Wednesday, July 27, 2011

JLA #99 (Late August, 2004)

The JLA and friends managed to work out Crucifer's whole story, including the Atom's role in helping to finally end his wretched existence. The League and Doom Patrol teamed up to free the prisoners in Castle Crucifer, and progressed to spoiling his attempt to restore The Tenth Circle to corporeal existence. Crucifer retreated to his castle, where he was confronted by the divided force of heroes and traitors to his plot.

The Atom and Rita Farr had just been kickin' it in the other dimension, waiting for the Chief to give the word, before finally, simultaneously, from opposite directions, they karate kicked Crucifer's heart box to pieces so that it reverted back to his chest on Earth. No, I don't know how that worked, or why they didn't just bring it back with them hours ago, or why they couldn't have staked it right there. Superman, while holding a crucifix, then punched Crucifer in his bloodless love muscle. Somebody should have picketed the DC Comics offices over that. Not religious people, but activists for the ethical treatment of comic book readers who kept buying this series after Joe Kelly left.

Later, Manitou Raven was already back at the Watchtower without explanation to deliver more exposition and shed a solitary tear over pollution. Faith, still dressed like an Oklahoman lot lizard, was feeling well enough to become Nudge's new mentor in the upcoming Doom Patrol spin-off series, which began with a two-page prologue involving those escaped vampires having captured the Chief, but only after the Doom Patrol had left the Watchtower alone, even though they were totally going to drag Batman, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter into a guest appearance anyway. Batman told a joke about Crucifer's heart being in the right place. In a metatextual moment, the JLA silently stared in horror and the petrified readers returning the terror-filled gaze. In Jesus' hallowed name, we beg thee, why?

Man, what a stupid resolution to a progressively more terrible story. Rather than tell the tale, Manitou Raven facilitates a massive expository data dump on all things Crucifer, so that the JLA never actually has to uncover evidence through a proper investigation. This forces a six page prelude to the cliffhanger from last issue, so pity the reader who bought this in trade paperback with the expectation of a single seating experience. Not that the cliffhanger mattered, because how exciting was the premise? It's the World's Greatest Super-Heroes plus the Doom Patrol on a small town football field against a handful of unnamed immature metahumans, some bloodsuckers, and townies. Whoop-dee-do. Hey, how is it Manitou Raven managed to leave a door open for the Atom to the exact point in the right dimension where Crucifer's heart was located, anyway? Additionally, where did Manitou Raven come back from at the end of the story, and how did he manage that? By the way, was anybody impressed with the Doom Patrol's performance here, or learning that the last two pages of this six-part story forced the reader to continue to a two part coda in their new series? Most importantly of all, who in their right mind figured generic ass vampires were enough of a threat to tie up the JLA for an issue, even before adding a second super-team? Holy Hanna, this thing got horrid in a hurry!

"Heartbreaker!" was blessedly the final chapter of "The Tenth Circle" to afflict mankind. It was foisted upon an unwitting populace by John "Hates You" Byrne, Chris "Bore" Claremont, and Jerry "The Bystander" Ordway. Did I mention they had one of the black kid metahumans call John Stewart "Homes?" That happened.

The Tenth Circle

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