The Justice League was originally DC’s premier super team, the big guns team you called in when really serious problems that even Superman (theoretically) could not stop alone came a’ callin’. Then, Post-Crisis, the League was actually turned into a book that was largely played for laughs. That run was actually hugely popular. Heck, Watson likes it, and he largely dislikes comics these days. Considering the run occurred about the same time as Frank Miller and Alan Moore had (inadvertently in Moore’s case) made superheroes a lot less fun and funny, that means a whole lot more.
And hey, we got the Beefeater from that period, too.
The Beefeater was one Michael Morice. In those days, the Justice League was being financed by the United Nations, and as such there were League Embassies in major cities around the world. Theoretically, there would be a League team on each continent. The American branch was located in New York. The Australian branch had one hero stationed there. A short-lived Antarctic branch was used as a dumping ground for characters that mostly showed up and annoyed the heck out of team Big Boss Max Lord (seriously, check their only adventure out some time if you haven’t already). And the European branch was originally located in Paris.
Morice, a bit of a grump who claimed his father was the original World War II-era’s Beefeater, ran the London Embassy. Morice got no respect for that. His claims that his dad ran missions with the American hero (and obvious Captain America knock-off) General Glory was met with derision from his wife. Mrs. Morice just dismissed the whole thing, saying Michael’s dad used his power rod to win bets at the local pub and that General Glory was only a fictional character from a comic book (eh, not quite…). Fed up with his wife’s attitude and the lack of help from the Spanish man who did most of the housework while speaking little if any English, grumpy ol’ Michael packed up his dad’s costume and staff and walked off to prove himself to the JLE in Paris.
By the way, if that general description of Michael, his wife, or the Spanish guy sounds at all familiar, that was intentional, because Michael was based off John Cleese, particularly the character he played on the great British sitcom Fawlty Towers, and the rest of the bunch were also clearly inspired by that show.
The Beefeater’s plan didn’t go over well. Most of the JLE were enjoying a nice summer day chillin’ in the backyard, leaving the Embassy mostly empty aside from Kilowog, the League’s fixit guy when he was between Green Lantern gigs. The Beefeater sauntered in like he belonged (he didn’t), set off the defense system, assumed Kilowog was an alien invader (he wasn’t), and the net result was the Paris Embassy exploded, leaving the League more or less homeless. The series moved to London with the next issue.
But what amazing powers did the Beefeater possess? Um, none. His power rod could fire off some sort of blasts. That was about it. He didn’t get to join the League after blowing up their Paris Embassy, obviously, and even though the team moved to London, he wasn’t exactly hanging around much over there. His next appearance would be during the “Breakdowns” storyline that ended the humor era. After the Extremist robots went missing, the League’s Interpol liaison, the French Inspector Camus, ended up having the Beefeater accompany him as they looked into the crime. The two never did find the robots but were the first to encounter an angry Despairo, who easily beat both men, crushing the power rod with one hand. Both would survive, and the Beefeater can be seen popping up in background shots here and there.
Apparently, in the New 52, the Beefeater was taken seriously enough to become a warden for the British government’s superhuman prison, where he even got to escort Batman to see one such bad guy. But really, he’s a joke of a character. A very, very funny joke, but still a joke.
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