Down for the Count
Justice League America #69
Writer and Penciler: Dan Jurgens; Inker: Rick Burchett; Colorist: Gene D’Angelo; Letterer: Willie Schubert
This issue is not technically part of the Triangle Number series, but it’s such an integral portion of the story that it’s irresponsible to skip it when talking about this story. This issue was the introduction of the Justice League to the story, and as such, my introduction to them as a reader. At this point in time, the Justice League wasn’t the heavy hitters that they are normally represented as today, but several lesser powered heroes just trying their best. The line-up during this event was Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, Guy Gardner, Maxima, a mysterious man named Bloodwynd, and of course, Superman, but during the action of this issue he was not with the team.
Instead, he’s filming an appearance on the Cat Grant show, which is being broadcast to schools across the country. Which brings me back to that unclear time of day complaint. When we last saw Doomsday it was night as he destroyed the semi-truck, and when the Justice League arrived to put out the ensuing fire and rescue people, it’s suddenly the middle of the school day. That quibble aside, Jurgens uses a panel at the top of every page from the TV interview to set the tone for the rest of the page. Jurgens knew that this would likely be many people’s first issue of Justice League America and does a fantastic job using this trick to really define their characters in 22 pages, despite it being mostly an action thrill-ride.
The airborne view of Doomsday’s path of wreckage is an incredible sight, just a straight linear gap in the forest littered with felled trees. Maxima’s mind-probe of Doomsday is the first glimpse into his motivation or lack thereof that is given, in that he’s just mindless destructive blood lust. And indeed, the next time Doomsday is seen, he’s having another moment with curious wildlife, as a deer cautiously approaches him before he breaks its neck and laughs again.
When the Justice League catches up to Doomsday, he plows through them like they were butter. Their strongest member present, Guy Gardner gets caught off guard and his face gets turned into hamburger. As Superman is asked about violence, and whether he wishes there was another option than that, Doomsday treats Blue Beetle like a ragdoll. And I have to say that during every sequence in this issue with Doomsday, letterer Willie Schubert is delivering some stellar sound effects.
Doomsday has run roughshod over the whole League by the time Superman gets there, catching a Booster that’s been punched halfway across Ohio. This is where the monster gets its name, as Booster tells Superman that it’s like Doomsday has arrived.
This issue wasn’t strictly required reading, but it is an important part of the saga in demonstrating how thoroughly brutal and devastating Doomsday is. He is the unstoppable force, and anything that gets in his way meets its utter destruction, including some of Earth’s greatest heroes. Now this Justice League may not have had the most powerful line-up, but they were still a Justice League, and they were danced on like the floor of a middle school gymnasium.