Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Justice League America #48, which was published by DC and is cover dated March 1991. Enjoy!
Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis, the classic team who wrote JLA for years, went a bit off the rails with this story arc, which introduced General Glory and went a bit too far into the ridiculous camp. They had done that a couple of times before, but they were usually short arcs, and “Glory Bound” is five loooooong issues, and it just doesn’t work. But what about the first page, which is drawn by Linda Medley, inked by John Beatty, lettered by Bob Lappan, and colored by Gene D’Angelo.
DeMatteis gives us a nice opening, with the portentous caption boxes that we see all over superhero comics, that leads into the character thinking that his feet hurt. It’s a nice way to subvert our expectations, even though a long-time reader would be expecting it. But if you happened to pick this up cold, you might be pleasantly surprised by the way DeMatteis takes the deadly serious opening lines and immediately twisting them. We get a bit of information – the guy is grumpy, it’s been a long time since he’s been in this area, and maybe he’s come the wrong way. It’s not bad.
I’m not the biggest fan of Medley’s artwork, but she does a decent job with this, although I’m not sure if it works as a splash page. She frames the guy nicely, with the trees arching over him rather naturally, and D’Angelo does a good job with the darker earth tones contrasting with the brighter earth tones of the dude’s outfit. The snake is a nice touch, too. The guy (Schmidt) is fat but still small in comparison to the surroundings, which helps diminish him a bit. His feet are gigantic, and I don’t think it’s explained by the fact that his foot is closer to us than the rest of him – I just think it’s a poorly drawn foot. Medley’s sense of perspective is nice, even though I don’t love her actual skills.
This is not a great example of the silliness of this story arc, although this issue gets goofier as it goes along (it features a giant robot Hitler, for example). It does show how well DeMatteis can flip our perceptions quickly, which is keen. I think this is a pretty good way to get people interested in the rest of the comic, even though the arc doesn’t quite live up to the greatness of the issues before this arc.
Next: It might have made a crappy movie, but the comic is pretty awesome! Perhaps you might waste some time in the archives?
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