Justice League America #28: A Date With Density (July 1989)

THE PACKAGING: JLI trade vol 4

THE CREATIVE TEAM: Keith Giffen (Plot & Breakdowns), J.M. DeMatteis (Script), Ty Templeton & Mike McKone (Pencils), Joe Rubenstein (Inks), Gene D’Angelo (Colors), Andy Helfer (Editor) Kevin Dooley (Assistant Editor)

JUSTICE LEAGUE ROLL CALL: Guy Gardner, Fire, Ice, Oberon

GUEST STARS: Big Barda, Black Hand

THE STORY: Guy Gardner, as if he has something to prove after his moments of half-decency over the last few issues, challenges Ice to look beneath the surface and get to know him as a person and go on a real date with him. She agrees, still under the illusion that “Nice Guy” from his brain-damaged era couldn’t have come out of nowhere. (Oh, sweetie)

Fire, out of bed and back in her costume at last, is determined to get back to normal and learn more about her changed powers — but is distracted by her utter horror at Tora’s decision to go on a date with Guy. (Bea, we are all there with you my darling) Oberon barely manages to calm her down.

Guy takes Ice on the worst date of all time: tricking her into a skin flick. When she walks out of the theatre in disgust, they are intercepted by an unknown costumed criminal, the Black Hand.

The Black Hand is a minor mob boss attempting to work through his herophobia, at the request of his therapist. Spurred into action by the appearance of Green Lantern at his porn theatre, he attacks them both and is systematically humiliated and beaten up by Guy.

Tora is furious and outraged by the whole experience, and resolves never to let Guy near her ever again. So on the whole, a productive evening. Fire, meanwhile, has asked Big Barda to help train her with her revised powers — cue a very large green swoosh, as it turns out Bea has a lot more FIRE than anyone realised.

>THE CHARACTERS: Guy… at his worst, makes no sense to me. How much of his dickishness is a deliberate persona he puts on, and how much is the writers pushing it to ridic extremes to the point of surrealism? I don’t know, but this falls further on the awful side than it should. Pure self-sabotage.

Bea’s intense scrutiny of Tora’s romantic choices starts here — leading to some hardcore femmeslash shipping of these two, though such a possibility never occurred to me when I was a teenager reading these for the first time. (Such an innocent teenager without the guiding ways of Tumblr and Ao3 to open my eyes) Still, while Fire gets far too hot under the collar and appears utterly deranged in this issue… it’s GUY. And he proves her RIGHT. So she’s not remotely over-reacting.

Bringing back Big Barda is always great and I like the choice to remind everyone of her abilities as a trainer. More of this, please.

THE COMEDY: It’s… just not funny. I never got the Guy/Tora relationship at the best of times, and it’s at its worst when it’s being played for “laughs” as a toxic, borderline abusive situation. Heartfelt Guy who knows he screwed up is worth reading about. This asshole? Not so much.

THE ART: I don’t know if it’s the pencillers sharing duty or what but the art of this one is a hot mess, with awful faces and awkward lines everywhere. The last few pages with Bea and Barda are quite nice but otherwise the whole thing is awful.

THE KITCHEN SINK: Love em or loathe em, Guy/Tora is a central relationship in this comic, even (especially) when they’re not together. He already sexually harassed her once, but this is where it really starts.

This is why I drink.