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Justice League Unlimited #18

Posted: Saturday, February 4, 2006
By: Ray Tate



"Fare 48"

Writer: Adam Beechen
Artists: Ethan Beavers, Heroic Age(c)
Publisher: DC

Space Cabbie was a pre-Crisis science fiction feature by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson. It featured the adventures of a futuristic cabbie and his unusual fares. I'd classify the strip like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy classifies earth. "Mostly harmless."

Adam Beechen teams up Space Cabby with Superman, and frankly, he fails to give a good reason why. It's not a question of fun. The questions center on story logic and characterization.

In the story, the Psions spring a trap that maroons Superman on a planet orbiting a red sun. Superman states:

"Help me...I'm dying..."

Beechen however doesn't give a reason why Superman is dying. The reptilian Psions used a kryptonite net to capture Superman--though why Supes did not just fly around the thing is never explained. Regardless, he no longer bears the net and the Psions don't seem to be doing anything to him. This leads me to believe that the author thinks that red sun radiation acts poisonously on Superman. Mr. Beechen is sadly mistaken.

Radiation from a red sun simply blocks the energy Superman processes from the yellow sun. It doesn't weaken him. It doesn't kill him. It just makes him normal, and even that is a little misleading. Superman has been basking under a yellow sun for at least twenty-eight years. He has been working out by holding up buildings, hefting massive chunks of rock, racing against the Flash and splitting comets in half. Normal for Superman should be pretty much the strength, stamina, speed and toughness of an Olympic Gold Medallist.

Beechen's characterization for the Big Red S is more damaging. Superman wouldn't ask for help. He wouldn't give a damn about himself. Superman is selfless. The conversation should go like this:

"Whoever you are...you've got to get out of here."
"No way! You need help."
"They'll kill you if you stay. Go!"
"Sorry, Supes. You're in no shape to say no to a free ride."

The story and certainly the artwork isn't a total loss. Ethan Beavers does a good job at expressing Superman's pain and exhaustion. Though let me stress we still don't know why he's in pain and exhausted. He ably renders the characters to model, and Beechen throws in several amusing Taxi jokes as well as some fun technobabble that sounds plausible. Best of all, he reunites the original magnificent seven--a true moment for Beavers, and he even manages to have Batman be personable.



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