And the jokes just keep on coming.
Fresh off of the latest Young Justice trade, I was greeted with yet another comedy-centric comic, this time in the form of a reboot-of-sorts of the classic Justice League International. Writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis return to tell the story of the Super Buddies, a JLA-esque group of superheroes led by Max Lord and featuring new and old heroes alike.
(My only complaint is that this is the second mini-series in this storyline. The first, Formerly Known as the Justice League, is not on “the shelf”. I may have to do some digging and find it on my own, because I really really love these stories.)
The Super Buddies (it’s okay to laugh at the name. It’s own members do) have united to form a sort of Justice-League Lite, a superhero team to take care of bad guys when the real JLA are too busy saving some other universe.
The team is composed of Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Flame, The Elastic Man, and Mary Marvel. Joined by non-members Power Girl, Guy Gardner, and L-Ron, our heroes end up spending most of their time trying to get out of whatever shenanigans they’ve found themselves.
These guys are supposed to save the world? They can’t even help themselves. And you know what? I absolutely love it.
The comedy is literally non-stop, with a joke in just about every panel. Giffen and DeMatteis have a certain affinity for creating exasperating yet likable heroes, and their skill shines in this comic. There are plenty of running gags and quips to entertain, and every character is endearing in their own odd way.
Well okay, almost everyone.
Guy Gardner is still as repulsive as ever, but it works in this story, with every other hero knowing what he’s like and having no problem telling him off. Even sweet, innocent Mary Marvel loses her temper with him, resulting in a handful of thoroughly entertaining scenes.
Speaking of Mary Marvel, can I just say that I kind of absolutely adore her? She’s appeared in so few comics I’ve read, but here she’s finally given a unique personality, and it’s honestly a breath of fresh air. In a world where superhero women are essentially forced to be super tough and threatening to be taken seriously, Mary remains sweet and innocent, yet still able to kick major butt. She’s stronger than many on her team, yet doesn’t have the chip on her shoulder that so many other female heroes do.
In many ways, she’s almost like the good-girl version of Harley Quinn. Strong and powerful, yet sweet and cute. She’s just lacking the delusions and psychoses that plague Harley.
Quite frankly, I relate to her more than I do to most of the women in these comics, and I’m fairly certain that if I was a superhero, I’d be something like Mary Marvel. We’d certainly share the same weaknesses, as Blue Beetle is apt to point out:
Can be neutralized by a kitten. Me. A thousand times me.
I can’t praise this comic enough. While so many other comics of the time feature dark and edgier storylines, it’s nice to read something a little more light-hearted. Plus, it’s just plain funny. The writing is quick and sharp and never once feels forced. I wish this had been more than a brief mini-series, because I would go out and buy up every single issue in a heartbeat.
As it stands, the mini-series is a mere six issues long, and most of that time is spent with out heroes trying to escape from hell, where Booster Gold has unwittingly damned them (he’s a genius, that one.) Despite the fact that their greatest enemy seems to be common sense, the story never feels slow or lacking in excitement. Instead, the humor and witty exchanges help create a fast-paced story that still somehow manages to have heart.
With all the darker, less optimistic storylines that have been cropping up on “the shelf” in recent trades, lighter stories such as this one are a breath of fresh air, and help cleanse the pallet for the future stories to come. They may not be considered as seminal storylines in the overall DC continuity, but they still serve a key purpose, if nothing more than pure, fun entertainment.
That’s good enough for me.