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Justice League S2

Well, you see, Justice League is still blowing me away, so, some more episode meanderings.

Viva Las Vegas - Wild Cards

Ace. Black clover in her hair. Delirium’s child. All her delight soured to gothic anger and silence. Going nowhere. Slowly. Her crown abandoned. Her one eyed jailer laughing madness, not from gaze, but from Joker’s poppy.

Ace. Her gaze spinning perception into rats and frogs and the dissolution of self. Crippling even the one whose mind is not a pleasant place to be. Insanity and determination is no defense against madness.

The extended quality of gaze in a city that is entirely artifice. Las Vegas - where Metropolis’ boroughs meet Karnac’s pyramids and Gotham’s gothic and hey gold miners in large. In miniature. Volcanoes spew fire on command and Atlantis is a ride.

This city of artificial lights and illusions optical cleared of everyone but the villains and the heroes and the gaze. The camera men that wander into shot as Batman or Superman cross view.

The structure of the episode creates a complicity between the Joker and the viewer, which separates the viewer emotionally from the heroes. For once, we watch their story at a third remove with the action spastically pulled hither and thither and green yonder and emotional moments intersected with Joker’s exposition. Ratings Joker grins and jokes and watches.

He isn’t there at the point of action. He doesn’t have super powers. Throwing playing cards from behind the scenes. All other self acid burned away into giggling madness. His face is his mask. The color pointing not only to killer clowns, but the whiteness of a corpse. Dead man laughing.

Harle quin plays sad valentine Columbine, longing Pierott, and even knowing, believes in her mad love. And the trickster is consumed by his last cast.

And the masks come off.

I thought it was her face, but it was just a mask.

Although, I’m not sure that just and mask should be used together.

Considering the various ways characters wear or do not wear masks.

Green Lantern is maskless. Only his eyes, the windows to his soul, the medium of gaze, shift from brown to green. Glow with the inner fire of his mutable will made immutable green. He has a uniform, but he lives openly as himself, which makes sense given his fear that he has been transformed by power into something different. By not wearing a mask, he insists upon his own un-fragmented identity. He is who he is.

Diana does not wear a mask. It wasn’t until later in the series that she is even called by some other name. That Wonder Woman. She is Diana and there is no Diana Prince on the horizon. She wears a crown, a Xena shakram diadem of a thing. A bathing suit that leaves little to imagine. No cape. No mask.

Superman no mask and everyone knows his name, Kal-El. Last son of Krypton. And really, why do you ask about a secret identity? Clark Kent obfuscates his other life with frames meant to make the eyes see. By revealing, Clark conceals. I’m reminded of the New Adventures episode, “The death of Clark Kent” where Clark Kent is killed in front of witnesses, leaving Superman to wonder how he can deal with being steel all of the time.

J’onn Jonz doesn’t even wear his own body. His hands. His face. The shape of his eyes. All changed that he might be a bit less alien. And yet, the funny thing is that he is the most opened. Telepathic and the thoughts roll in. His clothes are his skin. Literally. Shaped by his thoughts. A fluttering cape that is an extension of the man.

Flash. Do they ever even mention his real name? We’ve seen Batman without his mask more times than Flash. Yeah, yeah, he has a secret identity because the chicks dig that sort of thing. And he’s about as complex as cherry jello. But, he never takes off the mask. He is jitter and jump and fleet footed natter and he is no one other than Flash. He’s always around. For there to be a secret identity, then the mask would have to come off and he’d have to be Wally some of the time. And he never does and I wonder why.

And then there’s Batman, whose mask is his face and Bruce exists to support the Bat. Bruce did not deal with loss well, and so Bruce has been lost and the darkness remains. Goes without sleep and relentless strives to forgive that root failure that defined his life.

Oh, yeah Hawk Girl. Shayera. I had no idea that wasn’t her face. She had a different mask in A Better World, but I thought that her face, hawkish and feathered was just under there. Not a mask. Of any character, we know that she can’t have a secret identity. Her face to conceal, but not wings. And yet this vulnerable, inner soft features and self. Sublimated to a mace and “Excuse me, Hawk Girl smash now.”

But GL sees only a man and a woman and that’s all we see too as the Jackpot flashes and the blue marble earth looms.

Big as a world. Small as a fragile. It’s all in the perspective.

Comfort and Joy - Um - Comfort and Joy

How cute was GL and Hawk Girl’s snow ball fight. And Hawk Girl’s secret life as a Klingon. Gagh=Blurb.

How cute was Flash what with the toy and the orphans and the shopping and the aluminum tree.

How cute was J’onn growing into his sweater. How cute was Ma Kent giving J’onn a sweater in the first place. Although, seriously, what giant creature was she making it for?

How cute was “Clark’s” whole hearted leap into Christmas. His insistence that Santa delivers his presents. That one line, “Lead.”

How cute were Ma and Pa Kent. Label me a softie and brand me a sweet tooth, but there’s nothing I love so much as a long married couple who kiss while washing the dishes. Time worn, with plenty of room for aliens.

Now then, to prove that I can in fact wring rambling out of a sugar cube…

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
God rest ye merry gentlemen,
Let nothing ye dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan's pow'r
When we were gone astray;
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy…
"Fear not," then said the angel,
"Let nothing ye affright,
This day is born a Savior,
Of virtue, power, and might;
So frequently to vanquish all
The friends of Satan quite";
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy...

In too short a half hour, three stories of both comfort and joy. The Ulta-Humanite may say “Bah, humbug,” to begin, but even he is drawn into the jejune spirit of making things better. You know, rather than blowing up ugly art with his ray gun.

An episode of little vanquishing. More offering comfort. Expressing joy. Even if that joy is a bar fight. Then again, maybe comfort & joy is how you vanquish Satan’s little friends.

When I was a child, I, as so many children do, believed in Santa. That mysterious and magical figure who gave and never asked. Now at a certain point, I discovered, as children who hide under tables will, that Santa was in fact my parents.

This realization delighted me in a way that I cannot really express. You see, if my parents could be Santa, then so could I. While I might be small, I could still participate in this vast conspiracy. Promote magic in the world.

I remember getting up at some dark and dreary hour and leaving little packages for my parents with a note that Saint Nicholas had been there. Giggling and twitching and waiting, oh the hours, waiting for my parents to get up.

It is this realization that I saw wash over J’onn. That it’s not all vanquishing through gravity. That the pleasure of magic is cookies, which I note were the Trinitarian Oreo.

Once more the breaching theme of identity. Aspects of the whole. Not so much a question of the mask, but what costume is worn that day.

GL’s fondest Christmas memory isn’t of presents, but of sledding in the park. Snow angels and snow men and snow ball fights. GL understands the malleability of snow.

While, Hawk Girl celebrates glowing joy through bar fights in what would appear to be a hive of scum and villainy.

When Superman is home, he wears glasses and is himself. Too skinny, and nice and cozy, and peeks at presents, and rushes to turn on the Christmas tree lights and is this bouncy bundle of small town. Pennants in his room. Family portraits on the walls.

Flash, a hero in red and the toy he brings. Granting one wish for a shared thing. Just one big heart, isn’t he? Delighting in the act of providing both comfort and joy to those who truly need it. Cause yeah, Flash wants to play Santa too. Even if he has to run to Japan to do it. Stands there all undone because his gift is broken.

How fortunate for Flash that the little boy that breaks the DJ rubber ducky/Nutcracker is simultaneously the mysterious uncle who can bind the toy’s jaw up. Make it talk and live and enchant in its circle of glowing light. Enjoy a light show of candy canes and sugar plum faeries beneath an aluminum tree.

The writers set us up by talking about Gorilla Grodd, super intelligent mind controlling ape, and give us the Ultra Humanite, super intelligent mind shaping ape. Grodd wants to rule the world. The Ultra-Humanite mostly seems to want to want a Fraiser Crane world. Grodd almost split the JL through internal tensions. Ultra-Humanite split from Lex’s un-Justice League in exchange for more funding for PBS. The humanism in Humanite versus Flash’s encompassing joyful give. Loving his enemies as it were.

Maybe it’s just me, but the ornament on the top of the orphanage’s Christmas tree looks less like a star and more like a cross. Scrollgirl has an incredibly apropos quote from ( Luke 6:27-36 ) Giving to the orphans was cute and easy. Giving to the Ultra-Humanite was not only talking the talk, but walking the hard narrow high walk.

The Christmas in Smallville story had personal resonance. I have fond/cold memories of visiting relatives in South Dakota for Christmas. My grandmother attends a church that looks very much like that snowy Christmas bound building. Well, smaller, but equally snowy on a Christmas Eve. When all the world is white and vast and the winds blow across the plains to icy degree.

There’s just something so moving about J’onn wearing his own shape at the end of the episode. Singing. Watching the sun rise over a world made new by snow.

I’ve seen that vista. Sitting in the window at my grandparent’s farm. The vast distances of the prairie that seemed to go on forever. The infinite sky of the dawn. The pale rose to gold and white and softest blue. The tiny knot of humanity huddled on the table top vast. The cheery blinking lights on the water tower warding and guiding as you tromped your way into town. Cold feet and wind chill and humming carols.

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From Heaven’s all gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.
Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever over its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.
Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.
And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!
For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet-bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

J’onn flys and alights to hear singing. The mystic of the group. Last parent of a world lost to war. Rather than the Babel of separate voices cacophony, a united thought, “Peace on the earth, good will to men.”

Credulous, jejune, childish, childlike – Santa mugs and oversized sweaters and little gestures. Joining the Santa Conspiracy. A Christmas Carol. A Christmas card.

Comfort and joy to you and you and you. Peace on earth, good will to men.

 
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