Back in 1989, inexplicably popular comic book artist Bryan Hitch was given control of DC Comics bestselling iconic “New 52” series Justice League of America and began a multi-part storyline called “Power and Glory,” in which Rao, the god of Superman’s lost homeworld Krypton, turns up alive and well on Earth one day and starts demanding that everybody worship him. The biddable sheeple of Planet Earth are only too happy to trade their free will for a few paltry miracle cures, but the Justice League – comprised here of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg – smells a rat. And an epic, multi-issue battle commences.
Now, at the end of 2016, after the entire continuity of DC Comics has undergone complete revamps and the original readers of “Power and Glory” have all grown old and passed on their comics longboxes to the next generation, the story finally comes to a conclusion in JLA #10.
Which is neither written nor drawn by Bryan Hitch. Which prompts me to ask yet again the same question I’ve been asking now for ten years: why does this unprofessional, totally unreliable charlatan continue to get prestige commissions from DC and Marvel? Why isn’t he doing semi-annual John Constantine 8-page backup features that nobody notices at all?
He hasn’t actually finished one of those high-profile assignments in a decade. When he signs on for some big event – Marvel’s Age of Ultron (or a run on its now shamefully defunct Fantastic Four), this Justice League run, or his previous Justice League run, etc. – it’s now common knowledge that he will a) miss deadlines, b) omit panel backgrounds, c) commit phoned-in or on-the-fly inept character redesigns, and finally d) walk off the job without completing it, leaving behind a mess that has to be sorted out by less expensive company talent. Hitch’s projects start with bombast, momentum along with an adolescent mixture of hyperventilation and sexism, and then fall flat on their faces with incredibly ad hoc and disappointing endings.
It would be one thing if this had happened once in a long career. Anybody can have a bit of bad luck. But this isn’t an isolated feature in Hitch’s career – it’s the defining characteristic of his career. If you attach him to your high-profile new comics title, that’s exactly what you’ll get: an overheated beginning, a long string of delays, and an abandoned mess.
The wrapping-up of the abandoned mess is what readers get in issue #10, which is written by Tony Bedard and drawn by Tom Derenick. The only thing about the issue that’s still Bryan Hitch is the cover, and it serves as a perfect parting shot of all that’s ridiculous and reprehensible about this shoddy fraud. It’s a generic pose-shot of the League in combat, Superman firing off his heat vision, Batman leaping into the fray, Green Lantern blasting energy, Flash accelerating to full speed, Aquaman brandishing his trident … and, front and center of the cover, Wonder Woman firing some sort of double-handled Uzi.
Only no explanation is given – nor would ever be considered necessary by a misogynist of Hitch’s caliber – for why a super-powered Amazon warrior with an indestructible golden lariat would need a gun. No explanation is given for why in an assembly where she’s arguable the most powerful person present (an assembly that includes Batman, who has no superpowers at all), she’s the only one who needs something she bought at Walmart. And no explanation is given for why on this particular cover Wonder Woman is a 20-something male cosplayer.
Hitch’s status as a high-demand fan favorite seems invulnerable, even though it’s the fans who get rooked every single time he attaches his name to a project. But at least “Power and Glory” is now over and done with. Bring on the next abortive fiasco.
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