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Book Review: Armageddon: Inferno by John Ostrander

October 22, 2020

I wrote this review on July 8, 2016 and recently got a like on Goodreads, so I’ll share it here. My memory of this is pretty weak, which is a shame considering the author, but nobody writes memorable work every time.

Armageddon: Inferno by John Ostrander

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is the weakest John Ostrander story I’ve read so far, after his earning my admiration with Suicide Squad (which I initially read only because of the Black Orchid and Shade, the Changing Man appearances) and Hawkworld, more so than Captain Atom: The Quantum Quest , but clearly under strict editorial control. The story is forced and seems derivative of something I’ve read recently, like a bad merger of Starro the Conqueror, Jim Starlin‘s Cosmic Odyssey , and J.M. DeMatteis‘s Overmind saga from his run on The Defenders (by far the best of the above three). Like The Quantum Quest, the final issue is full of splash pages that just seem like a tiringly commercial series of pinups of battle scenes, only this time by a plethora of artists. The only connection to Armageddon 2001 or Armageddon: The Alien Agenda is the inclusion of Waverider and a reference to how he inadvertently ensured the creation of Monarch, who does not appear in this.

We are told that Waverider has received new powers just for this story to proceed as it needs to to bring back the Justice Society of America after the events in Roy Thomas‘s The Last Days of the Justice Society of America . We’re not shown how he got these powers, which involve plucking people out of the time stream, we’re just told of an incident that occurred off-panel that allowed him to get them. Then the author and illustrators got to choose characters they wanted to use whose involvements wouldn’t affect the course of time, even including characters from the past like Hans von Hammer (Enemy Ace), Sgt Rock’s Easy Company and the Losers. It struck me as odd that everyday soldiers would know that the Spear of Destiny is what kept metahumans and mystically powered people from ending World War II, especially with the World War II adventures of Superman and Wonder Woman no longer in continuity. The characterization of all these diverse characters is consistent from other stories, at least.

The villains’ self-introductions are incredibly cheesy. The dozen new villains, called Daemens, all give grandiose speeches on who they are and what they’ve become in quaint silver age fashion. They are trying to get a creature called Abraxis into Earth’s dimension so that he can destroy it, feeding on human souls like cattle as he does in his own dimension. To this end, they have four avatars in different time periods.



They all fail, and Abraxis enters all four of the avatars. The Spectre tells Waverider that there are heroes he can get without interrupting the time stream, the Justice Society of America, who are fighting Ragnarok over and over again, and winning. With their godly powers that have kept them young, the are able to defeat Abraxis, but they lose the powers, revert to their normal ages, and pass the powers on to the simple people of Abraxis’s homeworld.

Much of the fourth issue that isn’t splash page battle scenes is the Spectre recapping for Waverider the events of the Last Days special. It seems odd, though, that a nearly omniscient character like the Spectre omits the part about it being a mere simulation created by Odin, as revealed in Neil Gaiman‘s The Sandman: Season of Mists , in which Odin notes his surprise about new heroes appearing in his Ragnarok simulator, that he offers to Dream as a gift. He tells Dream that one of them contains some of his essence, and we see Hawkman (Carter Hall, grandfather of Dream’s appointed successor, Daniel Hall) and The Sandman (Wesley Dodds), Dream’s de facto successor during the 1940s, battling Surtur. Again this implies editorial policy, because there was a taboo in referring to things that occurred in mature readers titles at the time (Vertigo came a bit later) in general audience titles.

It is a shame the return of the Justice Society could not have been done with better thought. they chose an excellent writer, but it is hard to imagine he would have written something like this without editorial mandate, as something as major as a miniseries showing how the Justice Society returned would have to be.

As for Waverider and Monarch, it would take several more years to learn what happened to them..

View all my reviews

  1. runjeanrun permalink


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