JLI Podcast #39 – Justice League America #39 & Justice League Europe #15

Michael Bailey joins The Irredeemable Shag to chat about Justice League America #39 in which Despero battles the JLA across New York and a Leaguer dies! Then Chris Lewis stops by to discuss Justice League Europe #15 where the Extremists arrive on Earth and the killing begins! Plus YOUR listener feedback!

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24 responses to “JLI Podcast #39 – Justice League America #39 & Justice League Europe #15

  1. Wow is this the JLE to actually be able to start reading along with the comics.

    Personally I quite like the new Power girl costume, though I came in with the ’09s PG so the Boob window costume will always be my number one choice for Kara. Personally, I really like the earrings she wears with the whole thing. And like you said with her previously swimsuit white costume it seems weird that this is the one that Wally reacts to, though I find the whole exchange really weird with Power Girl acting much like her angry version from her original All-Star Comic appearance. And to be fair to Wally with the angle of the shot it could be that he’s checking out Captains Atoms butt!

    The art of the Extremists is so 90s, looking a lot like X-Men of the era, I didn’t really make the connection with their marvel equivalents until you pointed it out. Though truth be told I’ve only just connected that Blue jay was a Hank Pym equivalent this way around. I’d say that they’re a critique of the 90’s EXTREME! heroes and villains but I’m guessing it’s really too soon for it to be a thing yet.

    And it’s somewhat weird that Lord Havoc happens to have a very similar brain expanding power of Ultimate Reed Richards, I’m sure that DOOM would approve!

  2. Impressive podcast. Most Impressive. The cover is cool, but the interes are better. To me any way. Despero and J’ohn have way better expressions in it. A.H. has always been a good artist. And this was before he went full good girl artist. But, yeah his men and women are hot. Though Despero’s cape is cool, but er maybe get some pants first. Ah sorry I think the Bwwaaah moment should have been when Guy put a bubble around Desparo head when he is about to wammy Gypsy. Yeeaaaah was bad that Guy hit on Gipsy , but he stops. And does help J’ohn. So he’s not Hal at lest. Cool image of Ice and look , but defiantly not an unrealistic but size on Ice. She’s not Captain Marvel level bonny but, but not over the top. The Mr. Merical robot was funny. But, yeah they needed to move it away. They following Guy works. Fire is pretty awsome in this. Sadly they never got to her full potinal as a character. I’m guessing there going to do a man who has everything bit to Desparo. Like what the Black Mercy did to Mogel. And some how J’ohn makes Desparo think he’s killed them and won. But, he’s just knocked out and the JLA has won.

    The cover of JLE isn’t bad but, yeah it’s not the best. Ah the Bunny Ears bit on Silver Sources outfit was odd. As for her midsection cut…. maybe she does a 1,000 sit ups a night. (Yeah I stole that line from BOP when Gal first brought in the huntress.) The base of the bad guys kind of looks like something out of G-force. For Marvel homage characters their fine. Sorry never got into them. As for Rocket Red in his wife what a sweet seen. As for the heels and T-shirt well she hasn’t seen her man in a while and the kids are being watched maybe she’s trying to…em inspire him. 😀 ;). Wally was fine in this. Power Girl’s costume is fine. Sorry I wasn’t a fan she and Wally are fine here. Though she goes a bit far on Wally. Geez no need to go full Karen there Kara. She could have just told him off. Though when did Hal take over Wally’s mind? He was a bit of a horn dog in his comic, but not this bad. Oy. In this comic Kara kind of looks like Lady Loki from the Marvel show.

    Yeah don’t think that’s Enchantress it’s Loki. They just changed forms. As an Asgarden Gwad they can do that. Though I’m pretty sure Tom will stay as the main Loki. Fans like him to much. I’m thinking the 2 Loki’s will team up and the TVA are the real bad guys save Morbus. Who will join them. And we’ll probly find out the TVA realy works for Krang and his Girl friend runs the whole thing. And the main time line was just one he made so he could take over the future. They never sad who would win. As to why Loki loses. It could be Krang. And we just think it’s the Avangers. But, that’s a guess. So far I like Loki. the show. Ah back to the comic. Ah both CVaptain Atom and Metamorpho have great butts in this shot. They must do a lot of squats. Sexy ness. Yeah Wally is focused on Kara. Him and Fire should have been a thing. The Kara obsession’s is getting old and weird. Though why Atom sends Rex by himself I don’t know. Any way the fight is good.

    Though I wonder why a Dormomu Homage would setal for an Earth or 2? Doesn’t he do universe level theaters? He has a diminution. And is after the one Strange is in. Why go to co conquer a planet? One he op[psed and destroyed? Way to not live up to ones potinal? Ah well. Can’t wait to hear the next pod cast.

  3. Always nice to hear Shag and Baily reunited. It feels so good. This was a great issue, and of course continued that tonal shift from last issue. I don’t recall if I remembered Mister Miracle was just a robot replacement or not, but honestly, it doesn’t matter, because the characters react as if this is all real. In a way, it’s kind of meta, since comic characters constantly mourn their dead friends and teammates…only for them to miraculously (pun-intended) return just a few months later. But this one was actually pre-planned for those who read the JLI Special!

    Hughes’ art is on fire, proving he can handle action as well as fun character moments. Guy hitting on Gypsy…yeah, that really hasn’t aged well. It was nice to see the severity of the situation eventually cut through Guy’s usual unflappable jerk facade. Well, it’s a facade in the JLI books. In the GL books…it’s kind of not?

    As for the JLE issue, Chris is quite witty! Wittier than that other Chris you always have on this network. The images shared showing Silver Sorceress in the obliterated city almost look Maguire-esque! Maybe it’s the Giffen layouts showing through? Oh, and I know I have brought this up before, but it will never fail to bug me this lady doesn’t have one stitch of silver on her costume. That’s like Green Lantern being blue…oh…wait…

    I got the Marvel analogs with the Extremists, but I admittedly kept forgetting who Dreamslayer was supposed to represent. I kept thinking Nightmare. Wrong Dr. Strange villain. Dormamu makes way more sense. This guys are nasty, but I think Gorgon is the grossest. Those tendrils…yuck!!!

    Dmitri’s wife’s leg…yeah, that’s just not right. She should get that looked at. I know Sears was going for sexy, but it reads as “broken”. Thank goodness they slammed that door. When I was in college, the comic shop I worked at had some Penthouse Comix behind the counter, and Sears drew some of those, so I guess he did get his shot at romance comics…kinda?

    What was their daughter wearing though? In the scene with Wally, is that an aerobics outfit? Of is she trying to impersonate 70s wallpaper? Or maybe a pencil?

    Power Girl’s new costume…yeah…sorry, I don’t like it. It’s too generic. It looks like it comes from a standard team uniform that everyone should be wearing a variation of…but she’s the only one who got the memo. I think it’s better than her next outfit, but that’s not saying much.

    I remember thinking the JLI books had really upped their game in the action department at the time. There was an energy about the books in the air. Exciting times!


    1. Why, thanks Chris for the kind complement! (Us Chris-es gotta stick together!) Unlike you, I didn’t have the added jeopardy of having to duck random punches in the middle of a podcast, so perhaps that helped keep up my repartee with Shag!

      The Sorceress’ hair is definitely silver, and I’m glad she was named for that rather than the colour of her costume. The Khaki Conjuror? The Ecru Enchantress? The Mousy Mage? Not really doing it for me tbh.

    2. Chris, Silver Sorceress doesn’t have silver in her outfit, fair enough, but check out her hair. And as, I think, Shag pointed out, the Scarlet Witch wasn’t always well-red.

  4. Speaking of Jurgens and Thibert, in this same time frame, a story in Adventures of Superman introduced Hank Henshaw and his astronaut colleagues and showed what became of them when radiation bathed their shuttle. Despite their common Marvelitic hook, I guess the Extremists story and the Henshaw story weren’t coordinated by the creators, but if someone were to invent some way to connect the two stories, one could postulate that Henshaw’s shuttle flew into a random wave of radiation rippling out from the magic portal that Silver Sorceress had just made. Magic portals can be unpredictable that way — I’ve been avoiding them lately, personally.

    Is Transistor Miracle’s deal that he’s “skipping” like a vinyl record with a scratch? Is that what we’re meant to get? Well, I suppose that oughtta be past tense in light of the fiery end of this JLA issue. Vaya con neuvos dioses, Scott Bot — we hardly knew ye, but you were one analog kinda replicant.

    1. I had the impression that being caught in the downpour of the embassy sprinkler system in JLA #37 shorted the Mr. Miracle robot out and he malfunctioned ever since? Or was he faulty from the very beginning? Hmm…

      1. Interesting idea. In that issue, the Scott Bot (love that) said the same line to each person to introduce himself, which showed “repeating itself”, and “doesn’t know what Mr Miracle should know.” So I always assumed it was flaky from the very beginning. And while the LMD should have been constructed well enough to handle sprinklers (rain, showers), I could believe Manga Khan got a good deal on this model knowing it had a moisture problem. 🙂

  5. Another fine episode Shag. I have noticed that there is a tendency for highly educated people to be involved in the show. Between Dr. Swartz-Levine and Dr. Lewis you’ve had a lot of schooling on the podcast. I’m in the last year of a doctorate program myself. Clearly Bwah-ha-ha is for refined audiences!

  6. With the whole discussion on how to pronounce Despero in the JLA review and the comments all I could think of what that it sounds like he’s Dess Perot, cousin of Ross Perot.

    Yes, THAT’s what I took away from this episode. Well … that and Kara needs a vacuum pump to get that costume on.

  7. I will save my thought on the Extremist arc–and these characters–for later, but I want to point out one thing. It’s always been weird that Silver Sorceress doesn’t have a silver costume, while her Marvel analog Scarlet Witch always wears red. Well, this issue of JLE kind of showed us why she’s the Silver Sorceress…this is the first time we saw her hair and it turns out to be silver! Still a strange costume and codename, but at least the art team threw that in there to maybe try and explain it.

    I’m not a fan of this Power Girl costume, mostly because of the limitations of the coloring process making the yellow in the costume the same as the yellow of her hair. I like the contrast her other costumes provide.

    The comparison of Despero plowing through the JLA as being very similar to Doomsday plowing through the later version of the JLA is apt. To the point that, when the Doomsday story came around, I remember thinking, “THIS again? They did this already! I’m tired of seeing Guy, Beetle, Fire and Ice get beat up!” The difference is, Doomsday wrecking the league happened as a mostly-adjunct event to a Superman story, the beatdown dealt by a brand new out-of-nowhere villain with no previous ties to the League. What made the Despero story more effective was the team had a past with the bad guy and he had a huge grudge to settle with them–kind of like The Wrath of Khan.

    I would’ve liked to have seen the JLA put up a little more of a fight than they did here. Come on, Beetle! Not only are you agile enough to avoid getting grabbed by Despero, at least TRY to blast him in the face with your concussive air pistol…oh, well…. And Ice contributing nothing but getting knocked out by debris? I remember buying this right off the rack and my dad expressing annoyance about that. Give Ice a chance to use her powers, at least. But all that aside, this is still an excellent issue and one of the most memorable JLI stories.

  8. I love the fact that every time the beetle participates in the action someone has to point out that he is participating in the action. Besides, his mind is second only to Martian Manhunter How cool is that?!
    PS: Eu diria que um cara que inventa uma arma que atordoa pessoas porque não quer mata-las é mais inteligente que um cara que não quer matar pessoas e fica atirando facas-bumerangues

    1. PS: I would say that a guy who invents a gun that stuns people because he doesn’t want to kill them is smarter than a guy who doesn’t want to kill people and keeps throwing bat-shaped boomerang knives.

  9. This show was tons of fun, everyone! Michael and Chris were fantastic guests and the bantering between all of you was entertaining. I’m still on board with all the Bwa-ha-ha but these more intense action issues are so good and you guys covered them excellently!

    JLA – Yowza, like Shag said there was funny bits, then crazy violence, then funny bits. This issue was a real rollercoaster of emotions for me. Despero yelling, “I’m burning! I’m burning!!” after Fire strafes him was intense! Adam Hughes was hitting it out of the park at this point and every page has something for me to just sit and stare at. So good!

    JLE – Is it me, or does this NOT look like regular Bart Sears art I mean, it’s definitely his art, but it just seems a little different, not as Sears-y, compared to the earlier issues. Maybe it’s Giffen’s breakdowns and Marcos’ inks? Put me down as a person who never knew the Extremists as Marvel analogues UNTIL THIS EPISODE! To heck with sub-text, I don’t even get text sometimes! I like the Squadron Supreme (Marvel’s analogue of DC), I like the Crime Syndicate (DC analogue of themselves), but I never really liked (or got) the Champions of Angor or the Extremists. They just seemed…. bland? And Gorgon is just icky.

    Well done again on another great show! This show just seems to get better and better with each issue. Keep up the great work!

  10. I remember when I first read these issues, and being totally on board with how intense the stories were, not because I was tired of the humor, but rather it kept you on your toes. You can’t take anything for granted with these series, which is my bag. These characters and creators can do serious or silly equally well, and I welcome it. Yay!

    Since I was collecting Mr Miracle in the day, I knew this was a Scott LMD, but what sold the big moment was Beetle’s reaction. I felt the horror thru Beetle’s eyes, even though I knew the truth. Fantastic story-telling. And gosh, Beetle has lost both of his bros! Booster quit. “Miracle” dead. It’ll be interesting to revisit how he deals with these losses.

    For J’onn’s memory of Mars, I originally took it as he described it, that his wife mentally touched reached him to bestow the “gift”. But now, I think the whole scene was triggered by Desssspero, and J’onn’s subconscious did the rest, including remembering the Mayavana, realizing it might be important. Hey, J’onn has the *most* powerful mind in the League!

    So why did Metamorpho face the Extremists alone? To show how powerful they are. Rex was able to hold his own against six Metal Men alone, but these villains took him apart in 2 pages. Yeah, they have a situation here.

    I thought about the question, do you mind having Marvel analogues in DC books? Well, let’s turn that around. Do you mind having DC analogues in Marvel books? Marvel sure doesn’t seem to mind. They’ve had a handful of Squadron Supreme series (someone should podcast about that), Hyperion was a member of the Avengers during Jonathan Hickman’s run, and there’s that recent Heroes Reborn event DC homage. For me, it’s usually simple: just do good stories. Like The Terrifics!

    Kara’s most important feature is what it’s missing: a cape. Nothing to get in the way of Giffen butt shots. Umm…..

    Fantastic episode, Shagg Michael, and Chris!

  11. I think I’ve mentioned in the past that Adam Hughes was not one of my favorite League artists, because to me he wasn’t a good fit for the JLI. Kevin Maguire was so perfect for the Giffen/DeMatteis run that I’ve never really forgiven him for leaving partway through, when the only book I can recall his doing in those years was three-quarters of The Adventures of Captain America & Bucky. But he did leave, and the rest of the run was trying to fit another artist into a Maguire-sized hole. The book took a dark turn with Templeton and the Bialya brainwashing arc, and the peak of that shift was the Despero arc (thank you for at least trying, guys.) This is still thought of as an all-time Justice League great, alongside the much less heralded Conway/McDonnell story to which this was essentially a direct sequel. It’s especially interesting given that neither of these was a “Dark Phoenix.” Neither story involves any immediate changes to the series or traumatic deaths or anything. Hell, if anything, the greatest failing of this arc was that it has uneven edges. It “starts” as a three page prelude in a messy “bottle episode” issue with the manufactured non-drama of Booster’s sudden resignation. Then despite being cover-featured, we sit through a five page Alan Moore meets Mad Magazine pastiche with an additional two pages regarding a minor subplot about a muckracker digging through the JLI’s trash bins.

    Only then does the failed parody of “Fearful Symmetry” begin with what is supposed to be the pratfall of Despero getting caught up in the U.N. flag and plopping to Earth. Then there’s an almost literal beating of a dead horse, with a member of the Detroit League that we already thought was dead being “fer-shur” killed. Cyborg in a coma, I know, I know, it’s serious. You can still squint and see the dark comedy in all these asparagus people deaths and Despero’s whoopsie hitting the prop plane. There’s even time to drop in on dumbass Booster gathering the friggin’ Conglomerate. It isn’t until page 13, when we get to Gypsy’s parents, when all of the sudden Buffy’s mom is dead on the couch and we’re stunned to realize we’re now in a legit horror story. Come on you guys– it’s jusy Gypsy. You hated her. People were actively rooting for the demise of this teenage girl in the previous volume, and this is essentially an example of an ’80s slasher movie. Why should anyone care? Because craft, that’s why. Because Adam Hughes drew the everlovin’ hell out of these issues, and when the Giffen-plotted pages came back to DeMatteis, he scripted it less like a camp version of “Kraven’s Last Hunt” and more like (to me better than) the real thing. If anything, all that not-so-great bwah-ha-ha serves to heighten the horror, because of the intrusion. “This is still a joke, right?” Those mangled corpses and Despero’s sadistic glee suggest otherwise. Neither the JLI nor the League as a whole is an appropriate vehicle for horror, and yet here it is, and it works, because everyone commits to the bit. The guy who’s supposed to be drawing the “mugging comedians” like Maguire is giving us a noir lighting and a pervasive Lynchian dread. This isn’t supposed to be happening, especially here, but it is, and it unsettles the reader.

    It’s also why this is a great Martian Manhunter story, because he should be the Jolly Green Giant in tight blue swim trunks, except the mood is so oppressive that you forget how ridiculous he looks. You don’t see a corny Burroughs lift from the bad old Batman-versus-aliens 1950s Detective Comics, but a grimly determined defender in the face of a terror from beyond. You’re expecting Superman and the Mole Men, but you’re getting The Thing from Another World. It’s a unique space inhabited by J’Onn J’Onzz, because the presence of Superman reins-in any horror, and the situation is too fantastic for the Batman, but the Alien Atlas is perfectly served by this mingling of genres and aesthetics. Even when he’s throwing cellophane S-shields and kissing Lois’ memory away in the end, this was a story that you can do with the Martian Manhunter in 1990 where it wouldn’t have worked for Superman before or since. The battle with the League takes up most of the issue, but they’re guest stars– they’re cannon fodder– they’re bookended by the stars of this tale, J’Onn and Gypsy. It’s kind of an ill-fitting JLI arc, but it’s a perfect continuation of the late life Detroit League narrative, of which these two are not just members but survivors. The JLI is not a place of heaving sobs and aching loss and whispered vows, so it’s hosting a Detroit requiem that is at once one of the best best stories in the run while being one of the most egregious deviations from the expectations for the title. Kind of like how Kraven licking the barrel of a shotgun isn’t really appropriate Spider-Man fare, but is all the better as a story for the impropriety.

    Oh, and then it ends 11 pages into the following issue as a dream sequence, with an extended coda mourning the glitchy robot duplicate of a character who’s continuing wacky misadventures in space can be followed uninterrupted in an ongoing solo series. Probably with a Lobo guest appearance? And Hughes draws it so well that you’re still sad, despite all evidence that emotion is unwarranted.

    You ever notice that Mark Millar’s fan favorite status was defined by his reworking “The Extremist Vector” into his first Authority arc? Pit your niche super-group against a team of Marvel analogues, but make them sociopaths? Sure, there’s a heavy dose of Pat Mills processed through the added cynicism and toilet humor of Garth Ennis, but they’re kind of the same thing, right? Could you imagine if Giffen and Sears had sat on the Extremists for a couple years and done it at Image instead? But Giffen had the creative integrity to treat the IP appropriation as a disposable lark, and Millar only has the millions of dollars Giffen left on the table a decade earlier. I’m sure Giffen had no interest in that small fortune he could have retired from. Also, I don’t know what Giffen was working through psychologically the months these stories were running parallel in the books, but it sure was a needed raising of stakes. Sears is capable of doing shtick, but brutal Brutes & Babes blowouts were his true passion. That and not-entirely-comprehensible overworked page layouts for the secondary art market, but that comes later.

    Power Girl’s yellow & white costume was unique and distinctive in the same way as Sears’ Heroes Alliance designs and pretty much the whole of the Ultraverse. Both died ignominious deaths. It’s all Champions/Villains and Vigilantes in the end. Somewhat admirable and not a little hubristic for fanboys and minor talents to think that they’re going to do something “different” to “stand apart” from established properties, but there’s a reason why so many major characters have red and blue/black costumes. This is very anonymous-heroine-in-period-team-book couture. As maligned as her later Rogue-biting Atlantean costume was, I liked it well enough and could see it in a solo mini-series. I think we can all agree that the aughts Amanda Conner design was the best suited for an ongoing solo book, though.

    If Wally West was a kneejerk reactionary crybaby under Wolfman and a cad in the Mike Baron run and a creep in JLE and a mass-murderer under Tom King and bit of a jerky loser in the Messner-Loebs run, isn’t the “nice guy” version the aberration? Was Mark Waid the objective or subjective view here? Maybe you guys all like Wally’s self image?

  12. Thanks for another splendid episode, two great comics, two great guests, one heckuva host – the easiest of listening for superhero fans.

    Both these issue, as you said, stepped things up a gear, eschewing gags for drama. Mind, it could be argued that this was the tone that Justice League Europe
    was always meant to have, but it diverted into more JLI territory so this is a course correction.

    As regards the JLA #39 Despero story, I don’t remember, did J’onn J’onzz ever feel upset or disturbed by Bea’s fire powers – or did her flame’s green-ness stop his psychological problem from kicking in?

    For the first time, Shag, yes, the first time ever, I disagree with you. I’m with Michael, I love the plot about Blue Beetle getting out of shape, it’s exactly the sort of thing that fits into a book about super-heroes who are more like real people than gods. Don’t you miss the days, for example, when Spider-Man would have to duck out of a fight because he had a head cold? (Can anyone recall a single example of a superhero needing to go to the toilet? Beyonder doesn’t count.)

    Chris give us one of the best ever recaps, what a droll chap he is.

    Oh, the new Power Girl costume is just hideous, yellow and white do not go together – that’s not gold, the tones are too flat – and the design is awful. It looks like an aerobics suit, far more than Dinah’s Olivia Newton-John look ever did. If we can’t have the original, I much prefer the majestic ‘Arion’s descendant’ blue, red and white look with the headband and mini-cape. All Peege revamps need a cape, darling.

    I loved the Russian twin – who may have been Rosa – calling Kilowog ‘the very unattractive warthog creature’ after we see he fancies her. DC misses a trick by not revealing that they’re not twins, but two barely differentiated aspects of the famed Russian superheroes, Nesting Doll.

    I know we’ve retired the Bwaa-ha-ha award for JLE, but could I give Ripped Shirt Bluejay my Bwaa Ha HOT! award?

    I think the Extremists never became a thing at DC because they were rubbish; also, they’re so powerful and vicious that they’re too much for your average DC comic. And I never realised they were Marvel comics analogues, either.

    Now we’ve settled how to pronounce Despero, might I pronounce Chris’s ‘Meet-ron’ plain wrong?

    Chris does, though, get a million points for the phrase ‘sentient herpes’!

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Martin.
      I’m shocked & surprised that my pronunciation of “Me-tron” is being critiqued, yet no one has weighed in on how I said the name “Kilg%re”! (Is the percentage sign silent?). And I totally flubbed on the Tracer/Tracker name too; thanks to Shag for picking up on my error there.
      Lest we forget, Sentient Herpes gave us one of the definitive punk albums of the late ‘70s!

  13. About Dematteis setting up gypse with her family and then killing then. I felt pretty bad when giffen killed the Injustice League in Suicide Squad. But again, If anyone has the right to do it, is the writer who set them up. Did you hear, Geoff Johns?

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