Friday, November 30, 2007

Justice League of America #27 - May 1964

sgGreat, 50s sci-fi movie poster-ish cover!

The story:
"The 'I' Who Defeated the Justice League!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. An inter-galactic being simply named "I" sends anonymous letters to members of the JLA to draw them out and defeat them, since he discovers their success as a team is draining his life force(huh?).

Snapper Carr figures out(yeah, ahead of Batman) that if they use the handy Amazo, residing in their sanctuary's trophy room, they can overload "I" and defeat him. Ginchy!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, The Atom

Notable Moments: There's a giant full-page illustration(which Sekowsky didn't do much) of the JLA beating the circuits out of Amazo, which is fun.

Aquaman gets a fairly big role in this story. I'm always happy about that.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Justice League of America #26 - March 1964

sgDespero is back!

The story:
"Four Worlds to Conquer!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. Despero is Back! Oh, wait, I said that...

Despero escapes the prison he was put in(at the end of JLA #1) and uses a ray to accelerate the age of some JLA members, while trapping the rest in some deathtraps. He then poses as an aged Superman and sneaks into the Secret Sanctuary, but Wonder Woman sees through that and captures him.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, The Atom

Notable Moments: Sekowsky excelled at drawing older people, so seeing old versions of some of the JLA is fun.

The story ends with Despero standing off to the side as the JLA decides what to do with him. How humiliating.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Justice League of America #25 - Feb. 1964

sgOne of the earliest JLA back issues I ever bought--as you can see, this book is Near Mint. Ok, Near Mint-minus.

The story:
"Outcasts of Infinity!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. The JLA(well, some of them) get involved with a fight on the alien planet known as Sfarl. There, a bad guy with a lot of weapons named Kraad uses a beam to disintigrate the JLAers(!!), but Atom uses GL's ring to reconsitute them, albeit all mixed together. And Ray is the scientist on the team?

Roll Call: Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, The Atom

Notable Moments: This is the first issue to feature just a small fraction of the JLA's membership, something that would continue to grow as did the team's roster.

Like I said at the top, I bought this copy simply because I could afford it--but even though it was already pretty beat up, I had to make things worse by letting a piece of tape rip off the cover(see by Diana's lasso), marker-color some pages, and fill out a form for a collector's book of stamps. Huh?

The three little Sfarlians who start the ball rolling are some of Sekowsky's best-designed aliens. Since they're not the bad guys in the story, they're given a cute look, as distinctive as any big Hollywood movie:
...somebody call Rankin-Bass!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Justice League of America #24 - Dec. 1963

sgOne of my favorite covers. Even though they're under a bad-guy's control, I always like the Heroes Running At The Reader covers.

The story:
"Decoy Missions of the Justice League!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. Kanjar Ro and his pointy face is back, in some crazy scheme involving his aural form, and trapping the JLA's aural forms, which traps their real bodies...luckily, always-a-bridesmaid Adam Strange guest-stars and helps the JLA defeat Ro.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, The Atom

Notable Moments: Even though I understood why Adam Strange never joined, I always enjoyed his guest-appearances in the JLA.

The letters page features missives from Roy Thomas(him again!) and one Dave Cockrum, who suggests a new character named "Nightcrawler" joins the JLA. No, I made that up.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Justice League of America #23 - Nov. 1963

sgEven though she's sorta goofy looking, I always liked the Queen Bee. Super-villainesses were rare enough, but one powerful enough to take on the whole JLA?

Plus she was kinda hot. Have I said too much?

The story:
"Drones of the Queen Bee!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. The Queen Bee uses her powers to force the JLA to procure elements that when combined will produce an immortality serum for her!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, The Atom

Notable Moments: Even though Superman, Batman, and Aquaman are listed in the Roll Call, they play no part in this story and show up only as the very end.

Also, the Atom misses the story entirely, because he was off having another adventure in his own book(appearing in The Atom #8, Julius Schwartz helpfully informs us), so the issue ends with Atom about to regale the JLA with the story. Weird!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Justice League of America #22 - Sept. 1963

sgPart Two of the exciting first JLA/JSA crossover!

The story:
"Crisis on Earth-Two!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. The JLA and the JSA break up into teams and take on the villains of two worlds, but when they capture them all, a magical trap sprung by Felix Faust ensnares them all in jail cells floating in space!

With the help of the two Flashes and Green Lanterns, they escape and dole out another around of super-team butt-kicking, this time defeating the bad guys for good. As they stand around six beaten, unconcious bad guys, the two teams promise to stay in touch.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, The Atom

Notable Moments: After the JLA and JSA break free, they get the drop on the bad guys and all the fighting is condensed into two beautifully crafted, clean pages:
sg...some of Mike Sekowsky's best work, I think. Simple yet exciting as heck.

I bought this back issue at the aforementioned "El Dorado" comic book store, sometime around 1983 or so. Yet I still went ahead and filled out the coupon for the "Task Force" toy soliders kit(only 69 cents!), as if the offer was still valid twenty years later. Kids are so literal.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Justice League of America #21 - Aug. 1963

sgThe return of the Justice Society! The first JLA/JSA team-up! The first "Crisis" story!

The story:
"Crisis on Earth-One!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. A team of bad guys calling themselves the (*snicker*) Crime Champions, consisting of Chronos, Felix Faust, and Dr. Alchemy(ooh, I'm scared!) tell the JLA about some crimes they plan to commit, while on Earth-2 the very same thing is happening with the JSA!

The villains trap the JLA, but they use the crystal ball they got from Merlin, no less(JLA #2), to contact Earth-2 and switch places with the JSA! This leads to the first time these two legendary teams have met. They then split up to take on the bad guys of both Earths!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, The Atom

Notable Moments: Oddly, Batman is not listed in the "Roll Call" on page one, though he has a large part in the story.

It's amazing, when looking back, how the smallest notions can be built into Major Ideas. Not to slight Gardner Fox--at all--while I'm sure this idea of bringing back the JSA was immediately recognized as a good one, I bet mostly it was thought of as a way to fill that month's twenty-five pages. Of course, this whole storyline would serve as the basis for the entire DC Universe, produce countless spin-offs, and the cover by Murphy Anderson would become one the hallmark images of DC Comics. Well done, fellas!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Justice League of America #20 - June 1963

sgMan, that pose Green Lantern is in looks really uncomfortable. Props to Mike Sekowsky, though, for putting this much on a cover and still not make it look too crowded.

The story:
"The Mystery of Spaceman X!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. An evil alien uses a giant spaceman(at left, destroying property) to absorb the energy created by giant disasters, and of course the JLA tries to stop him!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, The Atom

Notable Moments: I really like "Spaceman X"'s design--classic early-60s space explorer togs that look like they came right from a Universal sci-fi movie.

Superman basically saves the day at the end; I'd say this was the unofficial start of when Superman and Batman started to dominate the book and almost always took a central role in any given story.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Justice League of America #19 - May 1963

sgClassic cover by Murphy Anderson; the kind of set-up that just made you buy the comic.

The story:
"The Super-Exiles of Earth!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. Evil duplicates of the JLA start a crime wave, ending with the real JLA being exiled from Earth(c'mon, won't France take them?)!

Turns out its all a plan of the nefarious Dr. Destiny, who has invaded the JLAer's dreams. They concoct a plan to return to Earth icognito, as their civilian identities--except for Aquaman, who has none. Feh.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, The Atom

Notable Moments: Why Aquaman couldn't go back to Earth as Arthur Curry always bothered me--its not like there's some big Ellis Island in the sky, checking the I.D.s of people coming in from outer space(although this is the DC Universe...)! He could've put on a suit and said "I'm the son of a lighthouse keeper" and participated.

The JLA decides to expose themselves to some "Amnesium" that Supes has back in the Fortress, so they can erase their memories of each other's secret identities. Where was this during Identity Crisis?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Justice League of America #18 - March 1963

sgWhat the-?!? What is going on here, and why are the Atom's legs so far apart?

The story:
"Journey Into The Micro-World!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. The JLA--all except The Atom--gets brought to a sub-atomic world to help defeat its three invulnerable protectors that are inadvertantly destroying their world! And that's just part of the story--I had to read this comic three times to figure out just what the hell is going on!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, The Atom

Notable Moments: Snapper Carr actually gets to help out in this case--even as a kid I didn't really like Snapper; I didn't understand why he got to hang out with the JLA when someone like, say, me, was so much more deserving(I was not yet aware that the JLA wasn't real).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Justice League of America #17 - Feb. 1963

sgCan the JLA defeat a villain who can become the entire JLA?

The story:
"The Triumph of the Tornado Tyrant!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. A strange creature known as the Tornado Tyrant is convinced it can defeat the Justice League since it has been studying them and even duplicating their abilities by creating anti-matter versions of the JLA. But of course the JLA figures out a way to outsmart the creature!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, The Atom

Notable Moments: Features cameos by Adam Strange, Kanjar Ro, and Dr.Light, as the Tornado Tyrant watches the JLA from afar in their battles. A fun touch.

This issue is also memorable to me because a sequel of sorts was done twenty years later in JLA #s 192 and 193 by Gerry Conway and George Perez. It adds so much to this story with that knowledge in the back of your head.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Justice League of America #16 - Dec. 1962

sgWonderfully composed cover by Murphy Anderson--the eye leads you right around, back to where you started. Nice job, Mr. Anderson!

The story:
"The Cavern of the Deadly Spheres!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. A villain named The Maestro uses his powers to control the Justice League...but there was one member he overlooked...the tiny titan, The Atom!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, The Atom

Notable Moments: Features a real out-there final act, where we find that the previous eighteen pages never happened, and is in fact a comic-book story starring the JLA read to them by Snapper Carr! And to make it even weirder, we read that the artwork is by "Jerry Thomas"(Jerry Bails + Roy Thomas = Jerry Thomas)! Never before had a comic book so completely integrated some of its readers into the fictional world of the comic itself.

As Snapper Carr would say, "Coolsville, man!"

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Justice League of America #15 - Nov. 1962

sgMan, these JLA covers are getting crowded!

The story:
"Challenge of the Untouchable Aliens!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. A group of giant aliens have landed all over the world, stealing each country's most destructive weapons. And this is bad how?

Roll Call: Superman, Batman Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, The Atom

Notable Moments: Another nice villain design courtesy Mike Sekowsky; I love the alien's blocky, almost abstract yet very expressive faces.

Even with the addition of the Atom, Fox finds a way to give each JLAer a little moment, and the story has a nice, gentle "twist" ending.

The letter column header changes again, to reflect their newest member:
sg...obviously, DC didn't ask Sekowsky to add the Atom, since it's pretty clear he was drawn on by what looks like a felt-tip pen(to say nothing of the lack of color), probably at the last minute by someone in the offices.

Thus begins a tradition that will run a few years where DC will desperately add, subtract, and re-draw stuff on this one piece to reflect the current team, regardless of how Frankentsein-y it starts to look.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Justice League of America #14 - Sept. 1962

sgThe Atom joins the Justice League!

The story:
"The Menace of the 'Atom' Bomb!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. The JLA decides to vote in a new member("Adam Strange!" cries The Flash), and as soon as they vote in the Atom, all of them realize they have no idea who that is!

The JLA head to Ivy Town to investigate, but on the way they release they're starting to forget who they themselves are! Turns out its the work of the mysterious Mister Memory and his "De-Memorizor"!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, and new member The Atom!

Notable Moments: Mister Memory is actually Professor Amos Fortune in disguise, a nice callback to a previous issue when that was still pretty rare in comics.

There's a sweet moment at the end, when the JLA shows The Atom his chair, and he sees that its sitting on the floor! But the Atom is too good-natured to say anything, so he decides not to complain, only for the JLA to show him the chair has the abillity to hover in the air, so he can fully participate in JLA meetings! Again, what kid wouldn't want to hang out with these people?

This issue doesn't feature the typical new-member title-page scroll, one of my favorite touches. Oh well, maybe for Hawkman...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Justice League of America #13 - Aug. 1962

sgThis was one of the first back issues I ever bought. A little while after we moved to New Jersey in 1979, I discovered a honest-to-gosh comics store near our house, named El Dorado, and I begged my Dad to take me.

Once I got there, looking at an entire store filled with old comics nearly gave me a heart attack(in a good way). I checked out all the JLAs and this one was the oldest issue I could still afford. It was in better condition than this when I got it...what can I say? As a kid I was a little more careless with my books...

The story:
"The Riddle of the Robot Justice League!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. An alien named Sforll(don't laugh, he's sensitive about that) kidnaps the JLA to enlist them to help him take on another alien, named Zed Brann(who later went on to star in NBC's Scrubs)who is attempting to steal a vital force of energy that helps run the universe!

For some reason, this leads to the JLA fighting robot duplicates of themselves, except for Aquaman. Since there is no water on the planet of Skarn, they didn't bother to make one of him(??). That leaves Aquaman to be the one-man cheering section for the JLA, which actually works out, since he each gives the JLAers subtle ideas how to defeat their robot challengers. Again, yay Aquaman!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow

Notable Moments: As an Aquaman fan, I have to give Garnder Fox credit--he always managed to give Aquaman something vital to do, and while the stories were a bit formulaic, I appreciate his ability to tell a huge, planet-spanning story in just twenty pages or so, and still give each JLAer a moment to shine.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Justice League of America #12 - June 1962

sgAnother classic villain debuts--the infamous Dr.Light!

The story:
"The Last Case of the Justice League!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. Snapper Carr arrives at the JLA Secret Sanctuary only to find a goofball who calls himself "Dr. Light" there, and he tells Snapper the tale he likes to call "The Last Case of the Justice League!"

Dr.Light uses his Disco Ball of Doom to send JLAers to other worlds--Aquaman to an all-desert planet, Manhunter to an all-fire planet, etc. Luckily, Superman and Batman senses something was up before they were transported, and switched identities, which helps them escape and then rescue the other JLAers.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow

Notable Moments: Another longtime villain makes his first appearance--Gardner Fox was on a Stan Lee-esque run here, where with each issue he was creating a new bad guy that would go on to have a long run as a DC villain.

There's a letter by a Paul Gambaccini, who later became a famous radio and TV commentator and music producer in the UK. He never lost his love of comics though, and was tapped to write the intro to The Justice League of America Archives Vol.1.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Justice League of America #11 - May 1962

sgPart 2 of the Felix Faust plus The Lord of Time plus The Demons Three epic!

The story: "One Hour to Doomsday" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. The JLA, having chased the Lord of Time into the future, try to go back by find themselves unable to return home.

They enlist the help of the Demons Three, who then try to turn the tables on them. Nice try, Abnegezar, Rath, and Ghast!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow

Notable Moments: The Demons Three are now colored pink, the look they will keep for the rest of the four-color career. To help defeat the demons, the JLAers "switch bodies", and its Batman who gets turned into Wonder Woman. Awkward...

A letter writer asks--nay, demands--that the Atom join the team. As a hint, they run another letter analyzing that each current JLA member's name has a sequential number of letters--i.e., Flash has five, Batman has six, Aquaman has seven, and so on. The response is that there is no hero with thirteen letters in their name, but there is one with four--The Atom!

By the way, that last, obsessively-compiled letter is by somebody named E.Nelson Bridwell!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Justice League of America #10 - March 1962

sgThis issue is a veritable feast of comics history--the enduring JLA villains Felix Faust, The Lord of Time, and the Demons Three(Abnegezar, Rath, and Ghast) all debut in this one comic!

Eventually all three(six?) bad guys would find their way into the larger DCU, and specifically the tres Demons would make a memorable appearance in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing run, where they take on Dr.Fate and he immolates one of them right on the spot. Don't mess with the helmet of Nabu!

The story: "The Fantastic Fingers of Felix Faust!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. Felix Faust learns the only way to unleash these Demons Three guys is to retrieve specific magical objects, so he uses his magic powers to force the JLA into getting them for him(there's a lot of JLA-controlling-by-bad-guys in these early issues).

Meanwhile, the Lord of Time wants to get these objects, too, which causes this story to get so big that it becomes the first multi-issue JLA story!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow

Notable Moments: Sekowsky's design of the three demons is way cool--they look funky and weird, with strange proportions that actually make them look otherworldly, not just humans with a fang or a horn. Also, here they are colored bone white, instead of the pink tone they are more associated with.

Felix Faust is knocked out by a school of flying fish, under the command of Guess Who. Not one of Faust's best moments.

Letter writer John Budnick of Hicksville, NY, wants the book and team to be renamed the "Interplanetary League of Justice" since he thinks it suits them more accurately. He points out, a little angrily, actually--that Superman is Kryptonian, Manhunter is Martian, and "[y]ou'd have to stretch a long point to consider Aquaman an American, and of course Wonder Woman's birthplace is the Amazon Paradise Island." Somebody call Lou Dobbs!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Justice League of America #10 Ad - Jan. 1962

sgThis snappy ad(by Ira Schnapp, of course) ran in JLA #9, announcing the big news that the book was going from six issues a year to eight, a big promotion back in those days.

When I find one, I plan to run these ads as separate posts because A)they're super-cool looking, B)they are part of JLA history, and C)it helps break up the issue-a-day thing occasionally.

I love that a comic company could give the readers a hard, on-sale date for when a particular comic was coming out. Don't see much of that nowadays...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Justice League of America #9 - Jan. 1962

sgThis issue--the origin of the JLA--was one of the last I found in my attempt to complete the run. Origin issues are usually a little more sought after, so finding an affordable copy on a teenaged Roy Rogers employee's salary wasn't easy, but I finally sent away for one from a dealer who ran an ad in the newspaper version of The Comic Buyer's Guide(wow, remember that?).

Anyway, the dealer was selling this as a "very good" copy, and I when I got it was pleasantly surprised--this copy is actually in much better condition than that--nearly off-white pages, solid, no real signs of wear except the little "7" someone(probably a newsvendor) has markered on the cover. Back when I cared more about how much books were worth, I was delighted I got a book that was really worth more than what I paid, and how many times does that happen?

The story: "The Origin of The Justice League!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. The JLA celebrates its third anniversary, and in honor of the occasion they regale Snapper Carr and Green Arrow with the story of how they came to be!

Aliens from the planet Appellax come to Earth to battle each other and Earth's champions as a contest to see who will rule their home planet. But they didn't take into account the World's Greatest Superheroes!

Features the classic sequence of the wood alien having turned Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter into wood creatures, and they use an amazing beat of teamwork to defeat him. And the whole process is started by Aquaman! Yay!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow(sort of)

Notable Moments: Obviously, the origin story was--is--a bona-fide classic, so much so that its never really been changed or altered in any signifcant way, even after forty + years. It's such a great idea--aliens come to battle on Earth, and are stopped by individual heroes who stay together for a common cause--that it seems almost mythic.

The inside cover features a full-page letter from DC, apologizing for the price of their comics going up a whopping two cents. Imagine if comic companies still ran those nowadays; they'd be running them every six months or so.

The letters page header changes for the first of many times with this issue. The original featured just WW, Aquaman, Flash, GL, and Manhunter sitting at a table. But it was changed to this:
sg...I think to perhaps reflect the growing participation of Superman and Batman, plus of course to now include Green Arrow and Snapper Carr. That is one funky looking Superman, by the way.

The letters page also features a missive from someone named Joe Staton. Hmmm....

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Justice League of America #8 - Jan. 1962

sg...and with this issue, the 10c comic book is no more! After thirty plus years of consistent pricing, comics would start their ever-spiraling climb in cost to where now its downright ridiculous.

The story: "For Sale--The Justice League!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. While Superman and Batman are away in Dimension X, a small time crook named Pete Ricketts finds a ray to control the actions of the Justice League!

He then sells them to the highest bidder so they can be forced to commit crimes! This leads the World's Finest Team to conclude the JLA cannot be left alone, ever again.

Roll Call: Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow

Notable Moments: The criminals who buy the JLA are not, as one might expect, super-villains but normal, run-of-the-mill crooks. Sekowsky's funky, down-to-earth style was perfectly suited to stories featuring these kinds of guys--I'm surprised he didn't get more crime comics work. I would've loved to have seen a Sekowsky-drawn Dick Tracy comic.

The letters page has another letter by Roy Thomas, and another from couple who claim their IQs are 140 and 136, and they love comics!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Justice League of America #7 - Nov. 1961

sgThis was Aquaman's chance to go back to the Secret Sancutary and form a new JLA, leaving the other four in their freakish, distorted bodies. He would ennact this plan twenty-three years later.

The story: "The Cosmic Fun-House!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. The JLA rescue Snapper Carr and girlfriend Midge(!) from a weird, inter-dimensional fun-house(oh, not that old plot). Problem is, some of the JLAers who attempt the rescue get abducted and replaced by aliens from the planet Angellax. Man, did Fox manage cram a lot of plot into twenty or so pages!

Since the JLAers originally went undercover in their civilian identities, its up to Aquaman to help his kidnapped and transformed teammates. You haven't lived until you've seen Aquaman help an obese Wonder Woman lift one of her giant arms in an attempt to throw her Magic Lasso.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow

Notable Moments: JLA had a surprisingly proportionate amount of male and female readers--in the two-page letter column, out of the nine letters, three are from women, a number that would pretty only go straight down over time.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Justice League of America #6 - Sept. 1961

sgAnother classic, iconic cover. Think of all these powerful heroes reduced to just mere props on a giant wheel of death!

The story: "The Wheel of Misfortune!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. Professor Amos Fortune, via his Stimoluck device(patent pending) has found way to control his luck!

At the same time, the Justice League is having nothing by bad luck in their individual lives. They meet and start to wonder how this is happening! Could Amos Fortune have something to do with it?

Roll Call: Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow

Notable Moments: The first issue where Superman and Batman don't appear at all. It's so quaint to think about how their participation in the early issues of JLA was limited because their solo book editors didn't want them over-exposed.

This is the debut of Amos Fortune. Like Doctor Destiny last issue, this is a villain who would reappear several times as a thorn in the JLA's side.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Justice League of America #5 - July 1961

sgMost of the time, when collecting all the issues of JLA as a teenager, the only way I was ever going to get the first dozen or so issues was to settle for really beat-up copies. Looking back over this one, I'm amazed I was able to afford a copy in this good shape--the pages are still pretty white and there's really very little sign of wear. Cool.

The story: "When Gravity Went Wild!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. Green Arrow is accused the JLA for betraying them, by helping some super-villains get away! "I knew we should've picked Adam Strange!", said The Flash at the time.

This is the first issue of the book featuring the individual heroes' established bad guys, instead of some intergalactic menace. In this issue we have appearances by Captain Cold, King Clock, Electric Man, Puppet Master(on loan from Marvel?) and the diabolical Monty Moran!

It turns out to be a plot from the new bad guy Doctor Destiny, who had managed to impersonate Green Lantern and the villains were robot duplicates! Green Arrow learned of the plot and tried to get to the bottom of it without tipping his hand.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow

Notable Moments: A fun sequence where Aquaman rescues an unconcious Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter, where he swims upstream in a waterfall. He exhausts himself before he gets all the way, but let me type that again--
he swims upstream in a waterfall.

This is also the debut of Doctor Destiny, who looks like an ordinary guy but would soon be revamped into one of the more creepy, powerful villains of the JLA.

In addition to letters from readers, the JLA Mail Room prints an article that ran in the Jackson, Missouri High School newspaper entitled "What's Wrong with Comics?", a pro and con article. The conclusion? "[i]t only takes ten or fifteen minutes to read a comic. So why not take a breather and read one? I find them mentally refreshing and you might find them the same."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Justice League of America #4 - May 1961

sgObviously this issue is most memorable for it being the first time the JLA accepted a new member, in this case Green Arrow!

When I was a kid, I absolutely loved issues about new members joining, and I committed to memory the issue numbers where the JLA ranks changed. The JLA was the cream of the crop of the DCU; being asked to join--or in the rare case of when someone left--was a big deal, and in the original JLA comic it was treated as a cause for celebration. I think the whole JLA concept lost something intangible yet vital when members started coming and going with barely a mention.

The story: "Doom of the Star Diamond" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. An alien (another alien!) named Carthan has been exiled off his planet by an evil despot; so he goes to the JLA for help(I guess Oa was too far away?). But for complicated reasons he can't contact them directly, so he kidnaps Green Arrow, who just happened to be accepted as the JLA's newest member! What luck he didn't kidnap, say, Sargon the Sorcerer, otherwise no one would've cared.

After a whole bunch of hugger-mugger(note:"hugger-mugger" is equal to much hurried activity in Earth terms!), all the JLA get trapped in giant diamond, and only Green Arrow with his deus ex machina arrow can free them.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and new member Green Arrow

Notable Moments: Green Arrow joins! Yay! During the meeting, Flash suggests Adam Strange, and Batman suggests Hawkman. I think it would've been a hilarious running gag if, every time they had a new member meeting, Flash kept offering up Adam Strange and no one ever listened to him.

Mike Sekowsky, often derided at the time finally got his artistic due years later. As a kid, his jerky body poses, which upset a lot of fans, didn't bother me at all, and they still don't. Plus, he had such an awesome facility for laying out a page that despite all that Fox crammed in in any given panel, the storytelling is clear and concise.

Young letter writer Roy Thomas writes in to suggest Green Arrow for membership. Hey, that kid could have a career writing comics!

On a separate note, while reading this comic once, I was met with the Nightmare of the Sticky Tape--the piece of tape holding the plastic bag closed got stuck to the cover. Try as I might I couldn't get it free without it taking off a huge chunk of Aquaman's(Aquaman! oh, the irony!) face. But apparently that didn't stop me from trying to make a bad situation worse. A little marker, and...
...oh yeah, that's much better.

One last thing--Julius Schwartz admitted many years later that the only reason Green Arrow--who had his own feature at the time of the JLA's creation--wasn't included was because he plum forgot about him!

He later said that Aquaman was thrown in mostly because he had his own strip, too, and possibly if he had remembered Arrow, Aquaman might've been dropped since he thought that, at the time, "seven characters were enough."

Well, speaking as an Aquaman fan, I can only thank Mr.Schwartz for his faulty memory, because Aquaman being one of the original seven gained him a place in comic book--and possibly even pop-culture--history, and to know he was that close from not making it in...*shudder*

But hey, at least Green Arrow didn't have to wait long!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Justice League of America #3 - March 1961

sgOne thing you notice looking at these early issues--the covers by Murphy Anderson featured amazingly iconic battles. A life-and-death chess match, a doorway to another dimension, and now a slaveship in outer space! Before Infantino, Adams, and Cardy came along and really ramped up the excitement quotient for DC's covers, these early JLAs must have just jumped off the spinner racks.

The story: "The Slave Ship of Space!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. An alien named Kanjar Ro uses his powers to force the JLA into helping him defeat his enemies, the respective rulers of neighboring powers.

He manages to freeze Batman and Snapper Carr in place and subdue Superman with a Kryptonite gas(!), drafting the rest of the JLA to help him.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter

Notable Moments: Kanjar Ro is considerate enough to provide a regular water supply for Aquaman(man, that magic wand thingy he has can do anything), and the Sea King repays him by being the one who grabs it out of Ro's hand once the JLA finds a way to defeat him.

At one point, Batman thinks to himself, "I wish Superman were here--he'd be able to rescue us!" One of Batman's less, er, confident moments.

Jerry Bails gets another letter printed, and no less than four readers suggest Superman and Wonder Woman get married!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Justice League of America #2 - Jan. 1961

sgThe Flash knows how to pole-vault!

The story: "Secret of the Sinister Sorcerers!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. All the man-made objects in the world stop working, thanks to the machinations of some evil wizards from an alternate world known as "Magic Land."

The JLA tries to reverse the spell on their own, but that doesn't work, so they call in no less than Merlin(!) to help out. Good to have connections.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter

Notable Moments: Wonder Woman battles, as she calls them, "Troll dwarfs with tommy guns!" It takes a lot to faze an Amazon princess.

Superman and Batman also participate in the "get that hand back behind that door" scene depicted on the cover. But since its magic Superman isn't much help, and Batman isn't much help because he's just a regular guy in a bat costume.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Justice League of America #1 - Nov. 1960

sgOver the many years it took me to amass my complete run of Justice League of America, you'd think this issue was the hardest one to find...but no. This was tough to afford on my meager teenager funds, sure, but it wasn't the first time I had come across it. Luckily, the combo of Right Time and Cheap Enough Condition allowed to finally get ahold of the very first issue!

The story: "The World of No Return!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. Goofy villain Despero challenges The Flash to play him in a game of chess for the lives of his fellow Leaguers, whom he had captured and immobilzed.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter

Notable Moments: This is the debut issue, featuring the iconic chess battle. There's something inherently terrifying I think to most people about this concept--the average person may have a vague familiarity on how to play chess; but they're hardly proficient; playing the game for life-and-death stakes makes what many people think of as a dry, cerebral exercise into a white-knuckle, sweat-inducing battle.

As has been noted before, there is no issue number on the cover; newsstand vendors were skeptical of new titles so many publishers did their best to hide a "No.1" on the cover. My, how times change.

On the letters page, there's a letter by some kid named Roy Thomas, and an incredibly sweet one from a Mrs.Retalis, who writes: "Writing for my little boy, age 6 1/2, he tells me to please inform you that you absolutely must continue publishing the comic book Justice League of America.

Mama nods her head and agrees. It's one of the comics that spurred him to learn to read for himself--and he's not yet out of the first grade. More power to the Justice League of America!"

Friday, November 2, 2007

Brave and the Bold #s 28, 29, 30 - 1960

sgF.O.A.M. member Russell Burbage pointed out yesterday that this blog should really start with the JLA's debut in The Brave and the Bold.

I initially didn't think to, because even as a kid with a driving desire to complete my run of the JLA, these first three appearances were way beyond my means, and then as I got older I never really got around to picking them up, especially since all the stories had been reprinted anyway. Plus part of the blog's mission was to chronicle my experiences getting each individual issue, complete with cover scans of the one I bought(not pulled off the GCBD or some place), and I simply didn't have those experiences with these three issues.

Yet, not including them just feels wrong, since they are seminal comics in the team's history. And any blog professing to be a (mostly)complete history of the JLA as a comic can hardly skip them, so here they are, all at once!

Brave and the Bold #28:
The story: "Starro The Conqueror!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. Proving Gardner Fox wanted to hit the ground running, this story opens with Aquaman's finny friend Peter the PufferFish(no, I'm not kidding) telling him about a mysterious, alien starfish that has landed in the ocean!

Aquaman calls the Justice League(who?), and let's them know multiple Starros are appearing all over the world, so Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Martian Manhunter each try to fight them(Superman and Batman are both "too busy" starring in other books at the moment).

They eventually band together to fight the original Starro in the town of Happy Harbor, where local jerk Snapper Carr assists them. For his trouble they make him an Honorary Member. Dig it, man!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter

Notable Moments: Aquaman in this story is wearing yellow gloves, retroactively the hallmark of the Earth-2 Aquaman. Luckily, this has been ignored by continuity mavens and it's always been the Earth-1 Aquaman that's been a member of the JLA.

Superman and Batman were no doubt horrified that the JLA allowed some kid who snaps his fingers to become an honorary JLAer, but that's what you get when you miss a meeting.

Brave and the Bold #29:
The story: "Challenge of the Weapons-Master!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, Bernard Sachs, and Joe Giella. Some weird guy named Xotar(from the year 11,960!) who has all kinds of futuristic weapons at his command, goes back in time to fight the JLA and see which of his wondrous doo-dads works against them, which he then will use to defeat the Intersolar Police, who are trying to apprehend him in his own time. Um, what?

By the way, how is Xotar so certain any of his weapons will defeat the JLA? From an old JLA diary--which is incomplete due to age and wear-and-tear--which uses the worlds "Xotar", "defeat", and "Justice League." Really--he bases his whole plan on this. Obviously, Xotar is not the sharpest gerflonk in the ponfahr.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter

Notable Moments: Superman and Batman play a bigger role in this story, but the individual chapters still feature the other members more prominently.

Brave and the Bold #30:
The story: "Case of the Stolen Super-Powers!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs. The brilliant-but-insane Professor Ivo creates Amazo, an android who has the powers of all the Justice League! Holy crap!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter

Notable Moments: Superman and Batman are in the beginning of this story, and while they are technically involved in the case, we don't see them again after page four.

This is the first appearance of both Professor Ivo and Amazon, two characters that would return many times to take on the JLA and the rest of the DCU. Ivo drinks a formula that helps him live five hundred years in this story, which ties in at the end, and is also picked up as a story thread twenty-three years later in JLA #218, written by Cary Burkett. Nice job, Mr. B!

Since I don't have a personal story relating to the purchase of these issues(even as back issues), I thought the next best thing was to run this super-cool description of what it was like from no less a JLA authority than Gerry Conway, from his awesome text piece in JLA #200:
...and so it did.

Tomorrow: the very first issue of the Justice League of America!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Welcome to The Justice League Satellite!

sgWelcome to, a new blog devoted entirely to the classic adventures of the original Justice League of America!

As a kid, no book was more important to me than Justice League of America--it featured the all-stars of the DC Universe, having adventures that ranged from the small to the (literally) universe-shattering. Even though growing up I normally bought several comics regularly, if I ever found myself with only a little bit of money, a new issue of JLA would be always be Top Priority.

Before we kick off the blog formally tomorrow, I thought I'd answer some questions that are probably on your lips:

What will this blog consist of?

Mainly, it will be a daily examination of each successive issue of Justice League of America. I own every issue--from #1 all the way up to the final, #261, so will be going through them in order.

I was partly inspired by my pal Siskoid's
Herculean attempt to catalog and review every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, in order. I think the JLA is also worthy of such respect.

Is that it?

Well, no...I also plan to include contemporary ads(like this awesome one for The Brave and the Bold #28), and relevant and/or interesting other JLA-related material. There really isn't that much JLA-specific merchandise around that was tied to the original book, but in some cases we'll talk about it.

Will you be doing interviews like on The Aquaman Shrine?

I sure hope to! One of the most fun things for me doing The Aquaman Shrine(or any of my other blogs) is the opportunity to contact the various writers, artists, and editors whose work has meant so much to me. The internet--aka The Greatest Invention Since Fire--has enabled people like me to have access to people I'd normally never be able to contact and, in some cases, even get to know as friends.

Of course, I'll never have the chance to talk to the giants of the JLA, like Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Dick Dillin, but there are still many other fine creative people who I'd love to talk to about their work with The World's Greatest Superheroes.

My God, how many blogs can you have?

I don't know! If there's a limit Blogger hasn't informed me of it yet. I got the idea to do this blog a while ago, since I knew I would bring the same energy and passion that I bring to the other ones, an ingredient that I think/hope makes them enjoyable to read, day after day.

I knew that one of my other blogs, Digest Comics, was coming to a definite end since I had exhausted talking about the ones I loved the most, so I wanted to wait until that happened to start this--it was starting to get a little confusing, keeping track of them all.

Also like my other blogs, I hope JLA Satellite serves as both an enjoyable, reverent-yet-irreverent romp through the JLA fields, as well as a useful historical document of a long-running, influential comic book. I hope that by the time we get to issue #261, this blog will be the place people visit when they want to find out some good, useful, in-depth info on the book.

So why the JLA?

Well, like I said above, it was the book that spoke to me the most growing up--I spent most of my teenage years amassing the entire run(which wasn't easy for someone living off an allowance or a measly Roy Rogers employee salary). Later, during art school, I sold all of my comics(15,000+) to help pay for school, and for a moment I briefly considered the JLAs, too. Luckily, one second after I spoke that idea aloud, my friend Chris Wichtendahl said "You can't do that. Those are the Kelly Family Jewels." And he was right--they were the only comics I kept, and I'm so glad I did.

The DC Universe always seemed like a more fun, happy place than the Marvel one, which is why I always more of a DC kid. And nothing seemed more fun than hanging out in space satellite, 22,300 miles above Earth, hanging out with the all-stars of the DC universe. Heck, I'd even be a mascot--I can snap my fingers as well as anybody else!

sgHere's me sometime in 1982 with my Mom and my two Uncles, and in the background is JLA #206.

...and there's even another shot of me and Mom(somewhere buried in another photo album), and I'm not even bothering to pose or get the heck out of the shot; I'm too busy reading Justice League of America Annual #1.

The book was never far from my life. I never quite got over the book being cancelled and replaced with an endless succession of #1s, to the point that once in a while I'll catch myself doing the math in my head, imagining what number issue the original book would be up to by now if DC had just kept it going(it'd be hitting its 500th issue this year!).

And since those new JLA titles never had the same impact on me, we won't be covering them here. I have no interest in tracking down every issue of Justice League Task Force, thank you very much. Not that there weren't a lot of good--even great--moments in those books, but those occupy a different part of my heart, and that's not the part this blog is coming from(criminy, did I just write that?).

So starting tomorrow, we'll be talking about Justice League of America #1, where the JLA takes on the evil-yet-goofy-looking Despero. I hope my efforts are as interesting and comment-worthy as my other blogs, and I hope they provide the same level of enjoyment.

Thanks to everyone who reads my other blogs and lets me know how much they like them and even contribute things for me to use. I wouldn't be doing all these Exercises in Fandomosity if it weren't for all of you out there reading. I thank every single one of you.

Oh, and one final question...

Will I get something if I contribute to the JLA Satellite the same way I did by contributing something to the Aquaman Shrine?

Oh, yes. My Darlin' Tracy has her F.O.A.M. certificate on a bookshelf, so its a constant reminder to reward when someone goes The Extra Mile.

See you tomorrow, JLAers!
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