Monday, February 11, 2008

Justice League of America #87 - Feb. 1971

sgAnother knockout cover by Neal Adams---he was on a real roll here. How could you not plunk down the fifteen cents it took to get this? (I love how evil Batman took the time out to paint a bat on the back of his chair)

The Story: "Batman--King of the World!" by Mike Friedrich, Dick Dillin, and Joe Giella. We open with an unconcious Batman and a wounded Hawkman saying to an unseen enemy that he will never give up! He gets blasted by someone, but not before he hits his JLA transmitter.

We then see the bad guy is some giant robot, who awaits the other JLA members to destroy them! Uh-oh!

We cut to Superman en route to the JLA satellite, where the fishnet-bedeckd Zatanna is surprisingly waiting for him! As Superman talks with her, he finds himself strangely...calm: "Just by being near her, I feel so comfortable...at ease..." And Lois is always worried about Lana!

Anyway, this is when Superman receives Hawkman's signal, and the JLA(plus Zatanna) arrive at the source, only to find this robot, alongside a seemingly-fine Batman and Hawkman! Batman tells some story about Carter Hall finding the robot underground(I always just found bottlecaps) but Superman senses that Batman's heart rate is way above normal. Hmm...

Bats tells the JLA they can split, but the refuse, and then Batman wigs out and orders the robot to kill the JLA!

The robot has many powers and defenses, and manages to take out Superman, Flash, Atom, Green Lantern, and Zatanna! He then offers them up to King Batman, who has gone completely bonkers, wearing a crown and carrying a scepter. While Batman cackles madly, the robot walks off taking about transmitting information to..."The Corporation"!

Turns out, though, Green Lantern and Atom were playing possum, deciding to try and find out who built this thing. He transports the Atom across the galaxy(!) to the world where it came from. He then sends for the the rest of the JLA(Superman and Hawkman taking Batman off to come down off his high), and they find a ravaged world, filled by three strangely familiar superhero-types: Jack B.Quick, Blue Jay, Silver Sorceress, and Wandjina.

We learn that the Corporation on another planet was in dire competition with another evil-type group, so much so that it led to atomic war! The robots were built to help collect raw materials from other worlds, and it was left to these four heroes to fight it off! When they come across the JLA, they of course assume they are bad guys, just like they would in a Marvel comic. Hmm, again...

When they do, we're met with a little fanciful note from the editors, explaining how we can understand these guys' language:

sg
The battle is standstill, until a stray piece of debris hits Blue Jay, nearly killing him. This prompts Zatanna to stop fighting and save him, which makes the other three realize these strangely-dressed people maybe aren't so bad. They stop fighting, and take off to continue the war with the Corporation.

But the JLA stays behind, and thanks Zatanna for saving them.

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

Notable Moments:
Why Zatanna wasn't inducted to the JLA after this issue is a total mystery to me--the story almost revolves around her, and even Green Lantern asks(after showing up midway through, having been away on the Hard Traveling Heroes thing) if the reason Zatanna is there is because she is now a member.

Obviously, this was part of that unofficial JLA/Avengers crossover going on in both books at the time, with the Avengers meeting the Squadron Supreme and he were have versions of Thor, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Yellowjacket.

These heroes had a lot less longevity than the Squad did, and I think never appeared again, at least before they were brought back in the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire Justice League book.

11 comments:

Scurvy said...

Wow. I had no idea those 3 characters had a previous history in the JLA book!

russell said...

Zatanna SHOULD have joined the JLA long before she did. I for one know I voted for her when I got the chance. :-)

Adama said...

At least she seems ot have performed much better in this issue than when she finally did join the Detroit era JLA. All she seemed to do then was yell warnings and get knocked out.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci said...

Zatanna joined the JLA long before the Detroit era.

I never liked Zatannna's stage magician get-up. Yes, I'm that one hetero-guy who doesn't like the fishnets and top hat. I much prefer the costume she wore when she actually was inducted in JLA #161.

What can I say, I'm a sucker for ponytails!

BentonGrey said...

Bah for that costume, ha, sorry vincent. Good sounding story, but it's probably a good thing those characters didn't get reused, as they have pretty terrible character designs! Still, I think a Squadren Supreme quality version of the Avengers for the JLA to go up against would be interesting.

Adama said...

Wait, so not only did evil Batman take the time to paint his symbol on the chair, but he also went out and found a crown and a scepter? I mean, I know Bruce Wayne is loaded, but I doubt he had those things laying around...

werehawk said...

Wow. I really want this issue. Did Blue Jay and co. appear in more than just a few pages? I wasn't clear on it because of all the robot stuff.

rob! said...

they come in during the third act, and are gone in about 5-6 pages...they play a much bigger role in those later Justice League International issues.

Glenn Walker said...

You forgot to mention, Rob, that this issue was also one of the early unofficial crossovers between DC and Marvel. The same month this issue was on the stands, there was also Avengers #85 which featured a return appearance of the Squadron Supreme/Sinister.

This was planned and done many times right under the noses of editors throughout the early seventies. A couple years later The JLA and the Avengers both attended the same Rutland Halloween Parade in their own respective titles.

Even later there was a similar crossover between the Freedom Fighters and the Invaders.

Earth-2 Rev. Nørb said...

What always kinda griefed me is that there really never was a Thor-Yellowjacket-Quicksilver-Scarlet Witch lineup of the Avengers. That would be sorta like the Squadron Supreme being composed of Flash, Martian Manhunter, Vibe and Dr. Fate analogues.

David F. said...

Great story. I'm a middle aged guy who read this story when it was new in the 70's. Still have the issue and the story still holds up.

I agree with all the notable moments. I especially liked the Marvel counterpart heroes found in the other world.

I also found the dialogue and interaction of the heroes particularly good in the portion of the story in which Batman is going mad. Hawkman is freaking out, and the other heroes don't know what to make of it! The characters showed a genuine quality that was not common in stories of that era.

Some might think it a bit saccharine. But I found the message of peace and good will at the end of the story was genuinely heartening.

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