Writer: Bob Layton
Pencils: Dick Giordano
Inks: Bob Layton
Colors: Tom Ziuko
Letters: John Workman
The L.A.W. (Living Assault Weapons) was a six-issue mini series published by DC Comics starting in September 1999 and running to February 2000. The series logo on each of the six covers spotlighted one specific member of The L.A.W., with the first issue featuring Blue Beetle. The following five issue covers featured old Charlton characters the Question, the Peacemaker, Nightshade, Judomaster and Captain Atom. The six covers, when lined up, formed one complete picture. And everybody got a new costume!
So what was the world like in September 1999? Bill Clinton was in the White House with Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street. Rescuers were still searching for survivors of the İzmit earthquake (there were just over 17,000 dead from the 7.6 magnitude quake in Turkey). Greece was hit by an earthquake and multiple aftershocks. If you had a time machine and a hankering to go to the movies, you might catch American Beauty, The Sixth Sense, or The Iron Giant. Of course, you might also see Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, or Wild Wild West, so it’s sort of a crapshoot.
The basic story of L.A.W. (Living Assault Weapons): the team was formed in response to the disappearance of the JLA after they were attacked by the Avatar (who used to be Judomaster’s sidekick “Tiger”).
After causing the Justice Leauge to disappear along with their Watchtower, Avatar then attacks a European Space Agency launch facility. During the attack, Captain Atom shows up to stop him, but he is quickly defeated and captured by the Avatar (way to fail, Cap). The Avatar keeps Captain Atom trapped within a large crystal that contains his powers, which he needs to carry out his plan.
Nate references his wife Plastique, which I love, even if it is something of a continuity headache.
Senior Advisor of Metahuman Affairs, Sarge Steel, is asked by President Clinton to go to the Swiss Alps (where the Peacemaker Project is located). The Peacemaker Project has a wide variety of information; specifically, information regarding the Avatar and the disappearance of the JLA. As Sarge Steel is arriving, the Avatar’s Ravanans are attacking the Peacemaker Project. With the help of the new Peacemaker, Mitchell Black, they are able to defeat Avatar’s henchmen before too much of the base is destroyed.
During the fight at the Peacemaker Project, the Blue Beetle and the Question are investigating a group of Avatar’s followers. They meet up with Judomaster who was going out on his own to correct a wrong that he had committed (although the particular “wrong” is not revealed, we do learn Judomaster was sent away from Nanda Parbat by Rama Kushna). The three heroes are attacked by Avatar’s group of followers and they flee in Blue Beetle’s Bug. While fleeing, they are contacted by Sergeant Steel to come and meet him in the Swiss Alps.
When they arrive at the Peacemaker Project’s base, they discover that Nightshade is also there, recovering from a procedure that Fate had performed to remove a succubus that was inhabiting her body. She has developed new powers as a result of the procedure. She can now easily travel through shadows and use them to form a shadow cyclone as a weapon against the Avatar’s Ravanans. She is able to prevent the Ravanans from capturing French Ambassador Yves Fortè.
During a battle with Avatar and his Ravanans, Peacemaker, Blue Beetle, The Question, and Judomaster are defeated and Judomaster is taken back to Avatar’s base. While they are detained, Judomaster reveals to the group that the Avatar is actually his former sidekick, Tiger.
Nightshade is able to locate the missing JLA and the Watchtower by utilizing her new powers. She is able to free them from the stasis that the Avatar had placed them in and the JLA help her repel the attacking Ravanans. The JLA return to Earth to battle the remaining Ravanans while Peacemaker, Blue Beetle, and The Question travel into outer space to destroy the targeting system that the Avatar has in place to destroy all of the military outlets in the world. Blue Beetle successfully shuts down the system and averts a major catastrophe. Judomaster then meets with the Avatar and, knowing that he is beaten, the Avatar gives up his mission.
The L.A.W. are able to free Captain Atom and all of the members go their separate ways. (When Cap emerges from the crystal, he is wearing his “Kingdome Come” costume.) The Blue Beetle decides that he is going to take some time off from being a super-hero for a while so that he can better understand who he truly is.
The reason for the wikipediaish entry for this series and lumping it all into one entry is simple: this is a Captain Atom blog, not a Charlton Comics blog. Don’t get me wrong, I love the old Charlton books. But Captain Atom hardly figured into this series at all. There is lots of Blue Beetle action though, including a dream sequence that features the Golden Age Dan Garrett Blue Beetle.
Dick Giordano and Bob Layton’s art is superb and Bob’s story is pretty good. If this had turned into an ongoing series, I certainly would have picked it up. I give The L.A.W. (Living Assault Weapons an A.
Captain Atom next appears in JLA Showcase 80-Page Giant #1.
(All characters and images belong to DC Comics and I am not making any profit off this blog.)