Writer and Penciller: Alan Davis
Inker: Mark Farmer
Publisher: DC Elseworlds
Mysterious energy trails alert several heroes to the continued presence of the New Gods on Earth, and perhaps to deadly remnants (or vital portents) of the best-laid plans of Darkseid.
This essay will be an exercise in looking at the representation of women in the story, in honor of the babe-centered cover for this installment. We’re not given much reason in the story why Power Girl and Black Orchid have allied themselves with the usually fatale femme Star Sapphire, but Davis does emphasize Kara’s most notable assets, both visually and with several verbal references. There’s a vague swinging sixties vibe to the approach here, one that works well with Davis’s particular style of colorful spandex fun. I guess girls dressed like that must be bad, right?
The distaff trio easily outmatches the Metal Men (and one Woman), making off with an inert Amazo robot. On page 1, we see Wildcat cozy up to a skittish Hal Jordan. On page 3, a black and beautiful Halo joins the JLA. On page 4, a desperate Grace manipulates Kalibak in siren fashion. On page 5, Platinum Tina has time to coo appreciatively at Doc Magnus’ inventiveness.
Chapter one ends with the attack of Sapphire’s crew. Chapter 2 sees less flirting and more heroism, as Hawkwoman and a sleek Asian Zatanna team up to fight demons. Bruce sees Robin and Batgirl die horribly as equal victims of the Joker in his nightmares, while Selina plays the concerned and rational helpmate even as he seems to come unbalanced. On page 13 the Canary similarly tends to an injured Ollie, but, interestingly, the Phantom Stranger interrupts Diana’s planned mission of mercy to encourage her to stress that it’s time for battle, not comfort. Lois wastes no time flirting with Hal on page 15, as her mind is on Clark, returned to the Kents, neighbors of his Amish home. Martha has clued Lois in to her opportunity to humanize Clark, a major priority for these women it seems. Meanwhile, an Oa-influenced Barda happily continues to play host to Scott Free’s disembodied spirit. She’s both host and ally to her partner.
On p. 19, Poison Ivy inflicts her usual floral vengeance, but Batman and Batwoman (looking every inch the proper Earth 2 mother of the Helena Wayne Huntress; one of Davis’ best costume redesigns, it mixes her cat-colors with bat-style) take her down. On p. 22, Wonder Woman saves Aquaman in the nick of time, then that duo also discovers an Amazo-esque robot, before being stranded in the prehistoric.
Back on the satellite, Halo plays communications officer, while, on Earth, Lois and Martha complete their transformation (socialization) of Superman into Clark.
The final chapter finds us in Tibet, where Flash and the Atom run afoul of the Crime Syndicate of Earth 3 (or perhaps Counter-Earth?). Dominatrix Super Woman works that stylish gray streak in her hair. Elasti-Girl is all hot sixties babe in her miniskirt, but her Annette Funicello perkiness is no match for the sultry Sapphire. No one, however, can compete with the pneumatic representation of Angel (with her Ape) we see in a passing advertisement. There are no other women on New Genesis, but the story ends in the contrast between Super-Woman’s vanity and the heroism of Hawkwoman, Zatanna, Wonder Woman and Batwoman as they each deal with unearthly threats. Meanwhile, in limbo, the war on the mystical plane seems entirely the province of males.
Is Davis on a nostalgia trip, harking back to a kindler, gentler DC-verse complete with naïve sexism? Or does he have something else in mind, as many of his males (especially Ultra-Man, his costume in shreds post-battle) are just as sensually coded as his females? Hard to say with this transitional issue, as the vignettes move by so quickly, each one overloaded with affection and playful lore.
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