Friday, September 30, 2011

JLA # 8 "The Space Olympics!" AFTERWARD

So, what did you think?
This is one of my stories that I absolutely can't make up my mind about: sometimes I absolutely hate it, and sometimes I think it's actually got some charm. Like I seem to say every time, there are a few things I really liked about it, and yet....yet....hell, it's not bad. It's just not great.

1. I liked how the story started. This one was another throw-back to the classic Gardner Fox type JLA story where the members are pulled out of their individual lives to attend some emergency session or, in this case, are "kidnapped."

2. I liked how the story progressed. Let's allow for a minute the main idea: that some bad guy would be stupid enough to kidnap the Justice League. HOW would he/she maintain these captives? By threatening to kill innocents, of course. I especially liked that bit where the JLA realizes that they are cornered and that the next "move" belongs to Despero.

3. I liked how the Flash I tried to make him (and Superman) a bit pompous (if that is the word), in the sense that if he really is The Fastest Man Alive there shouldn't be a whole lot that he couldn't handle alone. Well, this is one of those things he couldn't, haha.

4. I liked the one page of the "alien/space cops" JLAers coming together and trying to figure out what is going on. I thought the bit about them suspecting Dr. Light first was a nice nod to continuity.

5. The JLA carrying the UN flag into the ceremony. I just liked that.      

6. Aquaman having stronger mental telepathic powers. In most comics he is shown being able to communicate with fish. In my stories I made him almost a telepath. Certainly it comes in handy that he can shield their conversation from the guards. I also liked the bit where he takes a shower. No explanation necessary: he's away from water, and he needs it. This sequence is another one of those Batman-sits-and-plots bits. He does end up wrestling with an alien in this story, but I definitely saw him as The Brains of the outfit. So he is always watching and waiting. I loved how I drew him with his fingers together, just sitting there while Green Arrow gets all bent out of shape (which I also thought was very much in character, haha!)

7. I introduced Hawkwoman and the Hawk-Guard in their "battle uniforms" because this was when HAWKWORLD was the current DC continuity, and I wanted to be able to put up posters of Hawkman and Hawkwoman by Tim Truman etc in the classroom. So I had to establish that these were uniforms that they sometimes wore. Did it work?

8. For all the aliens I had to draw I figured I would use characters that were familiar to me. And in Aquaman's swim meet, somebody near and dear to me. Did you recognize Namor, the Sub-Mariner from Marvel Comics as one of his opponents? I thought that was pretty funny. Once I drew that, I went a bit over-the-top with my various other cameos at the end...  

9. Wonder Woman's "leap" gave me more trouble than I had expected. You see, in Japanese "jump" and "fly" sound the same (tobu) but are written with different Japanese kanji characters.  So I had to use both characters and then *dot* them to add emphasis to them. This is when Mariko-san really helped me out! (And I have never forgotten these two words since this story!)

10. How many cameo characters can YOU recognize? :-) However, in hind-sight this was a mistake, as I later establish that Brainiac and Darkseid were both legitimate JLA foes. You might miss Brainiac (standing to the right of Despero) if you're Superman or Green Lantern, but you can't very well miss Darkseid! Yet he got away without anybody making any comment about his appearance whatsoever. (And I'd like it if you just ignore Red Tornado, clearly visible over GL's right shoulder!)
What I didn't like very much at all is the fact that the heroes had to cheat to win. I mean, okay, that was the whole point I guess, but I didn't really like it. Re-reading it now, years later, I feel like my earlier self let the readers down with this story. There was no down-and-out climactic battle with Despero! And the ending we do get is just sort of...blah. Totally flat. I'm beginning to see a pattern in my stories: they start off with a pretty good idea but then flicker out or falter in their execution. (sigh) However....

Be here next time for an issue where I think I licked that's one of my all-time favorite issues,  Justice League #9: Nothing Beats The Royal Flush Gang!! 

An odd post-script to this story: check out this link and see that Like Minds come up with similar themes. Nearly twenty years later, here is another "Super Olympics of Space" this time starring the DC Super Friends. Where's my royalty check? Okay, there is NO way the author could have found and read my story first, but is a bit weird. :-)

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