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Almost Hidden – Justice League America vs. Despero!

by  in Comic News Comment

Even with this large amount of comic books that have been collected in trade paperbacks, there are still a number of great comic books that have never been reprinted (I’d say roughly 60% of them are DC Comics from the 1980s through the mid-1990s). So every day this month I will spotlight a different cool comic book that is only available as a back issue. Here is an archive of the comic books featured so far.

I want you folks to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com with your suggestions for comics that I should feature this month. I’d like to see what you all would like to see get more attention.

After featuring the other two major battle storylines from the Justice League International years (the two JLE ones), I figure it is only proper to also spotlight the storyline from Justice League America where the league faces off against Despero! The issues were courtesy of Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis, Adam Hughes and Joe Rubinstein.

Enjoy!

It’s rare to see a story this good written basically as a response to incessant criticism, but that’s basically the background behind the great three-issue story arc of Justice League America #38-40, where the classic Justice League villain Despero comes back to Earth to gain his revenge on the League.

You see, at the time, Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’ Justice League run, while popular (and really quite excellent), got a lot of flack for being too much of a humor title.

So, naturally, they responded with an extremely dark action tale.

Amusingly enough, the story opens with an extended joke – a spoof of the magazine Spy…


But then it quickly cuts into the chilling return of Despero…


Whoever came up with the idea of the UN flag being a cape for Despero deserves applause – it’s a beautiful visual (by the way, I should quickly note that the legendary Joe Rubinstein inked Adam Hughes during this arc).

Despero is tracking down the members of the Justice League that he last fought (the team affectionately – and sometimes not so affectionately – known as “Justice League Detroit”), including Gypsy, who we had last seen reunited with her parents…




Pretty darn brutal, huh?

As Despero tracks Gypsy, he forces her out of hiding…


which leads to this great cliffhanger…


What follows is perhaps the most brutal superhero fight that ever appeared in the pages of Justice League International, and Adam Hughes really outdoes himself on the action.

Mister Miracle, at the time, was really a robot (we the reader knew that, but the Justice League did not), so this sacrifice was a bit of a wink to the readers, but it still affected the members of the cast…



Striking work, huh?

The battle ended in perhaps a less than awesome fashion (okay, definitely in less than awesome fashion, as J’onn introduces a power we didn’t know he had and uses it to stop Despero in pretty much the exact same fashion that Mongul is stopped in “For the Man Who Has Everything?”), but it leads to a brilliant funeral sequence for Mister Miracle (who everyone believes is dead, including Miracle’s wife), including a brilliant moment between Guy Gardner and Ice…


What a tremendous little arc this was. This would make such a good trade. Or how about a DC Comics Presents collection?