Friday, May 27, 2005

JLA CLASSIFIED #7

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, this would have been a review basking in the power of the last third of the issue.

But it's not. Instead, it's life imitating art imitating life imitating art and my brain short-circuited somewhere between my optic nerves and the part that processes emotional response.

This story has been more complicated reading than it was ever intended to be because it's beer-and-giggles with some very recently deceased characters and involves a running gag that coincides painfully with a plot point from the story of one of those characters' murder. Laughing along at the Sue-Dibny's-not-pregnant routine may give some an uncomfortableness, although I've never been troubled after that initial wince and double-take. Watching Booster Gold and Blue Beetle do their Two Stooges routine is still bittersweet and will be moreso once they get back and Max Lord is back in the picture. But, again, it's not really that hard to forget that Beetle's just been killed. The story hasn't been quite as good as its predecessor, but it's still been very, very funny and you can laugh hard enough to stay in this alternate world without too much effort.

The dissonance kicks in when we're asked to cry for a character. We've seen Ralph fall apart after Sue's death and, if you've read OMAC Project #2, you've seen Booster react to Beetle's, but we've had to put those deaths out of our minds to enjoy I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League. That delicate balance gets upset with the introduction of the Ice-as-Eurydice theme. I can't pretend two other deaths didn't happen so I can feel fresh sadness for this one.

It's difficult to watch Guy's (really, really well done) sudden transformation from supremely smug jerk to achingly vulnerable man, to see him clutching Tora and begging for her to come back to him, and not see Ralph with Sue's body. Or to watch Bea's reactions and not imagine that that's how Booster would behave. And that bleed between the 'real' DCU and this special little place of light and happiness lessens the impact of what happens. Although it's still powerful, it should have been a gut-punch hard enough to bring up your last meal and it wasn't. At least not for me; I knew Tora wasn't coming back and it was a matter of when, not if she was lost to them again.

I've never really hidden my dislike of Guy Gardner, but I have enjoyed his role in this series and especially in this issue. Even before Ice showed up, Guy was so smug and bullying in really clever ways -- not a dumb ox, but one of those rare, despicable intelligent bullies who knows precisely where to stick the needle in and just how far to jab and how far away to stand so that you can't hit back. He's walked the talk in perfect step and you're just in awe of how such intelligence is getting wasted by concentrating on picking on lesser minds.

2 Comments:

Blogger Rick Jones, really said...

Reading that issue, I knew it would all end in tears, but I never thought they would be mine.

I mean, sure, I knew she wasn't coming back. I knew someone would look, but darn if they didn't jerk a few tears out of me anyway.

Fri May 27, 08:24:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

That issue was very, very hard to read, and I mean it as a high compliment.

Fri May 27, 09:47:00 PM EDT  

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