The Story: "The Future Ain't What It Used To Be!" by Kurt Busiek, Mike Sekowsky, and Tom Mandrake. Early morning at S.T.A.R. Labs, Temporal Research Division (of course they have one of those), we see two scientists, named, er, Fred and Daphne, discover something amazing--a human figure trapped in the timestream!
They use a handy (very handy) machine to get information on this time traveler, "viewing" events from his life, and they learn this man is Dr. Phineas Quayle, one of the world's leading physicists.
One day, in 1932, he came home to find an armed man waiting for him, who demands money! Dr. Quayle is no easy mark, however, and he quickly knocks the man upside the head with his umbrella, knocking him over.
But the doctor is also a kind man, and offers the disheveled man a meal and a few bucks to tide him over.
The man accepts, but Quayle realizes something bigger must be done, something to help all the people in the grip of this countrywide depression. He decides to build nothing less than a time machine, to go into the future, find a solution to the depression, and bring it back to his time!
He actually succeeds at this, landing in the mid-1960s. Scenes of an assassinated president, campus unrest, and riots in the streets horrify him. How did all this happen?
He determines its because of all these so-called "super-heroes":
A malfunction with his time machine makes Quayle realize he cannot return to 1932, stranding him in his horrible new time.
He can, however, look into the future, and sees that things only get worse--an endless war in Southeast Asia, a president who resigns in disgrace, and this "Justice League" living in an orbiting satellite, like overlords. Enough!
He decides to fight the JLA in their own terms, as a supervillain, Dr. Anomaly!:
He then goes about capturing each of the JLAers, using weapons derived from the future. In short work he captures Superman, then Aquaman, then Hawkman, then Batman, condensing them all and placing them in tiny colored jars!
The rest of the JLA arrives at their Secret Sanctuary, wondering where everyone else is. Suddenly Anomaly attacks them in their own HQ, and the JLAers seem no match for him!
The Flash tries to run rings about Anomaly and trap him in a super-speed vortex, leading to this hilarious pay-off:
...I love how GL and Wonder Woman don't even bother to help as their friend hurtles past them.
While the others try and stop Anomaly, we see the Superman jar start to wobble, toppling itself over onto the floor, where it cracks!
Anomaly's lab explodes, as we see the trapped JLAers, now reformed, burst forth! Anomaly is trapped, realizing even he can't fight them all at once. He only has one option--to disappear into the timestream!
Back with Fred and Daphne, who reason that Anomaly didn't follow a specific path in the timestream, so he couldn't be followed. But that left him stuck there, until an explosion rocks their lab, and there before them is...Dr. Anomaly!
Anomaly gets his bearings--its 1985--and says if he is to save the world, he "better get cracking!" He disappears once again.
Fred and Daphne are stunned, and leave their lab. Over the course of this, the two have let on they have feelings for one another, so they decide to have dinner and talk about...the future.
Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Atom, Hawkman (all in flashback)
Notable Moments: I am of two minds about this issue.
First, its a delightfully charming story, capturing a lot of the goofy fun of the 60s JLA stories, but with a modern slant. And having the JLA's original artist, Mike Sekowsky, return to the book after almost 20 years was an ingenious touch.
My only problem is, I think they couldn't have run this at a worse time. The new JLA was a wobbly contraption at best, and they had just finally wrapped up the last loose end (i.e., the departure of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Flash). Now was the time to plunge straight into a new JLA-only tale, one that might've helped establish these new heroes are the rightful heirs to the JLA legacy.
Instead, we get a jokey story, featuring nothing but the biggest names in the DCU. As a reader at the time, I felt like the new JLA's momentum--such as it was--was stopped dead in its tracks.
Coming to think of it, this would've made a great issue of JLA: Classified.