Armagideon Time

For the first few years of its existence, the late 1980s “international” incarnation of the Justice League was the M*A*S*H or Mary Tyler Moore Show of sitcom-superheroics. The engaging mix of silliness and straightfaced superheroics proved difficutly to sustain, however, and began to decline into the Three’s Company territory during the tail end of the Giffen/DeMatteis run, which generated such laughtrack-ready debacles as the General Glory arc.

Things did not improve after the writing team decided to move on to other projects. DC sought to retain what had been a successful and critically acclaimed comedic formula even as it attempted to restore a more traditional approach to the franchise, resulting in a scattershot and paradoxical mess that limped along under the force of its residual fan momentum.

The history of the Justice League has always been a tale of brief moments of brillance flashing through long stretches of awfulness. Yet while missteps like Justice League Detroit or the Tenth Circle have a certain degree of campy charm in hindsight, the period between Giffen and DeMatteis’s departure and Grant Morrison’s  relunch of the League was a entirely forgettable exercise in creative wheel-spinning featuring nigh incomprehensible plots, uninspired art, and the JLA’s unasked for answer to ALF

…the sassy blue pterodactly otherwise known as The Yazz.  (Not to be confused with the BoSox legend, the former leader of the Plastic Population, or the oral contraceptive preferred by windfall-hungry trial lawyers.)

No, really.  The Yazz.

Look, I’m not making this up.  I’d tell you to check for yourself, but friends don’t let friends read Chromium Age Justice League stories.

You’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that a sassy, wisecracking alien dinosaur was an associate member of the team for twenty-odd issues, acting as their resident Arnold Drummond (“Whatchutalkingabout, Nuklon?”) while taunting the other Leaguers about his/her/its actual gender (which would have been potentially groundbreaking if handled with a little more sensitivity and subtlety than one normally associates with a rejected Small Wonder gag.)

As both a cautionary tale about applying sitcom logic to superhero comics and a harrowing reminder of the depths a beloved franchise can sink to, The Yazz has earned his/her/itself the honor of being this week’s Nobody’s Favorite.

Related posts:

  1. Nobody’s Favorites: No lesser glory
  2. Nobody’s Favorites: A sad twist of fate
  3. Nobody’s Favorites: Out of time

22 Responses to “Nobody’s Favorites: Jumping the pterodactyl”

  1. Mikester

    I swear to God, this is the first time I’ve ever heard of this character.

  2. Brian Smith

    He’s like a bad Howard the Duck, except for that Yazzmatazz panel, where he’s like a bad worse Jar Jar Binks.

  3. Brimstone

    he was the Yazz
    with god-given ass…

  4. Kris

    But everyone in the comic clearly loves him…

    …is that early Joe Quesada art?

  5. Sallyp

    Wasn’t this during Gerard Jones run? There was a LOT of stuff going on as I recall. Wonder Woman was running around in her biker shorts, Guy Gardner showed up as Warrior, Fire was hanging out with Ice Maiden, trying to replace poor Tora, and Obsidian was angsting.

    There actually were a few decent moments, but yes…the Yazz sucked.

  6. Kid Kyoto

    Now Andrew I thought we talked about this, it’s not fair to just make up characters to mock, you should only use real character that professional writers and editors agreed should see print.

  7. Your Obedient Serpent

    Great googly moogly — he was really around for more than 20 issues?

  8. bitterandrew

    Just shy of twenty, actually, from Justice League America #95 to the end of the series.

  9. Jeremy Henderson

    From DCUGuide.com:

    “‘He’ is mainly remembered because ‘he’ refused to tell the heroes ‘his’ gender, and because Hawkman once tried to kiss ‘him’.”

    What the fuck?!

  10. Rob S.

    No way. Really?

    I guess it’s nice to know that comics you ignored were worth ignoring, but…

    I guess the only thing worse than something like the Yazz happening without my knowledge is something like the Yazz happening *with* my knowledge.

  11. Grant Goggans

    I’ve thrown away more issues of Justice League than I think most people have ever owned, and the basic rule is that if Dick Dillin didn’t draw it, or Grant Morrison didn’t write it, I don’t want to read it. Actually, I’m not even sure that the Yazz was the worst thing about the book during this period. I seem to remember Blue Devil showing up and acting like McBain from The Simpsons and Power Girl running around with a baby in a really eyebrow-raising plotline.

  12. Old Bull Lee

    I’ve had this conversation on this blog before, but there were some excellent stories during the Gerard Jones run. He kept the Giffen-era character interaction going (with the comedy dialed down) and gave the League some interesting villains and situations to deal with.

  13. Ahlhelm

    Kris-

    That was Chuck Wo… Woj … hold on a second… deep breath… Chuck Wojtkiewicz. Great storyteller often saddled with less than popular books. He’s a digital artist now.

    And I’m allowed to have fun with it as my name is almost as unpronounceable.

  14. adam

    I really like what gerard jones can bring to a book – Trouble with Girls, Green Lantern: Mosaice and that excellent Elongated Man miniseries, so despite what you’ve attempted, andrew, I think I AM going to try to chase some of these down. Maybe. If I can get versions that have the Yazz panels clipped out.

  15. Old Bull Lee

    Martian Manhunter: American Secrets is another great book of his.

    Jones took JLE while Dan Jurgens took JLA after the Giffen era ended, and I always thought Jones’s JLE blew Jurgens away.

  16. Jason

    It’s nice to see Pterri has reinvented himself after “Peewee’s Playhouse” went off the air. There are not that many career options for an anthropomorphic pterodactyl these days due the bad economy.

  17. Grant Goggans

    The best part of Jones’ JLE run was the time the editors swapped the covers around for two issues (Luck of Amos Fortune and Mystery of Castle JLE) and nobody noticed.

  18. Alan Bryan

    Like the Mikester I have never heard of this character before this column OR I simply mind wiped myself after each appearance for the sake of sanity.
    Of course I was not buying JLA or any JLA product very often during this period.

  19. suedenim

    In a fairly short time, Gerard Jones went from perhaps being my favorite writer at the time to a reliable source of unreadable garbage. When I liked him, I was close to a Gerard Jones completist.

    But here, it was at the point that I didn’t buy a single issue of this #94-113 run of Justice League America.

    Jones has said that he was DEEPLY unhappy working at DC during the latter part of his tenure there. IMO, his work greatly deteriorated around the time Green Lantern: Mosaic was canceled, which was either the main source of Jones’ unhappiness or a straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back thing.

    I could sympathize with his frustration, but it didn’t make these comics any easier to read.

  20. LCB

    So help me, I can remember this character – one of the many reasons I stopped bothering with the Justice League for a long long loooong time. This is one of my least favorite types of characters to encounter in superhero comics, shoehorned-in feeling super-wacky quipsters, be they a guy, a gal, alien or talking critter who carry on like especially spazzy Robin Williamses or zany sitcom neighbors. Especially when other characters are written to act like they think this being is actually funny.

  21. Mea

    I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of the character before this blog (sounds like no big loss). However, last night I was rereading JLA/Avengers and actually spotted him in a panel. He even got a line. Oy…

    So, thanks for the info…I think.

  22. Snark Shark

    ““‘He’ is mainly remembered because ‘he’ refused to tell the heroes ‘his’ gender, and because Hawkman once tried to kiss ‘him’.””

    BWA-HA-HA!

    I’m glad i’d stopped reading JLI/JLA/JLE by that point.

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