Friday, February 29, 2008

Justice League of America #102 - Oct. 1972

sgThe thrilling conclusion the JLA/JSA/Seven Soliders of Victory team-up!

The Story: "And One of Us Must Die!" by Len Wein, Dick Dillin, Joe Giella, and Dick Giordano. Continuing from last issue, the JLAers, JSAers, and assorted guest-stars continue traveling to different time periods to rescue the amnesiac Seven Soldiers of Victory.

Green Arrow, Black Canary, and "The Incomparable Johnny Thunder"(really, that's what it says!) arrive in the old west, where they rescue The Vigilante(the Earth-2 one, not the Earth-1 one who appeared in JLA #78), but not before Arrow and Thunder argue who Black Canary has to go with. Men!

Aquaman, Wildcat, and Green Lantern head to prehistoric time and bust some hominid head as they find the Star-Spangled Kid. Finally, The Flash, Zatanna, and Red Tornado arrive on the isle of Aeaea, and find Speedy, who has been turned into a centaur!

Aeaea was, according to legend, the island of Circe, who of course had magical powers. Luckily Zatanna is there to fight her to a standstill, fix Speedy, and head out.

The heroes--all of 'em--regroup at the JSA's sanctuary, and its panels like this that probably had Dick Dillin staying up late
All the Soldiers have been rescued--but, then, who is the one that died?

Latecomers Green Lantern(of Earth-2), Robin, and Mr.Terrific can answer that, since it was they who traveled to the top of the Himalayas to check out the grave marker shown them all by the Oracle. The dead Solider was...Wing, the Crimson Avenger's sidekick!

As the mass group of heroes start rebuilding the weapon that helped defeat the Nebula Man, they find the Iron Hand is there, attempting to kill Diana Prince. Unluckily for him, this seeming easy prey is of course Wonder Woman, who makes quick work of him.

The heroes demand to know how to stop the giant iron hand that is surrounding the earth("...or I'll take you apart a bone at a time!" Diana threatens), but IH tells them it can't be stopped.

But with the help of the Soldiers, they rebuild the Nebula Rod that will do the trick. Unfortunately, the resulting explosion from using it would kill whoever set it off. As the heroes argue who will do the job, Red Tornado sneaks off with the rod into space(I ask again--how does Red Tornado's powers work in airless space?), sets it off, destroys the hand, but dies in the process.

The issue ends with the ghostly images of Red Tornado and Wing, smiling down upon our mourning heroes.

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

Notable Moments: Red Tornado's "death" is fairly abrupt, but I assume that writer Wein had always planned to bring him back in just a few issues so he didn't have to worry about giving him a huge send-off.

I love the look on Batman and Wonder Woman's faces on the cover(again by Nick Cardy), as Superman makes his pronouncement. "Red Tornado?" Diana asks. Batman, thinking back to an earlier sub-plot, quietly suggests "Green Arrow."

Wing remains one of the rarest of superheroes--one that, as far as I know, has never come back from the dead.


RAB said...

LOL at your cover interpretation!

I always liked Wein's subtle use of character history in the scene with Black Canary and Johnny Thunder. You didn't need to know their background for the scene to work...but if you did, it had an extra bit of resonance.

Since no one else mentioned it here, and it's kind of a specialist subject of mine, I'll be the one to point out that Grant Morrison leaned pretty heavily on this story in writing his JLA Classified arc and Seven Soldiers miniseries. Three decades later, Grant provided an origin and context for Oracle and Nebula Man and the Iron Hand explaining what the whole deal was. Even allowing for pre- and post-Crisis jiggery-pokery, the retrofitted origins and story-behind-the-story totally work. You can read Morrison's stories then go back to this one and it makes much more sense knowing who Oracle was and why he pops up so suddenly here. This is always hard to do...but far from being a letdown, GM actually makes this story better with his explanation.

Earth-2 Rev. Nørb said...

This story always put me off a bit because Wing was a horribly racist 1940's caricature, not even deemed fit enough to count as a Soldier of Victory. You gotta wonder if being the trivia answer that saved the day in JLA #102 really offset the fact that he was portrayed pretty poorly, as far as i can tell, back in the day.

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