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Justice League: Gods and Monsters [Blu-ray]
In an alternative history Zod is Superman's father, Batman is a vampiric Man-Bat, and Wonder Woman is the child of Ares, God of War. When these dark heroes form an alliance, the question everyone asks is will they save the world, or rule it?
Also available on DVD.
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Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (email@example.com).
Penciller: Jim Mooney
Inker: Jim Mooney
Cover: Jim Mooney
One day, Batman and Robin sped to Metropolis to alert Superman that the Joker had been spotted there. It was a wise move, because the Joker was just about to begin the wildest coup of his career. That very day, on the fairgrounds of Wilson Park, an exhibit of exotic clocks began with Hilton Webb serving as the Master of Ceremonies. The feature of the show was an amazing floating clock, kept aloft by small jets that Webb controlled. As the amazing clock began to chime noon, the fairgrounds are not filled with a ringing, but rather a hysterical laughter. To everyone's amazement, the clock's face opened to reveal the Joker and Luthor sitting within the mechanism.
From out of nowhere, Superman streaked to the scene. Suddenly Luthor aimed out a strange gun and pulled the trigger. "I made this for you, Superman. An atomic disperser with a Kryptonite base." Cackling wildly, the Joker looked on as Superman was transformed into an electronic stream utterly incapable of action. "It worked!" yelled the Joker. "I'm so glad that I chose you for a partner."
Since Superman was unable to stop the pair, Batman and Robin swung into action. However, as the moved toward the clock, the Joker shot the clock's mainspring at the duo. Rising away from the fairgrounds to safety, the Joker yelled to Batman, "Farewell friends. Maybe we'll meet again in the spring!" What was a typical comment for the Joker, was enough to begin an argument with Luthor. "Joker! Sometimes you talk too much," spit Luthor. "And you talk too little," the Joker bit back. "Matching wits with a worthy opponent makes crime a pleasure and not just a money-grabbing chore!"
Back at the exhibit grounds, Batman and Robin kept watch as Superman slowly returned to normal. "That weapon of Luthor's is extremely dangerous," said Superman. We must find him and destroy it."
The next day, Clark Kent and Lois Lane were assigned to cover an elaborate flower show, part of the continuing exhibit at the fairgrounds of Wilson Park and saw that Batman and Robin had already arrived to watch over the proceedings. The Dynamic Duo wondered how Kent might slip away if needed with Lois tagging along. Fortunately, Hilton Webb arrived and offered to give Lois a personally escorted tour of the exhibit. And lucky that was, because just as they left a giant model of a tulip, intended for a special part of the flower show, begins to descend and appeared to become planted in a giant flowerpot. A cute show until the Joker leapt from the petals of the giant blossom. As quickly, Luthor appeared in a giant model of a flying Bee. Quickly, Kent changed to Superman and flew up to face Luthor, but before he could close enough to do anything, Luthor pulled out the disperser ray. "Here's your daily dose of my Kryptonite x-beam, Superman," laughed Luthor. And, as before, Superman became a helpless stream of electrons forcing Batman and Robin to leap to action.
Using their batarangs, Batman and Robin climbed up toward Luthor's bee, but seeing his partner about to be captured the Joker ran to a coiled high-pressure fire hose. "A may flower brings an April shower," squealed the Joker turning on the water. The force of the water knocked Batman and Robin from the robot bee. Then, turning quickly, the Joker grabbed a number of rare flower bulbs there on display and gleefully made his escape.
Lois had been watching the action. Up in the air, she saw Superman still in his electrified state, and then noticed that Kent was also absent. Looking around for her fellow reporter, she finally came across him interviewing Hilton Webb. Turning around, she mumbled to herself, "I guess my suspicions were kind of silly." Slowly, Superman returned to normal and materialized. Standing beside Clark Kent, Superman was thankful that Batman had the foresight to disguise himself as Kent to protect his identity.
The next evening, a record crowd turned out for the finale of the exhibit, an amazing gem show, featuring a fortune in rare and beautiful gems. This night, Hilton Webb oversaw the transfer of the gems in the center of the arena, in a huge dome made of shatterproof glass appears. As the guards handed Webb the bags filled with the valuable stones, Superman's senses were on heightened alert and he heard a whirring sound, the sound made by a movie camera and realized that he has heard it before. "That's what I heard in the giant clock Luthor and Joker used the first time we met here," said Superman. "I think I understand now."
Suddenly, the Joker and his men appeared over the fairgrounds in purple helicopter. Swooping down, they tried to smash the glass bubble with no luck. Batman and Robin ran to combat the Joker's men, while inside Hilton Webb frantically gathered up the precious gems. Banging on the glass, Webb pleaded with the guard to let him out, but was told that there is no way out. "Relax, Mr. Webb," said the guard. "They can't break through that glass dome and you can't get out."
"That's what he thinks," laughed Webb. Strapping portable jets to his legs, Webb suddenly soared out of the dome carrying five million dollars in gems. "Just a minute, Luthor," yelled Superman streaking after Webb and pulling a mask from his face. Luthor could do nothing but frantically try to evade the Man-of-Steel, but regardless of his efforts he was apprehended within moments.
Seeing that Superman had Luthor in hand, Batman and Robin turned their attention toward the Joker's helicopter. "The Joker has Luthor's weapon," yelled Batman. Seeing the Joker aim the weapon at his partner, Robin leaped into the cabin to grab the gun. As Robin grabbed the Joker's arm, Batman landed a terrific left to his chin, and the battle was over.
After the Joker and Luthor had been turned over to the police, and the real Hilton Webb released, Batman took Superman aside and asked him how he saw through Luthor's ruse. "I realized that the whirring in the giant clock was caused by a movie camera. I knew that the whole first crime was a blind for taking pictures of Webb. They used those pictures to study Webb's movements and voice. Then, I used my x-ray vision to see through Luthor's mask and was ready to strike when he grabbed the gems."
Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson relax in the study. Bruce picks up the Gotham Gazette and begins to read the story of the Joker's capture. Looking over, Dick sees the headline and laughs. "I hope we've seen the last of the Luthor Joker team."
Story - 3: This was the second time that DC teamed the Joker and Luthor against Superman and Batman. The first time was World's Finest #88. While a fun story, it is a rather typical Superman-Batman story from the early 1960's, having a number of interesting plot elements, including models of giant clocks and plants and the flying clock and Bee. But in the end, the heroes defeat these "super-villains" just a bit too easily and their defeat becomes a foregone conclusion. Certainly, this story is nowhere near the tale that the first Joker-Luthor story was.
Art - 4: In the 1940's, DC began hiring a group of artists that would produce exceptional work for them for over thirty years, and even today. Among them were such greats as Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, Alex Toth, Russ Heath, Carmine Infantino, Wayne Boring, Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, Ross Andru , Mike Esposito, Ruben Moriera, Sheldon Moldoff, Kurt Schaffenberger, Mike Sekowsky, Mort Meskin, Ramona Fradon, Lee Elias, and George Papp among a score of other famous illustrators. Also among this group was Jim Mooney, who drew this story. Mooney began working for DC in the mid-1940's, and is credited with both cover and interior work in Batman and Detective Comics as early as 1944 (even though the art was signed by Bob Kane). Mooney also produced a great deal of art for the Robin backup stories that appeared in Star Spangled Comics during the late 1940's. In the 1950's, Mooney's efforts were turned toward DC's fledgling science fiction line. He produced some quality work for early issues of Strange Adventures (illustrating a Manley Wade Wellman story) and Mystery in Space, then taking over the Tommy Tomorrow strip from Curt Swan in Action Comics #172. But Jim Mooney is probably remembered best for his wonderful work on Supergirl. Starting with the second Supergirl story in Action Comics #253 (June 1959), Mooney would work on this feature for the next nine years. Readers who followed this strip in the back of Action were always in for a treat. Mooney's Supergirl was sweet and young, his faces were wide-eyed, yet expressive, and when Supergirl flew it became a ballet with sweeping graceful motion. Those that followed the Legion of Super-heroes might remember that it was Jim Mooney who introduced such heroes as Sun Boy, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy among many others when they appeared in the Supergirl strip. Because of his ability to draw both Superman and Batman, Mooney was then asked to do the World's Finest stories drawing issues 125-130, and 131-140. In the late 1960's, Mooney left DC and went to work for Marvel, taking on the inking chores on Spiderman and to work on several other projects.
This particular story is a very good example of Mooney's work on the book. His art is solid, and easily recognizable. Also in this issue is a nice Aquaman story by Ramona Fradon and a Green Arrow job by Lee Elias. Not a bad issue at all!
Cover Art - 4: The cover for this issue was pencilled and inked by Mooney, and contains all of the quirky elements that we will find inside. The cover is "multi-layered" having the villains furthest back in their flying clock, the "electron-stream" Superman in the mid-ground, and Batman and Robin in the foreground dodging the spring the Joker has shot from the clock. Overall, an effect that works well for this issue.
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