Hey everybody! Hope you enjoyed the first part of the MC2 Summer here at The Unspoken Decade! It only gets hotter from here! Last week, we talked about the cornerstone of the MC2 Universe, Spider-Girl. This week, we tackle J2, which is appropriate, because J2 does a lot of tackling.
If you figured out that J2 is connected to the Juggernaut, quit reading this immediately and go apply at your nearest police department; the force could use someone with those detective skills. They have lots of tough cases that only a mind like yours could crack! Ok, that was harsh, but indeed J2 and Juggernaut are connected, as J2 is the son of the original Juggernaut, just as Spider-Girl is the daughter of Spider-Man. That’s a trope that we see time and time again in the MC2 Universe. (Should I say universe or imprint? I have wrestled with this a few times, and I can’t decide. Opinions in the comments, please.) I have no issue with that, as I am sure that is what the majority of readers wanted to see. I was more interested in seeing things venture into the unknown in my favorite titles, especially J2.
My favorite super villain is Juggernaut. From the moment I saw Juggernaut, I was completely mesmerized. Few characters have a look so appropriate and striking. When you see Juggernaut, you think Juggernaut, even if you don’t know that’s his name. I’m fascinated by the ferocity and strength that is summed up simply in the catchphrase we have all come to know and love: “Nothing Stops The Juggernaut!” (If you said “I’m The Juggernaut, bitch”, I am unsure we can be friends anymore, and congratulations for ruining comic books.) The real question here, though, is does J2 measure up?
If you don’t know who Raven is, you are missing out, big time Take some time, get the WWE Network, and then check him out on ECW. If there is anything more 90’s than the comic books we have been talking here at The Unspoken Decade, it’s definitely professional wrestling.
Speaking of wrestling, we learn quickly that Juggernaut is gone, but he made a face turn before he disappeared. Despite the fact that we are told instantly that this is indeed the progeny of The Unstoppable Juggernaut, he is nowhere to be found! That was a letdown to me. I had hoped to see Juggernaut, yelling at his kid to mow the lawn or remarking about how when he had the Crimson of Cyttorak, he used it the right way. Something about crotchety Dad Juggernaut makes me laugh so hard that I scare kittens. That’s literally true. We just got a kitten, and my bellowing made it seek sanctuary in the kitchen.
We do see Zane Yama-Marko, Juggernaut’s son, and we quickly see more of him than he would have cared for us to see. We also see more of him than we would have cared to see.
The above picture shows you the first time that Zane is able to morph into J2! I’m pretty sure this isn’t what they meant when they say “You never forget your first time.” J2 has all the power of his Dad, but none of the experience. In fact, just like May Parker, he’s still in high school! Unlike May Parker, though, who has both the jocks and the nerds in her corner due to her physical and mental prowess, Zane is an out and out dork who aspires to approach ladies. No one would have confused me with Don Juan during my high school days, but even I was aware that talking about math was uncool as hell.
Zane may be more like Spider-Man than Spider-Girl other than, you know, not having his powers and all. But just like a young Peter Parker, Zane is burdneded by a lack of social graces at school, and the lack of a male father figure at home burdens him as well. He does have the good fortune of having a best friend with the greatest name in history: Montana Gold. I think she has a crush on Zane as well, but he is blinded by the stunning Talia, who is rendered amazingly by Ron Lim.
Lim is the 90’s to me. In my first days of collecting, I was exposed to his work on The Infinity War, where he drew, well, everyone in the Marvel Universe except The Punisher, who I wish I could have seen in a crossover in that event, if for no other reason than to see Punisher in a spot he had no business being. Sort of like how I just slapped him into this J2 article.
Due to the fact that Ron Lim drew everyone in that book, his take on many of Marvel’s characters became the take on them in my eyes. He was the first guy to draw Alpha Flight for me, and because of his rendering, they continue to have a soft spot in my heart to this day. And if he could make me an Alpha Flight fan, just imagine what a fight between J2 and The Incredible Hulk drawn by him could do.
Ron Lim being fantastic aside, J2 was easier for me to relate to while also being very easy to cheer for. He was trying to find himself in a brand new world, something I could certainly identify with. I was 18 and about to turn 19 when I picked these comic books up off the shelf, not much older than Zane. I had been where he was at just a few years prior. I was starting 9th grade, I had never kissed a girl, I was too smart for my own good, and I was about as secure as pile of money inside a wet paper bag on a casino floor. Thanks to Upward Bound, I was able to find myself. (Upward Bound is a terrific program for impoverished kids who want to attend college. Check it out and support it all you can!) I somehow channeled all of my passion for nerd stuff into being cool-no small feat in the 90’s. It ain’t like today, kids.
But here I was, now a freshman in college, and I was overwhelmed. A blind dolphin 7,839 miles from the ocean could not have felt more lost than I did. I attempted to use my charm at college, but everything was going wrong in my attempts to make new pals. Zane couldn’t make any pals (other than the excellently named Montana Gold!) either, which somehow made me feel a bit better about my own predicament. Don’t worry folks, for the both of you who are, I eventually figured out how to make friends in college: ALCOHOL.
Zane didn’t have that option, what with this being a family friendly comic and all (STILL CODE APPROVED, KIDS), but he did have his mother. J2’s mom is great, working hard as a single mom and being an assistant district attorney, but she is also leery of J2 and wants to know what his connection to her missing husband is. Zane, being J2, keeps the secret from his mom despite her efforts to find out as much as she can about him. Can you imagine how awful that must be? When I was a teenager, my mom’s constant forays into unraveling all my secrets were awful enough; I can’t imagine how much more terrible that would have been if I had a secet identity my mom was also looking into.
J2 also saw the debut of an MC2 character who would get her own title: Wild Thing! Wild Thing is the daugher of Wolverine of and Elektra, but I am loathe to say more here; it’s an MC2 summer, and she will be getting her own entry! You don’t have to wait that long to see her, though.
J2 is also a member of A-Next (the next entry here in the MC2 summer!), but he obviously has many ties to the X-Men family as well. That’s evidenced not just above, but also when the Uncanny X-People guest star, or my favorite, when we are introduced to Magneta, Mistress of Magnetism!
J2 being the connection between the Avengers/X-People is another way that MC2 harkens back to the old days of the Marvel Universe. I find it similar as to when Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver joined the Avengers. Marvel has always felt special in the way its characters are tethered together, and these little touches in the MC2 Universe kept that feeling alive. J2 being the connection between the two groups made perfect sense, as he can easily transfer between them. I have no problem believing that he would be with the X-People (That’s what they are called now, folks, and to make that name even worse, Jubilee is their leader. She’s the worst!) in the morning while then turning around and going toe-to-toe with some of the hardest hitting super villains in the galaxy with A-Next at his side.
J2 just succeeds on all levels. I think that Tom DeFalco’s magnum opus was the MC2 line, in particular the Spider-Girl title. That’s definitely the best of the bunch, but J2 is my favorite. This title seemed to speak directly to me when I picked it up off the shelf in 1998, and when I read it now it brings me back to a more confused but somehow simpler time. How, nostalgia, how you bring the dichotomous together!
For real though, if you see this in a dollar or quarter box, snatch it up! You won’t be let down as you get to see J2 try and find his way in the world, his way with girls, and then finally, he tried to find his Dad! These are twelve solid issues that will leave you with the same sort of smile you get now when you think of Joey Lawrence laying a “Whoa!” on you. OK, the smile J2 brings will be better than that!
Next week, Angel Hayes is back as she takes a gander at…The Inhumans! Sound the trumpets! Here comes Marvel Knights! And in two weeks, the MC2 summer continues with A-Next!!!