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Unearthed: Justice League of America #5

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Today we’re wrapping up our JLA series (for now!) with a look at issue 5, which actually features supervillains for a change! I know, I’m all tingly just thinking about it! Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Have you ever seen Superman so tiny on a cover before? And apparently unable to fly for some reason? At the other end of the spectrum, J’onn looks like he’s getting his Twyla Tharp on. Good on ya, J’onn, don’t forget the jazz hands.

And you, Dear Reader, should never forget… THE ADS

I’m really hoping there’s a comic out there featuring a smarmy chef teaming up with a well-meaning but bumbling baseball player to search for the missing nose bridge of a Hollywood starlet. This may be as close as we get.

First page and J’onn is STILL at it! That’s right, J’onn! Play to the cheap seats! Emote! EMOTE HARDER

Diana’s acting concerned, but she’s secretly thrilled, you can tell by the way she’s thinking that sentence.

Once again, the Flash: fast enough to circle the globe in a second, not fast enough to prevent himself from falling into a trap.

“… and grasping Green Arrow, yanked his arm clean out of its socket!”

When will Professor Menace get tenure?

Or would Flash use his super-speed to simply run across its surface, which he has shown he can easily do? Turns out: nope. Oh! Oh! Or would he use his ability to vibrate his molecules so fast he can phase right through solid matter? Nu-uh. I can’t remember how they actually get out of this, because it’s too boring to keep in my brain box.

But hey, speaking of archery:

I don’t… why is this here?

“… and I’ll be the first to admit it: I got tingles!”

Is Aquaman a non-native English speaker? Or simply a bot of some kind?

Aquaman has let us ALL down, but it wasn’t gradual.

“Lightnings”? And is it just me, or is J’onn saying this to GL somewhat reproachfully? As though he didn’t have his OWN stupid weakness? And hey, it’s about time for THAT to show up…

There we go.

Pfft. Of COURSE.

I’m a little confused by Green Arrow’s eye mask. From the side, there’s no white bits. From the front, there they are.

Also, yet another misunderstanding for a whole issue that could’ve been easily avoided by Arrow yelling “THEY’RE ROBOTS, GUYS”.

If you’re using fishhooks on the ends of your arrows to catch fish, remember you can just SHOOT THE FISH WITH AN ARROW.

Staring Batman RIGHT in his face.

Wow. Look at them hurry.

There’s probably a reason you’ve never heard of Clyde Beatty and the Cole Brothers. But hey, Superman endorses them, so I’m sure they’re legit.

And man, he’s THRILLED to be there.

Not all at once, mind you. And playing Madden on the Dreamcast.

In the same way that John Cusack waited for Ione Skye to see him holding the boombox over his head.

This just gets more and more creepy.

Dammit, we were SO CLOSE.

And now let’s close it out with a couple of ads.

Looked sharp, yes, but Timmy learned the true meaning of ‘sharp’ when he stacked it trying to leap his best friend in the high school parking lot and gave himself a premature shave with the jagged remains of the windshield.

That kid on the right? Steve Jobs. Don’t ever let them tell you he got those amazing ideas all on his own.

And that’s it for today’s Comics Breakdown! Join us on Wednesday for a brand-new title! What’ll it be? You think I’m gonna tell YOU? What’m I, your mother?

Unearthed: Justice League of America #4

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Welcome back to the website your mother never warned you about! Today we’re havin’ a gander (not a goose, c’mon, that’d be ridiculous) at the Justice League of America #4!

It’s true, we’ve ALL been waiting for this one if only to see a non-bearded Ollie Queen. Yuck. But we continue with the ads:

How has this EVER been a test of talent? It’s only a test of how well you can copy someone else’s work. And what do you expect the “professional” to say other than ‘Yes, you got talent, but we could really teach you how to…” What a scam.

Man, the length of time I must have taken the letterer to do that archaic serif writing… and for THIS?

Also, how is Snapper Carr’s name above Superman’s in the Roll Call?

A ‘snatch-beam’. That’s it, that’s the joke.

You know this Ming the Merciless knock-off is a bad guy ’cause he’s mocking blind people. Also, is it just me, or is this other guy’s forehead growing?

A repeating motif of these early JLA stories is how got-damned contrived they are. Look at how much EFFORT they expend to establish the rules of this set-up. None of these stories proceed from normal supervillain shenanigans at all. It’s all aliens and space stuff!

See? Just… all these arbitrary RULES. Not. Compelling.

Lookit adorable Diana! She’s so happy to be at the head of the table! Aw, you’d do anything for her, wouldn’t you? But it’s clear from the faces around the table that the Patriarchy is not having it.

Batman’s kinda laying it on a bit thick, inn’t ‘e? Of course, he’s being drawn thicker than we usually see him, so I guess it’s okay.

Honestly, we could use some of this THESE days. The portraits in panel four aren’t the best, but I appreciate the effort.

MURDER HORNETS.

EVERY. SINGLE. ISSUE.

Man, this issue’s heavy on the memes! First murder hornets and now cats!

Dude, that’s all you EVER have to do to solve anything!

That machine’s just happy to see you.

Look at these happy-go-lucky chums, havin’ a lark! Adorable.

Cripes, Arthur, way to become The Man.

Look, I’d be hard-pressed to find anything yellow in my daily life, and in the JLA, Green Lantern encounters them every issue. It’s really annoying.

Holy crap, GL, I never THOUGHT of trying THAT

Dude. Use your ring to pick up a fruggin’ HAMMER. Just a regular HAMMER would do it. HAMMERS AREN’T SUSCEPTIBLE TO THE COLOR YELLOW. Yes, GL, you’re worse than a regular hammer. Moving on.

CITATION NEEDED

That can’t be Green Arrow’s actual costume, can it?

“Tiny flames…”? The writer is trying SO HARD.

Why is this silhouetted? Is Carthan experiencing the dreaded Bat-blow? Is that why his aura didn’t protect him?

WHY DOES THE JLA KEEP SNAPPER AROUND? Was there an adventure we missed in which they were responsible for the brain injury that caused his uncontrollable snapping? Does he know some terrible secret about them and is just blackmailing them into letting him go on missions with them? I want Tom King to write about this.

And, as always, we finish with an ad:

This is how we get to The Wire.

Thanks for reading, True Believers! See you on Monday for our final installment of the Justice League of America (for now). And don’t forget our Patreon, if you’re so inclined! Patreon.com/comicsbreakdown!

Unearthed: Justice League of America #3

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Uh, oh! Hi! I — I didn’t see you there. *puts echidna down* Welcome to a new Comics Breakdown, today featuring JLA #3! These stories continue to be completely inexplicable to me.

These adventures are, essentially, weird exercises in problem-solving. The JLA is forced into arbitrary situations that test their lateral thinking skills, producing solutions that no one could have predicted. It’s like playing those early Sierra adventure games, where the answer is to combine three objects in completely non-intuitive ways. These stories lack any kind of dramatic tension or personality… except, of course, for Snapper Carr, whose personality makes me want to imprison him in an echo chamber that magnifies the sound of his incessant finger snapping to the point where it kills him, “A Quiet Place” style.

That’s no bell… it’s the Pixar desk lamp! RUN, LITTLE LAMP! RU — sorry… HOP! HOP FOR YOUR LIFE!

Why is he narrating to himself something he already knows?

Pfft. You don’t have a DATE, Scrappy-Doo.

His rivals are Angelina Jolie, an affectless metal Ray Walston and a Gorn. I cannot think of three more DANGEROUS opponents.

Aquaman’s getting a little Stockholm Syndrome here, you can see it on his face.

This is the most perfect expression in comics history.

Ssssoooo… we’re meant to believe that somehow these missiles are going faster and faster in an attempt to catch up with J’onn? That they don’t just have a top speed like all missiles? That they’re not able to withstand the speeds which they were BUILT TO ACHIEVE?

Every. Single. Issue.

Okay, see? THIS is what I’m talking about. WHAT? Somehow J’onn is a super scientist too? Oh, and let’s not dismiss the casual dropping of “… my Martian knowledge of transmutation”. Which is magic, basically.

This is a little like saying “I’ll rig up a nuclear missile with my ability to move atoms together, so I can kill this fly.”

Okay, come ON.

Great Note, thanks. Changes NOTHING.

Derpiest manta ever.

I’m a little off-put by the way Aquaman’s “struggling” here. It’s probably a good thing we can’t see the front of his briefs.

How does she know this about a stranger from another planet that she’s never met?

From the letters section. It’s pretty clear this is not a real person, because no one could love Snapper Carr.

He’s so dazed, in fact, that he’s still able to think clearly enough to elucidate his thoughts.

That’s what HE said.

What, too soon?

Read this however many times you must to really understand the deus ex machinae on display here.

At least until your power ring runs out of energy again, GL, or the second you get distracted and forget to maintain the force-field.

“Someday”, Supes? With no way to monitor this planet, you’re just going to make this promise? Actually, this would be the least ludicrous thing to happen in this story, so, sure.

And what would these Comics Breakdowns be without the ads?

Oh, women ALWAYS say this. If you’re a woman reading this post, you’re probably saying it right now. I explicitly believe everything comic book ads tell me. I am a lonely man.

Why is rolling off a log the exemplar of ease? Surely there are even easier things? I mean, I couldn’t roll off a log right now if I wanted to. I’d have to FIND a log to begin with, then commit the onerous task of getting ON the log, the work out the logistics of which way to roll OFF it… cripes, I’m tired already. Guess there’s no photo ring for me. Which bums me out, ’cause I have this inspiring photo of Rasputin, Patron Saint of Survival.

And speaking of survival, I’d like to remind you, Dear Reader, that I’ve got a Patreon going! patreon.com/comicsbreakdown! For a mere $3/month, you can support the weekdaily episodes of Comics Breakdown and the twice-monthly episodes of Marvel Retold! If you can’t afford to become a Patron, that’s okay; please spread the word about what we’re doing with this site. It would help us a lot in our efforts to bring a little comic culture history to the masses. Thanks, and we’ll see you tomorrow with Justice League of America #4!

Unearthed: Justice League of America #2

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Looking at the first issue, I pointed out that these early JLA stories are just nonsensical, in ways that defy standard comic book tropes. This issue is no different. Hooray!

This scene is directly out of the story, and when it arrives, you’ll wonder why they made it the cover.

But first… THE AD

Joe Weider CHALLENGES YOU not to make a joke about how he’s Weider than the average person. Oh crap, I just made it.

When really, Flash, you prefer to make magic the usual way… in your PANTS.

Also, I just think Diana’s face here is adorable.

There’s something quietly horrifying about the way this newly-conjured woman attaches herself to this dude.

Sorry… ‘telegraph’? In 1960? I’m afraid to look this up for fear that it might be true.

Nobody’s gonna mention the fact that they’re all thinking the same thought in unison? Okay.

All these amazing… magical treasures. Now they just have a goose, a horse with wings that don’t work, fairy gold that holds little actual value thanks to the terrible Magic-Land exchange rate, and a pretty sword that’s probably too awkwardly heavy to hang properly.

Bat-photobomb.

Sorry… is… there a reason we’re cramming all these guys into this panel?

The furk is ‘brain talking’? Snapper Carr is the Scrappy-Doo of the JLA.

I — how does a person who draws fantastical things for a living screw up a manticore like this?

I love that fire is J’onn’s one weakness. Turns out I, too, am weak against fire. And so are you. And so is just about EVERYTHING, J’ONN.

So… a guy with super-strength, flight, mental powers, invisibility, and the ability to shapeshift… and we’ve paid the price of a comic book to see him not use any of his powers. DC Comics, y’all.

Diana’s exclaiming over the very posh way this giant has grabbed her.

He can run at super-speed, but his reflexes are even slower than a normal human.

There’s my next band name.

I can’t tell if this scene is adorable or… I can’t tell.

I think what’s bothering me the most about these early JLA adventures is that most of the time, these superheroes seem to employ abilities that don’t belong to them. I really don’t think Diana can vibrate her feet at super-speed. It’s almost like someone wrote the script without naming characters and the artist just plugged in whoever he felt like drawing that day.

It really was a different time.

Chunktastic! This is Adam Driver in The Last Jedi thick.

Bruce Wayne IS Ash in… Evil Dead 3: Tree’s Company

CITATION NEEDED

This is the magic spell equivalent of “Well I’m Merlin the Wizard and I’m here to say/I like doing magic in a magical way!”

Well you’ve gone and answered your own question, haven’t you?

8 time-displaced stout yeomen

12 detached sidecars

4 baboon generals

7 melted pieces of green plastic

12! 12 wonderful soldiers! AA-AA-AAAAH!

1 conscientious objector

4 Ethel Merman impersonators

FIIIIIVE GOLDEN RIIIIIINGS

And that’s it for today’s Comics Breakdown! Remember: we’re putting up content every weekday! Join us tomorrow for Justice League of America #3! Until then, sleep the sleep of the cyclopean horrors that haunt my dreams!

Unearthed: The Justice League of America #1

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Welcome, True Believers, to the other side of the Big Two! Today we’re looking at Justice League of America #1, issued in 1960! And brought to you by… Tom, apparently.

These old DC comics are just exercises in dream logic. As you read them you just kind of accept that things happen, but when you stop for half a second, you realize it’s complete nonsense. And that’s the ethos of this website! So here we go, as all great adventures begin, with the ads:

Use your voice to distract people away from the young boy you’ve trapped in your trunk!

I — I’m not sure what’s being advertised here.

The lung cancer is just a fun bonus.

This is how you know Diana’s the one in charge: hers is the only one in the list here with her own logo.

Millennials, this is how the 60s regarded those who colored their hair. Your great-grandparents walked so you could run.

Your daughter’s expression reveals how she feels about your weapon, Jasonar.

Okay, THIS is what I was talking about. At first glance, you’re all “Diana saved the Statue of Liberty, yay!” Then you think “Wait, a lightning bolt wouldn’t have destroyed–” but your brain interrupts THAT thought with “Her plane didn’t NEED to ‘match the speed of that lightning bolt’ because it wasn’t getting in the way of–” and THEN it interrupts AGAIN with “Moving the Statue like that would ABSOLUTELY destroy it!”

So yeah, welcome to the JLA.

In this issue of the Justice League of America, the role of Despero will be played by one of those frilled lizards that makes me laugh when I watch it run across the desert on its hind legs.

In this panel, the role of Despero will be played by Jim Carrey.

In this panel, the role of Despero will be played by Marty Feldman.

Then, suddenly… AN AD:

The hell you gonna do with a signet ring? Also, is there only ONE? Is that why you have to “be first”?

I’m way more invested in this story than in whatever the JLA’s up to. Also, the writer invested far too much verisimilitude into the character of the mom by having her fumble for the term ‘hot rod’.

Wonder Woman’s Spanx are incredible.

Diana ably demonstrates how American Democracy works.

Here’s another example of nonsense. They go out of their way to remind you how stupid Green Lantern’s weakness against YELLOW is, and in the very next panel, make a point of explaining this yellow machine’s geostationary position, which has NO BEARING on this stupid story. Ahem.

Green Lantern demonstrates the typical human attitude toward climate change.

Imagine if a weirdly-dressed alien being abducted you and your entire neighborhood, placed you on a weird solar machine, and forced you to urinate all over it before flinging you haphazardly back in your neighborhood’s general direction.

Welp, guys, the jig is up. Green Lantern and Aquaman know what you all get up to when they’re away from the Hall of Justice.

I SAID I’M FINE JUST LEAVE ME ALONE

Surely these two know each other well enough for Batman just to call him J’onn?

Also, in this panel, the role of J’onn J’onzz is played by Ted Knight.

They haven’t invented minutes on this planet? And why the hell is J’onn smiling?

More arbitrary nonsense. This has nothing to do with anything in this story.

This panel drawn by guest artist Chuck Jones.

Thus was Rick Jones saved from the Alien NAMBLA. What, too soon?

And that’s it for the first issue of JLA. There was some kind of ‘resolution’, but whatever. I know what you’re really here for: THE ADS

No. The cost of this spending money is too high.

Oh, he’s not going to show you how to HAVE a hot bod, he’s just going to spend a quarter of an hour PROVING it to you.

12 70-year-old cheerleaders

4 retired Washington Generals

8 ballboys

9 1/2 weeks

10 Horatio Hornblower cosplayers

12 Chads

12 Vaguely threatening Eastern European guys

3 Fifth Beatles

And that’s it for today’s Comics Breakdown! Tomorrow… more dreck!