THE CREATIVE TEAM: Keith Giffen (Plot & Breakdowns), J.M. DeMatteis (Script), Bart Sears (Pencils), Pablos Marcos (Inks), Gene D’Angelo (Colors), Andy Helfer (Editor)
CROSSOVER ALERT: The Teasdale Imperative. Remember when crossover events happened just between 2 sympathetic titles, and were written by the same team so you had consistency? Sigh.
JUSTICE LEAGUE ROLL CALL: Captain Atom, Metamorpho, Elongated Man (Ralph Dibny), The Flash (Wally West), Power Girl, Animal Man, Rocket Red (Dmitri Pushkin), with Catherine Cobert and Sue Dibny in civilian support.
GUEST STARS: From the JLA: J’onn J’onzz the Martian Manhunter, sometimes Batman, Green Lantern (Guy Gardner,) Fire, Ice, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Mister Miracle (Scott Free) & Dr Fate. Also: The Spectre, the GREY Man & that Teasdale dude.
THE STORY: The JLA arrive to find the JLE in the middle of a pitched battle against crazed, violent villagers who… well, not to roll out the ‘v’ word but, they’re kinda acting like vampires, right? With the biting?
Most of this issue’s dialogue consists of a series of debates about whether these villagers are actually vampires or not. It’s pretty great.
We get a bunch of backstory about how the JLE ended up battling European “vampires” which is pretty much — they got a mission called in, they went, turned out that the peeps were bite-y. Not sure we needed the flashback.
Still, it’s nice to see the JLI actually using hazard suits in the face of potential contamination. That’s more than we get from most crime shows these days. Toward the end of the issue we get a glimpse of the mysterious ‘Teasdale’ who is rocking a hermit mad scientist vibe, and — intriguingly — blames Stagg (remember Simon Stagg, Metamorpho’s weirdo father-in-law?) for his situation.
THE CHARACTERS: Some lovely conversations in this one. I particularly enjoyed Fire and Power Girl getting a couple of pages to muse on the dynamics of superhero teams, without specifically talking about the dudes. Superhero women being friends and sharing deets! Love it!
There’s also some nice stuff between Ralph & Batman, acknowledging their shared history. The tensions between Captain Atom and J’onn are great.
There’s a wistful!Buddy scene between he and Dmitri that shows once again that Buddy is not cut out for this comic. He doesn’t want to be here.
THE COMEDY: As with the previous issue, the humour here feels very natural and comes out of the characters. Metamorpho being a wall, the exhaustive vampire banter, Dr Fate’s continual bemusement at the JLA antics (there’s always one) etc.
THE ART: OK this might be the comic book equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome, but this issue wasn’t that bad. I am still constantly outraged by the werd hunchback red cloak effect that Sears gives to Power Girl, but his action sequences are dynamic, and his Captain Atom is a thing of beauty. Basically if he is called on to do powerful flight, fight scenes, male muscles or gritty film noir faces, he’s fine.
The creepy horror themes of this comic are clearly a lot more in Sears’ wheelhouse than the brightly-coloured comic set pieces we’ve had in JLE so far… but um, this isn’t a horror comic, so.
Also there’s one panel where the Martian Manhunter’s head is so CLEARLY the shape of a penis that I can’t even.
THE KITCHEN SINK: I was annoyed at first that they were calling him the Grey Man instead of the Gray Man which was literally what he was called last issue — I’m all for ditching US spelling but weird continuity glitch much? Then I realised he’s probably the Grey Man in this issue because THIS IS JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE and then I laughed and laughed.