Long Distance Defense Call

June 30, 2003

By Avi Green

JLA #78-79: Rules of Engagement

Writer:Joe Kelly
Penciler:Doug Mankhe
Inker:Tom Nguyen

Well, it looks like the JLA is starting to get more interesting again, even though I’m missing Plastic Man, currently not around, and even Martian Manhunter, who also took a leave of absence after the Obsidian Age story arc. But hey, they’ve certainly got some pretty interesting new cast members in the spotlight now.

The new cast members include John Stewart, the black member of the GL Corps who first appeared in 1971, and sometimes served as Hal Jordan's fill-in. Here, he’s replacing (?) the main Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, who’s currently on a mission in space in his own title to try and rebuild a new Corps. And then, there’s Manitou Raven, an Indian who can turn into the bird his last name is based on and can possibly detect dead spirits, and also Faith, a girl who’d once been a member of a South American crimelord’s gang who was recruited by Batman, who, as Wonder Woman, currently romantically involved with him, puts it, “has a way with women” (including her, as we’ve gotten to see so far, heh-heh). And then, most interestingly of all, there’s the former Green Lantern adversary Major Disaster, now reformed, who’s also another former crook now trying to do good in the team. Reading this, I must say, he certainly is a pretty appealing and fun character, and I’ll enjoy seeing how he fares in coming issues.

The JLA has intercepted a distress call from a faraway galaxy in space, from a planet called Kylaq, which is being threatened by an intergalactic warlord who calls himself the Peacemaker. He’s quite a follower of the Orwellian philosophy of viewing war as peace and slavery as freedom (and ignorance as strength), and he wants to take over the Kylaqians’ planet as one of his own conquests. He even goes so far as to insult Wonder Woman by asking a contemptuous question such as “are you a whore?” Which gets her pretty pissed off and to which she responds by telling him that, “for someone who claims to be on a peace mission, you have a talent for using words that are anything but.” Quite right, my lady fair.

What impressed me about this story was how it bears similarities to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (or even the war between Iraq and Iran back in the early 1980's), and even shows that the government of Kylaq themselves are no more innocent than the Peacemaker himself: The defense minister for Kylaq, Kanjar Ro, an old enemy of space adventurer Adam Strange, enjoys using cruel torture on captured enemy soldiers. (Major Disaster puts a stop to it by somehow causing a power failure in the building they’re in.)

There’s also an interesting speech by Faith about how “we may live in a PC (politically correct) fat world in which we’re not supposed to judge other cultures…but there is absolute good and absolute evil. You can make a choice with a clear conscience.” Major Disaster for one is very flattered by her points, and so was I as the reader.

Eventually, Faith is the one who repels the invading Peacemaker’s forces, although her powers are so great that it leaves her stunned for awhile. But whatever, justive is done, and the Peacemaker’s army is repelled from Kylaq.

As for Kanjar Ro, the crooked defense minister for Kylaq, the JLA members take steps to see to it that the planet’s residents will no longer follow him for one, or even the chairman of the planet, until they start to change their own corrupt ways to a more positive approach.

There’s also the subplot in these issues over the forming love affair between Wonder Woman and Batman that I’m also interested in seeing how it develops. From what I’ve seen on the net, not everyone is impressed by it, but I find it to be a pretty good development, following any of those between WW and Superman, which can’t be tried out now that he’s already married to good ol’ Lois Lane.

We’ll see how that develops in time too if it does.

Copyright 2003 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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