Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Justice League of America #94 - Nov. 1971

sgGuest-starring Deadman!

The Story: "Where Strikes Demonfang?" by Mike Friedrich, Dick Dillin, and Joe Giella. As we left them at the end of issue #92, we see Aquaman, Green Arrow, and Batman in the crosshairs of an assassin's rifle!

Luckily for them, the sun reflects off the rifle, alerting the three JLAers to his presence, and they are able to get out of the way in time and apprehend theri would-be assassin. They try to find out who sent him and why, but he won't answer.

We cut to the mysterious League of Assassins, where we see the master archer Merlyn being given to succeed where the previous attempt failed. While Merlyn is tracking Green Arrow--the seeming target--he comes across Superman and the Atom, and manages to subdue them(!) with his his trick arrows(!!).

Aquaman, Green Arrow, and Batman then discover the first assassin has been murdered--by this Merlyn character. The three of them start to track Merlyn, and find their way to a creepy haunted house-type place. They spring some sort of alarm, and various death-traps are sprung, trapping Green Arrow!

Meanwhile, Batman wants to know who Aquaman "really" is--because earlier he off-handedly mentioned Nanda Parbat, a location only two people in the outside world know about! Turns out that Aquaman has been taken over by Deadman, who needed to contact the Justice League when he discovered the League of Assassin's plan to bump off Green Arrow.

Superman and the Atom show up, help free Green Arrow, and fight Merlyn, who manages to escape. Deadman informs Bats that Ra's Al Ghul is gunning for Batman, as well, where it is suggested this story will continue in Batman and Detective Comics.

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

Notable Moments: This issue features four pages of art by Neal Adams--which makes sense, given Deadman's guest-spot, but they fall on pages 1, 5, 20, and 22--huh? Did someone at the DC offices spill coffee on Dillin's originals and they called Neal in at the last minute?

In any case, Neal wanted to knock the reader's socks off right off the bat, so we're treated to this superb portrait splash page:
And this page, also by Neal, features two of the three DC characters I'd argue Neal is most known for, Batman and Deadman, with his superb Aquaman thrown in:
This is also features two Golden Age reprints, the first appearances of The Sandman(from Adventure Comics #40) and Starman (Adventure Comics #61).

This issue is cover-dated November 1971, which means it was on sale in August, 1971--the month I was born. Hmm...I just happened to be born the month my eventual all-time favorite comic features an uber-rare Aquaman-centric cover? Coincidence...or destiny?


Adama said...

Wow, is that the first appearance of Meryln? If so, I MUST OWN!

rob! said...


good catch! yes it is Merlyn's 1st appearance!

BentonGrey said...

Yeah Adama, my thoughts exactly.......man, I HATE that DC hasn't reprinted these in collections. I REALLY wish that they would put out DVD collections like Marvel. I would definitely buy JLA, if only for these stories, because they sound so awesome. I've got one question though...how in the WORLD did Merlyn manage to take Superman out with trick arrows?

Adama said...

@ Benton:

Obviously he used his "Plot Device" trick arrow, DUH!

BentonGrey said...

Well, if it was still early Silver Age, it would have simply been a Kryptonite Arrow......that stuff was more common than granite.

Earth-2 Rev. Nørb said...

Unfortunately for that hypothesis, this tale would have likely taken place during the period of time when all Green K on Earth had been turned to delicious iron, and that sand-Superman was shuffling around being inscrutable or something.

I never really liked this issue, though i bought it on the newsstand right around my 6th birthday. Thought it was an interesting group of heroes and i liked the sort of intensity of the smallerly-plotted story and the Neal Adams pages, but somehow the back-and-forth between Dillin and Adams and the completely out-of-place inclusion of Superman and the Atom kind of ruined it for me; they really didn't belong in a story about an ancient Asian assassins guild.

David F. said...

Some good things about this one. Obviously the Adams art was a treat. Seeing Deadmand was cool

That being said, I ever really care for this issue. It seemed to me not to be a complete self-contained story. Instead, it was a collection of references to a bunch of other things I wasn't familiar with. I didn't know who the League of Assassins was. Not being a big Batman fan, I never became familiar with the saga of Ra's-a-Ghul or however you spell it. So this one didn't really fly for me.

Christopher Chance said...

These wonderful stories are being re-printed (only in Black & White unfortunately) In the SHowcase series, each has 500 pages. I think JLA is up to 5 or 6 check Amazon where they are fairly reasonably priced.

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