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Monday, 20 August 2018

Infinity, Inc 35 - pawns of injustice Unlimited

I love the cover for Infinity, Inc 35 (Feb 87), with the Calgary skyline used as the battle site for the Infintors and Injustice Unlimited.

The Thomases, McFarlane and DeZuniga take the story further afield, though, back into the US, as well as to the Arctic and Europe. Events from Legends are touched on. Skyman gets alerted by Nuklon to how the team, and the Global Guardians, are being forced by the villains to perform missions for them, while Hourman is held captive. Brainwave and Skyman try to fly out to help them, but Brainwave gets shot by a man in the crowd outside Stellar Studios, protesting the heroes.

Nuklon and Rising Sun aid Artemis on a jail break, releasing a couple who turn out to be the Huntress and Sportsmaster. Artemis Crock is their daughter, carrying on the family crime tradition.

By far my favourite page in the issue is in the Las Vegas scene, where Wildcat and Tasmanian Devil aid Hazard in taking vengeance against a casino owner.

Hazard proves to be the granddaughter of the Gambler, who is revealed to have killed himself after losing at the casino's rigged games. She has a pair of dice that allow her to alter the odds in her favour. Although she wasn't called Hazard, just Becky Sharpe, this character appeared in season 4 of The Flash, and even wore the outfit depicted in this storyline in her first appearance on the show.

Green Fury and Obsidian aid the Fiddler in stealing a Stradivarius violin in England.

And Fury goes solo with the Shade, heading into a cave in the Aeropagus in Athens to retrieve an ebony stone. More happens in the cave than is revealed in this story, and an upcoming issue of Secret Origins details those events. It is clear, however, that something significant happened to Lyta. On her way out she winds up facing off with the Olympian. She insists that she did not steal the stone, but was given it. Even so, she has to fight the Global Guardian so that she and the Shade can get away.

Jade joins Icemaiden as they head to the ruins of Feithera, where their mission is to retrieve Solomon Grundy, still trapped in the ice.

The issue closes back in Calgary. It turns out that Hourman still has a couple of his Miraclo pills, and while the Wizard is distracted, manages to take one.

The story concludes in the next issue. But I guess I should mention that one of the things I really love about this tale is how much it resembles, structurally, a classic JLA/JSA crossover tale, with the differing groupings of heroes, the far flung locations, and the host of villains.

Infinity, Inc 34 - meeting the Global Guardians in Calgary

I really love the Calgary storyline, in which the Infinitors and Global Guardians wind up facing off against Injustice Unlimited. But I have to admit, the cover for Infinity, Inc 34 (Jan 87) was what really excited me, as Winnipeg appears in a central position on the cover. Growing up there, there isn't a lot to be excited about.

The issue begins as Northwind goes to the Hall Mansion, finding the place sadly neglected, and Hector Hall in bed with a mysterious woman, the one who claimed to be Dr Rock, and who sent him the crystal dagger. Seeing that Hector is completely under the woman's control, Northwind heads to Feithera in hopes of learning what to do.

The Infinitors in Calgary meet with the Global Guardians. They put on a happy face for the media, but the teams are determined to outdo each other. This leads to an arm wrestling match between Nuklon and Tasmanian Devil. Both are able to grow to immense size, but Nuklon wins by becoming immaterial and plunging the Devil's arm through the table.

Jade calls home in one scene, and from Brainwave we learn about the events in Legends, and the ban on superheroes that has been placed in the US.

A news broadcast is used to give a history of the Global Guardians for the first time. I really like what Thomas does here, making the Guardians the successors of the Batmen of All Nations, even though that group name has been discarded, and the various JSA heroes are now credited as the inspiration for that group. This makes both the Global Guardians and Infinity Inc successors to the JSA, in different ways.

The two groups split up to do security for the international conference. But Icemaiden proves to be under a spell, and uses her powers to ice up Fury. This doesn't keep Fury down for long, but by the time she is free the bad guys are in control.

The Wizard is leading a new group of villains, Injustice, Unlimited. The Fiddler and the Shade are part of this team, as well as a new, younger version of the Icicle. Hazard and Artemis, whose connection to former JSA villains gets made clear in the following issue, round out the group. They take the conference hostage, and have already captured Hourman, putting him in a deathtrap to keep the assembled heroes at bay.

Infinity, Inc 33 - the origin of Obsidian

Ron Harris joins the Thomases, McFarlane and DeZuniga for Infinity, Inc 33 (Dec 86). Though part of the larger Calgary storyline, this issue is mostly an origin story for Obsidian, as the cover proclaims.

Jade, Nuklon, Fury and Wildcat appear at the top of the story, as Obsidian and the others fly to Calgary. While the trip takes place, Obsidian thinks about his past. Mention is made of Fury being adopted, and growing up on Trevor Island, as the groundwork is laid for her new heritage.

But it's Obsidian who gets the spotlight, and we see the horrible abusive family situation he grew up in, with his mother walking out. Todd learned at this point that he had had a sister while in the orphanage, but nothing about her.

His powers first manifest when hi drunken father is giving him a beating. Had it not been for his ability to turn into a shadow, it looks like Todd might have died at this point, or had his head smash through a wall. The father was too drunk to even realize what was really going on.

Using his shadow form, Todd broke into the adoption agency and learned who his sister was. He travelled to go find Jennie-Lynn Hayden, and spent a while stalking and watching her. It appears that Jade knows nothing about this, and believes that the first time they met was later, after she contacted him using her power pulse.

At this point we are in familiar territory, the origin of the pair given at the beginning of this series. 

While Jade was eager to train with Todd and use her powers, he continued to get more disturbed by his. We see the first time Obsidian's shadow self allows a person to see the darkness inside them, an event which is as distressing for Todd as for the punk who gets subjected to it.

And while Jade is eager to start a superhero career, Todd is not. It isn't until he winds up using his powers to save a man on the job that he discovers that he gets fulfillment from it.

And so he dons the unusual costume Jade created for him, and using her power pulse they learn of the Justice Society meeting from the first issue of the book.

The story having come full circle, the Infinitors arrive in Calgary, rendered, pretty obviously, from a photograph. Still, nice that it is accurately depicted.

Infinity, Inc 32 - Psycho-Pirate attacks

Mike Gustovich joins the Thomases and McFarlane for Infinity, Inc 32 (Nov 86), as the Psycho-Pirate attacks.

Before attacking Jade and Brainwave, Psycho-Pirate does reveal that he has been hired to take them out. His mental abilities are used to make the couple fight against each other, while the villain stands safely off to the side and enjoys the fracas.

The story cuts away mid-battle to catch up on some other plot threads. Skyman tries to go see Jonni Thunder, but she has taken off. He does meet Sunshine, a friend of Jonni's from her miniseries, learning that Jonni left her rabbit, Shamus, with her friend.

I like the transition from the last page to this one, with newspapers from the US and Canada each reporting on an upcoming conference in Calgary, with all but identical ads for the Bay and an American company, the May. I assume the May is, or was, something real. Anyway, this transition also serves as the introduction to the Global Guardians. This is the first appearance of the international team since Crisis, though Icemaiden and Tasmanian Devil had not been seen since Super Friends. Rising Sun and Green Fury were the more familiar members of the group at this point. Both the Global Guardians and Infinity Inc have been hired as security for the high level conference, though neither group is happy about sharing the job.

A few pages are devoted to Dr Midnight. She finishes giving Nuklon a check-up, looks in on Mr Bones, informs Fury that she is pregnant, and tells Hourman that she is working on developing a non-addictive form of Miraclo for him.

Marcie Cooper shows up for the scene in which Northwind leaves the team, bidding goodbye to Wildcat and Skyman. Once again it is hinted that Northwind's reason for leaving has something to do with Silver Scarab's departure.

Then it's back to the action, with Jade and Brainwave battling it out. Brainwave is able to get control of his mind, and knocks Jade out. The Psycho-Pirate flees as soon as this happens.

We find out that he is working for the Thunderbolt, who shocked him back into sanity following the Crisis. The Psycho-Pirate tells the Thunderbolt that he needs a recharge from the Medusa Mask before he can go after the other Infinitors. She is not pleased, blasts him, and then takes off.

But it turns out the Psycho-Pirate was lying, and just trying to ditch the Thunderbolt. He has the Medusa Mask, and is planning to go after the Infinitors again on his own.

Infinity, Inc 31 - Star-Spangled Kid becomes Skyman

Star-Spangled Kid changes his identity in Infinity, Inc 31 (Oct 86), thanks to the Thomases, McFarlane and DeZuniga.

Although not specifically connected to the loss of the Justice Society in the previous issue, it's hard not to think Sylvester Pemberton was prompted to adopt his new name and costume by those events. As mentioned in an earlier issue, his Cosmic Belt no longer functioned for anything more than flying. Donning his new uniform, and now calling himself Skyman, Sylvester goes to show off to Jonni Thunder. Frankly, both the new outfit and the new name are less than memorable. At one point Skyman comments that he had considered taking on the name Starman. That would have been the more logical choice.

At any rate, Skyman has little time to flirt with Jonni before her Thunderbolt shows up to attack the pair.

Skyman calls in the Infinitors, who join in the battle against the powerful electrical being. They manage to drive off the creature, who longs to bond with Jonni again.

Later, the team finally make their decision on the new members. Wildcat, Dr Midnight and Hourman are all admitted to the team, with Dr Midnight taking the role of the team's doctor. She immediately benches Hourman, concerned about his growing Miraclo addiction.

But other changes are in store as well. After yet another fight, Silver Scarab storms off, effectively leaving the team. Northwind also explains that he has to take a leave of absence. His reasons are not explicit, but it seems connected to Hector's behaviour.

The issue closes on Jade and Brainwave, who get confronted by the Psycho-Pirate. This is the villain's first appearance since the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and he has regained his sanity, at least for this story arc.

Infinity, Inc 30 - mourning the Justice Society

The Thomases, McFarlane and DeZuniga devote Infinity, Inc 30 (Sept 86) to mourning the Justice Society of America.

The story is an immediate follow up to the Last Days of the Justice Society Special, and opens with Dr Fate, Power Girl and the Star-Spangled Kid being thrust out of Ragnarok, returning to the cemetery where the Infinitors are gathered for the funerals of Robin and the Huntress. The three heroes quickly explain to the Infinitors about Hitler and his Spear of Destiny, and how the JSA got trapped fighting and dying in Ragnarok over and over for eternity.

Very little else of significance happens in this issue, but it really doesn't matter much. There is more than enough emotion to carry the story. One touch I particularly admire is the way McFarlane uses images of the vanished Justice Society members scattered throughout the issue. The Society members who are directly connected to the Infinitors get a lot of focus, so it's good that the others are acknowledged as well.

Brainwave attempts to join Jade and Obsidian as they deliver the news to Harlequin about Green Lantern being gone for good, but this turns into a fight between the two men. Jade finally asks he boyfriend to leave them, just to maintain the peace.

The subplot of the crystal dagger returns in this story. Lyta tries to console Silver Scarab about his parents being gone, but he doesn't seem to care about anything other than his mysterious gift. Northwind also gives Hector space, heading to Dr Midnight to inform her of her mentor's "death."

We meet more of Yolanda Montez's family as Nuklon delivers them Wildcat's belt as heavyweight champion, including her brother Jose, who will return in a later issue.

Power Girl's connection to the team will fade after this issue, as she will shortly be undergoing her own continuity alterations, but in this one she joins the Star-Spangled Kid in mourning her lost comrades.

The final page of the tale is quite beautiful, with Dr Fate forming a cross containing the Justice Society members. The JSA will not return to the present for quite a few years, but at this point, it really did seem final.