It’s back! Newsarama’s spin around the retro-dial, Friday Flashback, has returned. Looking around the current DCU, and watching the heroes in dire straits as they battle the undead, it reminded us a bit of a classic crossover from the (original) days of two Justice Leagues. We’re talking about “The Teasdale Imperative”, and it’s your Friday Flashback.
What: “The Teasdale Imperative”, a four-part crossover that ran between Justice League America #31, Justice League Europe #7, Justice League America #32, and Justice League Europe #8 in books cover-dated October and November 1989.
Who: Your creators were writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis (both series). Pencils on JLA were from Adam Hughes (inks by Joe Rubinstein and Art Nichols); JLE pencils were from Bart Sears (inks by Pablo Marcos and Bob Smith).
When: Like we said, 1989. This was just a few months after the Invasion! event laid the groundwork for the Justice League Europe spin-off book. The DCU and its fans were still enjoying the epic run of the Burton/Keaton/Nicholson Batman. Roseanne would supplant The Cosby Show as the top-rated series on broadcast television. The Top Ten Songs of the year were mostly recorded by future reality show stars (it’s true; Bret Michaels, Bobby Brown, and Paula Abdul accounted for four of the year’s top six). I was in my junior year of high school, and David Pepose was three. Heh.
The Story: It’s a regular day for the JLA. Mr. Miracle and Blue Beetle are working on the team’s ship while Booster Gold bitches about how dumb they make him look in the Justice League comic book. Fire and Ice are checking out the new outfits Fire made for them. Maxwell Lord is trying to get Huntress and the female Dr. Fate to stick around. Guy Gardner infuriates Batman by playing video games on Monitor Duty. And J’onn’s hanging out in Gumby form. Damn . . . I get misty from the recap. Of course, the day takes a turn when the JLE Embassy calls for help.
The JLE is on the ground in the Balkans, and things are getting ugly. Towns are being overrun, and the culprits turn out to be . . . vampires? Despite a vulnerability to sunlight, the infected people come off like the, well, “infected” from 28 Days Later. In fact, at varying points, our heroes refer to them as “vampires”, “zombies”, and “zombie-vampires” (that last from Mr. Miracle).
As the two Leagues get into the fray, the realize that there’s more to the proceedings that simple monster attacks. Before it’s all over, you’ll see The Spectre, the Lords of Order and Chaos, early JLI foe the Grey Man, Simon Stagg, and one completely insane scientist by the name of, yes, Teasdale.
Why It’s Worth Remembering: This story works on any number of levels. Its four parts are, really, fairly compact. Most of the first part could be any issue of the JLA at the time. One the teams get together and the action picks up, everything moves at a very quick pace. There’s a nice balance between the humor that was a touchstone of both books and the violence and potentially harsh consequences surrounding the characters. It seems like every hero present gets a nice moment, whether it’s Mr. Miracle bemoaning the fact that Earth’s weapons of mass destruction are making it more like Apokalips or the completely houndish nature of a pre-Linda Wally West. Giffen and DeMatteis were on fire here; they knew these characters inside out and could make them work in any situation.
On the art side, this was the first issue for Adam Hughes, at this point only a couple of years into his career, and he does a phenomenal job. The pin-up flair that he’s known for his there, but he demonstrated equal ability with the action and comedy. For his part, Bart Sears had only been a pro about three years at this point, and his run on JLE was very well-received. As a result, all four parts are sharp and energetic, with each artist and the balance of their teams deftly handling a large group of heroes battling a veritable army of menaces.
Honestly, this is great super-hero stuff, and a solid reminder of why so many people loved (and still love) this era of the League. It’s easy for people to write-off or dismiss the JLI era as all comedy, but it clearly wasn’t. It’s fondly remembered for that aspect, but I venture to say that the book at this point is so fondly recalled because it was just, well, alive. These were characters that you enjoyed spending time with, and you could never accurately guess what was going to happen the next time you picked up an issue.
So that’s my flashback. What about the JLA/JLE do you most remember?