Thursday, May 17, 2012


Only Human
Credits: Len Strazewski (writer), Mike Parobeck (penciler), Mike Machlan, Matt Banning, & Jeff Albrecht (inkers), Bob Pinaha (letterer), Glenn Whitmore (colorist)

Summary: With the aid of Jesse Quick and the modern-day Flash, the JSA defeat Ultra-Humanite. When the team receives word of Johnny Thunder’s injuries, they travel to the hospital to visit him. Johnny reveals that he’s discovered that his investments have made him rich during his years away, but remains unhappy. He then explains that he traveled with his genie Thunderbolt to Bahdnesia, the place where they first met, only to discover that all of the native Bahdnesians were gone. Meanwhile, the Ultragen goons who invaded Dr. Midnight’s office are killed by a green goo.

Irrelevant Continuity: Hourman visits his son in the hospital, who’s apparently contracted cancer after consuming Hourman’s addictive superhero pill Miraclo. He then attends an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

Total N00B: When Johnny Thunder goes on his misery tour of the modern US, he visits Dinah Lance’s grave. I’m familiar enough with DC continuity to know that she’s Black Canary, and an original JSA member, but when was she dead? And why was the ‘80s and ‘90s Black Canary also named Dinah Lance?

Review: The Ultra-Humanite arc finally concludes, although Strazewski doesn’t allow the JSA to arrest him, since the heroes can’t bring concrete charges against him yet. I’m personally ready to move on, although I’m sure hardcore JSA fans were thrilled to his “classic” simian form return as Ultra-Humanite’s trump card in the fight. And the fight is fun, with the modern Flash learning lessons from the original, Jesse Quick meeting her idols for the first time since infanthood, all executed with pages of spotless Parobeck action. I just don’t view Ultra-Humanite, at least as he’s presented here, as a villain strong enough to support a five-issue arc.

Moving on from Ultra-Humanite, a few subplots staring Hourman and Johnny Thunder are developed. Hourman’s dealing with the horrors of addiction, which I’m sure somebody thought was clever at some point in the ‘80s, but it hasn’t aged too well. Johnny Thunder recovers from his wounds while his genie behaves erratically, which is setting up the next issue’s storyline. Johnny’s sense of meaninglessness after decades away is skillfully portrayed; it’s inevitable that the Rip van Winkle angle will have to be explored in this book, but the obviousness of the concept doesn’t undermine the execution. I don’t know if the disappearance of the Bahdnesians (who?) is that great a setup for the next issue, but I am curious to see how Thunderbolt’s story plays out.


Anonymous said...

Black Canary I died in a story in Secret Origins 50, which retold her origin. She was named Dinah Drake Lance; her daughter was Dinah Laurel Lance.

Mela said...

I can explain the Black Canary thing. They were mother-daughter namesakes. The mother was in the JSA; her maiden name was Dinah Drake, and she used her married name of Lance. When she had the current/second/whatever Black Canary, she was named Dinah Laurel Lance. It's a bit confusing, since traditionally women can't just use "junior" to indicate a namesake, fictional or otherwise.

Chris K said...

The Black Canary mother-daughter thing was retconned in in the most convoluted story ever. Yes, Roy Thomas wrote it.

Adam Farrar said...

I don't know if it was touched on before now, but there were many more comics to be written about the Hourmen (Rex and son Rick) and addiction.

G. Kendall said...

Thanks for the responses, everyone. I should point out that someone's posted as "Anonymous" on the last two entries, explaining some details of DC continuity. Unfortunately, those posts seem to have spontaneously disappeared. I just want Anonymous to know that I'm not deleting the posts, I swear. I'm assuming something's up with Blogger.

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