Monday, July 23, 2012

Retro Review: J2 #1

J2 stars young Zane Yama, a dorky skinny teenage boy with the ability to transform at will to a Juggernaut of his own. Why can he do this? Well Zane is son of the Juggernaut. This book is one of three titles that launched the MC2 line of books by Marvel in the late 90's. The other two were A-Next, featuring the next generation of Avengers (of which J2 was a member) and of course the only real success of that line Spider-girl, the teenage daughter of Spider-man and Mary Jane. This line was set around 15 years in the future from the regular Marvel universe and spun off of a What if? issue that told the story of Spider-girl's powers manifesting itself at 15. In the issue the grandson of Norman Osborn is threatening Peter and his family. Since Peter is crippled (missing a leg) and he doesn't want his daughter to be a super hero (hypocritical bastard) he seeks out other super heroes for help during which time we get out first glimpse of A-Next and J2.

This isn't really the Avengers we come to see in A-Next. I suppose that's understandable, I highly doubt anybody expected this What If? issue would spawn a line of books at the time. Jubilee, Jolt, and Speedball don't make the A-Next cast, they are explained to be simply reserve and part time members. Vison's face is on the computer screen, I guess his mind is the computer system for the mansion now? I don't know I don't think that's ever referenced again. J2's color scheme looks like the original Juggernaut, as does the shape of his helmet, my guess is this was originally suppose to be the original Juggernaut reformed. The guy with the pony tail is Thunderstrike, the son of the original Thunderstike and he's pretty much just as we see him here. Oh and while not related to J2 or A-Next at all, after this panel Peter walks out without asking for help because "They're all so young" That never made sense to me, this is 15 years from now, Jubille, Speedball, and Jolt all have to be at least 30. I could see him not wanting to share personal secret ID related info with heroes he doesn't know, but "they're too young"? How old do you want them to be Peter? I guess Peter has become one of those middle age men who looks at everyone under 40 and thinks "You damn kids".

Alright, enough background info let's tear into this issue. This issue starts out with Zane having nightmares about his father. His father reformed and married his mom and shortly after he was born he was sucked into a weird alien dimension. That's how Zane puts it. I think we find out in later issues he was helping out the X-men on one of their missions when it happened. By the way Zane's last name is Yama not Marko because his mom went back to her maiden name after Jugg's disappearance. Way to honor a fallen hero. What a bitch. Anyways Zane is a nerd and, well, let's not fucking kid ourselves Zane is fucking Peter Parker. This whole series is constant rip off/homages to the old Lee and Ditko Spider-man. Zane is bad with girls, skinny, nerdy, and even has a blond haired damn near psychotic bully. The bully, named Miller, wants to beat the shit out of Zane after school today. Why? Well, he's a football player in high school, that makes him an asshole. Haven't you ever seen a teen movie? I wonder, is there something about playing football in high school that makes you a violent shitbag, or do only violent shitbags end up playing football in high school? Well I will leave that chicken/egg type debate for another time. So after school we see this panel.

Holy shit how did Miller manage that? Is there like only one exit in this high school? Does he have a bunch of friends with him? I mean shit Miller sounds like he's Seal Team fucking 6 all rolled into one sociopath of a teenager here. Fuck J2, the Avengers should recruit this Miller kid. Anyways Zane hides in the locker room showers. Freaking out about the ass whipping he's about to get when Miller finds him, he get's a nasty headache then flash of light and bam, hes the Juggernaut. Except he's naked. Yes naked. He runs through the school screaming busting through walls, he even runs by the cheerleaders who say "hubba hubba" because they are apparently time traveling cheerleaders from the 1950's. Seriously, dialogue has never been Tom DeFalco's strong suit and that's never more painfully obvious then when he's writing the 'hip' dialogue of teenagers. Anyways Zane manages to hide in an alley and calm down enough to turn back into normal Zane, again fully clothed. Next chapter we see Zane putting together a costume for his giant alter ego, apparently deciding against simply just calling himself The Streak. Once that's done out next chapter is Zane and various other high school kids at the amusement park. Zane is there along with Talia Zamora, the vapid hot blond Zane lusts after, Montana the cute girl who's into him and would make a way better girlfriend then the blond anyways, but he's too stupid to notice, and our Flash Thompson clone Miller. Oh and a bunch of other nameless kids are there too. The amusement park is attacked by Rollerblast, a villain with rollerblades and gauntlets that shoot energy. J2 easily beats the shit out of this idiot, but of course Zane is seen as a coward because he ran off when this all started. Then we cut to Jubilee, leader of the X-People (which is a stupid fucking politically correct name) planning to confront this new Juggernaut. The End.

You know for all it's faults I really liked J2 back when it was out. I actually thought it was better than Spider-girl ever was. Sure the dialogue is embarrassingly bad, sure its completely rehashing silver age Spidey, but there was something about it that was just fun. Ron Lim's art is a joy, J2 had a cool character design, and the book was just a blast. It never took itself too seriously, it knew it was ripping off silver age Spidey, hell it reveled in that fact, often directly homaging classic panels from early Spidey. For all it's faults J2 was a damn fun book and you should check it out. A-Next too.

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