JLI Podcast #54 – BREAKDOWNS: Justice League America #54 & Justice League Europe #30

BREAKDOWNS continues! Tim Levine joins The Irredeemable Shag to chat about Justice League America #54! The new U.N. liaison fires Blue Beetle and Ice, while Captain Atom finds himself trapped inside an exploding airplane! Then Dr Chris Lewis stops by to discuss Justice League Europe #30! The fired Leaguers head to Bialya to investigate Max's shooting, but find themselves battling Jack O'Lantern, with horrific consequences! Finally, we wrap up with YOUR listener feedback!

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41 responses to “JLI Podcast #54 – BREAKDOWNS: Justice League America #54 & Justice League Europe #30

  1. For covers that are homages to interior panels, the best I can come up with is a variant cover to Amazing Spider-Man #678 which is a tribute to the famous “Let’s face it tiger, you’ve hit the jackpot!” debut panel of Mary Jane! Funny both of the examples so far are early Spidey…drawn by John Romita, RIP. Shows how iconic the Lee/Romita years of Spidey are.

    Tim Levine…I got into JLI via that exact same trade paperback preview! My LCS had a stack of them on the counter for free and I remember being drawn to that Kevin Maguire artwork! Plus I’d been eyeing JLI (and the Booster and Beetle solo titles) for a while bc I thought they looked neat and I was intrigued bc I didn’t know anything about them. The One Punch preview made me take my Waldenbooks gift certificate and buy the Justice League A New Beginning trade, and the rest is history!

    1. That brings back a lot of nostalgia for me. There was a Waldenbooks in the mall (Century III – RIP) near the house were I grew up that was literally only a few hundred feet from the comic shop. I sent countless hours of my youth hanging out in that section of the mall and bought several of my early trades there.

      Also, if anyone is wondering, we recorded about a week before Romita passed. To me, and probably a whole generation of fans, his Spider-man will always be THE definitive version of Spider-man. Short of possibly seeing something from JLGL DC Style Guide, nothing triggers the shear visceral, emotional, childhood nostalgic joy in me more than seeing a Romita Spider-man. A wonderful artist and purportedly a wonderful human being. RIP.

      1. Tim, very similar Waldenbooks experiences here…when my family lived in Fort Knox the closest mall was the Elizabethtown mall and that was the Waldenbooks we went to. Our LCS, a now closed place called Comix to Go in Radcliff, was nearby. At Waldenbooks we also got Batman: Year One, The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, and The Dark Knight Returns, iirc (this was right around the time Batman 89 hit theaters and DC released TONS of Batman trades) among others.

        Yep, John Romita was THE definitive Spidey for decades. If you saw a piece of Spidey related merchandise, chances were a Romita illustration was on it…t shirts, notebooks, lunch boxes, calendars, coloring books, etc. I don’t think anyone else had that mantle until Mark Bagley. Mr. Romita left an indelible impression.

  2. Robs brain on early JLI
    2 WAIT There’s no superman or wonder woman that’s wrong!
    3 but Rob you dont even like Wonder woman.
    4 THAT’S right I DONT LIKE THE VISION ethier but he’s ethier but he’s THE AVENGER
    5 blue beetle meh BUT chicogo needs a superhero becuse the cubs never win the series
    6 Oh god they mean to USE GUY Garden. NEVER!
    7 Oh wait the Creeper shows up? SOLD!
    NOTE AND THEN i never found the creeper ones

  3. Wonderfull episode as always . And great guests as always . I’m gonna Throw out a recommendation as I’ve bin reading some indie comics as of late .
    From the company called headlock I’ve bin reading a four volume series the first volume is Called single step and volumes 2&3 are the last territory story arc . Follow Mike Hartmann as he takes the journey from drama student and pro wrestling fan to pro wrestler . Also filsinger games put out card based on the last territory story arc . Sorry for babbling on. But Tim did great . Just trying to let every one know about a great indie comic series .

  4. Meant to say filsinger games who does several wrestling card games did a expansion pack bring the characters from headlock the last territory in to the game . Now Dr destruction can fight Randy savage or pain killer can face RVD . Who will win I don’t know ?

  5. Trying to think of any other instances of interior panels/splashes being used for homage covers…Jason already cited the variant cover based on Romita’s “Face it, tiger” panel. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few other interior pages that might be iconic enough to inspire homage covers: Jack Kirby’s Thing-in-the-rain splash to “This Man, This Monster,” John Buscema’s “Even an android can cry” Avengers panel, and Paul Smith’s “Professor Xavier is a jerk” page. I can’t recall whether I’ve seen any covers based on those images, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were.

  6. I have to agree that both issues have lovely covers, and in a sort of Mandela effect, I did not recall the JLE one belonged to this run or one of the breakdowns issues.
    Tim was a great, albeit somewhat controversial, guest. I did get the sampler as well (I believe some unscrupulous local merchant actually SOLD it to me), and since I was already reading JLI brought me to the Titans TPB. Agreed also with Tim that J’onn DOES look badass in his confrontation and all the storytelling notes and the credit to Giffen.
    My only controversy point was the Nazi/Brazil/Argentina “joke” that believe me, is not funny from here, and this is the International podcast, after all.
    JLE is a much more solid issue, but boy, that is one plot-heavy first half…

  7. Hey Shagg, great episode.
    Breakdowns for me has the same kind of feeling that Flashpoint would have in 2011. As a story by itself, It’s very good and I’menjoying it as we go along. But the problem is that the writing is pretty much on the wall that this story is the closing up of shop before everything changes.
    (Whether for better or worse, depends on how you felt about the series and what came after.)

    Now then, as to the issue itself,
    What’s with Doctor light’s costume?
    Normally the white part on her chest is simply a starburst pattern on a black spandex shirt. But here it looks like she’s wearing a white bra with some kind of white sheer material covering the otherwise exposed area of her upper chest. Did someone not get the proper model sheets?

    1. I get the same feeling about breakdowns, that something special is coming to an end. Same feeling I have about DC comics during the Crisis

  8. Great episode as always, but I was a bit confused since I don’t remember recording this one, but Shagg kept saying “Tim”, so I must have … Oh, Tim Levine! Oooooooh. Well, welcome to the Just Tim League, Mr Levine. Well done!

    From JLA 54. Not as controversial as Beetle’s finger, I wonder if there’s another sly artistic liberty on page 14, middle panel, where it clearly shows Guy is picking his nose. Keeping it classy, Mr Gardner.

    When the plane carrying Captain Atom and Inspector Camus blew up, what about the crew? There’s any number of explanations that could have been included, but the story does not address if Cap did or didn’t let some people die, innocent or otherwise.

    I guess that’s another symptom of my only problem with Breakdowns. It’s covering a lot of ground in a short period, and doesn’t give time to flesh some things out. But personally, that’s my only problem, because I like Breakdowns a lot.

    Speaking of, yes it skips explaining how Beetle, Ice, and Ralph got to transporters. However, I have an overly complicated explanation. It’s been established that Leaguers have transporter tubes in their homes. Ralph and Sue are very well off and likely have a home outside of the London embassy with its own tube. And Ralph has been a Leaguer before JLI and is smart enough to have put his own override in place which couldn’t be blocked. That or they paid off L-Ron in WD-40.

    Then in JLE 30. I shouldn’t be biased, but Darick Robertson should have been the artist for JLA. It’s the longer-running title, and Darick’s art is so much better, I don’t know why the assignments went that way. Any insights would be welcome. But that is to say I’m consistently blown away with his art in this issue. especially the tragic pages 18-19. Ice’s face and whispered “Ulla?” gets me every time. Beautifully done.

    Putting on my historian hat, Queen Bee stated she had the original Jack killed at the end of JLE #4, but it was off-panel. The new Jack appeared in JLE Annual #1, and at least one page of the story was devoted to establishing him replacing the original. But hey, there’s a lot to keep track of in this series. Historian hat: off!

    I also really appreciate them playing Jack as deliberately acting unsure and incompetent when he’s with the Queen Bee, followed by him flying alone and gloating how he’s playing her. It works really well, shows how cunning he is, and is a slight twist on the backstabbing villain dynamic. So no, I don’t feel bad for Queen Bee. This is standard operating procedure when villains (supposedly) work together.

    It was so great seeing Shagg and other podcasters at Heroes Con, but I want to give a shout out to listener Danny (sp?) who came to the con on Saturday. I’m sorry I had to step away for a signature and missed saying goodbye, but it was a pleasure to meet you.

    1. Perhaps we can form the JLI-Tim Club. It doesn’t have the vintage provenance of the Superman-Tim Club, but it can be ours, all ours.

      1. The Bat-Tim Cave. Cap-Tim Americans. The Might-Tim Avengers. The New Tim-Tams. The options are endless.
        (I’m a bad person.)

  9. Hey Shag, another great episode. Thanks for the mention of the Booster Gold series last episode, I’m loving it.
    As for breakdowns, I think I have mixed feelings about it. It came out when I had more or less walked away from comics, and I saw the first issue of breakdowns at the Fort Benning PX (that’s like the army’s version of Walmart) while I was at basic training and just figured it was the end of an awesome run. Turns out I was so right! I am enjoying the coverage of the story and I liked the spotlight on Jack O’Lantern, a character whose visual I found appealing enough to make a custom figure of but who was pretty lame on the pages of comics.

  10. Impressive podcast most impressive. The cover is cool. I also know this was used for that Robin and Kid flash cover when they walk off, but ends up they’re becoming the Flash and Night Wing . And Night Wings great legs. I’m sure the Bat Man family will agree with that. Any way, speaking of great legs hey look Captain Atom. With him and the inspector with trench coat twin action.

    Glad they got out in time. The explosion is great. Not found of how John looks , but everything else works in the interviews. Hmmm, I think QB set up this so Ice and Ted would make the attack happen probably hoping Jack O Lantern would die. Ah well. Glory was awesome in this and the art style works well for him.

    Pour Ted he’s the tech guy. He doesn’t need to be built like JCVD. He’s working on it anyway. He probably is given the Texas state bird. I wonder if in the England comics if he’s holding up two fingers. And some one saying it’s a peace sign. I can see Gifen doing this . Guy was fine. Shocked he wasn’t mad Ice was taken off the team.

    Ah that pose Ice has. I use it all the time on Twitter. But I’m smiling the cat that ate the Canary smile. There try and un see that now folks. Bwwaaahhaaaa! Probably the only time I’ll have anything in common with Ice. The Ex JLAs team up was cool. Nice member Barry y’all did mentioning I can’t believe it’s not the JLI.

    The man from Uncle was great. Though now ones May remember the Henry Cavil movie now. Both were cool. As was the reruns of the Girl from Uncle. The showing of Atom and cop guy alive was cool. With the Crimson Fox with them.

    Ah hose punching guy works. The JLE was good. oh what is with Queen Bees hair? Is she working on a Dracula Cos play? Ah yep Jacks hair is like homes. To ware I can see him and QB having that conversation.
    QB,” Think of me as the girl next door.”

    Jack;” If you ware the girl next door I’d move.”

    QB,” Oh ware would you go?”

    Jack,” Next door.”

    The team going back there looks cool. Ah Ted warring the Yard Sale Artists fake mustache from the New Warriors pod cast. The fights not bad. If you want to see scary Ice watch her in the BOP Gal run. That’s her being scary. Still this was cool. Ah killing off team red shirt members. It works well enough to help build the story. The expressions on the last page are great. The artist did good with it. Though Ted looks weird. Like he ate his fake mustache.

    The rest look great. Can’t wait to hear the next podcast.

  11. In the JLA issue, I really don’t like that scene with Fire, I get the implication that she meant to have seduced Heimlich. Personally, I’d have liked a scene where she uses her charm to bamboozle the guy and get what she wanted that way around. But I guess technically Comic’s Code still applies here!

    One error I spotted, and for some reason bothers me when the ex-Leaguers arrive at the JLE embassy the caption says London, but Sue says Welcome to Paris! No bearing on the story or anything though!

    Oh and hey look we have a whole panel of Pee Gee scowling in our JLE comic!

    1. I missed this…. Didn’t the Paris Embassy get destroyed? Did the scripter not get that right or was it editorial?

    2. I like to think Fire stayed PG and she just flirted with him a little. Influence him with the hope she might pay him more attention in the future.

  12. This was a great episode and I really enjoyed the discussion you and your guests had about these issues. The books are still flawed compared to the rest of the Giffen/DeMatteis run, but with 30+ years gone by between readings of Breakdowns, I’ve definitely come around to appreciating them more now.

    These two issues in particular have been my favorites so far in this storyline, and there is a real ramping up in the plot and action that I barely remember.

    Ted and Tora both seemed like the audience proxy into the group, as they added a lot of humanity into the team. Ted with his lack of power and humor, Tora with her heart and naivete, so losing them really emphasizes the breakdown of this version of the Justice League. Which is probably why I instantly became endeared to the Ex-Leaguers once they took over the JLE issue.

    Lastly, I find it very interesting to see the divide among your guests and DC fans in general about JLI when it first came out. It seems like you were either on board right away, or hated the idea of a funny JL book and took a while to come around to it. I wonder if the people who resisted it at first were more of a pre-Crisis DC fan than a post-crisis fan.

    I started out as a Marvel kid, and the first DC book I really sought out was Legends because I was following Byrne and other Marvel creators to DC. That led into JLI and the humor probably didn’t feel out of place for someone who read Spider-Man books or lived through Assistant Editors Month. But perhaps if you were a DC classicist (is that a word?) You didn’t like these Marvel guys coming over and Marvel-ing up the joint. So when one of the flagship DC titles became a sitcom, it didn’t sit right.

    I don’t know, just a theory based on everything I’ve heard on this pod so far.

  13. Great show, Tim, Chris, and Shag. First, let me say that mentioning that your doily reference made my heart sing. I was walking in my neighborhood, listening with my ear buds when I heard that and pumped my fist in the air like Judd Nelson at the end of the breakfast Club. Speaking of; check page 16, panel 3. What’s that under the plant behind Ice? That’s a damn doily is what it is! JLE issue30 was great, too. I have to admit, Breakdowns is starting better than I remembered. Tough end for Little Mermaid. Clean up on aisle Ulla! Guess the Bialya Embassy is serving sushi tonight.

  14. Excellent episode as ever.

    JL: Tim made a marvellous debut, with plenty of knowledge and opinions.

    Hey if we can get personal with InStock Trade book recommendations, we need to have a little chat about the Next Wave trade paperback, there are some terrific letters in there.

    I am SHOCKED that Shag insists nothing naughty went on when the door was closed on the office conversation with Fire and that horrible new JL admin wallah… Why else would it be closed? She’s doing something very naughty. Turn in that ‘Irredeemable’ title at once.

    Re: JLE, I liked Chris’s original recap voice, it was perfect, he should’ve stuck with it!

    ‘The widening gyre’ is a Yeats reference, you know, things fall apart, the centre cannot hood and all that.

    Can anyone guess what the card is saying that’s being held up by the Indian gentleman at the airport? I bet we’re missing a gag.

    Alex Saviuk was best known as a Marvel comics artist? Only if you stick to Marvel Comics, maybe, because he drew pretty much every back-up you can think of at DC for years, and had a good run on the Green Lantern/Green Arrow series after Mike Grell left.

    I think we should call Jack o’Lantern ‘Turnip Man’, as the lantern is his most memorable feature, its light helps him root (vegetable) out evil.

    Liz isn’t correct in saying John Constantine was created post-Crisis – even if we discount the Sting-alike man in the background of a panel in Swamp Thing #25 a few years earlier, John Constantine proper first appeared in Swamp Thing #37 in June 1985. That was cover dated a couple of months after the first issue with Crisis on Infinite Earths, yes, but that was a long time before we were post-Crisis. Heck, he appeared in Swamp Thing #50, a seminal Crisis crossover. It’s clearly Booster who was the first post-Crisis hero.

    1. I actually agree that nothing naughty happened behind closed doors although I’m sure there was plenty of seduction and “leading him on.”

      As to the ongoing debate about most popular post-Crisis DC heroes/characters, I’d point out that both Harley Quinn and the Morpheus version of Sandman, although the former was created for animation and the latter was Vertigo (although technically his introduction predates Vertigo) and both could arguably fall outside of the scope of being “heroes.” However, I think it’s safe to say that both have more mainstream popularity than Booster.

  15. It’s easy to forget the cover homages an interior panel because it’s been used so much AS a cover. I used to collect these things (digitally, not the whole comic), and when I stopped, the trashcan collection included: JL of A 224, New Teen Titans 39, American Flagg 38, Manhunter 24, Azrael 29, Hitman 60, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (Back in Black), Starman 21, Green Goblin (sorry some of these images are too small for me to read the number right now), Green Lantern 68, Wonder Man 18, The Titans 13, and more (sometimes there’s a trash can, sometimes not, but there are always costumes and people walking away from them. Other series like Peter Porker and Howard the Duck homaged the ACTUAL cover of Amazing Spider-Man 50 (walking towards us with heroic persona as a red backdrop).

    But did I collect INTERIOR images that were homaged?

    My other collections were: Flash of Two Worlds, Supergirl Dies in Crisis, Action #1, Superman #1, American Gothic (homage the painting), Superman with Eagle on Arm, Beatles homage on crosswalk (album cover), Robin busting out of paper circle, Conan poster, Death of Superman, Dark Knight Returns lightning cover, Showcase #8, Batman on gargoyle, Detective 31 (giant Batman over castle), Hulk #1, Fantastic Four #1, JLA as finger puppets, JLA as trees, JLofA #1 (playing chess), JSA around a table, Adventure Comics #300, Eye of the Man-Thing, Amazing Fantasy 15, Batman #9 (spotlight), and assorted things from comics, movies and fine art.

    No interior panels as source that I could detect looking through my folders.

  16. Faith ‘n begorrah, t’is I, Oirish Academy here, to be shure, to be shure, here to throw the gift o’ the gab on the ol’ JLA and JLE from the forty shades of the green Emerald Isle and……what’s that, Dr. Chris? I don’t have to speak like Jack O’Lantern? Phew, that’s a relief *drops the faux-Irish accent*

    JLA 54 really brought things forward with the development of the Bialya plot and the extension of the ex-JLI members. One thing that is a bit unclear is how the Bialya plots are entwined – it seems that Jack O’Lantern 2 and Sumann Harjavti orchestrated Max’s shooting to drag the JLI into investigating the Queen Bee. However, Ambassador Heimlich appears to be a Queen Bee drone. So did Queen Bee used Max’s shooting to try and install her own people into the JLI hierarchy? While I enjoyed the Breakdowns saga, one little thing that lets it down is little plot points like this are not expressed; similar to how Crimson Fox, who was not fired, became involved with the ex-Justice Leaguers – indeed how did Captain Atom and the others know that Fox was the head of Revson?

    Regarding the question that came up in the podcast as to why the Tasmanian Devil and Dr. Light was brought in, I presume that because they were already affiliated with embassies (Australia and Japan) and it was easier to bring them in rather than bringing someone new in.

    I found it funny that Tim brought up Ted’s “middle finger” at the end of his interview, however, when I was reading through the issue, I saw that on page 16, when Ted and Tora are visiting Max, the middle panel where Tora has her hand to her face sort of looks like she is giving a sneaky middle finger as well. Maybe Chris Wozniak likes to put these into his art?

    JLE 30 again was a very good issue. The ex Justice Leaguers (plus Fox) managed to get themselves into the heart of Bialya and discover the secrets of the Dome. The death of Little Mermaid was shocking and we are leading to a climatic battle of JLI vs the Global Guardians with the JL-Ex stuck in the middle. Again, a minor nit-picking point – how did Queen Bee know about the ex-Justice Leaguers being in Bialya and why did she decide to invite the JLI in to get them? Surely she could have just get the Global Guardians to deal with this?

    Another very good episode Shagg and look forward to the next one.

  17. First off an excellent episode with great guests who really brought the show to life. Tim’s first ever podcast? Really? You sounded like a pro. Chris back in the mix is also fun, but I can’t remember if it was Chris who swore like a trooper in a previous episode? Either way I thought he was excellent and I for one am glad he’s now the F&W scheduler!
    Both guests really raised the bar!
    As for the issues themselves I honestly remember at the time thinking maybe Breakdowns wasn’t so bad…. But then I also remember how the next month went and… I won’t spoil it here!
    Top marks this week for noticing the middle finger part I had completely missed it before but now can’t unsee!

    I do like how both issues are pulling things together ready to set the table for Jurgens. However I seem to recall that originally Keith and JM had originally planned to leave by now and I often wonder if this was the end point they had originally conceived… Had things stopped here maybe I would have fonder memories of breakdowns. That being said these first 6 parts of the run do read better than I recall so maybe I was just over critical at the time.

    All in a great episode well done everyone including Shag.

    For the record I am in Florida on vacation now and am more than ready to tackle Publix Ice Cream if anyone wants to discuss it 😉

    1. Awww… Thanks for the kind words, Doug. I believe it may have been Andy Leyland who was deliberately potty mouthed on one occasion, (but if I remember correctly, I think that was for a ‘bit’).
      I do try to keep the language mostly PG, because you never know whose little ears might be listening in! ;o)

  18. Just read my first issue of justice league international issue 13 where they fight the suicide squad I’ll have listen to the past episode later but why is guy . Suddenly mr rogers with super powers ?

    1. Oh, that’s an important change. In issue #5, the classic “one punch” knocked Guy out, and Beetle tossed his ring under a computer console. In issue #7, Guy wakes up, crawls under the console for his ring, hits his head again after being startled by a mouse and passes out again. When he wakes up, he has the Mr Nice Guy persona. Hope this helps, Bucky!

  19. Great show as per usual, y’all. I’ve been listening to the pod since the beginning & there’s always been a great mixture of humor, intelligence, and smart analysis. Shag, you do good work!

    A couple of quick thoughts…

    1) Anyone know if volume 3 of the JLI omnibus is in any kind of development? I would imagine the legal issues around one of the writers creates problems, yet I thought there was a solution where their royalties went to victims advocacy groups.

    2) It’s been too damn many years, but I recall Breakdowns being fun but unfocused. If you have to do an EVENT in comics (and do you really have to?), there ought to be either a thematic or conceptual hook. Secret Invasion is a “Who can you trust?” narrative. Crisis clears the decks of unwieldy continuity. Civil War creates conflict based on legal/ethical lines. The execution is debatable, but the hook is there. Breakdowns, on the other hand, feels like multiple concepts jammed into one narrative. Giffen/DeMatteis & co are so talented that they kind of make it work, but it felt at the time like a JLI turducken. I’m curious if time is kinder to Breakdowns.

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