Justice League International #17: Only the Dead Know Bialya (September 1988)

cover 17THE CREATIVE TEAM: Keith Giffen (Plot & Breakdowns), J.M. DeMatteis (Script), Kevin Maguire (Pencils), Al Gordon (Inks), Gene D’Angelo (Colors), Andy Helfer (Editor)

JUSTICE LEAGUE ROLL CALL: J’onn Jonzz the Martian Manhunter, Big Barda, Rocket Red (Dmitri) & Green Lantern (G’nort). Captain Atom & Oberon, Green Flame, Batman, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold. Not appearing in this comic: Ice Maiden, Green Lantern (Guy Gardner) and Mister Miracle.

GUEST STARS: Lord Manga Khan, L-Ron, Jack O’Lantern, Queen Bee, Wandjina.

THE STORY: The news about the coup in Bialya and Queen Bee’s new position as leader has reached the US; Captain Atom is ropeable because no one included him on their dangerous missions, while Oberon is busy worrying about Scott, kidnapped in outer space.

Batman, now disguised as Maxwell Lord instead of Bruce Wayne (how, exactly?) stages a solo mission, leaving Green Flame to shower herself unbrunette.

Meanwhile, Booster and Beetle escape on their own, thanks to a remarkably clever bit of chicanery by Booster and his Legion Flight Ring. They bump into Batman on the way out, and then Green Flame literally falls out of the ceiling in her underwear to warn them there are armed and dangerous men on their trail.

Wandjina tracks them down, and they only escape because a bored and frustrated Captain Atom decided to crash the party. After a massive explosion, they finally confront Queen Bee, who is smugly confident in the love that her people have for her. Given her popular support, there isn’t much the Justice League can do but go home with their tails between their legs, which is the usual result for them when meddling in foreign politics…

In space, Barda hooks up her Mega-Rod to the Boom-Tube (you kinda had to be there) in order to give their little craft a fighting chance to make hyperspace/warp speed and catch up to Barda’s kidnapped husband.

Lord Manga informs L-Ron that he wants to be called by his full name, Manga Khan, from now on. It’s not a Jewish joke he insists, it’s a Star Trek joke. I… hope that’s true?

jli1017_14THE CHARACTERS: Booster finally makes himself useful, and in a way that references his costume/equipment, which is great because we haven’t been at all introduced to his background in this comic at all. This is the first mention of his Legion flight ring, I’m pretty sure…

Beatriz is pretty much huffy and screamy and wearing underwear in this comic — yes, those are her main character notes. Where is my Fire? I’m looking forward to the creators of the comic getting the hang of her character because I really didn’t expect her to drop her personality the second she got her boobs out. To be honest, the art makes her look more vapid than the dialogue would — she sounds good and sarcastic, but the effect is ruined because of all the pouting and bending over.

I am quite excited that in the confrontation scene with Queen Bee, Beatriz actually appeals to Jack, because it’s amazing how often it will be forgotten in later plotlines that she and Ice Maiden were actually Global Guardians, and have a history with these people. (He brushes her off, but at least it’s acknowledged)

Batman is at his most useful, leadershipwise, while pretending to be Maxwell Lord. I’m… not sure what this says about any of them. Captain Atom, meanwhile, shows his true colours by being shouty, resentful, boastful and only really useful when something big has to be beaten up.

Barda gets a nice scene in the space adventure, showing her practicality as well as her laser focus on getting her husband back. Barda and J’onn making plans is one of my favourite things. More of this.

Queen Bee wins the issue with her diabolic villainous plot of appealing to her own populace, who are quite happy she assassinated a dictator. Queen Bee being smug is one of my other favourite things.

THE COMEDY: Despite Bea’s underwear-wearing cheesecakery, there’s some great slapstick action in the chase scenes, which feel very JLI. And I do love that her falling out of the sky into Booster’s arms is never actually explained. Plus Booster and Beetle are starting to properly gel as a double act.

THE ART: Very disappointed in Maguire’s drawing of Beatriz with her boobs and butt on display in scenes where she has more useful things to do. Like, you can run away from villains in your underwear without bending over and/or arching your back.

There are some great visual jokes here, though, especially the graffiti on the wall of Beetle & Booster’s prison cell. And as ever, no one draws smug Queen Bee as well as Kevin Maguire. She, at least, gets to keep her clothes on.

1847811-queen_3THE KITCHEN SINK: It’s so weird having a story featuring Beatriz so prominently that doesn’t also include Tora. Whose existence has not been mentioned for 2 issues. Please let her not be hanging out with brain damaged Guy Gardner.

It’s super cute how the comic is pretending that the Queen Bee + Bialya storyline is now finished. Hahahaha. Though it is kind of disturbing that no mention is made of Wandjina after the explosion which Captain Atom survives — is he still in one piece or not? Did he make it or did Captain Atom just flat out murder him? Enquiring minds wish to know…

Justice League The Story So Far
Justice League #1 (May 1987)
Justice League #2 (June 1987)
Justice League #3 (July 1987)
Justice League #4 (August 1987)
Justice League Annual #1 (1987)
Justice League #5 (September 1987)
Justice League #6 (October 1987)
Justice League International #7 (November 1987)
Justice League International #8 (December 1987)
Justice League International #9 (January 1988)
Justice League International #10 (February 1988)
Justice League International 11 (March 1988)
Justice League International 12 (April 1988)
Justice League International 13 & Suicide Squad 13 (May 1988)
Justice League International 14 (June 1988)
Justice League International 15 (July 1988)
Justice League International 16 (August 1988)