Friday, July 11, 2008

Justice League of America #222 - Jan. 1984

sgPart 2 of the JLA versus Maximus Rex and his Beast-Men!

The Story: "Death Games" by Gerry Conway, Chuck Patton, and Romeo Tanghal. Continued from last issue, we open on the JLA, sitting at their conference table, looking skeptical as their "guest", the cat-girl Reena, gives them her story.

The remaning JLAers--Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Hawkgirl, and Zatanna--range from doubtful to downright hostile towards her, worrying that she is some sort of plant for Maximus Rex, whose Beast-Men have already viciously attacked The Flash and Elongated Man (and Hawkman, though they don't know that yet).

Reena explains she used to work for Rex at Repli-Tech Industries, which was a firm that experimented in genetics.

Reena tells the JLA that she was the one who had to deliver some devastating financial news to its president, Rex Rogan, and his Board of Directors

...and Enron was born!

Anyway, Rex suggests they use the company's experimental medicines on themselves. It might kill them, but since they are facing certain jail time for their financial misdeeds. For some reason, the group--including Irena--go along with this.

Their head scientist, Dr. Lovecraft(!), performs his experiments, which does indeed turn them all into bizarre animal men (and woman). He then used his newfound abilities to steal, under the protection of the beast-men, and build a hideous underground network of moral zeros, who came to watch the "death games" that we saw last issue.

Reena is exhausted and teary-eyed from telling them what she saw. Hawkgirl and Wonder Woman in particular are sickened at this, but Superman and Zatanna ask her to continue.

Reena then tells them about a new addition to the Beast-Men, Rowl, who was equally sickened at what he saw, and helped Reena escape. Hawkgirl is less than sympathetic

At this time, we see that Maximus Rex has a special revenge set for Rowl. He himself meets Rowl in the ring, for another round of Death Games.

Rowl does his best, but he is no match for Rex:


The JLA is deciding what to do, when the word comes in what has happened to Hawkman. Reena tries to express sympathy, but Hawkgirl pulls away, saying "If Katar killed him!"Reena shocks her hosts, saying that, deep down, she still loves Rex, and that she wishes she was dead.

Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl make it to the hospital in Egypt, where Shayera holds Katar's hand, apologizing for some fight they had before Katar left for the dig.

As the doctor explains Hawkman needs anti-toxin, and soon, we find out this whole thing is a trap--Hawkgirl is gassed by an agent of Rex's posing as a janitor, and the rhino-man is there to punch the lights out of Wonder Woman!

They kidnap all three JLAers, and then beam a transmission to the satellite, showing the three helpless heroes. Rex wants the JLA to turn over Reena, and for the heroes to not stop Rex and his plans. If they don't acquiesce, Hawkman will die, and Rex will experiment on Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl!

That's it, the JLA has had enough:

To be continued!

Roll Call: Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Hawkman, Elongated Man, Hawkgirl, Zatanna, Firestorm

Notable Moments: That last page blew me away when I first read it. Even though the Beast-Men had been racking up wins for two issues straight, I just knew they were going to get their furry (or scaly, whatever) asses kicked by a pissed-off Superman, Aquaman, Zatanna, and Firestorm.

I like that Reena is not your classic Bad Girl With A Heart of Gold--sure, she's turned on Rex, but she still loves him. That's messed up.


russell said...

Excellent midway in this gruesome three-parter. It gives us more information while ratcheting up the suspense. Although bloody and gory, this remains one of the better JLA story arcs, IMO.

Earth-2 Randy said...

You forgot to mention my favorite line in the issue. It's where Rex mentions that Wonder Woman would make a fine pig.

That's paraphrasing, mind you. I'll post the actual line when I can pull out my copies of the story.

Anonymous said...

Remember reading these issues at an impressionable age...

I wonder if it was the Comics Code Authority that forced them to colour Rowl's blood purple?

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