the streamlined version didn’t appear until JLI #8.

    1. Those are all good suggestions. His orange mask made me think of the villain in Batman and the Outsiders #27, Kobra. (PLUG ALERT! PLUG ALERT!)

  9. Shag and Shawn, the two of you pointed out the big plate of donuts that Impala is eating on page 22 of the JLE Annual. I also noticed that he’s eating a donut on the opening page of the book, and he appears to be offering Jack O’Lantern a plate of donuts on page 48. So, does Impala’s apparent donut obsession make him the Martian Manhunter of the Global Guardians?

    As for the Guardian’s size-changing table. I just assume it has leaves that can be added to allow for additional seating. Either that, or it was built using some kind of time and space warping technology, scavenged from a crashed alien space ship. Your choice.

    Thanks for another incredible episode.

  10. “Major Disaster is like Geo-Force, just not as lame.” WHAT! AARON! YOU! BUT! ARGH! (Table flip)

    Ok, I’ll just write about the JLE annual to calm down.

    Did we just have a repeat of the plans from JLI #7 (manipulator creates threat to make heroes look good) and JLI #11 (manipulator unleashes big robot)? And both annuals’ post-climatic moments have off-panel characters being heard by on-panel bystanders: the JLAnt singing, and the JLE/GG crabbing. It’s honestly not a criticism, but I can’t help but see that, and with 30+ years of hindsight, perhaps an indicator of trouble for the books.

    I’m with you Shawn. Tables that fit perfectly at all times amuse me to no end. But this is the DC universe, so maybe that’s how tables work there. Frankly there’s plenty of times that would have been handy at my office. (Not this year of course, but in the “before times.”) But now I picture the horror of one person too many entering the conference room, and the expanding table crushes everyone! Hmm, possibly an alternative to layoffs. More research is indicated.

    “Dirty flirting” sounds like an HR nightmare, Shawn. (wink-emoji) Oh shoot, do emojis count? Dang it!

    Oh, pretty sure the JL Quarterly stories with the GG both as a team and some solo stories run from issue #5 to #9, then the new Jack O’Lantern in #14-15, and the GG gets the top spot in JLQ’s final issue, #17. YMMV on the quality.

    Power Girl’s “Smelly cat.” Wha-at are they feedin’ yoooouuuu? (Not sorry.)

    Ok, the JLAnt annual. For a team that should have been a one-issue gag, we’re now on their third appearance. But dang, it’s fun to see their antics. And Mike McKone draws the HECK out of them. Like when the Injustice League is climbing the tight rope between buildings, that’s just awesome.

    And that’s one great thing about this entire Justice League era. The artists. McKone and Medley both did amazing jobs in these annuals. Love love love.

    Great podcast as always, Shagg! Loved hearing Shawn. Aaron? … You know what you did. (I’m kidding!)

  11. 5 year wait on episodes. Is JLE #27 available? Lol. My first Justice league of this era and one of the issues that got me addicted to comics.

  12. Keeping track of what and where to find all these books is a bit of a pain in the butt, and alas I don’t have the funds to throw down on the omnibus, so I’m glad I have this podcast to do all the heavy lifting for me!

    I’ll admit I’ve not read any of the Global Guardians appearances so I’m curious if they suffer from many of these kinds of teams by being a little cliche and one note?

    At least we have the continued appearance of Stinky to raise the quality of the comic!

  13. I haven’t commented in a while because this show is long and either what I had to say got covered or I forgot what it was altogether by the time it’s done. I have to say that I lost a bunch of my JLI stuff along with boxes of Aquaman, Hawkman, and Legion, including a run of JLE issues that I never wanted to read anyway. We’re in that run now, and it basically consists of anything not drawn by Bart Sears, but especially the handful of Marshall Rogers ones. I didn’t fee like he had any facility for the material, which was also wretched sitcom dreck along the lines of Powerless, but without the distraction of leering at Vanessa Hudgens (worth it.)

    The JLAntarctica Annual is definitely a highlight of the run, probably one of the five best single issues produced. Mike McKone was in top form, and the freedom allowed by the usage of the injustice League+ made for some of the funniest material, only enhanced by the contrasting horror elements. Unquestionably one of the books I’d put in someone’s hand if I was recommending JLI to them. I think I bought it new, but can’t say with absolute certainty.

    G’nort with the human nose creeps me out. I want to hit it with a rolled newspaper. No! NO!

    I was looking forward to coverage of the JLE annual because I’m interested in international super-heroes and have an unreasonable affection for the Global Guardians despite their stories being generally bad and reliably embarrassing. They’re basically the Jemima League of cultural stereotypes. But anyone, I’m old and don’t get enough sleep, so I accidentally napped during the synopsis in my car toward the end of my lunch break. Maybe next time? I’d argue that resolving the mind control arc was a big chunk of Breakdowns. Didn’t the JLE lose its leader over that?

    1. I haven’t commented in a while because this show is long and either what I had to say got covered or I forgot what it was altogether by the time it’s done.

      Thanks Frank! I’ll be sure to respond to your comment after listening to your recent 2 hour and 5 minute Acts of Vengeance episode, or your 3 hour and 12 minute Wonder Woman 1984 episode.

  14. Most impressive podcast. Impressive. ; )
    Great discussions from the guests and Shag. I’m glad they didn’t die of old age awaiting the opportunity.
    Seeing G’nort in the ice and snow made me wonder how JMD resisted using the setting of the arctic, just to use the title “G’nort To Alaska.”

  15. Pacific Canadian Embassy here! Still trying to clean the seaweed, rain, and craft beer out of the transporter so I’m a little late getting to this episode. This was a fantastic show with some great guests! Aaron and Shawn were great to hear from and had some great insights.

    I’ve been looking forward to this episode ever since the start of the Bwa-ha-ha show! Like you mentioned, Shag, this issue, Moving Day and (to a lesser extent) Kooey Kooey Kooey are some of my favourite JLI issues. I was all in with the comedy and JLAnt, to me, was it’s pinnacle. I would agree with other posters, though, that this may have been the “Jump the Shark” moment because after this, all I remember is General Glory and Breakdowns and I didn’t feel like those later issues were as funny as the earlier ones. I don’t think I ever purchased the JLE annual, but I would like to hunt it down after hearing you guys talk about it. I realize you guys didn’t think it was the best story, but to see all those Global Guardians by Linda Medley would be fun.

    This era of JLI and it’s humour was right up my alley. I loved JLAnt. along with Groo and Ralph Snart Adventures (where my Now Comics friends at?!?). Like I mentioned last episode, I was feeling the extreme-ness of the ’90’s coming on and I just didn’t want that so I totally went the other way. Give me the funny! But then again, and I’ve had this argument before, comics are a medium and not a genre. So we can have funny superhero comics AND gritty gritty-ness of the dark-ity dark superhero comics…… or even NON-superhero comics! I’m being facetious here but the point stands.

    This was totally fun and everyone was a treat to hear. Keep up the great work!

    P.S. – We need a Tales from the Kubert School podcast. Secrets of Sinister Clinton House?

  16. I wonder if they have Little Mermaid be the one to notice because it goes against the satirical unwritten law of Denmark called Janteloven (Law of Jante). First made famous from En flyktning krysser sitt spor (A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks) in 1933.
    They are :
    1) You’re not to think you are anything special.
    2)You’re not to think you are as good as we are.
    3)You’re not to think you are smarter than we are.
    4)You’re not to imagine yourself better than we are.
    5)You’re not to think you know more than we do.
    6)You’re not to think you are more important than we are.
    7)You’re not to think you are good at anything.
    8)You’re not to laugh at us.
    9)You’re not to think anyone cares about you.
    10)You’re not to think you can teach us anything.

  17. Thanks to our three caballeros for another great episode. JLAntarctica is such a classic, but what a bucket of (iced) water Shag put on it by worrying about how the mental health of Silver and Bronze Age baddies was portrayed when viewed from a 2021 perspective. Is there a hero or villain who doesn’t need their heads examined, putting on Lycra and going out looking to get punched every day? The difference with the likes of Big Sur is that their issues are more obvious.

    I love that Shag gave some love to Godiva in Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti’s ridiculously underrated Justice League International New 52 series. I wish DC would give the good Lady a prime spot again. Maybe in a historically accurate costume.

    Shawn is so right about gay flirting, lots of it goes on and it’s not often serious. And anyway, would you just look at Joshua, how could you not have a wee flirt with him, he’s Patrick-from-Schitt’s-Creek adorable. I, of course, don’t know how to flirt.

    The Global Guardians appeared recently in the first storyline in DC Digital’s Truth & Justice comic. It’ll be the first print issue (subsequent stories have been utter pants).

    I loved the Linda Medley art in the JLE Annual, there was a freshness to it.

    I forgot to mention, but as Power Girl’s cat’s name came up in the comments, ‘Stinky’ was my suggestion to Jimmy Palmiotti on social media back when he and Justin Gray were writing Karen’s book… if Supergirl had Streaky, Power Girl HAD to have Stinky.

    1. Historically accurate costume huh, I see what you did there! 😀

      And I didn’t know that Stinky was so modern a name for the character, which shows that I’ve got a long way still to go. Thanks for sharing that nugget.

      1. If I ‘thought’ of it after it had appeared somewhere mea culpa, but I definitely gave it to Jimmy when he sought suggestions and there was a scene in issue 12 of Karen tossing names back and forth and settling on Stinky. And I’m pretty sure he’d told me on a message board that I’d won the day!

  18. This episode was so much fun. I’ve been looking forward to the JL Antarctica episode for a while, since I have a soft spot for G’Nort. And killer penguins. And Skyline Chili. Thanks to Shagg, Aaron, and Shawn!

  19. I’ve been waiting for this edition since the beginning of the podcast, I must add G’nort is very competent in this edition, he is the one who wants to patrol, he finds the laboratory, he investigates, he brings the video to HQ of JLANT, he transports the team, protects them with the power ring, and he is one of the only ones who was really fighting the Penguins (eating them, but the method proved to be effective).

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