Tuesday, March 8, 2016


"Tomorrow's League Today"
WRITER: Keith Giffen (plot and breakdowns) and J. M. DeMatteis (script)
PENCILER: Steve Carr (framing and bridging sequences), Chris Spruce (Martian Manhunter sequence), Darick Robertson (Guy Gardner, Fire sequences), Marshall Rogers (Blue Beetle sequence), Kevin Maguire (Ice sequence), Dan Jurgens (Booster Gold sequence), Joe Phillips (Mister Miracle sequence), Ty Templeton (General Glory sequence), Linda Medley (Maxwell Lord sequence)
INKER: Jose Marzan, Jr. (framing and bridging sequences), Bruce Patterson (future sequences)
COLORIST: Gene D'Angelou
LETTERER: Bob Lappan

SYNOPSIS:  Waverider seeks out the Justice League, figuring that if neither Superman nor Batman have proven to become Monarch, then perhaps examining the future timelines of some of the world's greatest heroes could lead him to his goal.  Disguising himself as Captain Atom, he enters the team's headquarters.

When L-Ron doesn't suspect anything amiss, Waverider assumes his disguise is complete.  Meanwhile, none of the Leaguers take any real notice of Waverider not exactly acting like Captain Atom.  They are all more concerned with the fact that Maxell Lord is in the hospital, having been shot in recent story developments.  Waverider speaks to each League member in turn and, as he either touches them or they him, he makes the contact needed to examine each of their possible futures in turn.

MARTIAN MANHUNTER:  We see a man dressed in a parka and mountain climbing gear trekking his way through the Himalayas.  He finds a cave in which resides The Green Guru, who is J'onn J'onzz in his larger Martian form.  The traveler asks that all-important question, "What is the meaning of life?"  The Guru replies that life is "like an Oreo cookie," to which the traveler becomes incredibly upset and storms away, threatening to sue.

GUY GARDNER:  At an arena decorated with the Green Lantern symbol, a young woman talks about how their influence and message have finally reached the level of which they have dreamed for so long.  Thousands of people have turned out to see the one and only Guy Gardner, whose message of encouraging others to act like him has finally caught on to nearly cult-level proportions. His staunchest followers dress like him, even down to the bowl-style haircut.  As he prepares to go on stage to address the chanting throngs, somebody in the rafters cuts loose a sandbag which falls and hits Guy square on the head.  Guy claims to be feeling just fine, but his compatriots seem to sense something is amiss.  And, as his story ends we see the next day's Daily Planet with a full-page spread claiming "NICE GUY FINISHES LAST! CROWD RIOTS AS CULT IDOL CHANGES TUNE!"

BLUE BEETLE:  In a small apartment, Ted Kord is watching late night television.  He comes across a commercial of his somewhat younger self promoting a bug repellent called Bug-Off.  We are shown that Ted, after selling off the rights to his superhero name and Kord Industries inventions to Beatriz (Fire) DaCosta, has put on weight and gotten out of shape.  He thought a simple money-making venture with Booster Gold would turn out in his favor, but instead left him with nothing but boredom and wasted money.  At this point, he isn't even allowed to to be Blue Beetle anymore.  He had tried to fight crime as The Stupendous Silverfish, but it only resulted in criminals laughing at him and he even got arrested due to copyright infringement on the Blue Beetle license.  Instead of deciding to turn his life around and return to the hero business, Ted decides to drown his sorrows in a drink, a pizza and some bad TV.

ICE:  In a modest suburban home we see a woman who owns no less than six cats (one of whom looks similar to G'Nort, but this is probably just coincidence).  Tora has given up the hero life long ago, choosing instead to retire to a quiet life of normalcy.  When a news report comes on describing the events of the Guy Gardner story, she quickly dresses and rushes out the door claiming that after all this time Guy finally needs her.  She finds him on the shoreline, forlorn and trying to figure out things in his life.  She offers to help him in any way possible.  Guy has realized that he has changed back to the way he used to be before he was colossal jerk to everyone around him.  He's afraid he may not stay this way for long and instead "dump all over" Ice and others again.  Through a series of back and forth dialogue straight out of romance movie, the two work out an arrangement that ends in both proclaiming their love for the other.

FIRE:  At a church we see Fire and Oberon sitting in a pew discussing the wedding the two are attending.  Through their dialogue we can put together that they are attending the wedding of Ice and Guy and that Fire, who has become highly successful because of her fashion designs and the licensing of both the Blue Beetle and Booster Gold names, is paying for the entire affair.  Oberon worries that Ted might show up and cause a scene, but Bea soothes his woes and explains that it was nobody's fault what happened and that Ted is an adult who simply made a poor decision.  Oberon then takes the opportunity to change the subject and asks Fire to marry him, to which she is initially surprised but then highly elated.  At that exact moment, Ted Kord bursts through the church doors and confronts Fire about the whole financial affair, claiming it was Fire's company who bankrupted his.  The argument heats up (no pun intended) to a point where Ted raises his hands as if to strangle her.  A Daily Planet headline then reads "EX-SUPERHERO ARRESTED AFTER ATTEMPT ON MODEL'S LIFE" with a picture showing Ted being led away in handcuffs.

BOOSTER GOLD:  Breaking with Waverider's usual methodology of looking into the year 2001, we instead see the Space Museum in the 25th century.  Michael Carter, formerly Booster Gold, is washing the floors in the superhero wing.  He comes across statues and biographies of heroes he once knew and fought alongside.  When he comes across Ted Kord's information he gets upset at Ted for doing something so stupid, presumably talking about assaulting Fire.  He gets the idea to once again steal a time machine and contact Maxwell Lord to get the team back together in 2001, reasoning that they were never really a team without Max there to guide them.  Rushing into the time travel wing of the museum, he realizes that the method he used before is much more highly secured this time.  But Booster is determined to find another way.

MISTER MIRACLE:  Backstage at a sports arena, we see a group of people dressed similarly to Mister Miracle.  An unmasked Scott Free is addressing the assembled Miracles, giving them a pep talk before their next performance.  Mister Miracle has begun training a group to perform shows of escape artistry and acrobatics.Scott's wife, Barda, s complaining about him always being on the road with The Miracle Squad, leaving her at home alone with three kids to take care of.  Scott promises to stop touring as soon as the Squad is fully trained and they hire a bookkeeper.  Oberon shows up and explains to Miracle and Barda about what has happened with Ted (and casually lets slip that he and Fire are engaged).  Miracle repeatedly offers to break Ted out of prison just for fun.  Barda insists that she will discuss things with Bea and get her to calm down.  She then tells Scott to stay and work on the show, because they still have bills to pay.

GENERAL GLORY:  In a hospital room, we see Maxwell Lord visit an old man,  Max addresses him as General Glory, but the old man says that glory retired a long time ago.  Max goes on and on about how America needs a symbol like Glory to help inspire the people toward greatness.  Joe, the old man, eventually figures out that Max is trying to use his manipulation powers to convince him to become General Glory again.  Max instead digs deep into his rhetorical background and spews forth every piece of patriotic pandering that he can produce.  It brings a literal tear to Joe's eye, who is now convinced to once again become General Glory.  Max and Glory announce to the UN and thereby the world that the JLI is back in business, albeit with an updated roster including Aquaman, Ice, Guy Gardner, Booster Gold, Blue Beetle and two other female members, all sporting bowl-style haircuts in honor of Glory's old sidekick Ernie.

(At this point Waverider as Captain Atom excuses himself from the group, deciding that Maxwell Lord's powers of persuasion may instead lead him to become Monarch. He flies to the hospital and once again adopts his normal form, albeit invisible to the common people.)

MAXWELL LORD:  Max has retired to the island of Kooeykooeykooey where he lounges in a hammock while wearing a grass skirt and drinking from a coconut.  A sudden loud crash followed by the appearance of a giant metallic cube ruins Max's relaxation.  From out of the cube we see Booster Gold emerge, looking for Max as was alluded to in Booster's tale.  The two discuss things and agree that it is time to get the JLI reformed, but that it will take work and finesse.  The first person they meet with is Fire, who informs them that she will not drop the lawsuit against Ted and that she has no interest in anything they have to say.  Max apparently uses his mind powers on her to persuade her to sign over controlling interest in her company to him.  In a final panel we see Ice and Guy sitting at the breakfast table discussing the events, with a drawing of what appears to be Guy's head with the word "Daddy" written underneath hanging on the refrigerator.

Waverider's attempts to see Max's future have worsened his condition.  Waverider, though upset that he has caused more harm than intended, is thankful that Max is at least alive.  He instead is more determined than ever to find the identity of Monarch and sets out to make sure of just that.


This is a story that will either be amazingly fun or incredibly confusing.  When I initially read it all those years ago, I actually was more in Waverider's shoes than I realized.  Personally, I had no clue then that the Justice League books were in the BWA-HA-HA phase. (For more information on that era, see the JLI Podcast over at the Fire and Water Podcast Network)  Like Waverider, I expected the more traditional Justice League that I had seen back in my Super Friends days.  Needless to say, I wasn't overly familiar with these characters or how they were being portrayed.  I finally figured out that all of it was supposed to humorous, not just the Martian Manhunter bit.  So, that being said, let's take a look at this now.

This is a nicely done comic relief issue in the crossover.  The characters' stories, their reactions and Waverider's all serve to give the reader a glimpse into something a little less serious than the Superman and Batman futures presented in the previous two entries.  It fits in well with what Giffen and DeMatteis were doing in the Justice League books at the time.  Although, honestly, that leads me to a few quibbles easier than to praises.  For starters, this comic relief moment probably could have been better timed to come a little later in the crossover.  We are only three books into a story that has 12 annuals and two bookend issues.  It just feels a little rushed, but I guess that was just how the release schedules fell.  My other issue with this is it really felt more like an extension of the Justice League America ongoing story than a part of the Armageddon 2001 story.  It played by all the same rules the other books did, but instead of setting the annual off as its own story featuring the main cast it seemed more like a standby issues where a character or two discuss things while waiting for the main story to proceed.

While I might disagree with the framing device, I do highly enjoy the future stories.  On first reading, it honestly doesn't feel like the stories are connected until the moment Ice sees the report about Guy.  Even then, they don't seem to happen entirely in chronological order.  However, that is actually part of the fun of reading the future stories.  When I figured out they were linked it made them all the more interesting.

I found it highly interesting that they chose to go with different artists for the various stories.  And they wasted no talent on this issues to be sure.  Dan Jurgens, Ty Templeton, Marshall Rogers and Kevin Maguire alone are names that should sell this book.  The art styles change slightly from story to story, but all the art teams kept things consistent enough that one story could flow into the next without much adjustment.  I would like to point out, too, that this issue is the first time we see a more minimalist approach to Waverider.  His flashy colors and highly detailed light flames (or whatever you call the energy coming off him) are kind of muted and done only slightly.  With all the bright colors of the JLI characters, it's easy to understand why the art teams decided to go with this simpler design.  There is nothing wrong with this look.  It is just a contrast to what we have seen in previous appearances but won't be the last time, either.

Overall, this is a magnificent story.  Its comical beats are paced just enough that a reader can find enjoyment without getting bored.  The stories range slightly from drama to romance to slice of life, but all keep that comical feel and serve to confound Waverider during his search.  The story also shows that even with a grim and serious story like Armageddon 2001 is trying to be, there is still time for a little fun and levity.

From here the book tells us to look for Hawk & Dove and Justice League Europe annuals.  It seems that Waverider's search will take into an encounter between Order and Chaos next. 

No comments:

Post a Comment