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!


__Neal said...

I agree with you about Mike Sekowsky. I started reading JLA in the 70s when Dick Dillon was drawing the book. Although Dillon's work was excellent, when I started collecting the older books from the 60s, I was really taken with Sekowsky's dynamic style. He gave the JLA a unique look that heightened the sense of comraderie amongst the group. Sekowsky drew the members as a team like Fantastic Four; Dillon drew them like icons. Some of the energy went out of the title after he left.

russell said...

I was a fan of Sekowsky, too, but not of his individual versions of the characters. His Aquaman was okay, but my favorite was his Wonder Woman. I never liked the dark circles he drew under Hawkman's eyes. As for Aquaman being included, I always thought that Julius Schwartz was one of those people who never "got" Aquaman. What would have happened if he had turned his attention to Artie the same way he had worked with the Atom or Hawkman? The mind boggles...

megomuseum said...

This was as far back as my Justice League collection got until the need for food made me sell it in college.

I loved this issue and seeing this cover still makes me squirm.

Frank Lee Delano said...

I agree that it should be a big deal to join the JLA. Morrison and Meltzer were both good enough to raise that point in their respective runs.

I'm glad Julie forgot about Green Arrow. It seems to me J'Onn J'Onzz would have been more quickly and easily sacked than Aquaman with no one the wiser. In fact, I'm most surprised he even remembered Manhunter to begin with. Glad he never edited the character solo, though. Schiff allowed far more delightful quirks.

I dislike Sekowsky's work on JLA, as he was also quirky, better suited to books like Diana Prince: Wonder Woman and the Manhunter 2070 strip.

Earth-2 Rev. Nørb said...

I liked Sekowsky's work on JLA, but his stiff, pointy body poses took some getting used to when, growing up in the thick of the Dillin era, i came across my first Sekowsky JLA reprint stories. I didn't like how wide he made everyone's bodies, but i did like his trademark "head on shot of everybody running forward in one huge parallel line" shots, which were usually featured on partial, chapter-ending pages right above a third-page or half-page ad. They seemed so clumsy and unhip ((let's all go running forward with all of our shoulders in line, and let's NOT have Flash be ahead of anybody either!)), yet wonderful.

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