Thursday, July 4, 2013

Magnificent7 Part 3: Gabba Gabba Hey

Justice League International (1987)

By Keith Giffen, J.M. Dematteis and Kevin MaGuire

Recommended Listening:          Ramones-Ramones (1981)

Out of all the teams that populate DC the Justice League has always been the headlining act. The Justice Society, Doom Patrol, Teen Titans, Young Justice, Legion of Superheroes, Green Lantern Corps, Seven Soldiers of Victory, Outsiders, Metal Men, or even Space Canine Patrol Agents (Why is this not a current series?!!) would never try to hit the stage following the rock star gods taking their bows after a third encore. The League are embodied descendents of the Greek/Roman deities. It’s not like any of those other teams have a Zoroastrian lineup or Genesha in their corner. Actually they might, but those aren’t as popular sadly in comics. The roll call in JLI clearly reflects the Pantheon with Batman as Hades, my favorite Martian J’onn J’onzz as Mars, Booster Gold as Dionysus, Blue Beetle as Dionysus, and Guy Gardner as… Does  Nick Bottom count?

JLI wasn’t your corporate cookie cutter pretty boy band. They were the Ramones with all their dysfunctional backstage and onstage infighting. Besides Batman and J’onn, the rest of the team and the Ramones weren’t professionals like Wonder Woman, Superman, or the Beatles. Booster Gold was a loser from the far future, who went back in time with a stolen power suit to cash in on fame and glory. Captain Marvel, or Shazam as he’s known now, was for years the alternate identity of an eight year old, but with the personality and comprehension of an adult, suddenly become like Tom Hanks in Big, a child in a man’s body. However, Capt. Marvel was never a member of NAMBLA.

The boys from Queens were learning to play their out of tune instruments on the fly. Whether you love, hate, or could care less there can be no denying that the Ramones brought along more than enough attitude to a gig. They had plenty when they broke out with “Judy is a Punk” for the first time at CBGBs, and the equivalent being “One Punch”!

Holy Bat Punch!
From then now the gods became human in the best sense. During a time when deconstructing superheroes was in vogue to the extent of being completely joyless Travis Bickles and Dirty Harry bastards, the JLI heroes opted for a different kind of radicalization. They got a sense of humor. A lot of comedy gold came out of characters arguing in their off hours or even when faced with end of the world scenarios. The goofiness is obvious if you can picture Christian Bale Batman partnered with Tim Allen Booster Gold and Tom Hanks Blue Beetle, but there’s more to this unique team than a sitcom laugh track. During early years of their run, writers Giffen and Demattis were smart enough to balance the wise cracks, slapstick, and pranks with great action scenes and character drama, and Oreos.

The horror... the horror

Tune in next time to Rock and Roll Radio for Christmas in July.

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