Justice League Europe #5: Stagg Party

THE PACKAGING: Justice League International trade Vol Five

THE CREATIVE TEAM: Keith Giffen (Plot & Breakdowns), J.M. DeMatteis (Script), Bart Sears (Pencils), Joe Rubenstein (Inks), Gene D’Angelo (Colors), Andy Helfer (Editor)

JUSTICE LEAGUE ROLL CALL: Captain Atom, Metamorpho, Elongated Man (Ralph Dibny), Animal Man, Rocket Red (Dmitri Pushkin), with Catherine Cobert and Sue Dibny in civilian support. (Power Girl & Flash have the month off, clearly)

GUEST STARS: Sapphire Stagg, Simon Stagg, Java, Maxwell Lord, J’onn J’onzz & Oberon

THE STORY: Captain Atom has been summoned to JLA headquarters to answer for his recent military decisions, and instead of being a grown up (and a professional) about it, he acts like a spoilt child and yells at everyone, which means he ends up with more of a dressing down than he probably otherwise would have got.

Wow, he’s such a dick.

Meanwhile, Metamorpho gets emotional whiplash when his wife Sapphire arrives, declaring her love for him. She is shocked to discover that he is alive and has no memory of being married to her, and fills him in on what he missed: mostly that she has married her father’s Neanderthal bodyguard Java, and oh she and Rex (REX, HE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THIS WAS HIS NAME) had a baby of indeterminate gender, though this part is brushed over very quickly.

When Java bursts in to demand the return of his wife, Rex is shocked into all his memories coming back — Java then fights off whichever JLE members are handy, until Simon Stagg arrives to sort out the mess.

THE CHARACTERS: This one is all Metamorpho! I’m glad he has his memories back, but the Staggs always feel like a backdoor pilot to a show no one would want to watch.

Why is Sapphire such an airhead? Why is even Java? Metamorpho is well shot of them all… but his sadness at Sapphire always choosing her dad over him is still a rare moment of emotional vulnerability in our Element Man.

I really liked the use of Catherine in this issue, meeting Sapphire and eavesdropping on the Metamorphosoap. Her banter with Sue is pretty great and for once I don’t want to strangle Ralph, possibly because Wally isn’t around to be his punching bag.

THE COMEDY: It’s all pretty broad humour with lots of shouting, so like any 80’s sitcom, really?

THE ART: OK I still hate Bart Sears’ work, but it’s not quite as bad when Power Girl isn’t around. Sapphire looks almost conventionally attractive, and there are several excellent pages of Captain Atom’s shiny muscles, which are totes Sears’ artistic strong point.

THE KITCHEN SINK: How long do we have to wait for Crimson Fox?