Wednesday, May 23, 2012


…Or Give Me Death
Credits: Len Strazewski (writer), Mike Parobeck (penciler), Mike Machlan (inker), Bob Pinaha (letterer), Glenn Whitmore (colorist)

Summary: Jesse Quick stumbles across suspicious activity in Bahdnesia, and soon runs into Dr. Midnight in an underground jail. They discover that Pol St. Germain is keeping undesirables from around the world in the underground cages. They set the prisoners free and give them medical attention. Meanwhile, Wildcat is abducted by Bahdnesian security, and then brainwashed by St. Germain into turning against the JSA. When the JSA unite to confront St. Germain, Wildcat breaks free of his conditioning. However, St. Germain unleashes the island’s volcano, forcing everyone to evacuate.

Irrelevant Continuity: Johnny Thunder learns that the Bahdnesians abandoned their island long before Pol St. Germain arrived -- because he accidentally stole the island’s magic when he bonded with Thunderbolt. Kiku, the last known Bahdnesian, is given the Bahdnesians’ sacred history book at the end of the story.

We Get Letters: The series’ cancellation is announced in the letter column, following a fan’s letter expressing his concern after reading about it on a computer bulletin board.

Review: Sadly, this is a terrible conclusion to the Bahdnesian arc. As always, Mike Parobeck delivers great superhero cartooning, and I like Len Strazewski’s development of Johnny Thunder, but the overall storyline doesn’t work at all. The previous issue introduced the mystery of St. Germain and the “economic utopia” he’s created on Bahdnesia, and while this issue resolves the mystery, I can’t say the resolution makes a lot of sense. St. Germain’s plan is to present Bahdnesia as an island paradise, sell his economic planning skills to other countries, and then blow up the island if anyone gets too close to the truth. Okay, but…

I get that St. Germain is brainwashing people, but the story isn’t clear on who exactly is getting the treatment. Just his security guards, or the entire populace? He brags that everyone has a job in Bahdnesia, so is he brainwashing everyone into working the jobs he assigns them in this “progressive planned economy”? I guess the idea is that the citizens are working for free, which enriches St. Germain and allows him to reinvest in the island, but nothing in the story confirms this theory. The story’s also vague on where these citizens came from following the departure of the native Bahdnesians. He’s brought in people from various countries, yes, but somehow this ties in with the sick and poor undesirables he’s keeping as prisoners underground. How did he end up with these people? Why did he take them in? They're clearly too weak to be working as his slaves, and if he’s supposed to be keeping them as human experiments, we’re never told this during the story. What kind of a master plan is this?

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