The Story: "The Unknown Soldier of Victory!" by Len Wein, Dick Dillin, and Joe Giella. This issue opens with members of the Justice League--Aquaman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Hawkman--rummaging though their old Secret Sanctuary headquarters in preparation for their 100th meeting!
(Since some of the stories in the previous 99 issues were two or three-parters, this isn't the 100th case exactly; so there must be other JLA adventures we haven't seen. I guess that's what JLA: Classified is for)
Anyway, various stars of the DCU are also attentding the celebration, like Metamorpho, Zatanna, Diana Prince, and the Elongated Man:
Nice of Len Wein to remember to include the Martian Manhunter, even if he couldn't attend(by the way--just what is Ralph doing to those crooks?). Another non-attendee is Snapper "Loser" Carr, who can't bring himself to show up, even though the JLA graciously invited him.
Anyway, just as the JLA is about to cut the cake, they are suddenly transported to Earth-2! Here the JSA--Starman, Dr.Fate, Wonder Woman, Hourman, Wildcat, Sandman, Red Tornado, Dr.Mid-Nite, and Johnny Thunder--tell them of a menace called The Iron Hand is threatening Earth-2. He has told the JSA they have 28 hours to turn over control of the planet to him--or he will destroy it!
Dr.Fate, looking for help from his mystic crystal, is shown a mysterious grave, inscribed with "Here in Honored Glory Rests an Unknown Soldier of Victory Who Died That His World Might Live." Unfortunately, no one knows what that means, so he asks for help from Zatanna and the Thunderbolt to consult a magical entity called The Oracle, who Fate believes will help them defeat the Iron Hand.
The consult the Oracle(who looks a bit like Mordru), and he tells them the story of how a similar foe, called the Nebula-Man, was fought a team of heroes called The Seven Soldiers of Victory, one of whom died in the battle while using a new weapon that defeated the Nebula Man.
Unfortunately, no one in the JLA or JSA remembers the SSOV, and that's because, as the Oracle explains...they no longer exist...at least in this time. The two teams split into smaller teams, to find the SSOV, dispersed throughout the mists of time.
Dr.Fate, The Atom, and Elongated Man arrive in Mexico during the reign of the Aztecs, where they find one of the Soliders, the Crimson Avenger, who is King of the Aztecs! There's a short battle, since the Avenger now suddenly has mystical powers, and he thinks our heroes are a threat. Fate figures out his powers are coming from a glowing rock, which he destroys.
That wakes the Avengers up, and he returns home with the heroes. Meanwhile, we get a glimpse of the Iron Hand, who predicts he will hold dominion over all! To be continued!
Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary
Notable Moments: As you can see from my endless description, new writer Len Wein crams a lot of plot into a normal-sized issue, to say nothing of working with the JLA, the JSA, and guest-stars!
As much as I admired Mike Friedrich's run on the book, I thought this was the beginning of a really good era for the JLA. Wein's stories were fun, full of adventure, and steeped in the history of the DCU. Classic, solid super-hero comics.
This issue features the second of many covers by Nick Cardy, Aquaman artist extraordinaire and DC's go-to guy for covers at the time.