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“Moving Day”

  • Writers:  Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis
  • Pencils:  Kevin Maguire
  • Inks:  Al Gordon
  • Colors:  Gene D’Angelo
  • Letters:  Bob Lappan

Before I get too deep into this, let me just put a little disclaimer here.  Despite what the words below might indicate, I really liked Giffen & DeMatteis’ take on the Justice League.  It was funny.  It was fresh.  It was really really good.  And it was my introduction to the Justice League (unless you include the Super Friends).  What I don’t like – and it is really such a minor quibble – is what a dork Captain Atom was in these early issues.  When he went on to lead Justice League Europe (by the same creative team), he was a lot less of a doofus.  But I have to admit, dork doofus Captain Atom or not, this was a great issue.  It is, in fact, the first Justice League book I ever purchased.  It hit the stands on September 8, 1987 with a cover price of 75 cents.

It begins with an episode of Jack Ryder’s Hot Seat.  I have a hard time taking Mr. Ryder seriously, because he’s also the Creeper.  It may be an unpopular opinion, but I think the Creeper is one of DC’s goofiest characters (right up there with Lobo, Gnort, ‘Mazing Man [whom I adore], and Ambush Bug).  He’s not happy about the Justice League’s new “international” status and believes the “costumed buffoons” are probably blackmailing the United Nations.  Well, isn’t he a ray of sunshine?

A crowd has gathered outside the new JLI New York embassy.  Locals hope to catch a glimpse of a super-hero.  One guy claims he saw Captain Marvel (better known as Shazam these days [don’t get me started]).  A team of movers is unloading a truck full of furniture and crap (it would have been cheaper and easier if the heroes had done this themselves, but Max Lord never shied away from spending money frivolously).

Inside, one of the movers (wearing a S.T.A.R. Labs cap), is getting directions from Martian Manhunter on where things go.  The mover asks about a crate of Oreo cookies.  Martian Manhunter says they are his; Captain Marvel introduced them to him and he quite enjoyed them.  He says Martians do eat just like humans; in fact, Mars had a McDonalds and Burger King long before Earth did.  Even though he was usually the most “serious” character in the JLI, the Manhunter from Mars did crack a joke once in a while.  He carries a crate up the stairs, clearly showing off for the movers.  But he misjudges his weight combined with the crate and crashes through the floor.

When he crashes back down to the first floor through the hole he created, Martian Manhunter plays it cool to the only witnesses, Captain Atom and Mister Miracle.  I don’t like the hairstyle they’ve given Cap, but it is more in line with his military background.

Captain Atom, feeling pretty useless around Mr. Miracle, searches for a way to help set up the security system.  Finding two dangling power cords – one male and one female – Cap connects them.  This results in an instant explosion.  Captain Atom then “reflexively” blasts the offending security system.  He tries to smooth things over, saying that setbacks like this bring people closer together.  But there’s no covering up the fact that he was and idiot who did an idiotic idiot thing.  Mr. Miracle storms out in a huff, leaving Cap to explain to Martian Manhunter what happened.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, Batman and Green Lantern Guy Gardner show up at their new JLI embassy.  The guards that greet them say Gardner is an enemy of the state and is not welcome.  Batman says he can control Guy, who has no idea why he’s unwanted in the Soviet Union (this is the brain damaged amnesia Guy Gardner).  Rocket Red #7 touches down and vouches for Guy and Batman.  Batman enters the embassy to check on the progress of the security system’s installation.  When Guy joins him, Batman asks the Green Lantern to sweep the embassy for bugs.  Batman has already found a handful of them.  The JLI’s Moscow embassy chief and government liaison Boris Dmitravich Razumihin arrives and Batman demands an explanation for the bugs.  Boris says it was a mistake that he will correct, but clearly it was not.

Back in the U.S., Mr. Miracle arrives at a S.T.A.R. Labs facility where a resident scientist leads him into a storage room.  Whatever it is Mr. Miracle sees there awes and pleases him.

In Paris, Booster Gold and Blue Beetle are out of costume and sitting at an outdoor café.  They’ve ducked out on Black Canary for a bit to hang out and pick up women.  Booster locks eyes on a beautiful, tall, black-haired woman in the café.  Booster approaches her, full of confidence.  45 seconds later, he and Beetle are walking away, Gold having completely struck out.  Beetle laughs himself all the way back to the embassy.

When they arrive (back in costume), Black Canary chews them out for ditching her.  Blue Beetle is still laughing.  Booster leaves the room, and bumps into Catherine Cobert, the league’s Paris bureau chief.  She is the same woman Booster Gold hit on at the café.  She doesn’t seem to recognize him.  However, when Black Canary introduces Catherine to Blue Beetle, her responds with a hearty “bwah-ha-ha.”

Back in New York, Captain Atom, Martian Manhunter, and Oberon are admiring the fact that their embassy is up and running.  Mr. Miracle arrives in a brand new S.T.A.R. Labs shuttle.  One of the movers points out that if he tries to land on the roof, he will cause it to collapse.  And that is exactly what Mr. Miracle does.

Later, when the heroes have all returned to the New York embassy and are enjoying some milk and Oreos, courtesy of J’onn J’onzz (Martian Manhunter), Blue Beetle is regaling them with the tale of Booster’s failure.  Guy says Beetle is being cruel.  Mr. Miracle is assuring J’onn that the shuttle wasn’t damaged (the roof, on the other hand…).  Oberon rushes in and tells them their first assignment is ready.  A “bunch of super powered lunatics” are running around Bonn, Germany.  They hurry off and the story closes with the text, “To be continued — in the pages of DC’s greatest crossover series ever: Millennium #1.”

Greatest crossover series?  I guess a case could be made.  I don’t agree though.  It wasn’t horrible.

This issue also contains a back-up story featuring Jack O’Lantern of the Global Guardians by the same crew but with Keith Giffen doing the pencils.  I’m not a great fan of Giffen’s artwork but it isn’t the lousiest I’ve ever seen.

Justice League International #8 was a very fun book.  Once I read it, I was hooked on the series and stayed with it until issue #24.  Kevin Maguire and Al Gordon were a great team and Giffen & DeMatteis are equally awesome.  I’m not crazy about the way Captain Atom was drawn or portrayed in this issue, but I still give it an A+.