As a youngster, I grew up as mainly a fan of DC Comics. I dabbled in Marvel as all kids loved the X-men but I preferred my Batman and his rogue’s gallery, Superman, even Aquaman as my parents had rented his cartoons for me at the local video store.
At that time, Sam’s Club used to offer a monthly pack of about 24 comics, which my parents would treat me to as often as they could. In this time, I grew to love the Justice League of America. In many eras, people had the Justice League with all the A-list heroes but I preferred my Justice League in the form of a team that would later be referred to I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League.
Every store that had comic books, I would search. I seem to remember a haul at a Toy Liquidators (remember those?) and pulled out an old Batman with a Two-Face cover, a Teen Titans book, some others, but mainly this book:
Justice League of America. Issue 34 of this run. Dated January of 1990.
I found the book in a discount bin in a discount toy store as it had been about five years old at that time but Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Hawaiian shirts, clueless thugs? What could go wrong?
As I open the front cover, I see an ad for a retro Nintendo product I honestly don’t remember: The Nintendo Double-Player. Head-to-head and wireless! These kids seem to be playing some WWF game in the background before the WWF was all about pandas. Bonus points.
Page one of the actual comic opens with a sullen Major Disaster. A villain who can not only alter probability to cause disasters but more importantly SEE STRANDS OF CHAOS!
Major Disaster isn’t Major Disaster in this frame though but rather a depressed Paul Booker questioning why he joined up with, in his own words, those “clods” the INJUSTICE LEAGUE.
Those incompetent nincompoops could not share his vision of genius.
Don’t look at me that way. His words, not mine.
Disaster realizes he needs money to set his plan in motion and in his most dastardly moment in the panel, he reveals in his piggy bank of evil (he honestly refers to a piggy bank) there is a whopping $67.56.
As much as people talk about the economy now, those H.W. Bush years look really rough in retrospect for a moderately successful super villain.
Irritated by his college memorizing playing cards, Disaster encounters a surprise, made clear by the panel.
We learn about Club JLI, “an enchanting island resort & casino where stars of the stage, screen and superherodom go to escape the pressures of life”. I sure hope we get some cheesy early 90s celebrity cameos. Then again, I may be the only person who would be entertained by Martian Manhunter chatting poolside with Macauley Culkin. I just get this feeling J’onn J’onzz is a super Uncle Buck fanboy.
The ad promotes a chance for a cocktail with the likes of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold (yeeesssssss), as the club is wholly funded by Maxwell Lord, back when he was a respectable business man and not a mastermind, secret criminal, Ted Kord killing jerk.
We find out maybe Maxwell had some motive in the Infinite Crisis shooting all those years later, as he is flabbergasted over the ad. Using the League funds for this? Voices of reason Martian Manhunter and Batman tell him they can’t be surprised by the actions of Booster and Beetle, even if it is fronting a casino. Batman questions the money because he knows they’re broke and it is so Batman to know the balances of the checking accounts of colleagues.
It hits Max Lord, clearly.
He is in doubt in the next panel, but we get a full page ad for the Taito (the only game in town) video game release Operation Wolf. It is an army shooter but now I want a shooter led by an army of wolves.
The next page steps it up. No, the story isn’t back yet. It is an ad for the Nintendo game of Willow. I did not know this existed but I am intrigued and supposedly I need to “Prepare for a Wicked Fantasy” (in awesome nineties font). I love these ads where it asks me to call or write the company, in this case, Capcom, about the game. I’d like to think in this simple time you could get your copy hand delivered by Warwick Davis. Today, you could probably get Val Kilmer to do it.
As we catch up back with the story, Max Lord is in rage mode. Blue and Gold totally cleared the accounts out. Max storms off, seeking vengeance, looking constipated.
We see Club JLI next, getting some classic Booster/Beetle banter talking about how the beach having the ability to make them rich outweighs Beetle’s hate of beaches. There probably is even more profit to be had, as they reveal they managed to get Kilowog to build it by himself in only three days. Blue and Gold rub elbows with a questionable South Sea Island chief. He hasn’t done much to make him questionable but he is wearing a headdress that seems like it would be looked upon as stereotypical by the 1990s and a robe that actually has CHIEF emblazoned in cursive on the back. No word yet if it is bedazzled.
Major Disaster is plotting a trip in the airport with an attendant the dulling pages made me think was Fire. Dull pages have the blonde hair looking a little green and the nametag Betsy is awful close the Beatriz…
I am not sure which part of this page is the most interesting choice . For some reason, the ambiance needed a bigger lady at a water fountain.
But that gets glossed over when they don’t get on a plane. In fact, Major Disaster and friend are crazy for thinking the airport is for planes. You can only get to Club JLI by being jammed together in a teleport tube.
The two make it to the island and after being greeted by some bikini-clad babes, they meet Blue Beetle and Kilowog. Beetle enchants them with an offer of real-life tales of super villains over drinks in “Batman’s Batcave Theater”. When asked about the Injustice League, Beetle lets them know that the Injustice League does not even register for him. Kilowog thinks that Beetle is a glad-handing Poozer but he keeps his mouth shut do to the percentage he has coming.
Ad time for a controller (with joysticks!) followed by the Gigantic New York Comic Convention with Special Guest: Todd McFarlane. Interesante as they say en Español.
Back to business, Beetle creeps on a guest while the villains in disguise get their check-in package.
They get brought to their casino by a bellhop named Maynard who is dressed as Guy Gardner. He introduces himself as Green Lantern but I’d know that ginger bowl cut anywhere.
Major Disaster is fed up and shouts about the casino.
We cut forward to some sleazy fellows chilling in a hot tub when talks of “Sea Gods summoning presence” begins and on the next page, Aquaman is waiting. Aquaman wants to know who is in charge but as these guys, who are identified as Natives, realize there may be trouble, they tell Aquaman he needs to talk to Blue Beetle and Booster Gold.
The villains are in the casino, cleaning house as it seems like there is some card counting. Did you hear me Blue Beetle? They cleaned out the money.
We discover they aren’t joking when they say the funds are dried. To pay them out they had to clean out the slot machines AND the soda machines! And just when our two heroes think it can’t get worse. They hear Aquaman. To make it worse, you know that King of Atlantis was probably speaking Dolphin just to make them angry.
After winning the money in the casino, Major Disaster is pretty certain he is the Master of the World, which seems odd, but if I am the lady attendant in the frame getting the $3,000 tip, I probably wouldn’t question it either.
Beetle tries to get him to invest. He is shunned. Supervillianry.
Next thing we know, the island is getting an earthquake (oh, Major Disaster) and Blue and Gold start saving their guests.
At the same time, we find out this is not one of Major’s Disasters (sorry about my previous parenthetical fictional sir).
In some delightful irony, the Injustice fiends lose all their money in the storm. But Aquaman reveals this is no normal storm. The island has been disturbed. The KooeyKooeyKooey. One, that name isn’t threatening. Two, all these white superheroes are a little insensitive to be worried about upsetting the KKK.
Knowing the whole island is bound to fall apart, Booster Gold does the right thing and grabs the closest pretty lady in a bathing suit.
The island of KooeyKooeyKooey is alive and Beetle wishes they put that in the brochure.
Booster asks him to be useful, Ted Kord lets him know they are both showing their worth in different ways. Booster uses force-field to keep the guests safe. Beetle uses humor because laughter is the best medicine. Super hero even stevens in my book.
Aquaman lets everyone know what danger the group is in and for the final page, we go back to see some of the island’s Natives. They knew the island was moving, but that is sacred knowledge. Outsiders didn’t need to know but they are hopeful to land in a nice climate.
According to the book, NEXT: NO MAN IS AN ISLAND (BUT KOOEYKOOEYKOOEY IS!)
In the fan section, JUSTICE LOG, I read about how most people liked Issue #30, but someone points out that Beetle and Booster were not in it, so I cannot find interest. I did see Sean Twist of London, Ontario did not care for Issue #30 because of its content. A normal guy gets hold of a Mega-Rod (snicker). Cool. Except not because it isn’t just any normal guy, it is a psychopathic mall rat! WHATEVER!
An ad for another Taito (the only game in town) game, Sky Shark is in the back inside cover and the back lets me know that the TurboGrafx-16 is the only video game system to get.
I’ll keep an eye out for that.
Thanks for reading.