Friday, August 1, 2008

Justice League of America #241 - Aug. 1985

sgAn old foe returns to face the new JLA!

The Story: "Sea Change" by Gerry Conway, George Tuska, and Mike Machlan. We open in the the Yukon, where we see a drunken, staggering man named Slick Jake MacGregor cursing the small town he's stuck in.

Jake gets caught in a blizzard and bumps into an ice-encrusted, strangely dressed stranger, who grabs MacGregor and starts to shake him, his hands heating up, until MacGregor screams in agony!

Cut to: the JLA's Detroit headquarters, where Aquaman is taking a swim while talking to Vixen.

Vixen is trying--again--to convince Arthur to go search for his wife, Mera. Aquaman is having none of it, saying she left him, her choice, and he wants to respect that decision. Vixen calls shenanigans
While Vixen rejoins the rest of the League in preparing a meal, Aquaman sits in his quarters and broods. He told Vixen his mind is made up, but we see he's anything but sure.

Back in the Yukon, we see the local sheriff as he staggers out of a local bar. He can barely drive his truck, but that's the least of his troubles, as he runs into the same mysterious stranger, who picks up the sheriff's car, tosses it, and then blows it up with...heat-vision?!?

Meanwhile, we see Steel, Vibe, and Ralph and Sue out on the Detroit streets together, when they get a JLA distress signal. Vibe says this is his chance to try on his "new suit":
I'm not sure who designed it, but I do like this new costume of Vibe's much more than his original. And even though my...uncertainty about Tuska's work on the JLA has been said before, what he was best at sometimes came through: I just love the look on Gypsy's face in the second panel there.

Anyway, Manhunter explains they have two problems--news of what's happening in the Yukon has reached them, and the fact that their leader, Aquaman, is missing!

Manhunter figures out, based on what kind of destruction this stranger is wreaking, that it is their old foe, the one-man JLA, Amazo!

The JLA arrives in the Yukon, and they split up to search for Amazo. Its Manhunter who finds him, who alone proves no match for the super-powered android.

Meanwhile, we see where Aquaman went:
To be continued!

Roll Call: Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man, Zatanna, Vixen, Steel, Vibe, Gypsy

Notable Moments: After one issue by Mike Sekowsky, having a major story line drawn by George Tuska, instead of regular artist Chuck Patton, was disorienting as heck.

I never understood why Aquaman just took off, as opposed to telling Manhunter--or at least Vixen--where he's going. It seems as irresponsible as the JLAers he railed against for not showing up during the Earth-Mars war.

JLA/Aquaman fan Vince Bartilucci generously sent me a scan of a page of original Tuska artwork from this issue that's in his collection:
I'm struck at how much nicer Tuska's work looks to me in the original black and white. Colorists tended to color Tuska's work in day-glo, coloring book-style colors, so I guess its no surprise that it looks better like this.

Thanks Vince!


Andy Luckett said...

I like parts of this issue, and didn't like others. The moment between Arthur and Vixen where he warns her not to push the Arthur Jr. topic always stuck with me. That is how I think the topic of Aquaman's son's death should be handled by future Aqua-writers: it will always be a part of him, always a little raw, but it doesn't consume him, he's stronger than that.

On the flip side, it seems very strange, as others have said, that Arthur wouldn't give any kind of notice to the other members; maybe a speech that would sum up his feelings about duty, but also his belief in finding Mera, then leaving the team in the capable hands of J'onn. However, he and Mera (spoiler alert!) do come back in a couple issues, so maybe Gerry Conway was just building to that.

Scurvy said...

That's why I don't remember Vibe being so yellow. Can't believe I forgot that.

russell said...

Was that Chuck Patton doing the cover? I think it was, which is why when I opened the issue and found Tuska, I was surprised.

I, however, liked this issue because I figured it was leading up to explaining away Aquaman's behavior. When you're in love you do stupid stuff...

Having read the interview with Gerry Conway, perhaps some of the behind the scenes stuff rubbed Patton the wrong way, and he jumped ship?

Earth 2 Chris said...

Whoa, Tuska's art is definitely nicer in B&W. Funny how color really mangles some artist's work.

You know, I swore I didn't buy any JLAs again until #250, but yet I remember owning this issue now. My mom must have picked it up for me. I no longer have it, so I probably traded it off or something.


BentonGrey said...

What? Aquaman continues to act like a thoughtless jerk? Well that's just unheard of! Seriously, its bad writing like that that pushed him into the characterizations that he has filled for the last twenty years. Still, Amazo versus the League is always awesome....though it would be more awesome if it were the real League.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci said...

In my opinion, George Tuska is one of those guys who, even on his worst day, tells a story better than 90% of the artists working today.

The problem with Tuska's JLA work was that it didn't really play to his particular strengths. No one, and I do mean NO ONE, depicts tough-talking gangsters and street-level action like Tuska. Seriously, check out his work on Luke Cage, Power Man if you doubt me. Tuska on The Question or Black Lightning would have been awesome. The JLA simply doesn't operate on that level.

Regardless, I love this page featuring my favorite DC heroine and my favorite hero, bar none.

And Aquaman's one word warning, "Careful." Perfect. Like Andy, I thought this was the way Aquaman's past should be addressed.

Glmmrtwn said...

I felt the same way about seeing George Tuska's art when I bought this issue. I was really missing Chuck Patton's art, and Tuska wasn't really the ideal replacement (though I grew to like his work later, especially on Iron Man). Between that and Aquaman (my favorite JLA character) leaving, it gave my 12 yr. old self a bad taste for this new JLA.

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