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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Justice League: Another Nail - 2004

Comics Weekend "Another Nail" by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer.

Ever since F.O.A.M.er Andy Luckett did a Guest Post looking back at the Alan Davis mini-series Justice League: The Nail, I've been meaning to cover its sequel, prosaically titled Another Nail.

Since the story is stuffed to the edges with characters, only a few heroes get the majority of the action. Sadly, Aquaman isn't one of them, so I decided to talk about all three issues of the series in one go. So let's get started!

The Nail and Another Nail are Elseworlds tales, in this case the DCU is a world where Superman arrived much later and is not the fearless paragon of heroism that we know him to be. The first series ended with him joining the long-established Justice League, the first issue of the sequel takes place a few years later.

Most of the first issue is concerned with Darkseid and his war against the cosmos, which of course draws in the Green Lantern Corps. Darkseid is seemingly destroyed, and Green Lantern is cluing in his fellow JLAers as to what exactly took place:
Behind the scenes, we see the crippled, mangled, and bed-ridden Oliver Queen--formerly Green Arrow, of course--bitterly whiling away his final days in a hospital bed. He is visited by Black Canary, who promises never to leave his side.

This first issue ends with Superman, during a sudden loss of powers, seemingly crushed by a falling slab of rock after a battle with Despero and Evil Star.
The second issue opens with Martian Manhunter testing an alive Superman to see what happened with his powers. New heroes have joined the JLA, allowing The Man of Steel to take some time off from superheroing to rest.

Meanwhile, the formerly inert Amazo (who was in The Nail) has been reactivated by a group of heroes and villains (Power Girl, Black Orchid, Star Sapphire) and spirited away. Amazo's keepers, The Metal Men, figure they need to tell the JLA what has happened.

Various minions of Darkseid's start attacking the heroes of Earth, including Aquaman:
Even more famous faces get drawn into the plot, like Deadman, Zatanna, The Doom Patrol, The Crime Syndicate, and The Phantom Stranger. We meet back up with Wonder Woman and Aquaman, who have been transported to another time:
While Superman and Lois Lane spend some time together in Smallville (under the menacing eye of Eclipso), the battle of good and evil moves into other dimensions, drawing in Etrigan the Demon and even The Spectre!
While things go from bad to worse on Earth (The Joker, seemingly dead, is now back to life...and with magical powers!), we catch back up with Wonder Woman and Aquaman, still trapped in Prehistoric time on the run from dinosaurs:
Various dimensions and time periods begin to smash into one another, with the skies of Metropolis suddenly filled with the WWII-era fighting planes of The Blackhawks!

At this point, artist Alan Davis really only has writer Alan Davis to blame, for throwing in dozens, if not hundreds, of characters, into the mix. There's a two-page spread that features, just on first glance, Adamn Strange, OMAC, Plastic Man, Sgt. Rock, Supergirl, Space Ranger, Ultraa The Multi-Alien, The Challengers of the Unknown, The Legion, The Teen Titans, Shining Knight, Jonah Hex, Captain Comet, Brainiac, Hawkgirl, Zatanna, Starman, Chris KL-99, and more.

Amazo shows up again to cause more trouble, and Superman's life-force is drained trying to stop the evil being known as the Limbo-Cell from tearing apart the universe.

Joker and Batman have one last confrontation, which drags them into Hell itself. Batman is saved at the last moment by the spirit of a dead friend, and he wakes up in the arms of his beloved Selina.

After most of the trouble has ended, Wonder Woman and Aquaman return to their own time, and Batman--who has been separated from the JLA this whole time--asks to rejoin the League, causing everyone to rejoice:
Obviously, this is an absurdly-abbreviated description of the plot; there's about two years' worth of regular comic book plot crammed into three 48-page issues (and I mean that as a compliment!).

Considering what an avowed fan Alan Davis is of Aquaman, I'm a little surprised the Sea King gets so little to do this time around. To be fair, Davis did give Aquaman a decent amount of action in The Nail, and he does get at least one sequence to himself again here. Its just that Davis draws Aquaman so damn well that seeing little glimpses like this just makes me want to see more.

Davis is clearly having a lot of fun here; throwing in everything but(?) the kitchen sink, and getting to mess with the characters in ways you never could in the "real" DCU. His fight scenes are so superbly, brutally rendered that it only makes sense that non-powered heroes like Green Arrow would simply be pounded into pulp when fighting a powerhouse like Amazo; which is exactly what happened!

Apparently DC isn't doing Elseworlds stories anymore; too bad, I would love to see Davis play in this world again!


Aquamariner said...

I love the dialogue for Aquaman here. He really comes off as heroic yet regal. I love the part where the Dolphins wish to go with him out of pure loyalty.

If Mr. Geoff Jonhs wants a quick "about me" to know a little about how Aquaman should be, The Nail and this are totally it.

PS. Um...I dont recall Amazo being the main villain in The Nail, sure he was there but main? not so much (just thought I'd point it out)

IADW said...

Now those are some covers. Alan Davis drew such an awesome League in both Nail series' it'ssuprising they never tackled him for the main book.

Wings1295 said...

Great summation of a lot of action, Rob! Glad Aquaman had some part, at least!

Joe Huber said...

DC started an Elseworlds Superman book this month, so maybe there is some hope for continued tales in this vein.

Siskoid said...

Speaking of Elseworld Aquamen, do you have any plans to ever do a piece on the Tangent Aquaman and/or the Amalgam Aquamariner?

rob! said...


Dan--I'm sure they would've have gotten him if they could. His take on the JLA is spot-on perfect.

Joe--Yeah, he's not in it much, but...

Joe--I didn't know Elsewords were back!

Siskoid--I'll get to them eventually. Next week I start looking at another long-requested series!