Thursday, January 31, 2008

Justice League of America #78 - Feb. 1970

sgFantastic cover by Gil Kane, who you didn't see drawing the JLA much! And what's that satellite they're beaming up to?

The Story: "The Coming of the Doomsters!" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin, and Joe Giella. Superman and Green Lantern help Green Arrow put out a fire in Star City after he calls them for help. After doing so, take off. But there's a man desperately trying to get their attention who thinks to himself "The entire human race may depend" on doing so!

Supes and GL take Arrow to a rooftop, where he is placed in a tube, and suddenly finds himself whisked straight up, into the sky, and then(the details are fuzzy at this moment) finds himself in a mysterious place--the new JLA headquarters! As Batman, Hawkman, and the Atom explains, the new HQ is a floating orbital satellite in space:
While Arrow gets a tour of the new place, we go back to Earth and find our mysterious doom-sayer looking for anyway to connect to the JLA. He sees that they will be attending a charity ball, where they formally announce the addition of a new member, Black Canary.

As the mystery man tries to talk to the JLA, two other men pull out weird ray-guns and fire at Canary, but Green Lantern blocks their fire. They are then knocked out, and the JLA take the other man to their sattelite to ask him what's going on.

Turns out this guy was working as a night watchman at a factory, where he discovered the factory's owners were dumping huge amounts of pollution into the skies and the water. He took some evidence to show the authorities, when he was attacked by the cloaked men who then attacked the JLA at the charity ball.

All this heroism seems a lot for a night watchman, and he reveals that he is, in fact, Greg Sanders, formerly known as the Prairie Troubadour, The Vigilante! The JLA talks Greg into donning his superhero duds
and going with them to check into this company doing all the polluting. And what's with the ray guns?

Batman, Black Canary, the Atom, and the Vigilante arrive inside the factory, only to get knocked out by gas, dragged away, then put in a net about to be dumped into a pool of acid! To be continued!

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

Notable Moments: Obviously the big news is the debut of the JLA Satellite(hey, that'd be a great name for a blog!), which would soon become of the most remembered icons of this era of the JLA.

Once again, Aquaman does not appear. You'd think the debut of the new HQ would command the Sea King's appearance. I guess you could say that since Aquaman was deep in the middle of the quest for Mera storyline in his solo book, that's where he's been during all these JLA issues. Maybe.

This story runs four pages short, so there's a back-up feature, "The Man Who Hated Science!" by Jack Miller and Joh Giunta, from Mystery in Space #6.

This must be some sort of Earth-1 version of the Vigilante, because A)he's here on Earth-1, and he's not exactly some sort of dimension-hopping hero, and B)a big deal is made when the Vigilante, and the rest of the Seven Soliders of Victory, return from obscurity in JLA #100.

Also, this is the final appearance of this version of the logo.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Justice League of America #77 - Dec. 1969

sgI knew it would happen sooner or later--Snapper Carr betrays the JLA!

The Story: The wonderfully titled "Snapper Carr -- Super Traitor!" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin, and Joe Giella. Snapper Carr, about to get beat up by a bunch of three-piece-suited "toughs" for being "[that] guy who pals around with freaks", is saved at the last moment by John Dough, known as "Mr. Average"--the most normal man in America!

Batman and the Atom respond to an emergency alarm set off by Snapper, and when they do, they're sprayed with laughing gas and then knocked out by Snapper and John Dough!

Batman is trapped in a death-trap, and yet he shows up at the JLA meeting a few moments later! That's because "Batman" is really John Dough in disguise! Everyone is fooled, although Black Canary wonders why Batman is looking at her like a complete stranger. That's because the JLA had yet to announce her membership to the world, so he doesn't know who she is!

The JLA attends a rally of Dough's with Snapper, where he announces "the norms" must attack the super-powered "freaks"! What the JLA doesn't know is they are being bathed in a special hypnotic beam that makes them unable to concentrate and use their powers, leaving them easy pickings for the angry mob.

Batman---the real one--escapes and then figures out who this Mr.Dough is. He interrupts a congressional hearing that the fake Batman is speaking at, revealing the JLA's plan to overthrow the government!

Batman arrives, unmasks Batman as John Dough, and Superman and Green Lantern save everyone after Dough throws fire grenades into the crowd and escapes. Green Arrow remembers it was that rat bastard Snapper who got them into this trouble, and he and the League demand answers:
sg's almost as if Denny O'Neil wrote this issue for me. Snapper is a whiny little jerk, and he risks his friends lives to basically feel better about himself. O'Neil could've taken the easy way out, made Snapper turn rogue because of mind control or whatnot, but no--Snapper is just a rotten human being.

The JLA goes after Dough, and find him in their Secret Sanctuary. After getting the drop on them, Canary knocks him out with her Sonic Cry. Dough is unmasked as...the Joker! Now, the Joker is normally creepy, but he seems moreso here, because he only appears in two panels, mouth agape, but at no point does he say anything. Weird!

Green Arrow ends the JLA's relief from solving the case by pointing out that their secret HQ has been compromised, the JLA needs to rebuild its image with the public, and their close friend betrayed them. All in twenty-three pages!

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

Notable Moments: Denny O'Neil was putting the JLA through an amazing amount of changes, and the hits kept on coming--Snapper Carr, a traitor? It seems almost like a rejection of that earlier era of JLA, which wasn't even all that long ago.

It makes me think about how I read comics now--how would I feel if a new writer came in and made these kinds of wholesale changes in a book I loved? I'd probably have a feeling of "Who the hell does this guy think he is?", but of course here it doesn't bother me, because of all this took place before I was born. A few issues from now, we'll get to see the fans' reactions to all these new developments in the JLA letters pages...

And as a side note--this issue is the first to feature the "World's Greatest Super-Heroes" tagline as part of the book's regular logo. I guess DC figured if Stan Lee could call The Fantastic Four "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine" right off the bat, the JLA could benefit from some hyperbole, too.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Justice League of America #76 - Dec. 1969

sgBatman looks really angry here...maybe because he and Superman didn't participate in these stories?

The stories: "The Cosmic Fun House!" (JLA #7), and "The Last Case of the Justice League!"(JLA #12) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs.

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

Notable Moments:
DC made a subtle change to their 80-Page Giants--i.e., making them 68-Page Giants! Yep, from now on these Giants were twelve pages shorter. Damn inflation.

Along with these two stories, this issue comes with a JSA pin-up and a Seven Soldiers of Victory pin-up, both by Murphy Anderson, plus a text history of bpth teams.

Hey, at least Aquaman got to be in an issue of JLA, even if it is in just reprints!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Justice League of America #76 Ad - Dec. 1969

Strangely, I haven't come across many ads for regular, non-reprint issues of JLA, but I always find them for the 80-Page Giants!

DC's ads started getting really lazy around this time(in-house design genius Ira Schnapp had left DC by this point)--giant areas of dead space with uninspired design, but this one is still pretty spiffy.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Justice League of America #75 - Nov. 1969

sgHistory is made, with a new member joining! Oh, and awesome, iconic cover by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson.

The Story: "In Each Man There Is A Demon!" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin, and Joe Giella. Green Arrow opens the story as narrator, telling us that he recently has been framed by a business named, and in doing so losing his vast fortune!

Meanwhile, back at the Secret Sanctuary, the JLA is debating whether to admit Black Canary into the team. Canary grows frustrated at the all-male team's patronizing attitude towards her, and suddenly lets loose with a sonic scream, a power she never possessed before!

We return to Oliver Queen, who is subjecting himself to experiments with a Dr.Oyal, which allows a subject to peer into their subconcious! A malevolent Green Arrow springs from Ollie, knocking Oyal out and heading for JLA HQ!

When the JLAers(who figure that exposure to Aquarius' radiation caused Canary's new power) get attacked by the evil GA, evil duplicates are created of them, as well, all from the mystic residue left in each of them by Aquarius! Only Superman remains unaffected, because, as he assumes, he didn't absorb any of Aquarius' radiation. The JLAers feel despondent, not believing they can defeat themselves.

Superman gives them a super pep-talk by fighting a Superman robot, and defeating it, telling them it was an evil inner duplicate of him, too. This inspires them and they head off to fight their duplicates.

Green Arrow faces down his inner bad self by admitting that evil resides in all people, and it is the best part of them that keeps the evil side under control. This drains the evil dupes' energy, and they return to their hosts.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, and new member Black Canary!

Notable Moments:
There's no official approval of Black Canary into the team--by the end of the story, she's simply a member, recording the tale into the JLA archives with Green Arrow.

The letters page only runs three letters, one by Alan Brennert and one by Martin Pasko--a pretty damn good eventual-writers-to-fan

While the addition of Black Canary makes total sense, dramatically and otherwise, I do feel like it was a small step down, Iconic Hero-wise. Black Canary never had her own book, only her own strip in Flash Comics, and even that had ended over fifteen years earlier.

Starting with Canary, the JLA would accept heroes whose only home was the JLA, and one could make the argument it weakened the initial Knights of the Round Table concept that the team started out with.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Justice League of America #74 - Sept. 1969

sgFew people could convey the sheer violence from a punch as well as Neal Adams. You can feel Superman (whichever one it is) really taking one on the chin.

The Story: "Where Death Fears To Tread!" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin, and Sid Greene. Continued from last issue, the JLA arrive in outer space to help rescue the JSA and fight Aquarius, who thought he had gotten rid of the living things on Earth!

He uses his powers to take control of the minds of the JSAers, and force them to fight the JLA!

Superman fights Superman, The Atom fights Dr.Fate--and defeats him--and Green Arrow fights Black Canary, trapping her in a sticky substance(no jokes!) from one of his arrows(I mean it!). Unfortunately, he is then knocked out by Larry Lance, and when Aquarius forms himself into a ball of energy, it mindlessly heads towards the trapped Black Canary!

Canary's husband Larry notices this, and valiantly jumps in the way of it, saving his wife but dying in the attempt. The two teams take time out from fighting Aquarius to have a funeral for Larry.

sgNow I don't mean to be picky, but first of all, can't this wait? Also, what's the one of the two non-earthlings reading from what is presumably the Bible? I can't imagine either Kal(or Katar) are Christian, so it seems odd that he's the one officiating.

And, also, would Batman of all people really be moved to tears over the death of a guy he's probably never met before? I mean, come on, this is Batman.

Anyway, after the funeral, they go back after Aquarius, with the two Green Lanterns teaming-up, trapping Aquarius into a negative-matter universe and he explodes when anti-matter meteors hit his positive-matter body. This might seem a little nasty--killing the bad guy--but he did mock the JLA and JSA while they were buring Larry, which is a real bad-guy no-no.

Black Canary finds the memories of Earth-2 too painful, so she asks the JLA if she can come live with them on Earth-One.

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

Notable Moments:
Once again, Aquaman is the only member of the JLA not in this issue!

I don't mean to goof on the death of Larry Lance too much--in fact, because O'Neil gave his death scene so much space in the story, you do feel something when it happens. O'Neil makes you feel more from the death of this minor supporting character than a lot of comics have killing off a major hero.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Justice League of America #73 - Aug. 1969

sgHow did Joe Kubert see into my dreams?

The Story: "Star Light, Star Bright--Death Star I See Tonight!" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin, and Sid Greene. The Council of Living Stars unanimously agrees to banish the star Aquarius and sentence him to a life of wandering the universe as punishment for Crimes Most Heinous!

Aquarius is reduced to a floating glob of nothingness, that knows only hate! It, of course, makes its way to Earth...

Meanwhile, we find Red Tornado(who showed up last issue) explaining to the JLA that Earth-2 is facing a terrible menace, causing people to mysteriously become hate-filled attackers, like a small child or even Black Canary's huband, Larry Lance!

The JSA confronts this Aquarius, who tells them that his banishment has robbed him of his self-confidence, but he plans to reduce Earth to a shambles, making him feel a whole lot better! Once that's accomplished, he'll turn his attention to the entire universe! *Gulp!*

The Earth-2 Superman, Wonder Woman, and Red Tornado tried to assist the rest of the JSA, but they are all captured by Aquarius and placed in an ectoplasmic shield, while he has transported every other living thing off Earth! Dr.Fate tries the JSA's last hope--sending a message to Red Tornado(the one hero not captured by Aquarius) telling him to go to Earth-1 and get help from the JLA! To be continued!

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

Notable Moments:
The JLAers don't do anything except sit around listening to Reddy's story. This was why he showed up in JLA #72, but because of the emergency in that issue, they left before he could tell them what had happened to the JSA. According to the Atom, it took Reddy two weeks before he could get the JLA to listen to him!

Comics went from 12 cents to 15 cents with this issue, which DC explains and apologizes for in a half-page editorial. At this point, each successive price increase would come along faster than the last one...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Justice League of America #72 - June 1969

sgOther than Green Arrow's way too big cap feather, this is one spiffy cover by Joe Kubert.

The Story: "13 Days to Doom!" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin, and Sid Greene. The JLA is contemplating the new Martian Manhunter statue they just built--as a way to honor all he's done for the planet Earth--when suddenly it starts shaking and explodes, courtesy of the Red Tornado, looking to make a dramatic entrance.

The JLA is pretty rough on ol' Reddy, none more so than the Atom, who, as the JLA leaves to respond to an alarm, tells Reddy "Stay in this room and don't budge! I have a hunch we'll be up to our ears in trouble, and we don't have time to play nurse-maid!" Whew! Now we see maybe why Jean left him...

Anyway, it turns out they've been summoned by frequent guest-star Hawkgirl, who tells them a room full of people--including Hawkman--have been turned to...salt!

Turns out this is the work of your classic mad scientist guy, Marmaduke Mantick(!), who was approached by a demon telling him if he can apprehend the Philosopher's Stone now on display in Midway City he will be given unimaginable powers! He does this, but he can't control it and demons begin to appear, turning Hawkman and everyone else to stone.

The JLA tells Marmaduke to re-open the pit the demons came from that the stone opened, but he says it can only be done every thirteen days(and they should believe this guy why?). Meanwhile, a grieving Hawkgirl is kidnapped!

The JLA are told the kidnappers will trade Hawkgirl for Marmaduke, but the JLA doesn't give in to kidnappers, no sir! Superman poses as Marmaduke and makes quick work of the biker gang who did the kidnapping(their leader was also turned to salt, and they're looking to de-saltify him).

They then take on the demons, trying to undo the spell, but they are fought to a standstill. But luckily a mysterious stranger makes their way into the pit, uncorking it, reversing everyone who had been turned into salt and forcing the demons back. Of course, our hero is Red Tornado, who figured as a machine was invulnerable to the demons' attacks. They all apologize for being so hard on Reddy and Hawkgirl is moved to tears, as she thanks Reddy and lays a big one on lucky, lucky man Carter Hall.

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

Notable Moments:
Hawkgirl works so well with the JLA, its sort of amazing it would take another eight years for her to join, especially since with Wonder Woman gone, there were no women in the JLA at the time!

Another issue where Aquaman is the only active JLA member not participating in the story. What did Denny O'Neil have against the King of the Seven Seas?

The two-page JLA Mail Room features letters from two young readers named Mark Evanier and Martin Pasko!

Also, the Mail Room header is changed to reflect all the changes to the team:
The Atom is still the felt-tip pen version, but now Batman has replaced Manhunter in the big chair. I guess no one wanted to ask Dick Dillin to do a completely new version, so they stuck with (mostly)Sekowsky-drawn one.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Justice League of America #71 - May 1969

sgNo sooner did Wonder Woman leave the JLA, then they lost another founding member, just two issues later!

The Story: "...And So My World Ends!" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin, and Sid Greene. Guest-star Diana Prince runs afoul of a mysterious cloaked man wrecking the fire-eating sideshow at the circus(!) Prince and her mentor I-Ching(!!) are attending. When Prince is easily knocked aside by the stranger, she calls in the JLA for help.

The JLA show up and they learn that this mysterious stranger is...the Martian Manhunter!!

They ask J'onn where he's been, since they haven't seen him for months(he last appeared in JLA #61), and he tells them he has been trying to prevent a murderous Martian named Blanx from taking over Mars by killing its citizens and destroying its resources. He asks the JLA for help!

They go to Mars and take on Blanx's army, but its up to Manhunter to take on Blanx personally. It's grim, hand-to-hand combat, but finally J'onn defeats Blanx. Unfortunately, Blanx has wreaked massive destruction on Mars, far beyond even what he had planned, leaving the entire planet dead. Superman informs J'onn that some of his people escaped via a spacecraft that J'onn had built for just such a purpose. He resolves to find those people and bring them back to Mars to rebuild, which means he has to leave his adopted planet Earth and his friends in the Justice League:
Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman

Notable Moments: Aquaman is the only member of the team not participating in this story---rats!

Denny O'Neil was affecting all kinds of change, barely a year into his tenure as JLA writer. Two powerful, founding members gone, and of course even more change was in store...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Justice League of America #70 - March 1969

sgGuest-starring the Creeper, with a cool Neal Adams cover!

The Story: "Versus the Creeper!" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin, and Sid Greene. The issue opens with a homemade superhero, Mind-Grabber Kid, attempting to stop some crime taking place using some sort of paralysis ray, which stops the criminals.

Unfortunately, no one notices this act of superhero-dom because on TV, the JLA is being filmed performing their amazing feats for charity! M-G Kid walks away, envious of them...

Meanwhile, busybody Batman is trying to talk the JLA into looking into this new "hero", the Creeper, who he doesn't know whether is a good guy or bad guy! Hey guys, howabout finding a replacement for Wonder Woman?

Anyway, a group of alien invaders(and this is only page five!) find themselves in communication with M-G Kid, where he tells them the planet is being menaced by a group of evil dictators, the Justice League!

The aliens find the JLA helping out the Creeper fighting off some non-costumed bad guys, which they assume to mean that M-G Kid was right! The aliens then attack and defeat Flash, Green Lantern, Atom, and Superman(wow!!). M-G Kid sees the error of his ways when these non-costumed crooks are about to murder the unconcious JLAers, and uses his ray helmet to revive Superman, who stops them.

M-G Kid apologizes to the aliens and the JLA. During the JLA and aliens' chat, The Creeper wanders off, the JLA having decided he is in fact a good guy. M-G Kid walks home, realizing he was wrong to be jealous.

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

Notable Moments: The issue ends with M-G Kid, and DC asks us "Want to see more of Mind-Grabber Kid? Let us know...because we sort of like him!"

DC was apparently alone in this assessment, since as far as I know M-G Kid never appeared again. Maybe some issue of JLA Classified someday...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Justice League of America #69 - Feb. 1969

sgA history-making issue, as a member of the Justice League actually resigns!

The Story: "A Matter of Menace!" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin, and Sid Greene. The issue opens with a one-page wordless sequence, with a note being tossed out a window that says "Green Arrow is holding me captive and is going to kill me!" What?!?

But before we can follow that, we meet up with Diana Prince, who shows up at the Secret Sanctuary to inform her fellow members that since he has lost her superpowers(in Wonder Woman #178) that she is resigning from the Justice League! The JLAers deny her resignation but put her on a leave of absence. Nice fellas, those Justice Leaguers.

Anyway, it turns out someone is trying to frame Green Arrow for a murder. The JLA investigate, and it turns out the dead man is a supervillain, the Tattooed Man! Then a mysterious man tells Batman and Flash to meet him at the Planetarium if they want to know whose behind all this. They show up, expecting an ambush, yet someone gets the drop on them anyway thanks to a raygun.

Turns out the guy behind all this is the villianous Headmaster, who first fought the JLA way back in issue #28("The Case of the Forbidden Super-Powers!"), who reveals he didn't actually kill the Tattooed Man, just merely put him in suspended animation.

Three of Headmaster's goons dress up as the JLA, and go on a crime spree. Luckily the Atom helps the other members escape(but jamming a bad guy's gun by sticking himself in there, preventing the firing pin from going off!) and they apprehend the faux-heroes, the Tattooed Man, and the Headmaster.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Arrow, Atom

Notable Moments: The opening page, featuring the mysterious letter, turns out to be a red herring--the note was written by kids playing "Justice League." Weird!

The sequence featuring founding member Wonder Woman resigning takes place in all of one page:
...and yet big JLA history was made--for the first time a member left the team, which would start happening with more frequency as the book went on.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Justice League of America #68 - Dec. 1968

sgPretty weird cover, courtesy Dick Dillin and Sid Greene!

The Story: "Neverwas...the Chaos-Maker!" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin, and Sid Greene. A odd, shapeless, colorless creature, controlled only by instinct, called the Neverwas(introduced in an all-black and white opening page) transports itself into the heart of Midway City, causing a panic!

Luckily Hawkman is there to try and calm it down, but the creature panics and knocks the Winged Warrior out and then flees. Hawkman then decides to call in the JLA.

The JLA split up, and Superman soon finds it, where he discovers it has the ability to engulf people or objects and send them hurtling across time and space, which the Neverwas does to Superman! Aquaman then tries to fight it, where it retaliates by splitting into two Neverwases!

Finally the JLA regroup, fighting the Neverwases(Neverwasi?) to a standstill. Superman then instructs Green Lantern to collect them all using his power ring, sending them back into the dimension he came from, but with something else--a robot "toy" made from spare parts of buildings, which the Neverwas can use to entertain itself forever, which as the story ends it is happily doing.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Hawkman

Notable Moments: A very sweet story--the nightmarish-looking JLAers depicted on the cover is how the Neverwas saw them, which is why he was fighting them. Superman using his powers to build a toy for the Neverwas was a cute touch.

Aquaman plays a large role in the story, with the third act taking place mostly underwater.

For the only time, the cover logo is put in front of a big colored box, like the comics from the 30s and 40s. I wonder why?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Justice League Toys by Ideal - 1968

Bizarre records weren't the only products the JLA got its logo slapped on in 1968!

I thought before we moved into JLA comics released in 1969, we'd take a moment to talk about some of the actual Justice League of America products that hit the shelves in 1968.

Ideal Toys created several different JLA-related pieces, usually focusing around one member. The above Batman/JLA playset is uber-rare and ridiculously expensive, partly because of its fairly flimsy packaging and that it is so damn cool. Look at this thing--it comes with the Secret Sanctuary for pete's sake!

The company Multiple Toys did a similar one for Aquaman, a piece that still eludes my collector's grasp and haunts my dreams:
What Aquaman needs an AquaSub for, I have no idea, but it's so cool looking I don't care. I've seen this surface(sorry) once or twice on eBay, but for like eight or nine grand(!) so until I become a millionaire this will remain one of my Aquaman Holy Grails.

I've never seen whether Ideal (or Multiple) did one for Superman, but someone must have, right? Supes, Bats, and Aquaman were the three cartoon show headiners, so it only makes sense.

Another product, as dear to my heart but one that I actually do own, is this gen-u-ine Aquaman board game:
It's a pretty boring game(you move around the board,'re done), but the box art is so awesome it doesn't matter. And how many times did you see the Martian Manhunter on anything? Clearly, Ideal thought the JLA was a major selling point, since its logo is almost as big as Batman and Aquaman's.

I have never been able to find any existence of a Green Lantern or (the mind reels!)Martian Manhunter game, but I have seen a Flash one, but was unable to find a picture of it at press time(I love that phrase--makes me feel like a journalist).

Until the debut of DC Direct, the JLA was never the subject of this much merchandising attention again after their banner year of 1968.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Justice League of America #67 - Dec. 1968

sgRarely does the phrase "all-reprint issue" get one excited, but when a package is put together as cool as this, it doesn't matter that you've read these stories before!

It was a great idea for an 80 Page Giant, to run all the new member-issues all together, and Neal Adams' cover is about as good as you can get.

The stories: "Doom of the Star Diamond!"(JLA #4), "Menace of the 'Atom' Bomb!"(JLA #14), and "Riddle of the Runaway Room!"(JLA #31) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs.

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

Notable Moments:
Hey, who's that weird green guy next to Aquaman? Oh! It's founding member the Martian Manhunter! Kind of like skipping high school all year then showing up for yearbook photos.

As I said above, the cover by Neal Adams is a classic--fun and celebratory; it makes it really feel like the JLA is a family, and that being asked to join that family was a Big Deal. In fact, the cover was so well received it's been homaged by no less than Gil Kane and Jerry Ordway...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Justice League of America #67 Ad - Dec. 1968

Now this is more like it!

When you have a cover as dynamic as this, just get the heck out of the way and let the book sell itself. Because of Neal Adams, somebody in DC's advertising department got to go to lunch a little early that day.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Justice League of America #66 Ad - Dec. 1968

Whoops! Usually I run the ad for a specific issue before I get to the issue itself, but I goofed, so here is the ad for yesterday's JLA #66.

Anyway, I like to think I keep my blogging remarks on a friendly, fair-yet-honest level, and I tend to go out of my way to try and find something nice to say about whatever it is I'm posting about.

But I just have to say, is this not the single laziest comic ad ever done? Grab a cover stat, a Sharpie, and--bang!--all done!


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Justice League of America #66 - Nov. 1968

sgA rare, not-totally-kickass cover by Neal Adams. The first of many Neal would do for the book.

The Story: "Divided--They Fall!" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin, and Sid Greene. During a JLA meeting, Superman and the rest of team get mad at Batman, Green Arrow, and the Atom, who are engaged in some shop talk. Atom even gives Supes a sarcastic response when they're asked to stop! That Ray had some guts.

Anyway, Snapper mentions the burglarly at Happy Harbor College. Most of the JLAers think that's too small a crime to get involved with, Bats, Arrow, and Atom disagree, and they split to investigate, hurling insults as they leave! Man, these Denny O'Neil JLA sure are different from Gardner Fox's!

Turns out this machine--called a Morale Machine--has been stolen by the comical Generalissimo Demmy Gog, who plans to use it to invade America! Meanwhile, the rest of the JLA back home are finding constructive uses of their awesome, god-like powers:
sg...Hal Jordan doesn't like bossy chicks.

Suddenly, these JLAers lose the "interest" in using their powers, forcing them to hitchhike to Habby Harbor College!

They eventually meet up with the others, and help defeat Gog and his "Dirty Half-Dozen." They resolve not to fight again(I'm sure that will stick), realizing that they truly need one another. Oh, and Snapper is there, too.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom

Notable Moments: The first JLA story not written by Gardner Fox; O'Neil certainly went out of his way to write a different kind of tale; the goofy jokes lean toward the Batman TV-show style and its a bit jarring to see these guys fight with each other after eight years of collegial behavior.

The letters page features a letter by a "Joe Straczynski" from Matawan, NJ. Babylon 5 creator, Amazing Spider-Man writer J.M.
Straczynski was born just a stone's throw away in Paterson, NJ, in 1954, making him fourteen in 1968. So it's gotta be...

The classic JLA logo makes a return starting with this issue!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Songs and Stories About The Justice League of America - 1968

Just as we're about to head into another era of the JLA comic, I thought we'd pause again to talk about this rarely-seen item--the Songs and Stories About The Justice League of America LP, from Tifton Records.

It seems improbable that the meager amount of JLA cartoon episodes that aired during the Superman/Aquaman Hour from Filmation could be so popular that they would inspire tie-in merchandise; and yet all the JLA-related stuff all comes from 1968, the same year the cartoons aired, so...

I have yet to find a copy of this record for myself--it's criminally hard to find on eBay, even thought almost all of its contents were later repurposed for Power Records' Justice League LP in 1975. So the big attraction must be the sleeve, which I understand, since it's awesome!

The art looks a bit Infantino/Anderson-ish, but I'm not totally sure, and I absolutely love the coloring--there's a softer edge to the palette than you normally see in comics, I find it quite appealing. Plus the design is just nifty.

One question should--nay, must--be asked--whose idea was it to include Plastic Man and, even more improbably, Metamorpho, in the Justice League? I can see why Superman and Batman weren't included(because they each got their own records), but why not Green Lantern, Hawkman, or (just to get Damian riled up) The Atom? They were all colorful, fun members of the JLA.

I'm not complaining, mind you; I love both Plas and Rex, but even as a kid I kept wondering why they were included. And jeez, Metamorpho gets the whole back cover to himself!

I'm not including all the records' audio tracks here (though if you want to download them, you can go to a site called
Way-Out Junk, or if you just want to listen to them, you can visit my Power Records blog post about the 1975 version), but I couldn't pass up ending this with the records' classic, yet totally goofy, theme song, sung by the JLA itself. Take it away, JLA!:

Update: Literally seconds after posting this, pal Damian(he of the Tiny Titan blog) sent me this ad, one I've never seen before, from a DC book promoting their TV/media tie-ins:
sg you can see from the bottom of the ad, Plastic Man and Metamorpho were planned to be animated characters, either as part of the Superman/Aquaman show, or maybe on their own? You could certainly see why an animation company would think those two would lend themselves well to animated adventures(and of course Plastic Man would get his own show, about a decade later).

But I don't remember ever seeing Plas or Rex ever show up in the Filmation shows, did they ever appear?

This ad also answers the question--this album was clearly meant as a tie-in piece of merchandising! Thanks Damian!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Justice League of America #65 - Sept. 1968

sgI've had dreams like this, except the JLAers were happy.
The Story: "T.O.Morrow Kills the Justice League--Today!" by Gardner Fox, Dick Dillin, and Sid Greene. Part Two of yesterday's JLA/JSA team-up, it opens with some of the JLA's spouses(Jean Loring, Hawkgirl, Mera, etc.) showing up and planting big wet ones on their partners, which renders the heroes immobile!

Turns out they were anti-matter duplicates made by Morrow in an attempt to get to the other members, where Morrows uses his futuristic abilities to make elements of the JLA Souvenir Room come alive and attack them!

Eventually, its Red Tornado who finds a way to defeat T.O.Morrow, just as his supercomputer predicted might happen!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman
Notable Moments: In an attempt to rescue the immobile JLAers, Red Tornado calls on the real better halves, figuring a real kiss would undo what the anti-matter kiss did:
sg...lordy, what a weird panel. Wonder Woman looks totally bored, Red Tornado staring, and the odd, fan-fic-esque feeling you get watching Jean Loring kiss a tiny Ray. *shudder*

The bigger news is that this is Gardner Fox's last issue as writer of the Justice League. Obviously, change was in the air, since longtime artist Mike Sekowsky left just two issues earlier.

As good and enjoyable as it was, Fox's "Monster of the Month" style, filled with mostly interchangable heroes, was starting to look old hat in the age of Marvel and it's very specifically characterized heroes. And we'd see that in the JLA, but soon!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Justice League of America #64 - Aug. 1968

sgThe JSA returns, again shunting their hosts off the to the side! For the love of Snapper Carr, where are my Justice Leaguers?!?

The Story: "The Stormy Return of the Red Tornado!" by Gardner Fox, Dick Dillin, and Sid Greene. We open on Earth-2, where a JSA meeting is interrupted by the Red Tornado, who insists he is a member of the team! Problem is, no one can remember who this guy is!

While they try to figure this out, Hourman's newest invention, a machine that predicts crime(somebody call Spielberg and Cruise!), warns the JSA of some upcoming shenanigans!

Turns out this is all a plot by T.O.Morrow, a villain from the future whose supercomputer told him that the JSA will stop him, and the only thing that can prevent that is to infiltrate the team with a new member plant, the Red Tornado!

Roll Call: Absolutely no JLAers appear in this issue; instead we get the JSA consisting of Black Canary, Dr.Fate, The Flash, Hourman, and Starman

Notable Moments: Another issue where the JLA doesn't appear. Whose comic is this anyway?
sgSeveral important debuts are in this issue. The Red Tornado--future JLA member and punching-bag, and his creator, T.O. Morrow, show up for the first time. I always liked Morrow's creepy supercomputer that could tell him anything.

The bigger news, of course, is that this issue marks the debut of Dick Dillin as penciller, who would go on to become the JLA artist for the next decade plus, making Sekowsky's sixty-three issue run look like a walk in the park. Under Sid Greene's heavy inks, there wasn't a huge visual change from Sekowsky, but over time Dillin's style would emerge and he would establish his own distinctive look for the World's Greatest Super-Heroes.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Justice League of America Filmation Cartoon - 1968

I thought that since yesterday represented the end of an era for the JLA(Mike Sekowsky's final issue as penciller), now would be a good time to take a moment to talk about a significant event in the history of the team that took place outside the comic:
Right around this time, this simple tag started appearing at the end of JLA stories promoting the brand-new JLA cartoon, appearing as part of the Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure, from the fine folks at Filmation!
sgThe JLA segment only appeared three times, in episodes titled "Between Two Armies", "Target Earth", and "Bad Day on Black Mountain." (wow, only three? it seemed like so many more than that!)

The JLA cartoon was astonishingly faithful to the comic of the time, featuring a truly JLA-ish line-up of Superman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Atom, and Hawkman! They looked good, moved at a brisk clip, and were a lot of fun.

Despite the fact that some of the Filmation shows have been collected on DVD, none of these JLA episodes(or even the solo member shows) have been released. C'mon, Warner DVD, get with it!

(Fun Fact: The Atom was voiced by actor Pat Harrington, Jr., most famous for playing the handyman Schneider on the sitcom One Day At A Time!)

So for your viewing pleasure, here's one of the episodes, "Target Earth":

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Justice League of America #63 - June 1968

sgThis what I think Superman's dreams are like sometimes.

The Story: "Time Signs a Death Warrant for the Justice League!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and George Roussos. This story opens with a bunch of people from the future spying on a May, 1968 meeting of the Justice League!

Turns out that lockpick of licentiousness, the Key, has found a way to have complete mental control over the JLA! He sends a command to them in their Secret Sanctuary instructing them they are trapped, and in one hour they will all fight one another! For some reason, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern are the least concerned.

Turns out a future Superman is in this meeting, not the "current day" one, so, does this get complicated. Suffice it to say, Superman fights off the rest of the JLA, escapes the Sanctuary, and they go all fight the Key. Whew!

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

Notable Moments: Another time when there's no appearance--of even mention--of the Martian Manhunter. Weird.

The time travelling historians plot is cute, and was homaged by Gerry Conway fifteen years later, in JLA #206. But that's a little ways away...

This is Mike Sekowksy's last issue as penciller of the Justice League of America. Sixty-three(plus three Brave and the Bolds) straight issues, an amazing run, even moreso considering how dense a lot of these issues were. Sekowsky may not have had the polish and the brilliance of a Jack Kirby(who does?), but I think the sheer consistency gave the JLA a solid identity that helped establish the team and the book as one of the mainstays of the DCU.

Of course, sixty-three issues would look like nothing compared to what was next...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Justice League of America #62 - May 1968

sgThis was one of the first back issues of the JLA I ever bought, at "El Dorado", my first-ever comic book store. As you can see, it's Near Mint.

The Story: "Panic From a Blackmail Box!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and George Roussos. The JLA get involved in a mysterious gang war between two super-powered gangs, the Bulleteers and the Pyrotekniks.

The gang's leader, Leo Locke, finds some helpful info buried in a box he found while fishing(!) and he uses it to trap the other gang. Since all this hugger-mugger takes place in Central City, it gets noticed by local police scientist Barry Allen...

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

Notable Moments: A change of pace issue--the story is small in scope, a vast change from the universe-shattering adventures the JLA usually finds itself involved in.
sgThis issue (and the next) were inked by George Roussos, not Sid Greene, and while Sekowsky's normally excellent storytelling and layout shows through(like this Hawkman panel, which I think has superb draftsmanship and an interesting angle), I think Roussos was not the best inker for "Big Mike."
sgRoussos' loose inking style wasn't enough to "reign" Sekowsky in a little, so you end up with panels like this, where even as a kid I wondered "Why does Green Lantern look so weird?"

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Justice League of America #61 - March 1968

sgA very fun issue, one of my all-time favorites. I first discovered via the Super Friends treasury comic, that probably had a lot to do with it!

The Story: "Operation: Jail the Justice League" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Sid Greene. Green Arrow arrives at a JLA meeting to tell them he is quitting the JLA! (While Wonder Woman protests "No one's ever resigned from the JLA!", Flash quietly thinks to himself "Now's the time to call Adam Strange.")

He warns them that some disastrous fate awaits them, and they should all quit superheroing. Surprisingly, the JLA doesn't listen and they all decide to pose as the Emerald Archer to find out just what's going on. While they each fight their respective villains as Green Arrow, they are all defeated and mysteriously change bodies with their foes! Then the "bad guys" are jailed while the real bad guys get to go out and commit crimes.

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

Notable Moments: This is an extraordinairily fun story--goofy but without the (at times) lugubrious plotting that Fox stories sometimes had.
sgAs the JLAers dress up as Green Arrow, Fox decided to have little ironic distance and just be up front with the readers that Wonder Woman couldn't quite pull it off.

...this is probably the very first time any sort of irony appared in the JLA, after sixty plus issues. Kind of remarkable, really, since comics now are almost all irony.

At the end, all the JLAers and all the bad guys end up in the same place, so of course they decide to beat the crap out of each other. Sekowksky gives us a classic two-page donnybrook:
sg...Superman really took the easy way out, didn't he? And how humiliating was it for The Tattooed Man that he's taken out by Snapper Carr?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Justice League of America #60 - Feb. 1968

sgA return appearance by the, villianous Queen Bee!

The Story: "Winged Warriors of the Immortal Queen!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Sid Greene. The Justice Leaguers lose control of their bodies(particularly bad for Green Arrow) and suddently sprout wings!

Turns out they are now under the control of the Queen Bee, who now has control of the (don't laugh) Magno-Nuclear Rod, which enables her to take control of the JLA and have them help her conquer the universe! Luckily guest-star Batgirl is here to help the JLA defeat her.

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

Notable Moments: A rare story for this period featuring every member of the JLA, plus guest-star Batgirl! I know she wouldn't have added that much, powers-wise, to the team, but I think Babs does look good among the JLAers:
sgSekowsky and Greene's rendering of Batgirl is quite nice. I found this issue a little too much to handle reading it for the first time as teen--Batgirl and Queen Bee? I've always had a thing for redheads...

This story is a few pages short, so the book is filled up with a Captain Comet reprint, "The Seeing-Eye Humans!" by John Broome and Murphy Anderson.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Justice League of America #59 - Dec. 1967

sgA nice, dynamic cover by Sekowksy and Greene; with a touch-up by Wayne Boring on Superman's face. What the...?

The Story: "The Justice Leaguers' Impossible Adventure!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Sid Greene. Five members of the JLA are trasnported to another planet, where they are told they are to be stripped of their super powers! As if!

The planet's rulers do, in fact, take away the JLAers powers, just in time for the planet to be attacked by invaders, who the JLAers decided to take on--sans powers!

Roll Call: Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Martian Manhunter

Notable Moments: Aquaman and Martian Manhunter playing large roles in a JLA story! I woulda thought that was impossible!

sgThe second set of aliens in this story don't exactly inspire terror...I love Manhunter's thought balloon here. What might it be like to be killed by a guy with a flower for a head? Maybe it was one too many cases like this that made J'onn question his role JLA membership.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Justice League of America #58 - Dec. 1967

sgBeautiful cover by Carmine Infantino and Sid Greene, featuring a fairly pissed-off looking JLA. Doesn't DC pay the JLA reprint fees?

The stories: "World of No Return!" (JLA #1), "Wheel of Misfortune!"(JLA #6), and "For Sale--The Justice League!"(JLA #8) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs.

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

Notable Moments:
These 80-Page Giants are so much darn fun, not to mention a real value, then and now. For a 1967 quarter you got three whole comics, and even nowadays I find these issues (relatively) cheap to get because they're all-reprint. If I ever want to re-read JLA #1, I read it here instead of risking my already-fragile original copy.

I could be wrong, but I believe this is the first time the JLA is referred to as "The World's Greatest Superheroes", a moniker that would eventually adorn the book on a regular basis.

Update: I am incorrect directly above. Actually, the phrase is first used on the cover to #39, the first 80 Page Giant issue of JLA!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Justice League of America #58 Ad - Nov. 1967

sgDC didn't usually use up a whole page of ad space just to promote one book, but they obviously thought they had a real winner with this new 80-Page Giant!

As always, beautifully designed by Ira Schnapp.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Justice League of America #57 - Nov. 1967

sgOne of the most famous, and most unusual, issues of Justice League ever!

The Story: "Man, Thy Name is--Brother!" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Sid Greene. Some of the JLAers decide to get involved in the lives of three young men(one black, one Native American, one Indian) who want only to make their respective worlds better, but whose efforts are continually thwarted by circumstances. In doing so, they end up needing the help of these young men, who are in turn inspired not to give up.

Roll Call: Flash, Green Arrow, Hawkman

Notable Moments: Definitely an unusual issue, and while the motivations and results are a bit simplistic, Fox is so clearly impassioned here that the story still works. No crazy super-villains or aliens from the 65th century, just the JLA trying to make the world a better, more understanding place.

It must have been considered quite a sales risk to not feature Superman or Batman, so props to Fox and Schwartz for doing it all. The beautiful, poster-like cover is by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson.
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