Monday, March 31, 2008

Justice League of America #132 - July 1976

sgWow, this issue guest-stars Supergirl and features an elephant wielding a mace! What more do you kids want for thirty cents?!?

The Story: "The Beasts Who Fought Like Men!" by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. Continued from last issue, the animals and the insects of the world are getting smarter, and proving to be a tough match for the JLA.

Green Lantern manages to stop them long enough to head to the satellite to investigate, but when he gets there, his old foe Sonar is waiting for him! Sonar blasts him, plus other arriving JLAers.

Turns out it was Sonar, disguised as a S.T.A.R. Labs scientist(who the heck does the vetting over there?), who designed these credit cards.

As Sonar is explaining his plan, James Bond-villain-style, Supergirl breaks into the satellite and tries to take him out! She gets a good shot in, but Sonar manages to escape.

Turns out the JLA was playing possum so they could find out Sonar's plan. Batman realizes that Sonar has let loose something even he can't control, so they have to stop him for multiple reasons. Turns out that Supergirl has been trying to find her cousin, but couldn't do so anywhere on Earth! He has gone missing, along with Hawkman, Aquaman, Atom, Flash, and Elongated Man! But the JLA has more pressing concerns at the moment.

The JLA manages to stop Sonar, and they show him the flaw(s) in his plan--that, giving the animals human intelligence gives them all the flaws of humans, which cause the animals to fight among themselves and become unable to control!

Meanwhile, Wonder Woman, Black Canary, and Supergirl go after Queen Bee, who they have learned was actually behind this plot, even though she fell victim to it!

Tracking the brain-power link, they were able to find the missing JLAers, except Superman, who is still nowhere to be found! To be continued!

Roll Call: Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, Elongated Man

Notable Moments: One last comment on the cover--typical of Batman, bringing a Batarang to a gorilla-with-a-gun fight.

I like how Conway, for all intents and purposes, ended this storyline, yet found a way to link it to the next one.

This is the beginning of DC celebrating the bicentennial, where you supposed to clip off the top of twenty-five different DC comics, send them in, and you won...a Superman belt-buckle! Having a cool way to hold up your belt doesn't make up for a pile of mangled comics, fellas...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Justice League of America #131 - June 1976

sgI love Hawkman up on the perch there. That's just so humiliating.

The Story: "The Beasts Who Thought Like Men!" by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. As Superman and Flash round up some local citizens driven into some sort of frenzy, a kid buys a comic book with...a credit card? Are we on Earth-Visa?

Nope, turns out that a strange plague has infected all the U.S. currency, driving anyone who used it mad! Riots broke out, violence occurred, so the wonderfully misguided scientists at S.T.A.R. Labs(they must have had one of those no-bid contracts with the government) came up with a personal I.D./credit card to replace all cash money!

Meanwhile, its not only the people that have gone mad, but the animals, too! Some of them seem to find their ow way out of their cages, but luckily they are stopped by The Atom and Elongated Man, who are surprised at the regular people's reaction, who seemed too sluggish and dumb not to put themselves in harm's way. The same thing happens to Aquaman, as well.

As the JLA tries to figure out this mess, a giant swarm of bees is attacking New York City. As they try to stop them, they run into the Queen Bee, who they assume is behind this. Turns out she is a victim of the "sluggishness" that seems to be affecting all human-like life on Earth.

She tells them that these credit cards have created a "sonic pattern" which is transferring brian-power from humans to animals. As she and the JLA are overcome by the bees, the Atom and Elongated Man are visiting the man at S.T.A.R. who created the cards. Unbeknownst to them, he is not what he seems and leads them into a death-trap. To be continued!

Roll Call: Superman, Aquaman, Flash, Atom, Hawkman, Elongated Man

Notable Moments: Other than the whole "transferring brain-power" thing, I think the whole card-replacing-money is a perfectly workable idea, and will probably really happen one day
...I hope that, when they do make these, Gerry Conway gets the first one.

We are now at the halfway point of the run of Justice League of America, which stopped at issue #261. We aren't exactly one-hundred and thirty posts away from the end of the blog, since there are some more ads, a few annuals, and a surprise or two(!) still in store.

But I just wanted to pause for a moment to reflect how far we've come. When I started the blog back in November 2006, even the halfway point seemed soooo far away. Thanks everybody for taking an interest in what I'm doing here!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Justice League of America #130 - May 1976

sgOne question and one comment regarding this cover: First, you don't see a lot of scratchboard on comics covers, so points for that.

Second--just where are Green Arrow and Aquaman's legs, exactly? Bad Chua!

The Story: An Untold Tale from the JLA Casebook: "Skyjack at 22,300 Miles!" by Martin Pasko, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. Set during the events of JLA #s 78 and 79, we have Hawkman explaining to Flash how JLAers are supposed to arrive at their new satellite HQ, via rooftop teleportation tubes.

At the same time, inside the building Flash and Hawkman are meeting on, S.T.A.R. Labs, your typical comic book scientist is working on something that goes horribly wrong, and a moon rock is cracked open, spilling a weird purple creature out of it, which attacks the scientist and jumps out the window.

As the two JLAers beam themselves up, the creature converts itself into a gas-like shape and sneaks into the tube, as well. Flash and Hawkman notice this, but its too late to stop it!

When they arrive, they have been morphed into three hybrid creatures, one with Flash's head, Hawkman's body, and the creature's legs, the others having all the opposite attributes! They attack the bewildered JLAers and quickly knock them out.

But instead of escaping, the creatures use the JLA library to do some sort of research, and then they start trying to pull the satellite out of its orbit and put it on a new trajectory.

Turns out the creature--named a Dharlu--was a mother, and it was following its instinct to return "home" to give birth. The JLA of course stops it, but it has a peculiarly weird ending, where the JLA traps the Dharlu inside the JLA computer, freezing it into a sort of suspended animation, where it will stay forever!

Roll Call: Superman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary

Notable Moments: It seems kinda cruel to keep this creature trapped in a sort of living death inside your computer. I mean, jeez.

According to the Statement of Ownership, Justice League of America was at this time selling about 173,000 copies per month, out of 412,000 printed! Wow, that's a pretty poor "sell-through" for what I always thought was one of DC's heavy-hitters.

The book had just been "promoted" to monthly status, for the first time in its fifteen year history, so obviously DC was ok with these numbers.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Justice League of America #129 - April 1976

sgThis cover gives me vertigo. Well done, Mr. Chua!

The Story: "The Earth Dies Screaming!" by Martin Pasko, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. Continued from last issue, the fearful Hawkman decides not to try and save his formerly-beloved Midway City.

Wonder Woman, the only JLAer not affected by Nekron-inspired fear, finds a way to override it, by using her magic lasso!

The only problem is, the bolt of energy that will destroy Midway is designed to only be stopped by Hawkman, which means Wonder Woman would have to force him to give up his life, which she can't bring herself to do!

Soon after, Flash, Aquaman, and Red Tornado arrive, Flash having also seen a vision of his death at the hands of Captain Cold. Black Canary then notices that while Hawkman is down in Midway trying to evacuate the people, he also seems to be in space heading towards Nekron's energy bolt! What?!?

Turns out that Red Tornado has dressed himself as Hawkman, to fool Nekron! The burst hits Tornado, exploding him to bits! He sacrificed himself to save the city.

While Wonder Woman uses her lasso to convince some of the JLA to fight Nekron on Earth, the Atom comes up with an ingenious plan to defeat him for good.

He has uses Greeb Lantern's ring to amplify Aquaman's telepathic power to boost the fear of death into Superman to a greater extent than even Nekron could accomplish.

So when, down on Earth, the JLA transports Nekron to the JLA satellite, he instinctively attacks Superman, who is cowering in a corner.

Unfortunately for Nekron, when he tries to absorb Superman's fear, its too much for him to handle, which stuns himself and reduces him down to his original, insect-like size. Nice job, Atom and Aquaman!

While the JLA is happy they defeated Nekron, they are saddened over the loss of their friend The Red Tornado...

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado

Notable Moments: Red Tornado explodes a lot.

I loved Martin Pasko thinking outside the box here, taking Aquaman's inherent abilities and amplifying them to something not seen before with the character. Also, having Wonder Woman be the catalyst for defeating Nekron was a great way to bring her back into the JLA.

The JLA Mail Room header is changed again, to reflect the change in membership, and was drawn by Dick Dillin and inked by my old Kubert School instructor Tex Blaisdell

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Justice League of America #128 - March 1976

sgWonder Woman returns to the JLA! Great Hera, about time!

The Story: "Death-Visions of the Justice League!" by Martin Pasko, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. Wonder Woman shows up to the JLA satellite for her first meeting back as a member(having been reinstated in Wonder Woman #222).

But...she finds the JLA packing up its stuff, since they have decided to disband the JLA! Great Hera, what's going on here?!

Turns out all the various members of the JLA had separate visions of their violent deaths at the hands of bad guys, which has robbed them of their courage to be heroes! Only Wonder Woman is unaffected.

Meanwhile, Green Lantern is on another planet, fighting a weird creature named Nekron, who feeds off the fear of others. Hmm...

Nekron knocks out Lantern, and heads for Earth. Wonder Woman manages to talk the JLA into helping her go after Nekron. But Nekron manages to defeat them, and gets away.

As the JLA is back at the satellite, figuring out its Nekron who is "getting in their heads", he appears on TV to announce that a giant ball of fire is headed towards Midway City, and only Hawkman can stop it!

Hawkman isn't about to risk his life, so he calls Shayera and tells her to get out of Dodge, metaphorically. Wonder Woman is shocked to hear him say "Too bad about Midway--I'm going to miss it." To be continued!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, Elongated Man

Notable Moments: Clearly, Wonder Woman belonged in the Justice League--going through all these issues one by one, it was surprising to see just how long she'd been gone--fifty-nine issues!

The cover by Ernie Chan isn't bad, though this is one goofy-looking Atom:
They pulled out the old JLA Hereby Elects...(or, in this case, Reinstates) scroll for Wonder Woman's return, but done a little differently this time:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Justice League of America #127 - Feb. 1976

sgWelcome to a Hal Jordan's worst nightmare!

The Story: "The Command is 'Chaos'!" by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. The JLA is fighting an oddly-dressed group of supervillains, led by a masked guy in a colorful super-suit named The Anarchist.

The Anarchist holds off the JLA long(by somehow making part of the JLA's uniforms turn against their owners) enough to accomplish his main goal--kidnapping several members of the U.N., right out of the General Assembly Hall! The rest of the U.N. is less than pleased with the JLA's performance.

Meanwhile, Hal Jordan finds himself compelled to charge his ring, against his will. He switches to his GL uniform to find out the source of these commands.

Later, Clark Kent is attending a religious rally with Steve Lombard, whose broken leg is seemingly healed by preacher Simon Ellis. Clark uses his X-Ray vision and finds out that, indeed, Lombard's leg is healed!

Superman suspects Ellis and the Anarchist have some connection, and when the JLA comes to investigate, he blasts Batman, Canary, and Elongated Man, who disappeared just like the U.N. delegates did.

Lantern figures out that its Ellis that's been forcing him to recharge his ring, and has been siphoning its power. Lantern figures the only way to break the connection if he's knocked out, and there's only one way to do it--Superman!

That does the trick, and when the rest of the JLA finds the Anarchist, he and his minions are virtually powerless. Superman reveals him to be Ellis, whose plan was to capture members of the U.N., causing worldwide chaos, and hoping to fill the power vacuum with his New World Order. Ah, we've seen knuckleheads like this before!

Green Lantern wakes up in the satellite, free from the Anarchist's power. He recharges his ring, this time under his own will, in a cool panel requested to be shown by my pal (and JLA/Aquaman fan) Russell Burbage
Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado

Notable Moments: This issue's JLA Mail Room is made up entirely of letters from female readers. Could any comic even do that nowadays?

Once again, the cover is a tad misleading. Oh well, that's comics.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Justice League of America #126 - Jan. 1976

sgNot one of Ernie Chan's best covers--the design is fine, but I kinda doubt the JLA are hurtled through the air like stiff-armed action figures. Of course, everything else about the comic is totally plausible.

The Story: "The Evil Connection!" by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. Picking up from last issue, the Weaponers of Qward come to Earth and quickly encounter Green Lantern.

They blast Lantern and rescue Two-Face, and then tell them their plan to destroy the Earth and save the alien world of Dronndar. They ask Dent for his help, he flips his coin...tails!

Two-Face meets up with Superman and Aquaman, then Hawkman, Flash, and Atom, and places tiny power-blast devices on them. So, unbeknownst to them, when they thought they were fighting and defeating the invaders from Qward, they were actually siphoning off energy from Dronndar, doing their work for them!

Luckily the Atom figures out Two-Face's treachery, and tells Superman and Aquaman that the way to reverse the process is to let themselves get defeated by the Qwardians, which they do.

The the Qwardians stupidly piled on, blasting the heroes over and over, reversing the whole energy-transferring process, which burns out the transmitters Two-Face placed on them. Then it was short work defeating now-weakened Qwardians (confused yet?).

The issue ends with Two-Face back in Arkham Asylum, telling the story to another cell-mate
Roll Call: Superman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman

Notable Moments: I like how the Joker is about as chaotically insane as he's ever been--here he is, sort of wishing for the sweet embrace of death.

Thank God Two-Face decided to betray the League; otherwise they probably would've asked him to join!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Justice League of America #125 - Dec. 1975

sgNo way is Batman gonna approve this membership application!

The Story: "The Men Who Sold Destruction!" by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. We open with Green Lantern apprehending some costumed bank robbers, but GL is stunned when they blast him with an energy charge! This knocks GL out and they get away.

Meanwhile, the Flash is helping the curators at a Central City museum figure out how a priceless statue of Napoleon has been switched with a copy--overnight! As the Flash uses his super-speed to check out the molecules of the copy, it suddenly explodes! Just as Flash is getting yelled at by the curator, he gets a JLA distress signal and heads for the satellite.

When Flash arrives, he is shocked to see the villainous Two-Face there, along with members of the JLA! Flash of course heads to attack Mr. Dent, and ignores Superman's admonition to stop, leading to a great moment where Barry shows Clark what "fast" really is
Green Lantern finally slows the Flash down long enough to explain that Two-Face is there on purpose. Two-Face tells the JLA his story--a few days ago he was contacted by animated statues of Napoleon, Caesar, and Ben Franklin(!), who offer him unimaginable power...for a price.

Two-Face doesn't give them an immediate answer, and then overhears their plan, which involves saving their home planet by transferring excess destructive energy from their planet to Earth, which, when used, will save their planet and destroy Earth. Dent, compulsive as ever, flips a coin to decide what to do...and it came yp heads! And since Batman was "out of town", he came to the JLA for help.

Aquaman then calls the JLA for help, telling them of a prison break at Oceanside Prison(doesn't sound too bad, actually), which of course involves the weird stone historical figures, as well.

The JLA gets there, and defeats them...a little too easily for their tastes. As they try to figure this out, we see the would-be alien destructors start Phase 2 of their plan, which is to attack Earth with their partners in the plan...the Weaponers of Qward! To be continued!

Roll Call: Superman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman

Notable Moments: Gerry Conway's first JLA story. Of course, he would go on to write a lot more issues of the book.

Two-Face fits uneasily in the JLA world, which I think was on purpose. It only underscores the slightly different world that Batman travels in when he's not on JLA cases.

You may have noticed this odd inscription on this issue's cover:
...well, when I was a kid, I occasionally would "ink" over comics I had, which pretty much just meant adding detail lines to the art. I'm not sure what the hell I was thinking, or why I wrote this on the cover. My Mom never threw away my comics, so I was basically talking to myself here, and ruining some of my comics in the process. I manhandled this book so much that I had to restaple it to keep it together.

I was a lonely, indoor kinda kid. Thank God things have changed (hollow laugh).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Justice League of America #124 - Nov. 1975

sgCan the JLA and the JSA defeat...Cary Bates?!?

The Story: "Avenging Ghosts of the Justice Society!" by Cary Bates, Elliot S! Maggin, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. The bad guys, revealed to have actually been the JSA, appear to be dead!

Meanwhile, Cary Bates goes on a reign of terror, robbing banks and whatnot, all under the control of the Wizard. Unnoticed, a strange green wisp watches what is transpiring...

The Wizard discovers that Elliott S! Maggin is on Earth-2 as well, and tells Bates to kidnap him and use him as bait to trap the JLA. He does so, and the JLA and the Injustice Society square off.

The JLA start to see the ghosts of the dead JSAers, and get defeated the the bad guys, until the mysterious mist reveals itself to be...The Spectre!

The Spectre resurrects the JSAers, who help rescue the JLA, who then turn on the Injustice Society, easily beating them. The spell on Bates wears off, and Johnny Thunder's T-Bolt sends them home.

We end the issue where we started this whole story--Bates and Maggin trying--and failling--to pitch story ideas to Julie Schwartz. As he tells them of their newest tale "Nobody's gonna believe a story like that!"

Roll Call: Batman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Black Canary

Notable Moments: The Spectre, thought dead since JLA #83, does not reveal himself to his friends, none of the heroes ever know how they died and came back to life. I guess you learn not to question stuff like that when you're a superhero.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Justice League of America #123 - Oct. 1975

sgThe JLA and the JSA face off against one of their oddest adversaries ever!

The Story: "Where On Earth Am I?" by Cary Bates, Elliot S! Maggin, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. We open on Earth-Prime("our" Earth), where we find JLA editor Julius Schwartz berating his young writers--Bates and Maggin--for not being able to come up with a plot for this month's issue!

While Julie goes to lunch, the boys break out Julie's Cosmic Treadmill(as seen in The Flash #179), and Bates accidentally finds himself transported to Earth-2! While there, something mysterious happens to Bates, where he finds himself with amazing powers, and becomes tempted to use them for evil!

Meanwhile, Maggin tries to follow him, but ends up on Earth-1, where he is rescued by Aquaman from drowning, who takes him to the JLA satellite, where he gives them his story.

They of course don't believe him, but Maggin has developed powers too, which he uses to prove to the JLA he's not making up this crazy story, by teleknetically removing the masks and knowing the secret I.D.s of several JLAers!

On Earth-2, Bates gets worse, and uses his powers to trap and defeat the JSA. We then find out that this is because the evil supervillian, The Wizard, cast a spell on Bates turning him evil!

The JLA come to Earth-2, and are met by the Wizard and his Injustice Society(Sportsmaster, Huntress, The Gambler, The Shade, and The Icicle). Luckily, the JLA defeats them, but finds that these bad guys are actually...the JSA! What's going on here? Only the evil Cary Bates knows for sure. To be continued!

Roll Call: Batman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Black Canary

Notable Moments: Another lark of an issue, similar to #89 where writer Mike Friedrich was the protagonist. What was it about the JLA that made their writers want to incorporate themselves into the stories?

On the JLA Mail Room page comes this interesting suggestion for a new member:
...and you thought Shade the Changing Man was thinking outside the box!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Justice League of America #122 - Sept. 1975

sgOne of my all-time favorite issues, because, of course, it is the rarest of JLA stories--it centers on Aquaman, even if it seems like he's dead inside(don't believe it).

The Story: "The Great Identity Crisis!" by Martin Pasko, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. We are told that this is an "Untold Tale From the JLA Casebook" that opens with the JLA kicking the butt of some giant ice creature. Just another day in the DCU.

Since they are near Superman's Fortress, they take the creature there for safekeeping. After the JLA departs, we see the creature changes shape, easily escaping the cage.

This mystery man then picks up some Amnesium from Superman's armory and shoots a ray gun through it, wiping out the memory of the JLAers civilian identities. He remarks that it won't work on Superman, and Aquaman doesn't have a secret ID, but he has other plans for them.

He then fires at them again, scrambling their memories, so they falsely remember who they are(Green Arrow thinks he's Ray Palmer, etc.). Superman and Aquaman notice the guys are acting funny, so they decide to trail them.

While in the deep, dark ocean depths, Aquaman comes across a Lantern Fish, but we see that the fish is a decoy, a trap of the villainous...Dr. Light! The fish explodes, and Aquaman is presumed dead.

Meanwhile, the various JLAers(Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Batman, Atom) fall prey to deathtraps that, were they who they think they are, could've escaped!

Dr.Light, holed up in the Fortress, starts putting his master plan in place(involving mirage doubles and other fun), the JLAers show up, having escaped the deathtraps! Light is confused, but at least he killed Aquaman, right? Wrong!:
Wow! Aquaman is the guy driving this story and figuring everything out!

Anyway, it turns out tha Aquaman, under his rarely-used civilian identity of Arthur Curry(and looking quite Plaid Stallion-y in the process):
...found Oliver Queen and Ray Palmer and helped them out of their jams. Superman rounded up Batman, then Flash, who then saved Green Lantern, and now they're all here!

Dr. Light activates his mirages, as well as wrapping Supes in some kryptonite rings. Aquaman uses Superman's cape to round up some of the mirages, and then to save Flash(who is being trailed by some anti-matter mirages and will kill him if he stops running away from them) by having Barry vibrate through the cape, which traps the evil duplicates, causing them all to explode.

They then gang up, disarm Dr.Light, and save Superman. Supes then crushes the Amnesium, and they all make a promise to exchange their secret IDs with each other so nothing like this can happen again!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom

Notable Moments: Martin Pasko, I owe you a drink.

Obviously, as a kid, I simply loved this issue(and I'm not the only one), since not only does Aquaman get a lot to do, but he comes up with a way out of Dr.Light's plan, and its his idea how to save each of the JLAers individually. And, other than the one brief scene involving the lantern fish, none of it takes place in the water, underscoring a belief I've always had about the character--you don't need to write water-centric stories to make Aquaman an effective, impressive hero.

Judging by Green Arrow's duds, this story takes place after JLA #75, which wasn't all that long ago. The story is unusual for the fact that the JLA satellite is never shown.

The nifty cover is by Mike Grell, who had drawn the cover to JLA #117 and had also drawn Aquaman's solo back-up series in the Spectre issues of Adventure Comics right around this time. As a graphic artist, that pattern Grell uses on the site of Aquaman's tombstone haunts my dreams.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Justice League of America #121 - Aug. 1975

sgAn unusually non-dramatic cover for a superhero comic, but still nice. But why the heck is Batman Adam Strange's best man?

The Story: "The Hero Who Jinxed the Justice League!" by Cary Bates, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. Adam Strange shows up to tell the remaining JLA the bad news.

Unfortunately, before this mess can be handled, the JLA gets a distress signal to handle a strange cloud of energy that it knocking out power all over eastern seaboard.

As they get there, the cloud seems to have some sort of intelligence, as it attacks the JLA by creating cloud-like duplicates of them. Meanwhile, Adam Strange can only watch from the satellite, because he would die instantly.

You see, to be able to stay on Rann, Alanna's father Sardath has been bathing Adam in a particular kind of radiation, which keeps him on Rann but would kill him on Earth!

As Adam is mulling what to do, Kanjar Ro shows up in the satellite, basically just to taunt his old foe. Adam times it right, and grabs Ro's power wand just in time to get transported back to Rann. It's here that he uses Ro's weapon to track down some unusual energy patterns, and he finds traces of the JLA in a cave. One wave of the wand, and--presto! The JLAers and Alanna are alive again!

The JLA returns to Earth, helps the others defeat Ro's cloud creature, and Black Canary backhands Ro, knocking him out. Doomsday he ain't.

The issue ends with the JLA(plus Hawkgirl and Wonder Woman) attending the Rann wedding of Adam Strange and Alanna.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado

Notable Moments: I like how Kanjar Ro may be brilliant, but he's a lousy hand-to-hand combatant. One slap from an Earthwoman knocks him on his ass.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Justice League of America #120 - July 1975

sgI really love the coloring for this cover(drawn by Ernie Chua)--you don't see a lot of this greenish-blue in comics, so it immediately gives you that alien world feel, perfect for a story starring Adam Strange and Kanjar Ro!

The Story: "The Parallel Perils of Adam Strange!" by Cary Bates, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. The JLA are in New Guinea wrapping up a case, when Flash shows them something odd--a cave painting of their old friend Adam Strange.

Suddenly the JLAers themselves are hit by Zeta Beams, and transported to Rann, just like Adam Strange. They are attacked by a giant, floating ray gun, which blasts Green Lantern.

Luckily Adam Strange shows up, helps the JLA disarm the weapon. But all is not well on Rann, since Adam tells his friends that his beloved Alanna is...dead!

Adam tells them that earlier, Alanna was blasted to atoms by a strange solar heat ray, similar to something Adam fought once before, just like the ray gun. That gets Ralph nose twitching...

Turns out its their old foe Kanjar Ro who beamed the JLA to Rann, to get revenge on both them and Adam. They are attacked by a giant robot, which blasts the JLAers into dust!

Kanjar Ro hopes that Adam Strange will do exactly what he does...go to Earth to get help from the rest of the Justice League! To be continued!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man

Notable Moments: The letters page features a missive from someone named Dan Jurgens...?

Adam Strange always made for a great guest-star, and after a long absence from the book it's cool to see him again, even if he does inadvertently get half the JLA killed. Oops, my bad!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Justice League of America #119 - June 1975

sgAnother great cover by Dick Giordano--and what I love the most is that it's the exact same scene as the previous issue's cover, but with the predicament getting steadily worse. Plus, Batman looks pissed.

The Story: "Winner Takes The Earth!" by Elliot S! Maggin, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. These Adaptoid creatures are announcing their plans to eradicate the human race, while the defeated and wounded JLAers watch from the satellite.

Finally the other JLAers--Batman, Atom, Green Arrow, and Elongated Man--get involved, but they prove no match for the Adaptoids, so they are beamed back to the satellite for the JLA to compare notes and regroup.

The news announces that governments are toppling under the assault of the Adaptoids, and Superman, current JLA chairman, calls a "War Room" meeting of the JLA. And when Superman is in charge, he sure lets you know it:

Yes, being in charge and generally just being Superman isn't enough, he has to stand on the table and talk, literally, down to the rest of his teammates.

As they discuss strategy, the Adaptoids show up in the JLA satellite! They beat the JLAers again, when suddenly Hawkman returns, and exposes the creatures to the Equalizing plague by bringing...Hawkgirl!

This equalizes the JLAers and the Adaptoids, which gives the JLA the edge they need to defeat them. The JLA announces to the world they have done so, and Green Lantern comes by(better late than never) to transport the Adaptoids to a barren prison planet, where they immediately start building a primitive society for themselves.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado

Notable Moments: Elliot S! Maggin tied in the previous storyline to this one, which was neat. And bringing Hawkgirl back to Earth was needed, as well, so he got a lot of things accomplished in just this issue.

The Atom gets a chance to shine, as his scientific background helps the JLA figue out what to do with the creatures and how the JLA will adapt to have been "equalized."

JLA Satellite fan/F.O.A.M. member Russell Burbage pointed out to me that the JLA made an appearance in Action Comics #443.

I've normally been skipping the JLA's appearances in other books, but I was able to pick up a very cheap copy and besides, that Nick Cardy cover looks like so much fun! (I had hoped to profile the book in chronological sequence--which would've been around JLA #115, but it just arrived yesterday, so please forgive me)

The story is "Clark Kent, Super-Hero!" by Elliott S! Maggin, Curt Swan(of course), and Tex Blaisdell. We open with Superman himself delivering the 6 O'Clock News on WGBS! What's going on here?

Next we see the Queen Bee and her drones robbing a bank, when they are stopped by...a flying Clark Kent?!?

Queen Bee gets away, and she heads back to her "Anti-Justice League" satellite, which looks a lot like a certain Legion of Doom would in a few years. Queen Bee has assembled a team of bad guys, consisting of Brainiac, Clayface, the Harpy(who?), Merlyn, Ocean Master, Sinestro, Chronos, and Gorilla Grodd!

Turns out these baddies have gone after the individual JLAers and defeated them(using a sophisticated plan of attack, calculating and anticipating the heroes' actions), and they are now encased in a cage of the Queen Bee's devising.

Unfortunately for them, Brainiac has not been able to defeat Superman, because he is attacking illogically, doing nothing he normally does! When a tracker he creates pinpoints where Bee's hideout is, he heads there and takes on all the villains himself.

Superman gets blasted by Brainiac, but not before he helps free the Flash, who then frees the other JLAers, who open a can of whoop-ass on the bad guys. I love these two panels in particular
...Ocean Master and Chronos are waking up tomorrow with a headache and a broken jaw, respectively.

They wrap up the villains, and use the Queen Bee's rod to make everyone forget all that they saw regarding Clark and Superman. Done and done!

The JLA is definitely just a guest-star in this story, which makes sense since its meant to be a Superman tale, first and foremost. I like Queen Bee's line-up of villains, I wish this group had come back more!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Justice League of America #118 - May 1975

sgA great cover, courtesy of Dick Giordano--a classic "How did they get themselves into this?" scenario.

The Story: "Takeover of the Earth-Masters!" by Elliot S! Maggin, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. Up in the JLA satellite, Aquaman(who is on Monitor Duty) and Hawkman are sharing stories, Hawkman bemoaning that, without his wife Shayera, he really has nowhere to go on Earth.

This conversation is interrupted when they get a distress signal from Central City. Aquaman thinks Flash can handle the situation on his own, but Hawkman insists on getting the JLA involved.

Flash is fighting some weird pink blobby creatures and as he's telling the JLA of this, it(they?) zap him! Superman, Aquaman, and Red Tornado find themselves fighting the thing to a standstill, while Black Canary takes the Flash to the satellite for help.

The creatures seems to adapt and evolve to fighting the JLA, and they zap the heroes long enough for them to escape.

Flash tells the JLAers of some work a local scientist has been doing, and how he contacted a space alien who created the creatures, which he calls Adaptoids. The JLA then disperses all over the globe to fight the creatures, but they defeat the JLAers by converting energy back at them, breaking Black Canary's leg, turning Aquaman into a mer-man, etc.

Hawkman, who was left behind to coordinate with other JLAers, is nowhere to be found. He leaves a note saying he had to go back to Thanagar, which the JLA takes as an act of cowardice
...oh great, and we just changed the JLA Mail Room header back!

Roll Call: Superman, Aquaman, Flash, Hawkman, Black Canary, Red Tornado

Notable Moments: Elliot S! Maggin's second issue in a row, and his plots are dense and, frankly, hard to summarize. I apologize if some of these issues don't sound like they make a lot of sense.

Aquaman has been playing a much larger role in the JLA as usual, no doubt due to The Super Friends being a big hit on TV.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Justice League of America #117 - April 1975

sgOne of the more dishonest cover images you'll see--no way does that look like a silhouette of Hawkman.

The Story: "I Have No Wings and I Must Fly!" by Elliot S! Maggin, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. Somewhere in space, a strange-looking man(?) named The Equalizer is coming...

Meanwhile, at the JLA satellite, Green Lantern is watching members arrive after he set off the distress signal. He saw Hawkman's Thanagarian ship orbiting Mars, but when the other JLAers tell him Hawkman should be following behind them at any moment, he doesn't show!

So the JLAers head to Mars to see what's going on. They find the ship, but it manages to fire several defensive weapons at them. The JLAers manage to avoid them, and get inside the ship, long enough to see someone who they think is Carter Hall, but they aren't sure. He assures them he is Hawkman, and slams Batman and Green Arrow, dumping them out of the ship and taking off.

On Mars, strange changes are happening to the JLAers--Atom is growing in size, Batman finds he has the ability to fly...what's going on here?

We see what happened back on Thanagar--a weird ship spread some sort of chemical over Thanagar, making everyone the same size--equalizing them. Now that the ship is headed for Earth, Hawkman needed to expose the JLAers to him so he could "steal" a fraction of their powers and take him on.

As Hawkman takes on the Equalizer, the JLAers combine their will power to use GL's ring to help them find their friend. They do, but are stymied when the Equalizer is able to balance whatever they can do with what he can do. Hawkman finally figures out that if they flood the Equalizer with pure hate, then he will become overloaded and that's the chance they have to get their powers back.

So the JLAers each think of someone or something in their lives they hate, and it works. The Equalizer is destroyed, returning the JLAers back to normal.

Since Hawkman has been cured of the Equalizer's effects, he tells the JLA if he returns he will succumb to it all over again, since the whole planet is still under quarantine. He asks if he could be reinstated back in the Justice League, which they quickly agree to.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado

Notable Moments: I never liked Hawkman not in the JLA, so I'm glad he was reinstated so quickly after leaving. In fact, his absence in issues 110-116 makes for the shortest time any hero was gone from the team.

The JLA Mail Room header is changed yet again, with Hawkman put back in, though someone in coloring still needs to figure out just how Elongated Man and Red Tornado are supposed to be colored
This issue's letter column is almost entirely devoted to people's suggestions for membership, and it's instructive to see that comic fans back then were as hard to please and all over the map as they are now:
Get rid of Superman and Wonder Woman (who, er, hasn't been a member for years) and replace them with two Robins? What the hell?

And the guy who suggested Captain Marvel Jr. and Swamp Thing is from Medford, NJ, the next town over from here; I gotta go find him and ask what the hell was he thinking.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Justice League of America #116 - March 1975

sgThe JLA turns into Just a Lotta Animals this issue!

The Story: "The Kid Who Won Hawkman's Wings!" by Cary Bates, Dick Dillin, and Dick Giordano. Green Arrow is going through the JLA mailbag when he discovers a letter from one Charley Parker(Bird?) addressed to Hawkman.

Arrow decides to visit Parker in Midway City, when he sees some crooks get apprehended by a guy that looks an awful lot like...Hawkman!

He follows this ersatz Hawkman, and saves his life when a giant flying ball of water surrounds him, courtesy of the Matter Master!

Green Arrow then calls in the JLA to help out, and "Hawkman" explains he is Charley Parker, who calls himself The Golden Eagle. Turns out that Matter Master thinks Charley is Hawkman, and that's why he's been gunning for him.

The JLA discovers MM's "Mentachem Rod" which is being activated by remote control. When they go after it, MM turns them into animal/human hybrids, and then creates another group of animals to whom the JLA is prey!

The JLA manages to defeat the attacking animals, and they notice that Golden Eagl has been kidnapped. Matter Master then gets to see for himself that this isn't Hawkman, and starts transforming this pretender into stone. Luckily the JLA follow the signal, defeat Matter Master, and save Golden Eagle.

As Golden Eagle laments he wishes the real Hawkman had come along with the JLA, the Winged Wonder himself appears! To be continued!

Roll Call: Batman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Arrow, Elongated Man

Notable Moments: Cary Bates takes his first--but not last--crack at writing the JLA. He manages to make the Matter Master seem like a decent adversary, despite his absolutely goofy appearance, even by supervillain standards.

This issue, the last of the 100-Page Super-Spectaculars, also features a JLA super-villain quiz, a JLA crossword, "Mastermind of Menaces" starring Starman and Black Canary from Brave and the Bold #61, "Challenge of the Untouchable Aliens" from JLA #15, and a Johnny Peril story from Comic Calvacade #19.

I guess this format didn't do that well, which is funny, because now DC sort of does them all the time as one-shots.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Justice League of America #115 - Feb. 1975

sgFresh from yesterday's flashback with the Martian Manhunter, this issue guest-stars the Manhunter for real!

The Story: "The Last Angry God!" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin, and Dick Giordano. Superman and Green Lantern intercept a UFO headed the satellite's way. When they stop and open it, they find...their friend and founding JLA member Martian Manhunter!

Manhunter explains that while he and his fellow Martians were colonizing a new home planet (their previous one having been trashed in an attempted coup), they were attacked by a giant creature named Korge, God of Rage!

Turns out Korge can read minds, and he taps into Manhunter's and sees the JLA. He demands Manhunter bring them to him, or he will kill all of J'onn's people! The JLA seem non-plussed by Manhunter's request, and repair his ship and head for the new Mars!

Korge defeats the JLA, one by one, until Flash figures out that Korge can read their minds, too, but only by physical contact. To save Superman in time(who is being Kryptonited by Korge) the JLA uses a machine to switch identities, so that when Korge thinks he's fighting Green Lantern, he's really fighting the Atom, and so on, and cannot mount the right defenses in time.

The story ends on a quiet moment, with Martian Manhunter thanking his old friends for helping save his people.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Atom

Notable Moments: Denny O'Neil returned to the JLA for this issue, kicking off a semi-brief period when no one writer or writers would have a long run on the book.

This issue also features a JLA crossword, "Evil Star Over Hollywood" starring the JSA from All-Star Comics #44, a DC cover gallery, and "Indestructible Creatures of Nightmare Island" from JLA #40.

There's also a fun JLA Membership Quiz. See how well you do

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Justice League of America #114 - Dec. 1974

sgNo sci-fi or fantasy based comic book or TV show can resist the ol' "turn 'em into cavemen" plot!

The Story: "The Return of Anakronus!" by Len Wein ("Aided and Abetted by: Felton Marcus"--who?), Dick Dillin, and Dick Giordano. The heroes of the DC are manning the phones for a charity fundraiser, which is being watched at home by everyone's favorite ex-mascot, Snapper Carr.

Suddenly Snapper's TV explodes, having been blasted by a funny-looking bad guy named Anakronus, who tells Snapper he will help him get revenge on the JLA!

Turns out Anakronus was behind the Lord of Time's plot to defeat the JLA, waaaay back in issue #10! Escaping before he was discovered, Anakronus watched in horror as the JLA destroyed his life's work.

He demands payment, so he calls in to the charity to ask for the money the JLA just collected! He gets Green Arrow on the line, who of course thinks the guy is a kook(which he is) and hangs up! Snapper tries to grab Anakronus' gun, but gets a crack to the head for his troubles.

Anakronus tells Snapper a story about how, after the Lord of Time fight, he managed to defeat the JLA all by himself(featuring a sequence starring the Martian Manhunter), but Snapper isn't quite buying it, since, if he defeated them and devolved them into cavemen and then amoeba, how are they around today?

Anakronus' lame answer of "Uh, I guess it wore off" prods Snapper to call back, and this time drop enough hints that the Atom comes through the phone line, followed quickly by the Elongated Man and Red Tornado, who quickly disarm him.

Turns out Anakronus is, in fact, just a kook with a fake ray gun and a made-up story. As they carry him off to jail, Snapper listens to the charity announce it hit its target of over ten million dollars!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado

Notable Moments: Sadly, this was Len Wein's last issue as the regular JLA writer. This story is silly, but enormously fun, and is respectfully dedicated to Gardner Fox. As it seems most commenters here agree, Wein's run was action-packed, full of characterization, and fast-moving. Its unfortunate it was so brief, though Wein would return as editor.

This issue also features a JLA crossword, "Just A Story" starring the JSA from Comic Calvacade #18, a "Super-Hero Boots" puzzle page, a JLA trivia quiz, and a gallery of former JLA guest-stars, and "Crisis on Earth-Three" from JLA #s 29 & 30.

I shouldn't pick on Snapper too much here--he actually serves a purpose in the story, and, sand his dated 60s lingo, he's much less annoying. Man, Len Wein was a great writer!

With the reprints of the 60s JLA stories, occasionally DC made up "Next Issue" ads to fill those empty half-pages left vacant by Cap's Hobby Hints and such. They were generally nondescript, though I did think this was one spiffy:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Justice League of America #113 - Oct. 1974

sgOne of my all-time favorite JLA covers: the balance of color, the design, and the white background makes *pop*--if I had seen this on the newsstand, the sixty cents would've flown out of my pocket at Flash-like speed.

The Story: "The Creature in the Velvet Cage!" by Len Wein, Dick Dillin, and Dick Giordano. We hit the ground running, as the first page features the JLA and the JSA in a good old-fashioned superhero donnybrook with some goofily-dressed bad guys, when the Sandman gets an alarm in his car(The SandMobile?) and takes off without a word to his comrades.

They follow him back to his home, where they find Wesley Dodds in a secret room(The SandCave?) that features a giant class bubble, shattered into a thousand pieces. Dodds tells them that the person in the bubble was his former sidekick, Sandy!

He tells them that, years ago, during an experiment, something went wrong and Sandy was transformed into a giant, malevolent crystalized sand creature, who luckily passes out from the stress before he got a chance to attack The Sandman.

The Sandman then made the decision to imprison Sandy until he could find a way to reverse what had happened, and it stayed that way for years...until today!

The two teams spread out to find Sandy, and each time they find him, he manages to turn into sand and disappear. He's finally stopped by the Sandman himself, who bets that somewhere deep inside this creature is still his boy partner.

This calms him down long enough for him to explain that a small earthquake had cracked his glass bubble, and Sandy was able to explain that in his new form he could sense a bigger disaster looming and he tried to stop it. Sandman can't understand, since he assumed Sandy was a mindless monster
...turns out Sandy had been imprisoned all these years, trapped in both the prison of his body and the bubble, unable to ask for help because of the Sandman's knockout gas!

This sends Sandman into paralyzing despair, knowing his misjudgment has taken away years of his friend's life.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Elongated Man

Notable Moments: I always found this story tragic, which is obviously what Wein intended. Had Sandman, you know, asked someone for help, he could've avoided all this. It's not like he didn't know world-class scientists, galaxy-hopping explorers, and powerful sorcerers.

This issue also features a two-page piece called "The Freedom Train", about the train that in 1947 carried some of America's most historic documents(the opening panel has Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and, surprisingly, Aquaman(and a yellow-gloved one at that!) watching the train go by).

It also features the JSA in "The Case of the Patriotic Crimes"(from All-Star Comics #41), and "The Cavern of the Deadly Spheres!" from JLA #16.

This is the only one-part JLA/JSA cross-over!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Justice League of America #112 - Aug. 1974

sgThe return of one of the JLA's most fearsome foes, Amazo!

The Story: "War With The One-Man Justice League!" by Len Wein, Dick Dillin, and Dick Giordano. Continuing the story from last issue, we rejoin he JLA in their satellite, having lost their powers due to the machinations of the mysterious Libra.

The rest of the JLA shows up, and its the Atom who suggests using Amazo to return the heroes' powers. They rewire him, and Black Canary even takes the time to redesign his costume! The plan is to trick Amazo into chasing the JLA, causing him to attract the molecules Libra stole from the JLAers that contain their powers.

Amazo first takes on The Flash, Elongated Man, and Black Canary, and then Superman, Aquaman, and Green Arrow, and everything goes according to plan. Except that Batman--even operating at half his intellectual power--figures out a flaw in their plan!

After Amazo runs into Green Lantern, Red Tornado, and Atom, he figures out their plan, since he has half of Batman's smarts. Luckily. Bats figured that out, too, anf finds a way to hit Amazo with a blast of energy which drained all his powers, making him little match for the Dark Knight Detective.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado

Notable Moments: There's more to this story than what I outlined above, but I found it peculiarly difficult to summarize. The plan to use Amazo is complicated, luckily the JLA had the Atom and Batman working on it.

This issue comes with a two-page "Amazo and His Creator" feature, featuring panels from previous Amazo stories, a JLA crossword, another Seven Soldiers of Victory reprint(Part 2 of "Beware! The Black Star Shines!", from Leading Comics #2), a Starman solo story, "Starman's Lucky Star!" from Adventure Comics #81, plus "The Super-Exiles From Earth!" from JLA #19.

But that's not all! There's also a separate letters page all about Hawkman's resignation from the JLA, called:
...first Watergate, now this!

This same month, over in Wonder Woman, began the multi-issue storyline guest-starring the individual members of the JLA as they put the Amazing Amazon through "trials" to see if she, now that she had her powers back, was up to rejoining the JLA.

To be perfectly honest, I had zero interest in digging up all these issues of WW, since I always found reading a solo Wonder Woman comic generally a tedious experience (no offense to the fine folks who worked on her book over the years). But it was an unusual and impactful storyline, so it deserves some mention, so here are the covers to the issues:
sg you can see, each then member of the JLA got a shot, even the Red Tornado(though he got pared up with The Phantom Stranger)! The series, of course, culminated in Wonder Woman rejoining the JLA, which we'll get to in a few weeks.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Justice League of America #111 - June 1974

sgThat is one busy cover!

The Story: "Balance of Power!" by Len Wein, Dick Dillin, and Dick Giordano. We open with Green Lantern encountering his old foe The Tattooed Man, who mysteriously disappears just as GL was about to apprehend him!

Turns out he has been transported to the secret satellite headquarters of the Injustice Gang of the World (great name, complete with logo), which consists of the unusual line-up of Chronos (Damian, take note), The Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, The Shadow-Thief, Mirror Master, and their leader, Libra!

As Libra explains his plan to defeat the JLA, the JLA themselves compare notes, and see that the villain disappearing act has been happening to many of them in the past few days.

The JLA decides to break off into groups when they get word of these same bad guys attacking all over the world. Green Lantern and Batman tell everyone one to handle their respective foes, but Elongated Man has a fanciful idea to switch it up! This irritates Batman to no end, but the other heroes agree!

Aquaman and Green Lantern go after Poison Ivy and Mirror Master, and its here that Aquaman gets a fun moment to shine
...sure, he's bragging a little, but Aquaman so rarely gets the spotlight I was glad to see him school Poison Ivy.

Unfortunately, just as it looks like GL and Aquaman are about to win the fight, MM and Ivy touch a button in their costumes which seems to take the heroes powers away!

The same thing happens to Superman vs. the Scarecrow, Batman vs. Chronos, Elongated Man vs. The Tattooed Man, and Flash vs. The Shadow-Thief! All of them have their powers removed, just long enough for Libra to show up and deliver the final blow.

We then find Libra, having trapped the JLA in their own little prisons back at Injustice Gang HQ, using a machine that saps their energy and puts it into him. The JLA manages to break out(of course), but as they try and stop Libra he just keeps taking in more and more energy until he grows so big that he cannot keep himself together, and he evaporates into nothingness!

This leaves the JLA stranded--without their powers--in the Injustice Gang HQ! To be continued!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Elongated Man

Notable Moments: I love gangs of villains vs. gangs of heroes, and it was neat to see a team of bad guys made up of unusual choices, like Poison Ivy and Shadow-Thief.

This issue comes with a two-page "Wanted: The Injustice Gang!" feature, drawn by Pat Broderick, a JLA crossword, plus a reprint of a Seven Soldiers of Victory story("Beware! The Black Star Shines!", from Leading Comics #2), a SSOV pin-up by Murphy Anderson, and the classic "Attack of the Star-Bolt Warrior!" from JLA #32.

The cover image, of Libra holding the scales of justice, is by Nick Cardy, and is so cool and dynamic I wish it had more space on the cover.

The JLA Mail Room logo changes again, to reflect the departure of Hawkman and Reddy's new duds:

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Justice League of America #110 - Apr. 1974

sgNot only is this one of all-time favorite JLA stories, it's one of my favorite superhero comic stories, ever. It's--

The Story: "The Man Who Murdered Santa Claus!" by Len Wein, Dick Dillin, and Dick Giordano, with special thanks going out to "Green Lantern Fan Dufy Vohland."

We open with Superman and Batman arranging a special visit by Santa Claus to some local orphans. Santa picks up his bag of toys, enters the next room, when it explodes!

Here we're treated to one of the best JLA splash pages ever, which kicks the story off right just as any good splash page should
...I can just hear the Dramatic Movie musical sting accompanying this image!

Anyway, a JLA distres signal goes out, and we get to see why some JLAers(like Flash, the Atom, Aquaman, and Elongated Man) can't make it, but others are, like Hal Jordan, who promptly falls in the shower, banging his head on the sink.

The power ring wastes no time in finding a replacement Lantern, John Stewart, which carts him off to the JLA satellite.

Batman shows the clue left in Santa's hand, and it leads them to a series of rundown inner city buildings to find Santa's murderer. Here the JLA faces a series of death traps, which leads each of the JLAers in turn having to sacrifice themselves to save the rest--starting with Superman, who heaves himself into a mini-Red Sun, killing himself in the process!

Black Canary is the next to die, and it's here we see the bad guy behind all this, watching the JLA get picked off, one by one...the villainous Key!

Next Batman and Green Arrow go, leaving only Red Tornado and Green Lantern, who are then overcome by the Key's army of robots. The Key begins to revel in his success...understandable, since he's managed to kill half the Justice League!

Unfortunately, the Key's victory party is cut short, by the sudden appearance of all the JLAers, safe and sound! Turns out they were all saved by...The Phantom Stranger! The Stranger went undercover as one of the Key's henchmen and helped each of the JLA only look like they were killed, so they could sneak up on the Key.

Before they can apprehend him, the Key sets off the "Doom-Bomb" implanted in his headquarters, and slips out a secret passageway. The JLA rounds up all the people living in the buildings, so they won't be killed in the explosion.

GL contains the explosion, but it still levels all the buildings. Fortunately, this GL thought ahead, and decided to give these lesser fortunate people an early Christmas gift
The epilogue takes place back at the satellite, where the JLA are exchanging gifts. Black Canary gives Red Tornado a new costume, to help him understand the season, plus she was "tired of that grim, drab outfit you've been wearing."

Even the grumpy Green Arrow gets in the spirit, and the JLA wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Green Lantern(John Stewart), Green Arrow, Black Canary, Red Tornado

Notable Moments: This is such a sweet tale; I love Green Lantern's solution at the end of the story in how he finds a way to help these poor families yet stay within the "rules" of being a Green Lantern. Ingenious on Mr. Wein's part.

This is the first issue to feature the "Here Come TV's Super-Friends!" on the cover--DC had not yet created the Super Friends comic, so this was as close as they could get.

It's also the first issue of the 100-Page "Super-Spectacular" format, which wasn't a big hit but the issues done this way remain a lot of fun, stuffed to the gills as they were with fun comic book-y goodness.

Case in point, this issue also features a Justice Society tale, "The Plight of A Nation!"(co-drawn by Carmine Infantino and Alex Toth!), a JLA crossword puzzle, "Z--As in Zatanna--and Zero Hour!" from JLA #51, a double-page JSA pin-up by Murphy Anderson, and a two-page edition of the JLA Mail Room! All this for a measly fifty cents!

sgI first read this story not in the original comic, but in The Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #22, "Christmas With the Superheroes." I remember buying this book right off the stands in Dec. 1981 at the beloved Voorhees News & Tobacco Shop.

All the stories in it are pretty good, but when I saw a JLA story where it looked like they were getting knocked off, one by one, the sale was made.

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