web stats

CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 84

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we take a look at The Extremist Vector in Justice League Europe #15-19 by Keith Giffen, Gerard Jones and Bart Sears.

Similar to the Justice League America battle against Despero, the Justice League Europe epic battle with The Extremists was seen as a sort of dramatic shift in the tone of the books. Of course, in the case of JLE, the book had already had seen plenty of downer stories (including the initial story arc against the Queen Bee controlled Global Guardians, plus more recently, Metamorpho’s tragic relationship with his infant son).

However, with Gerard Jones firmly on board as the scripter of the title, The Extremist Vector still took things one step further, with a dark exploration of what would happen if super-villains ever took their villaindom to the “logical” conclusion (it is one thing for Doctor Octopus to THREATEN the world with nuclear weapons – what if he ever actually, you know, USED them?).

The Extremists come from an alternate universe that is an analogue for the Marvel Universe (the heroes of this Earth had faced off against the original Justice League of America years earlier). The only two remaining heroes from this Earth, Silver Sorceress (Scarlet Witch) and Blue Jay (Ant-Man, with a bit of the Wasp mixed in, I suppose) are mourning their Earth when they accidentally end up bringing the world destroyers, the Extremists, to the DC Universe, with typically tragic results.

The Extremists are stand-ins for various major Marvel villains of the early 1990s.

Lord Havok is Doctor Doom, Dreamslayer is Dormammu, Gorgon is Doctor Octopus, Tracer is Sabretooth and Doctor Diehard is Magneto.

Here they are when they first arrive on the DC Earth (where they confront their old nemesis, Blue Jay, who had landed at the Justice League embassy in Moscow, and JLE member, Metamorpho, had just showed up via teleportation tube to check in on Blue Jay)…

Spooky, huh?

The next issue we see them deal with the heroes of Moscow, the Rocket Red Brigade (as well as see one of the embassy workers help Blue Jay – in the previous issue, in a really outdated piece of Cold War politics, the Russian embassy head tried to kidnap Blue Jay for his own agenda – her, she redeems her part in that power play)…

Gerry Jones really tried to stress character work in his dialogue during his run on Justice League Europe, and there’s a particularly good bit where the League takes a shuttle to Moscow rather than the tubes, because they don’t want to arrive where they don’t know what’s going on – so you have this whole tension of “What could be going on in the time it takes us to fly there?”

After kicking the League’s ass pretty handedly…

They once again take over control of THIS world’s nuclear weapons supply…

There is a great bit where the League attacks again, but Doctor Diehard is the only thing keping the weapons from falling, so they have to back off when they realized that their “charging in” method of heroing almost doomed the entire planet.

Clever stuff by Giffen and Jones.

I won’t tell you the ending, which involves going back to the Extremists’ world (or the twisted twist for the origins of the Extremists), but it’s a good one – it has a slight bit of Deus Ex Machina feel to it, but a good deal less so than the Despero story in Justice League America.

In both cases, however, it really does not matter since the rest of the story is done so well, and the Silver Sorceress is allowed some strong dramatic moments.

Bart Sears’ art worked well here. This story is the introduction of the Yellow and White costume for Power Girl, by the way.

Another great early 90s Justice League story that is not collected in trades. It’s a real shame.


Excellent story, probably the second best arc of the Giffen ran JLE; I still prefer the Starro story (I find it runs at a better pace; towards the end of this one, I find it drags a little).

The other nice bit of work here is that the story itself (centering on this alternate villain ruled universe) stretched from the early issues of JLI through JLE and into Breakdowns. It was a nice, sustained sub-plot that ran through five years of books and eventually resolved itself in a very satisfying way.

I really miss these books; they were something different for a while in the late 80’s early 90’s, and I think that they get sold short as just being the JLA played for laughs when there was a lot of nice character work and drama throughout the runs.

Agreed – the Starro story is definitely better. That’s actually the reason why I ran that one first.

i liked that story for it showed that even the jl can wind up meeting their match and out of the legque with villains who take the term to the literal end. plus the moments with the silver sorceress are interesting. as for a trade. Dc proably has not gotten around to it yet. or figures not enough support by fans to okay the cost.

Wow. I didn’t follow this stuff religiously back then, so I never knew that these guys were supposed to be pseudo-Marvel characters. You almost blew my mind with that one.

Woo! My favorite Power Girl outfit!

Wow. I didn’t follow this stuff religiously back then, so I never knew that these guys were supposed to be pseudo-Marvel characters. You almost blew my mind with that one.

If only they were more obscure, I would have totally milked that one for a legend – but sadly, their “Marvel”ness was too big a part of their characters.

Wow. I didn’t follow this stuff religiously back then, so I never knew that these guys were supposed to be pseudo-Marvel characters. You almost blew my mind with that one.

Yeah, Silver Sorceress and Blue Jay had been introduced along with Jack B. Quick (Quicksilver) and Wandjina (Thor) in JLA #87 as the Champions of Angor, a thinly veiled Avengers from an alternate earth, wayyyy back in February 1971–the same month that the JLA clone Squadron Supreme was introduced in The Avengers #85, as a sort of in-joke quasi-crossover. (Which wasn’t all that uncommon: The same thing was done in The Freedom Fighters and The Invaders, and later with the New Teen Titans and DNAgents, with thinly-veiled versions of each other’s teams showing up in both comics.)

Of course the Squadron Supreme was also an alternate-earth version of the Squadron Sinister that had already been introduced in The Avengers back in late 1969, and caught on a lot more than Blue Jay & company ever did. Giffen and DeMatteis’s JLI #2 was the first time we’d seen the Champions of Angor since they’d been introduced 16 years before. DC’s made a teensy bit more use of them in recent years, giving them their own Earth-8 in Countdown and the Lord Havok and The Extremists, but they’re still relatively obscure compared to Marvel’s Squadron Supreme.

I’m one of the biggest fans of the JLI, and I agree that this is a great story. I do think it has kind of a disappointing ending, but it starts out very great.

It definitely reminds me of the Despero arc over in JLA. This book, though, did seem to have a good share of more serious and action oriented stories, despite the comedic dialogue. It seems to me that JLA had more just goofy stories than JLE.

One of my favourites is the story Brian mentions in the intro: the two-parter with Metamorpho trying to get his son, when he fights Guy Gardner and the Metal Men. The dialogue is by Messner-Loebs, and the art by Sears is fantastic. It’s great drama, comedy, and action. What more could you want.

Nice choice. I really wish DC would get around to releasing the Giffen-Sears issues of JLE, since my originals wiped out in a flooded storage unit.

DC editorial has a strange attachment to the idea of Len Wein and Dick Dillin’s two-year run on the title being the Greatest Ever. That run ranks no better than 5th in my mind behind Morrison-Porter, Fox-Sekwosky and however you divide up Keith Giffen’s work.

The Extremist Vector gave the Justice League probably its best team of antagonists ever. It was fun, scary and inventive in all the ways a good Justice League story should be. Like the Despero arc in JLA, the workplace humor of prior episodes made the JLE seem human and, therefore, vulnerable.

2nd the wow.
I didn’t get the Marvel-ness of those characters at all when I read the story as it came out.
Personally, I think it trumps the Starro one a bit, mostly because the threat of failure seems so palpable and imminent. The bad guys had already won on another Earth after all.

Awesome. I really hope they finish releasing the post-CoiE, pre-Morrison JLA/JLE stuff now that they are done releaseing JLI.

I’ve never been that comfortable with comics that shift from zany antics to horrific murder issue to issue. Some can pull it off, like Hitman. Most just make me squirm.

Great story and definitely the moment where the JLE stepped out from under the shadow of the JLA.

Totally loved this back in the day. I was a Marvelite back then and picked up JLE because of Sears and stayed with it. Great stuff.

I am still missing the last issue of this. Curses.

I am still missing the last issue of this. Curses.

Me too, Bill Reed. I was a big JLE fan back in the day. Though I always wondered why Wonder Woman departed so soon. I really think she would work well in that team.

This was a great storyline. I always thought it was a shame that Breakdowns came about just as JLE was hitting its stride. JLI/A was pretty played out at the point, but JLE still had some life in it.

The Crazed Spruce

March 26, 2010 at 2:16 pm

I found that from the start, JLE had a bit more of a dramatic edge than JLI did, so stories like this being dropped in weren’t as jarring to me. If anything, stories like the French lessons and the Crimson Fox’s introduction were the ones that broke out of the mold for the series.

And while I agree, the ending was just a bit too pat, it was still a great story. Probably the third-best storyline in the comic. (Behind the Starro and Queen Bee stories, of courrse.)

I think where JLE separated itself from JLA at the time (these posts have made me go back and re-read my books again) is in how the characters developed as well. A huge chunk of Wally’s early Flash character development occurs here (starting after the Teasdale Imperative when PG gets seriously hurt) and moving through character sub-plots like Captain Atom growing into a leadership role, Blue Jay and Silver Sorceress adjusting to life alone on a new world, and the Crimson Fox developing as a unique heroine. Even individual moments (like Buddy dealing with events from the time in Animal Man) were handled believably and well within the flow of the storylines.

On the flip side, JLA was pretty set in who was who and how the characters were established personas. It might not seem like a lot of a difference, but I think Giffen, Jones, and Loeb got a lot of mileage from it.

Forgot to mention Metamorpho and the sub-plot with Stagg…it seemed everyone short of Ralph or Dmitry had something running in the background…

I have the issue where the JLE and the Extremists first fought in Spanish; never did get the rest! It’s a shame, because it really does look like a fantastic story. It’s a shame the Extremists never made quite as big a splash afterwards; I dare say they had the potential of becoming A-list villains.

Do gather correctly then that this run has yet to be collected into a book? Sounds like a great read.

Do gather correctly then that this run has yet to be collected into a book?

You do.

Yay! The Yellow-and-White PowerGirl costume!!

Loved this series.

Still waiting for the Hardcover collections to go up on my shelf next to the first four volumes of JLI…

Come on, DC, it’s been a while now…

So Wandjina was Thor, I guess? He never made it past JLI #17. He did get Rumaan Harjavti, at least.

Easily my most read arc in comics – re-read it at least once a year and always get chills. And yes, it reads great.

Leave a Comment



Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives