I’ve written about Justice League Quarterly before. The book ran for almost half a decade (from 1990-1994) and was by no means a perfect comic: I enjoyed issues #1, #3, #5, and #8 (and #8 only because seeing Qwardian versions of the Justice League was pretty neat – at least back then, now it’s old hat) and the rest were pretty take-it-or-leave-it material.
I’m singling out issue #5 because it contains the best Ice story I’ve ever read. Not coincidentally, it also feels like the only Ice story I’ve ever read: it was the first (and last?) time she functioned as something more than Guy Gardner’s romantic interest, Fire’s caring and supportive friend, a girl with a crush on Superman, or one of the more inessential members of the Justice League.
In Justice League Quarterly #5’s “Be Careful What You Wish For!” Ice is faced with an emotional quandary – succumb to insecurity and go home to Norway with her tail between her legs, or continue with the JLA and feel worthless – she learns, almost by accident, that she’s both valued by her teammates and, above all else, genuinely wants to help people.
Schmaltzy? Sure. But at the risk of spinning a broken record right off the table: DC just doesn’t publish stuff like this anymore. The Ice of 2014 has a punk rock haircut and surly demeanour, and her function in comics these days appears to be as foil to Guy Gardner, a freshly-minted Red Lantern whose jerk with a heart of gold days are long gone. “Be Careful What You Wish For!” was a heartwarming tale of hope and optimism, full of adventure, and featuring characters that were easy to like. The New 52 features a teenage girl running around with the Joker’s severed face strapped to her head.
“Be Careful What You Wish For!” has two openings: the first shows a friendly woman conversing with the mailman. A small parade of determined-looking men in sunglasses (who henceforth shall be known as the Men in Black) march past, then reveals that the mailman’s a robot:
The other opener features an assortment of heroes – Geo-Force, Valor (a.k.a. Mon-El), and Red Star – collapsing in the presence of the Men in Black. Blue Beetle and Guy Gardner lounge on the JLA headquarters’ roof, reading about another hero – Rebis (a.k.a. the version of Doom Patrol’s Negative Man that was a hermaphrodite combining Larry Trainor, the Negative Spirit, a lady doctor, and some random dude) – suffering a similar fate, before the late ’80s/early ’90s Will Payton Starman crashes into the building:
In addition to being, as Metamorpho states, “some of the most powerful Joes on the planet,” these five are also a Who’s Who of Unrealized A-List Heroes for DC in the ’90s:
But I digress.
Martian Manhunter learns that Ice is looking to quit the Justice League:
But like the movie cop with one day left until retirement, Ice decides to go on one last mission: accompanying her temperamental beau Guy Gardner and Power Girl as they try to eradicate the Men in Black, a plan that promptly goes to hell as Power Girl and Guy almost immediately have their powers stolen and get knocked out, respectively, leaving Ice to make do on her own.
Through the magic of being a sweetie pie and some good old-fashioned wishing, Ice suddenly finds herself with a shiny new Green Lantern ring:
She follows the Man in Black to an island in the Atlantic that’s a simulation of small-town America, where Justice League villain Professor Ivo is now later-period Marlon Brando-sized, with a mutilated face, and is gathering an army of super-powered robots for reasons I won’t reveal here:
The rest of the Justice League shows up, and at one point Martian Manhunter uses a train as a club:
And Blue Beetle getting a building thrown at him:
Does he live? Does he die? (Spoiler alert: yes, in the pages of Countdown to Infinite Crisis).
I won’t say how “Be Careful What You Wish For!” ends, but if you really want to know you should check out my WTF, DC? Ice entry which lets the cat screaming out of the bag.
The rest of Justice League Quarterly #5 contains a vastly entertaining Global Guardians story (note how the opening frame mirrors the opening frame of Keith Giffen’s Justice League #1 from 1987), a cutesy but pointless tale starring General Glory and Ernie (themselves cutesy but pointless pastiches of Captain America and Bucky), and a second tale starring Ice and Fire in which Ice is unfortunately written overly girly and slightly dumb:
Unfortunate because “Be Careful What You Wish For!” just spent so much time making the case for her intelligence, strength, and caring as a woman. Otherwise Justice League Quarterly #5 is aces.