This issue has some genuine excitement, a fantastic climax, and – best of all – it opens with the first ever pages of Section 8 in battle mode!
Bear I mind that our sad sad heroes are flying into action against an uncountable assemblage of hardened, well-armed gangsters *and* an army of demons. Six-pack has a broken bottle. Advantage: Six-pack.
What more could you want from a comic page? You got the Defestrator defenestrating, Dog-Welder welding dogs to a guy’s face, and Jean Baton-Baton defeating evil with the power of his Frenchness. Who says comics were terrible in the 90s?
Meanwhile, back in the actual plot, Tommy and his friends are surrounded and about to be overrun. Tommy knows that Etrigan the Demon has access to the Ace of Winchesters, a weapon that can turn the tide for Tommy. But Etrigan will only offer up the Ace after getting his heart back from Tommy.
Tommy’s friends point out that Etrigan is, in fact, a demon, and not to be trusted to fulfill his end of the bargain once he gets what he wants. But, not really having much choice, Tommy rolls the dice:
Flush with victory, Tommy aims the Ace of Winchesters and fires:
See you in a month.
Eleven issues in, we’ve come to expect at least a few brilliant ideas in each issue of Grant Morrison’s JLA, but this one just doesn’t know when to stop. We begin with Superman and the Martian Manhunter exploring a satellite that they know is likely a trap set by the Injustice League.
Brilliant Idea One: The Joker’s fractured consciousness terraformed into a maze that Superman and Martian Manhunter are forced to enter.
Brilliant Idea Two: Martian Manhunter changing the shape of his brain, growing the irrational right side, so he can more easily navigate Joker’s brain-maze.
Brilliant Idea Three: Lex Luther conducting a corporate takeover of the Justice League.
Brilliant Idea Four: “Your optical scan triggers the bomb.”
Brilliant Idea Five: Bruce Wayne as Batman’s ultimate secret weapon.
The previous issue ended in a standoff, with Arseface aiming a gun at Jesse, and Tulip aiming a gun at Arseface.
Jesse could have used the Word to get out of the situation. And Cassidy could have easily resolved the problem at any moment. But Jesse literally risks his life for a joke. And the subtle bit of character work that allows Jesse to survive is that Arseface simply isn’t a killer.
Another solid bit of character work is that it’s no longer funny to Jesse once he realizes his complicity in Arseface’s father’s death, and that Arseface is acting – no matter how wrong-headedly – in the name of honor.
There’s a lot of humor at Arseface’s expense this issue, including a great scene involving Gumbo. But, for whatever reason, this page always entertains me.
If you can’t figure it out, the song he’s singing is the theme to Flashdance.
Cassidy introduces his friend Xavier to Jesse, Tulip, and Arseface. (In one of the best first lines for a character ever, Xavier responds, “I think I can work out which is which.”) So, Character Summary: Cassidy is a vampire. Xavier is a voodoo priest. Jesse is hoping Xavier can help him communicate better with the Word, the offspring of an angel and a demon that lives inside of his body. Tulip accepts all of that, but doubts that voodoo is real.
Pride and Joy 4
The last issue ended with Jimmy telling his son Patrick his darkest secret: he accidentally shot and killed a young boy while running from a botched robbery. Patrick is less than sympathetic, telling his father off before abandoning him in the woods. This is made a bit more problematic when you recall that they are being hunted by Stein, a sociopathic killer seeking revenge on Jimmy and his family.
Eventually, Stein finds Jimmy and shoots him in the chest, taunting Jimmy that his son is next as Jimmy loses consciousness.
It doesn’t take long for Stein to find Patrick. Patrick, who has been a fairly weak, one-dimensional character through most of the series, finds his spine.
And we get a classic crime fiction trope:
Leading to a scene/reveal that really could only work in a comic:
And this tender, final moment between father and son:
Other Comics I Read from August 1997
- Batman: The Long Halloween 11
- Big Book of Martyrs
- Bloody Mary: Lady Liberty 2
- Cerebus 221
- Hellblazer 118
- Invisibles 9
- Jinx 2
- Kurt Busiek’s Astro City 9
- Red Rocket Seven 1
- Spectacular Spider-Man 250
- Starman 35
- Strangers in Paradise 8
- Superman Madman Hullabaloo 3
- Transmetropolitan 2
- Untold Tales of Spider-Man 25