August 1997

Hitman 19

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.

JLA 11

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.

Preacher 30

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/Spider-Man
  • 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
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About Author

Rand Bellavia is half of the Filk Pop Nerd Rock band Ookla the Mok. They’ve been playing at science fiction and comic book conventions since 1994. Their clever, media-savvy lyrics, catchy melodies, and accessible power-pop sound have made them a cult-sensation with nerds everywhere. With song titles like Super Powers, Welcome to the Con, Arthur Curry, Kang the Conqueror, and Stop Talking About Comic Books or I’ll Kill You, it’s easy to see why. Rand and Ookla the Mok have won four Pegasus Awards, and the 2014 Logan Award for Outstanding Original Comedy Song. Ookla the Mok had the most requested song on Dr. Demento in 2012 (“Tantric Yoda”) and 2013 (“Mwahaha”). Rand co-wrote the theme song for the Disney cartoon Fillmore, and his vocals are the first thing you hear on Gym Class Heroes’ Top Five hit “Cupid’s Chokehold.” In his secret identity, Rand is the Director of the Montante Library at D’Youville College in Buffalo, New York. He has lectured and presented at international conferences on the subject of comics and libraries. Rand is like the Internet, except he smells nice.

2 Comments

  1. Feargal Gallagher on

    This is one of the first comics I ever read, and one of the handful that made me a fan for life. I’ve read the series around this issue piecemeal since then, so wouldn’t have realised that Thor as Deus-ex-machina was being over-used.

    I have since learned that Thor was off on a long exile from Earth, traveling through the cosmos in his own comics during these issues, so the creators had to push to have him in the Avengers at all (I guess they really wanted him there. Also the whole point of the Nefaria saga was to have them face an opponent who seemingly outclassed them all, and part of that would be letting the viewers see that even Thor couldn’t beat him.) So him appearing suddenly out of nowhere is a function of him having to zip across the galaxy for half an issue and then back again in time for his next appearance in his own comic.

    The last page above is still one of the best superhero entrances in all of comics, though.

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