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“Conception”

  • Writer:  Jim Starlin
  • Pencils & Inks:  Bernie Wrightson & Dan Green
  • Colors:  Michelle Wrightson
  • Letters:  Todd Klein

The Weird was a four-issue mini-series featuring the Justice League.  Although text within issue #1 indicated that the series took place prior to Justice League International #7, Captain Atom is on the team (he was added to the team at the end of Justice League International #7).

The mini-series opens with Superman on a Metropolis rooftop, surveying the city.  At street level, an overcoated man walks to his dreary apartment building in the rain.  The name on his door reads “Jason Morgan.”  Inside, he removes his coat and sits on the bathroom floor.  He has strange green crystalline growths all over his body.  Yellow energy rings appear before him as he says, “Soon the bridge will be completed, my friends.”  He conjures up a red crystal, out of which a white orb flies as it crumbles apart.  The orb shoot out of the apartment, creating a massive explosion in the sky.

Superman notes that no damage was done and he flies in the investigate further.  He finds the white orb, which he calls a star.  It changes shape into a ribbon and Superman touches it.  With another explosion, Superman is thrown back three miles.  When he returns to the ribbon, Captain Atom and Martian Manhunter are on the scene.

Thirty minutes later, the military arrives.  By now most of the Justice League is on the scene (Green Lantern Guy Gardner, Dr. Fate, Blue Beetle, Black Canary, and Batman).

Onboard Blue Beetle’s Bug, Batman and a Dr. Yamada are collecting data on the ribbon, which the doctor says will take months to collate.  Outside, Cap says the thing shouldn’t even exist (as it is pure energy it should have dispersed with no form to hold it together).  Dr. Fate says it does have a mystical quality, and Guy Gardner uses his ring as a “deep probe” to try and get more info.  Guy overdoes it with the green juice, which causes the ribbon to let out an explosion of energy and black out the city.  Martian Manhunter and Captain Atom quickly catch the crashing Bug.

From a nearby rooftop, the heroes watch the ribbon split into two parts and rush off into different directions.  Superman follows one and Martian Manhunter follows the other.  Superman fails at catching the thing as it flies into a genetic research lab.  It passes through “genetic fluids” before entering a computer, where it seems to be gathering data.  It launches out of the computer and flies off with Superman on it’s tail.

Meanwhile, at a funeral home across town, Martian Manhunter has followed the other energy ball into a funeral service.  The energy goes into the casket, making the dead man inside vanish.

The two energy balls return to the site of the original ribbon and combine.  The resulting explosion causes a nearby building to crumble.  When Guy goes to stop the falling debris, he is beaten to the punch by the ribbon.  In an effort to contain anymore explosions, Guy surrounds the ribbon with an energy bubble.  The heroes watch as inside a human creature is created.  It emerges onto a nearby rooftop, dressed like some sort of a ninja, and collapses.

An hour later at S.T.A.R. Labs, Dr. Yamada discovers that the creature’s body is filled with clear fluid rather than blood.  Using his x-ray vision, Superman learns that none of the creature’s organs are fully formed, but are “sculpting” themselves while it sleeps.  Also it has an unstable, alien molecular structure.  Superman thinks it is a living, possibly Earth-threatening atomic bomb.  Blue Beetle dubs the creature “the Weird,” and Guy Gardner offers to take it off the planet.  Superman rushes off to save the passengers of a crashing plane.  As soon as he is gone, the Weird wakes up.

When Martian Manhunter offers his arm and suggests the Weird get more rest, the creature shoves him back into a wall.  Batman orders Guy to contain the Weird with his ring, but the creature simply walks out of the green energy bubble.  Blue Beetle and Captain Atom throw themselves at the Weird, but he becomes intangible and they crash into each other.  Guy encases it in a denser energy cube, but it breaks free in an explosion that takes out most of the lab.

Captain Atom, Dr. Fate, Martian Manhunter, and Batman take the fight to the rooftops in an attempt to contain the Weird.  Seeing that physical attacks clearly do not affect the Weird’s molecular instability, Martian Manhunter lays on an ultimately ineffectual smackdown.  Even Dr. Fate’s mystic powers have no effect on the creature.  Their efforts are in vain, and the Weird explains that his kind are excellent manipulators of energy.  Cap decides to fire quantum blasts at the thing anyway.

The Weird knocks Captain Atom out cold and escapes by passing through the walls of the building.  He finds himself at the apartment of Jason Morgan the fellow from the opening of this issue.  The apartment is vacant, leaving the Weird time for another task, in the Metropolis suburb of Inglewood.  He returns to the home of “Walt,” the man whose body he has reanimated.  In the back yard or the house, he approaches Walt’s son Billy, who instantly recognizes the disfigured face as his father’s.

And this ends the first issue.  Lots of questions and few answers.

“Questions!”

  • Writer:  Jim Starlin
  • Pencils & Inks:  Bernie Wrightson & Dan Green
  • Colors:  Michelle Wrightson
  • Letters:  Todd Klein

 

The second issue opens back at S.T.A.R. Labs, where TV reporter Lance Armstrong (I know, right?) is attempting to interview Superman in the Weird’s aftermath.  Superman gives a summary of the previous issue, but Lance turns his words around on him, saying Supes thinks he can succeed where the Justice League failed.  Guy Gardner insults Superman, but the man of steel turns that into an opportunity to insult Guy before flying away.

Back at Walter Langley’s house, his wife wonders what the Weird’s connection to her dead husband is – if any.  Checking on her son Billy, she sees he has wandered away from the backyard of their home.

Billy, meanwhile, is riding on the Weird’s back as they fly to the beach.  The Weird explains to Billy that, while he has all of Walter Langley’s memories, he is not actually the boy’s dead father.  He displays his powers for Billy (flight, super-strength, the ability to become intangible, and the ability to affect any source of energy he’s in direct contact with).  In an effort to explain what he truly is, the Weird taps directly into Billy’s brain.  The two find themselves in an alternative dimensional reality, which the Weird explains is his home.  He identifies a glowing red orb as a Macrolatt, the dominant life form of this reality (although he himself is not one).  They are immensely powerful and ruthless beings.

The Weird explains he is a Zarolatt, white orb beings which possess great stores of energy but not the ability to use it.  The Macrolatts are tapping the energy of the Zarolatts, killing the peaceful creatures.  The Weird himself was being used by a Macrolatt that was attempting to cross over into Billy’s reality (the DC Universe).  The Macrolatts found a man they called “the Jason” (Jason Morgan from the first issue) and convinced him to betray his people and allow the Macrolatts to cross over.

Jason’s physical form was slightly altered to that of a half-man, half-crystal entity.  He created the crystalline anchor that would stabilize the bridge between worlds.  Hungering for the “freedom” that Billy’s world would offer him, the Weird crossed the bridge before any of the Macrolatts could make it across.  He came face-to-face with the Jason and fled.  The Weird chose Walter’s body as a containment vessel because he would have killed any living creature he tried to possess.  He found he could utilize all the dormant abilities that were denied to him as a Zarolatt.  He explains he must face the Jason again and stop him from reopening the bridge.  The Macrolatts, if they manage to cross over, will destroy Billy’s world.

Back in Metropolis, Jason Morgan returns home singing “Waltzing Matilda” to himself.  He begins to talk to himself (perfectly normal behavior in a comic book), and reveals he has killed a woman named Matilda Gatsby.  He sets out to reopen the bridge.

Superman, still searching for the Weird, gives up in the city and heads north to check the suburbs.  Meanwhile, in the suburbs, the Weird is dropping Billy off at home.  The Weird explains it would be best if Billy didn’t tell his mother who/what he was with.  Flying away, the Weird admits to himself that his molecular structure is unstable, just as Batman warned him in the last issue.  He knows he is a dangerous ticking time-bomb.  He bumps into Superman, and the two land on a nearby rooftop to have a chat.

The Weird says he can’t leave Earth like Superman wants.  He doesn’t explain why.  Superman punches him, which doesn’t even stagger the Weird.  The Weird punches back, surprising Superman with his strength.  The Weird takes off and Superman gives chase.  They stop the chase briefly to beat each other, but the two are evenly matched.  The Weird takes off again and Supes chases.  In the basement of an abandoned apartment building, the Weird pushes some supporting beams aside and brings the whole building down on the man of steel.  In the confusion, the Weird slips away.

Lance Armstrong shows up at the scene (via his news van – not a bicycle) and attempts to get a comment from Superman.  Superman does not indulge Lance and flies away.  Then the Weird emerges from the ground below, explaining that he had been directly under Superman the whole time.  He tells Lance that Superman and his friends think he is so unstable he will destroy the world.  He flies away, but Batman is nearby and watches him.

Back at Jason Morgan’s apartment, just as he is conjuring up the bridge, the Weird appears in his bathroom with him.  So ends the second issue.  Captain Atom was only in this issue for one panel.

“Confrontation”

  • Writer:  Jim Starlin
  • Pencils & Inks:  Bernie Wrightson & Dan Green
  • Colors:  Michelle Wrightson
  • Letters:  Todd Klein

The third issue opens with Billy Langley summing up the previous two issues to his dog (cleverly – or weirdly – named “Ptang”).  Meanwhile, in Jason Morgan’s apartment bathroom, the Weird and the Jason are facing off.  For a Justice League story, this mini-series sure hasn’t featured the Justice League much.

Back in Jason Morgan’s place, he and the Weird are throwing down, smashing the place to hell.  The Jason flings energy blasts which the Weird easily deflects.  From a neighboring apartment rooftop, the Justice League watches the battle.  Batman followed the Weird here and summoned his team-mates.  Guy Gardner wants to go down for a closer look, but Dr. Fate stops him.  Guy, hot-head that he is, ignores Dr. Fate and Batman’s warning and dives in.

Jason conjures a cube-shaped shield around his apartment which prevents Guy from entering and also destroys to top half of the building.  Batman sends Dr. Fate, Captain Atom, and Martian Manhunter to protect the “civilians” while he catches the unconscious Guy.

While Batman ponders a way to get into the cube, the Jason and the Weird continue their confrontation within.  The Weird tells Jason he doesn’t want to use force against him because he knows Jason was duped by the Macrolatts, but he will resort to force if he has to.  He takes Jason by the neck.  Borrowing a page from Barry Allen’s book, Jason vibrates the molecules of air around the Weird, stunning him.  He encases the Weird in a “particle beam encasement” bubble.

Jason begins to reopen the portal while the Weird, helpless in the bubble, pleads with him to stop.  He tries to play to Jason’s humanity, but Jason says that will do no good.  He says he is turning on his own species because “life sucks.”

Outside, Dr. Fate, Batman, Black Canary, and Blue Beetle discuss the cube and their inability to penetrate it (Guy is down for the count with a bandage on his head).  Batman fears what is going on within, saying they really don’t have enough infor on the Weird to understand his motives.

Within the cube, Jason tells the Weird his tale of woe.  Named after the Jason of Greek mythology, he witnessed his father’s suicide by hanging at the age of four.  His mother became an abusive alcoholic and was murdered by a boyfriend with a razor.  He was sent to a Dickensian orphanage where he had to fight the other children and did poorly in school.  He was kicked out of the orphanage at the age of fifteen because of “a little trouble [he] got into with a girl.”  He drifted through a series of menial jobs that he always got fired from and ended up a dirty homeless beggar.  Trying to clean up his act to attract women, he got a job with the city of Metropolis as a sanitation worker (or “garbage man,” as we used to call them when we were kids”.  He didn’t mind the labor, but hated dealing with all the city’s trash.  Still unlucky with the ladies, he assaulted a woman and was thrown in prison.  Upon his release, he went back to work on the garbage truck and spiraled into alcoholism like his mother.  Then he began to have strange dreams.  It was the Macrolatts contacting his subconscious, preparing him for their coming.  They altered his physiology and promised him that when they took Earth, he would become the king of humanity.

The Weird warns Jason that he has been misled.  The Macrolatts will kill him as soon as they cross over.  Jason doesn’t believe him and lashes out.  The Weird continues to try and convince Jason the Macrolatts are bad.  The Justice League continues to try and breach the cube.  Jason continues to build the bridge.

Believing that it is the only way, the Weird determines to force his unstable body to go critical.  It will kill him and Jason, and the entire city of Metropolis to boot.  Two Macrolatts emerge from the portal just as the Weird explodes.  Somehow, the cube contains the blast, the Weird and Jason both survive (the explosion must not have been created by the Weird reaching critical mass), and the Justice League witnesses the two Macrolatts fleeing the scene.

The Macrolatts speed off at twice the speed of light, making it impossible for the Justice League to give chase.  The Weird crushes the crystal Jason used to build the bridge.  Realizing Jason was a twisted, misunderstood pawn of creatures he didn’t understand, the Weird give him a low-grade disruptive charge through his cerebral cortex, putting Jason’s mind at ease before snapping his neck.  Upon his death, the cube vanishes and the Justice League converges on the remains of the apartment.  They find the Weird standing over Jason’s dead body.

The two Macrolatts, rejuvenated by lightning over the ocean, return to Metropolis to seek host bodies.  One of them finds Superman and merges with him.  The other flies to Los Angeles, California. Finding the headquarters of Infinity, Inc., it merges with Nuklon.  Back at Jason’s apartment, the Weird tries to explain he did not murder Jason Morgan.

The Weird realizes the Justice League won’t listen to him; they’ve made up their minds.  As he tries to leave, he is knocked out cold by Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz was invisible the whole time).  When Batman orders Guy to take the Weird off-world, the two Macrolatts appear (in the bodies of Nuklon and Superman) and say they’ll deal with him.

“Armageddon”

  • Writer:  Jim Starlin
  • Pencils:  Bernie Wrightson
  • Inks:  Dan Green
  • Colors:  Michelle Wrightson
  • Letters:  Todd Klein

At last, the climactic conclusion.  Batman slaps the Weird awake and demands an explanation.  The Justice League have found themselves in combat against Superman and Nuklon’s Macrolatt-possessed bodies.

The Weird gives Batman the four-panel summation of the past three issues.  Things look grim for the world, as Superman and Nuklon have not only all their original powers, but the powers of the Macrolatts as well.  Black Canary is knocked out and Batman carries her to safety as the Weird explains to him how the Macrolatts made it to this world.  The Justice League suddenly learns they are powerless against this duo.

The Weird tells Batman that fighting the Macrolatts is pointless and he won’t take any part in it.  Batman insults him and jumps into the battle.  In an attempt to “short out” a Macrolatt, he pokes Superman with an exposed live electrical cable.  Superman seems injured, but not stopped.  He breaks Batman’s arm.  Apparently thinking Batman isn’t worth his time and effort, Superman flies to Nuklon’s aid as he struggles to take down Captain Atom, the last Justice League member still standing.  They dispatch Nate with ease.

With the Justice League utterly defeated, the Weird bows down to the Macrolatts.  They two evil beings begin to burn Metropolis, feeding off the life energy of the matter (and people) they destroy.  At the scene, Lance Armstrong reports that it appears the world is coming to an end.

The Weird begs the two to stop.  He says he can help their efforts. Batman tries to stop him, but he bitch slaps the dark knight.  The Weird tells the Macrolatts they need to utilize the intellect of their host bodies as well as the power.  Nuklon blasts at the Weird for his “insolence.”  Superman takes a piece of nearby building and throws it at the Weird.  The Zarolatt becomes intangible and the debris coasts harmlessly through him.  Nuklon is taken aback by this but Superman isn’t.  The Weird warns them that heir host bodies are susceptible to illness.  He tells them they need to reach out and merge with them, as Zarolatts are meant to serve Macrolatts.  The two buy it, and fly towards the Weird.

Reaching into Nuklon and Superman, the Weird pulls the Macrolatts out.  The two previously-possessed heroes drop to the ground as the Weird tells his captives he would never allow them to harm this world.  Holding one in each hand, he appears to squash the life out of the Macrolatts.

The next morning, back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Superman indicates that the Weird is still unstable and will still reach critical mass.  He will expire in less than two days.  The Justice League have been unable to d anything to reverse the process.  He says he will leave Earth before that time comes, but asks the Justice League to help him with two things first.

Superman and Guy fly over the ocean with the Weird.  As the Weird begins to build something, the heroes leave him, vowing to return the next morning with Walter’s wife and son.  The Justice League returns the next day with Billy, finding what appears to be a pirate ship constructed of Earth.  Superman explains that Walter’s wife wouldn’t come – that she felt she couldn’t handle it.  Billy finds the whole thing extremely awesome.

The Weird has a heart-to-heart discussion with Billy, explaining that he will have to leave again and he will die.  Billy is saddened by this, begging his father to stay.  The Weird says he can not stay, but will leave this odd island for Billy to visit and remember him.  Martian Manhunter takes Billy home.

Superman and Guy take the Weird to a distant part of space, a light year away from any inhabited world.  They say their good-byes and leave Walter to his fate.  Guy and Superman watch the massive explosion from a safe distance, tearing up as they do so.  The two fly back to Earth.  Thus ends The Weird mini-series.

I didn’t like The Weird when it was first published.  From the first page, I took issue with the continuity error.  Captain Atom was not a member of the Justice League when this was supposed to have taken place.  And if it took place at the time it was published, Guy Gardner’s personality was wrong.  It still gives me a headache to think about it.  I can be such a nerd about continuity.  Plus, I never liked the name of the hero, “the Weird.”  Frankly, I thought it was stupid (the name).  And the Justice League were completely superfluous to the story. This is a C story at best.  The art, on the other hand, was definitely “A” material.  I really like the way Wrightson and Green drew Captain Atom in particular, even if he didn’t grace the pages much.  I’d say The Weird is worth checking out for the art alone.  Just don’t expect the story to blow your mind.

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