The Things I Do For Comics – Extreme Justice #0
Howdy, gang, welcome once again to “The Things I Do For Comics”! If this is your first time looking at this column, allow me to explain: It’s more or less a comics S&M session that I engage in on a weekly basis. But instead of wearing a dog collar and smelling a glove, I read intentionally awful books from all throughout the history of comics (although the highest concentration of awful books were published in the 1990s). This week we’re going to have a look at the positively dreadful…
EXTREME JUSTICE #0
Ohhhh shit! That looks pretty damn terrible, huh? Although, it does have Booster Gold and Blue Beetle on the cover, and they’re basically my all-time favorite thing about the Justice League, so who knows? In Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis’ nearly perfect post-Legends run on Justice League, they were a superhero odd couple. Ted Kord (Blue Beetle) was a shy genius, and Michael Jon Carter (Booster Gold) was a cocky dope, but that didn’t stop them from being the best of friends and one of comicdom’s most famous bromances.
Joining them on this cover, front and center, is Captain Atom. Captain Atom was the inspiration for Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan, but the original doesn’t bring to the table anything near what the pastiche does. Captain Atom has, in my experiences with the character (which consist primarily of the aforementioned Justice League series) been a two-dimensional errand boy for the United States government.
Then we have Amazing Man, up in the top left corner. From what little I know about this guy, I think he’s sort of like Marvel’s Absorbing Man; He can touch any material and gain its characteristics. Reading this comic has, as I’ll mention later, led me to doubt this.
And lastly, we’ve got Maxima. Maxima was an alien that really, really wanted Superman to put a baby in her.. When she’s not trying to get into Kal El’s tights, she apparently works along side this other guys in their fight for only the most extreme justice. Extreme to the goddamn max. Imagine that boring ol’ tasteful Justice League is some kind of stupid shit like water. This comic would be Mountain Dew Code Red. This comic is a handful of Ranched Dip Hot Wings Doritos® eaten mid-freefall on a bungee line. Does that help you millennials out there understand the kind of extremity with which we dealt in the 1990s?
All right, let’s get this shitshow on the road. This book opens with a mad colonel seizing control of a missile silo and threatening to launch missiles at Russia. And it’s not like he has a list of demands, or anything… this guy is going to nuke Russia because he thinks the Cold War isn’t truly over. So, there’s no reasoning with this man. And to make matters worse, Colonel West has a bunch of spindly-legged ED-209 clones guarding the base. I’d say the world is pretty much boned, wouldn’t you? Although… this does happen in the comic book world about as often as a 7 Eleven gets robbed in ours, the original X-Men tackled the same kind of problem on their first mission. Except even in the silver age of Marvel, when each month brought a new “novel-length” adventure, the story moved a little more slowly than it does here. After one page of exposition, we get a double splash of our heroes arriving on the scene.
I mean, get a load of that clusterfuck. Maxima can fly because she’s got that whole “Strange Visitor From Another Planet” thing going on. Booster Gold appears to be sporting some jetpants. Captain Atom can fly because he’s halfway on fire, maybe? But Blue Beetle and Amazing Man have the most awkward little rocket shoes. They seem to be very difficult to operate, on top of that, because both users are contorted into these ungodly positions that barely fit onto the page. I’m sure it’s embarrassing to be carried around by your friends, but when the alternative is dancing around in the sky like Ed Grimley , you can be damn sure I’d ride bitch on Booster Gold.
Once they’ve arrived, the team makes short work of the heavily armed robot drones defending the base and Blue Beetle acts totally out of the character as a cocky blowhard. Captain Atom shoots fired all around, Booster Gold lasers the flaming rubble, Maxima also seems to shoot fire? And Amazing Man punches things and never displays any extraordinary traits beyond having very, very few lines. Despite all of their inflaming and lasing, the evil Colonel manages to launch the nuclear warhead, but Captain Atom races it into the upper atmosphere and detonates it. He’s up there for a bit, and he’s on fire, so we can assume there’s oxygen. But he decided it was a fine place for a nuclear explosion. To give you an idea on how bad an idea this is, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed in the mid-60s that it shouldn’t be done. And those guys never agreed on anything! I’m telling you, 20 years and change before the United States decided that airplanes weren’t a great place for cigarettes they’d already decided that the outer atmosphere was not a great place for thermonuclear weapons. Captain Atom really ought to know better,
When Captain Atom is unsurprisingly revealed to have survived the explosion (killing the team leader in the premiere issue is the kind of thing that only a clever comic would do), the US Military is there to thank him for helping out. However, he’s very quick to remind them that he’s not on their “team” anymore, his only team is this ragtag group of superheroes who, as we learn when Blue Beetle refers to them as the “Justice League”, haven’t exactly settles on a name yet. They debate this in the air as they leave the base and… are in a dream sequence? A flashback? I’m not sure what’s up with the color in this scene…
But I do know that they don’t seem to have been hanging out very long. They all presumably came from the same place, they were rocket-shoeing in from the same direction at the same speed, but they’re only now realizing they should have some kind of base of operations? Maybe it’s supposed to be mysterious, but I have no idea what the hell their team is up to. They’re just flying around responding to government SOS calls so they can talk shit to colonels? Well, enjoy it while it lasts, EXTREME JUSTICE because as I learned on the next page, someone’s watching them from the shadows. Someone who is very fond of the color green and may or may not have a ponytail and cybernetic eye.
Anywho, EXTREME JUSTICE arrives at the surprise base Captain Atom had been thinking of; Mount Thunder, Nevada. Formerly a government base designed for continued operation in a post-nuclear situation, Mount Thunder offers the team a place to lie low and plan… whatever the fuck it is they intend to get up to. Booster gets curious and asks ONE TIME, and relatively politely at that, if the base is within rocket-shoe distance of Las Vegas and Blue Beetle goes positively ape-shit on him.
Anyway, the abandoned base just so happens to be swarming with giant robots. The characters seem to imply that these giant robots are the same type that they fought earlier in the issue, but I can’t tell if that’s true or not because there’s no real consistency to the art in this book. They definitely have the same number of legs as the ones at the missile silo. In this scene, Amazing Man gets blasted in the back with an energy beam and seems to kind of have powers for a minute. He starts crackling up with excess energy and uses his outstretched arms to fire a blast of energy back at his attacker. In the 90s, if you couldn’t think of an interesting or original power for a character, there was always “fires and absorbs energy”. Maxima, the sex-crazed amazon alien, is the voice of reason on this teams and decides amid the smashing to try and find out why these robots were waiting at the base, but Captain Atom doesn’t have time for that bullshit.
He actually interrupts her attempts to find out why the hell this attack happened. It’s like he’s insecure about his team’s lack of agenda. Maxima is very likely going to find a reason for these collection of jackasses to hang out together, and Captain Atom tosses it aside so they can shoot some more boring 90s energy blasts. Even if Captain Atom refuses to accept it, the reader is next taken to the White House where a General Synge (presumably a good guy, right?) is revealed to be working for a clandestine operation that’s been tracking EXTREME JUSTICE and who seem to have some stake in Mount Thunder. This conspiracy goes deep… these people have secret landlines hidden in the President’s kitchen.]
Interlude: Ronnie Raymond, aka Firestorm is diagnosed with advanced Leukemia. Since radiation therapy probably won’t have much effect on the Nuclear Man, and he doesn’t know how to cook meth to create a nest egg, the doctor suggests he get his affairs in order and take a vacation, maybe even visit old friends. Then back at Mount Thunder, which has to be some supermarket chain’s off-bran version of Mountain Dew, we’re supposed to care that some people called “The Peacekeepers” have arrived. That’s the end of the issue, thank fucking god, and I sure as hell never plan to find out what the Peacekeepers get up to.
The whole Issue 0 thing is a terrible marketing gimmick, but in this case it’s also a happy coincidence. “0” also happens to be the number of fucks I give about ever seeing another issue of this series. This book not only brings nothing innovative or interesting to the table, it also tarnishes the reputations of some of DC’s finer characters. When it comes to DC mistreating members of the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League, this era of comics is a close second to the early-to-mid-2000s, when those characters were being systematically targeted by DC Editorial.
At least Extreme Justice isn’t fondly remembered, I guess? Hit me up with any suggestions, as usual. And I’ve got a doozy on the horizon.
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