Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Even with this large amount of comic books that have been collected in trade paperbacks, there are still a number of great comic books that have never been reprinted (I’d say roughly 60% of them are DC Comics from the 1980s through the mid-1990s). So every day this month I will spotlight a different cool comic book that is only available as a back issue. Here is an archive of the comic books featured so far.
I want you folks to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions for comics that I should feature this month. I’d like to see what you all would like to see get more attention.
Two different readers asked for a variety of Justice League Europe uncollected stories, so let’s begin with The Extremist Vector from Justice League Europe #15-19 by Keith Giffen, Gerard Jones and Bart Sears.
This Justice League Europe epic battle with The Extremists was seen as a sort of dramatic shift in the tone of the books. That’s not ENTIRELY accurate, though, as 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)…
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, say, the Despero story in Justice League America (which is another uncollected classic!).
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.
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