Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Justice League of America #157 - Aug. 1978

sgThe Atom gets married! Oh, and the JLA fights The Siren.

The Story: "Till Doom Do Us Part!" by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, Juan Ortiz, and Frank McLaughlin. We open on the curvaceous Siren, who commands a whole team of male slaves as she declares war on the Justice League!

Meanwhile, Ray Palmer does what he's been debating over the last few issues, whether to tell his fiancee Jean Loring whether he is the Atom. He does, and Jean's mad at Ray's keeping secrets, and storms off.

At the same time, the JLA are in the satellite wrapping wedding presents. Black Canary is showing off her gift, a skimpy negligee, which Wonder Woman seems dubious about (Green Arrow = Happy, Steve Trevor = Sad).

Anyway, the festivities are interrupted when the Phantom Stranger shows up again, and warns that the Gods the JLA fought last issue ("The Fiend with Five Faces!") are not as vanquished as they thought. One of them created an illusion of themselves to fool the heroes (and the other Gods) and is still on Earth.

Some of the JLA encounter the Siren's goons, while Green Lantern and Red Tornado find The Siren herself. Who, via a magic kids, gets Green Lantern to become her slave!

She then gets GL to take her to the JLA satellite, where she uses her powers to hypnotize all the men, who she convinces to attack the women JLAers, plus guest-star Supergirl!

They fight for a while, but Supergirl is able to break through the mind control of Superman, because of his deep love for his cousin. That enabled the rest of the JLA to be freed, and its Kara and Black Canary who knock Siren out with a good shot right in the, er, kisser.

The Epilogue is Ray and Jean's wedding. Jean does show up, forgiving Ray for keeping such a secret. So let's go get hitched!:
sg it's smooth sailing for the Palmers from here on in, right?

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado, Hawkgirl

Notable Moments: Ray and Jean invited The Phantom Stranger (next to Green Arrow) and Captain Comet (between Aquaman and Flash) to the wedding! Now that's generous.

The cover is by Joe Staton, who never did another JLA cover. Too bad, since Joe Staton rocks.

One other art related comment: this issue was mostly drawn by fill-in artist Juan Ortiz, with Dillin handling the opening few pages and the Palmer marriage sequence. Other than this issue's middle section and all of issue #153, Dick Dillin's JLA streak ran unbroken. Pretty damn impressive.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Experimentin' with Issuu

Justice League of America #156 - July 1978

sgBehold...the Fiend with Five Faces!

The Story: "The Fiend with Five Faces!" by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. We start this issue in a very unusual way...with Aquaman!

We find Aquaman climbing out of the water, barely able to move. He staggers his way on shore, and runs into some toughs. But even weakened, this is still Aquaman, and he dispatches them with just a couple of punches.

He finds his way to a cab, and asks to be taken to the Bristol Building. He asks the cabbie to help him to the elevator, which they take to the roof.

The cabbie leaves the mysteriously-dressed stranger there, who he recognizes as...Steve McQueen!:
While Aquaman is attended to on the satellite, Flash and Green Lantern run into a sort of wood nymph type bad guy, who seems to control the vegetation around them, which he uses to knock the two heroes out.

Aquaman tells the JLA about this mysterious being he encountered...the Fiend with Five Faces! Investigating a series of natural underwater disasters, the trail led him to a small isle, where he saw this bizarre creature, who was a statue that came alive, and then blasted Aquaman as soon as it saw him!

While discussing what to do, the Phantom Stranger appears, explaining he is there to offer assistance. Uh-oh, this must be real trouble!

Various teams of JLAers answer distress calls, where they each run into god-like beings who were once combined but now are free to wreak havoc on Earth.

The JLA manages to fight some of them off, and their leader, Tangora who tells them that this moment of freedom is to replenish their souls before they must rejoin into one being, not to cause destruction. Tangora reforms them all into one beings, the isle where they came from sinks, order is restored.

There's an Epilogue, where The Atom debates with his friends about whether to tell Jean his secret identity. Batman is against it (surprise), but Flash, Elongated Man, and Aquaman are for it. So what's he going to do? To be continued!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado

Notable Moments: The Phantom Stranger hangs around during the "Should I Tell Her?" debate with Ray, but says nothing. I think it was a lost opportunity, not to have PS say something like "Look, I've been with Joan of Arc, Queen Elizabeth, Madam Curie, Mata Hari, Ava Gardner, and Jane Fonda. I'm telling you, Ray, women can't handle dating a superhero!"

Followed by awkward silence from the rest of the team.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Justice League of America #155 - June 1978

sgHmm, we've caught the JLA at a slightly busy moment...

The Story: "Under the Moons of Earth!" by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. We open with Ray Palmer and Jean "Trouble" Loring on an evening out, talking about their upcoming marriage.

While Ray is still torn over whether to tell Jean he's The Atom, he notices something a little odd...there are two moons in the sky! I'm no astronomer, but I don't think that's right.

The sudden appearance of two moons causing all kinds of disastrous events to occur, like earthquakes and erupting volcanoes. Red Tornado, on JLA Monitor Duty, is overwhelmed with all the requests for help.

Luckily Superman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman arrive, and head off to help out. Meanwhile, Batman meets up with Reddy in India, where they are spied upon by two mysterious aliens.

The two aliens then try and steal radioactive rods inside a nuclear plant. Batman tires to stop them, but one of them bursts into dust when hit, and the other escapes.

Supes and Lantern head to this new moon, where they run into a whole armada of aliens. After a quick fight, the leader of aliens surrenders, but tells the heroes that if they move this moon out of its new orbit, everyone on it will die!

The JLA continue saving lives, and there's a nice moment where Red Tornado drops into the ocean, exhausted from stopping an undersea volcano from going off. Batman makes sure to save his friend:
Back on the new moon, the aliens explain that they have always been there, but in another dimensional plane, and they were knocked out of it by a natural disaster that destroyed nearly everything else around them.

Meanwhile, Reddy and Bats run into more aliens on Earth's surface, including the one with the stolen nuclear rods, which he admits will be used to destroy all life on Earth! Once Batman gets them away from him (this is Batman, after all), he tells Supes and GL what he knows, and they demand the truth. What's going on here?

Turns out this new moon is actually from the past, who ended up getting knocked into the time stream because of a masive war they were fighting with a neighboring moon. They were afraid of telling the JLA the truth, but the JLA surprises them by saying they're willing to help, but moving the moon into the far future, solving everyone's problems!

The issue ends with Reddy ruminating over the fact that all this destruction could have been avoided if the aliens had just been honest. "When you expect the worst", Reddy says, "you usually receive it."

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado

Notable Moments: All the JLAers appear in this issue except the Hawks. Odd. (Although this was the same month the Halls started fighting in the Rann/Thanagar War, as detailed in Showcase #101, so maybe they were a little busy!)

A fun issue, and one of the gigantic scope that comics used to have all to itself until movie special effects caught up. This issue feels like one of those super-fun Irwin Allen disaster movies of the 70s.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Justice League of America #154 - May 1978

sgHere's a rarity--a JLA cover drawn by Mike Kaluta!

The Story: "I'll Kill You In Your Dreams!" by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. The villainous, now-with-extra-creepy Dr. Destiny sets off a plan to kill the Justice League!

Meanwhile, we find some of our JLAers (in their civilian identities) checking out the new Gotham Starscraper Hotel, complete with TV coverage by anchorman Clark Kent.

Even though Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance are still having words over Queen's earlier chauvinist behavior (in JLA #151), they set aside their differences to have a nice "night off" at the new hotel.

This place has everything! Robot chambermaids, an artificial waterfall, even anti-gravity discs in the disco:
...wait, wait, wait--I call shenanigans. I know that Ollie and Dinah wouldn't think twice about this (hell, they'd probably go ahead and do it on one of them), but I'd say the average Gothamite would find trying to dance on a tiny disc, floating dozens of feet in the air a terrifying experience. Sometimes WayneTech R&D goes too far.

Ok, anyway, all the JLAers that night end up with horrifying nightmares, envisioning their deaths, their loss of abilities, or the deaths of their friends. Dr. Destiny watches this, amused.

Then all of those very things happen or almost happen! But the JLA figures out the only person who could do this to them is, of course, old Skeletor here. He explains his new horrifying visage, and what his plan was.

Unfortunately for him, the JLA was one step ahead of him. The Atom shrunk down and took control of the Materioptkion(whew!), and used it against Destiny, making him think he saw the JLA die! Without it, he's pretty helpess, and one good shot from Black Canary does the trick. Back to Arkham, buddy!

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

Notable Moments: The new look for Dr. Destiny was way cool, much more visually dynamic.

As far as I know, the Gotham Starscraper was never shown again. I wonder if Wayne Enterprises took a bath on it, after the pile of lawsuits no doubt generated by the anti-gravity dancing discs...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Planet Comic Book Radio

sgMy episode of Planet Comic Book Radio--"Son of My 70s Show"--is now available as a podcast.

I had a lot of fun talking with pal Javier, and we mostly talk about my time at the Kubert School, treasury comics, Power Records, and black and white magazines, but other stuff finds its way into the conversation, as well.

It's broken up into three parts so you don't overload on my geeky ramblings:

Part 1Part 2Part 3

Javier told me his highest rated episode was his first, when my pal Ben Holcomb was on the show. I'm hoping I at least match that, so Javier will be inspired to do another 70s-themed show (Beneath the Planet of the 70s Show, perhaps?), so please check it out!

Justice League of America #153 - Apr. 1978

sgThe JLA takes quite the beat-down from a new foe, Ultraa!

The Story: "Earth's First and Last Superhero!" by Gerry Conway, George Tuska, and Frank McLaughlin. During a contentious JLA meeting, some members of the team begin to vibrate violently, until some of them disappear!

The JLAers find themselves transported to a planet that, well, looks like Earth...

On this planet, we see some hunters, while chasing after some big game, come face to face with a strangely dressed guy that calls himself Ultraa!

Meanwhile, the JLA arrive and people are perplexed as to these weirdly-dressed strangers are. They stumble across a bank robbery, which of course gives the JLA something to do.

sgI've never been a fan of George Tuska's superhero work, but there were times it was cool--I mean, I love that guy's face as he tries to escape The Flash. Priceless.

Anyway, the heroes find out that on this "alternate" Earth, they are merely characters in comic books (and they take a look at JLA #151, even!), so what do they do? Visit Julius Schwartz, of course!

The Flash tries to use Julie's Cosmic Treadmill to go home, but somehow it won't work!

Now we get to see, via flashback, who this Ultraa guy is--a lone survivor of a doomed race that was sent to Earth, and was found by an Aboriginal tribe, as raised as one of their own.

Some of the JLA then comes across a giant robot named Maxitron that is searching for Ultraa, who wants to destroy him. Meanwhile, Superman and GL run into Ultraa, there's the classic Misunderstanding, leading to a fight that luckily ends before too much damage is done.

Maxitron finds Ultraa, but is tricked when Supes and Ultraa are disguised as each other, to throw off Maxitron's plan. Ultraa then plants a good one right in Maxitron's hard-drive, causing it to self-destruct.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Red Tornado

Notable Moments: The first and only time Dick Dillin would miss an issue during his extraordinary twelve-year run. Maybe it was the fourteen million other pages DC had him drawing that month.

sgSome superhero comic artists would add little touches of detail that made their work distinctive outside of the style itself.

For example, Murphy Anderson always drew superhero boots with little, elf-like tips at the end. George Tuska always put the time in to drawing little seams on superhero's gloves, like the ones pictured here. That always seemed like a lot of extra work to me.

Ultraa would return many times in subsequent issues of JLA; I don't know if he's ever shown up anywhere recently, however.

One last thing: on the cover, penciller Rich Buckler I thought really conveyed how much of a beating the JLA is taking from Ultraa. In particular, Batman looks like he's snapped his neck. Ouch!

Friday, April 25, 2008

JLA Satellite Interview with Rich Buckler

Hot on the heels of our interview with Steve Englehart, comes Part 1 of a brief chat with legendary comics artist Rich Buckler, who drew a lot of the JLA covers from the era of the book we've been talking about in the last few weeks:

JLA Satellite: How did you get the job doing the covers? Did you go after the job or did DC call you?

Rich Buckler:
At the time I was drawing Justice League [covers] I had some office space at DC. I was within shouting distance of Jack Harris and Julie Schwartz--and whenever a cover was needed, I was up for it.

JLA Satellite: Did anyone provide layouts, like Carmine Infantino used to, or did you do it all?

Rich Buckler:
I think there were a couple of Flash covers that were sketched by Ross Andru, but all of the JLA covers were my own creations. I would be handed photocopies of some of the story pages and it was just left up to me to come up with a scene that worked.

I always preferred working up my own ideas. Sometimes I would work up more than one idea. But, usually, the first idea I'd come up with is the one that would be approved.

JLA Satellite: You were inked by a lot of different inkers on them--McLaughlin, Springer, Abel, Giacoia, Giordano--any one(s) you thought made for the best overall collaboration?

RB: My favorites were Frank Giacoia and Dick Giordano. I never knew ahead of time who would be available (either did the editors who assigned the work), so I never had a say about it. Every cover I did was drawn while I was working in the office. The deadline for it was always just a few hours.

I'm amazed, now that I think about it, that I was able to do so many of them and be consistent and keep up the quality!

JLA Satellite: Any particular favorites of the covers you did?

RB: I liked all of them, but probably my favorites are the ones inked by Frank Giacoia and Dick Giordano. Actually, one of the main reasons I got to work on this book is that I knew all of the characters really well. And that's because I'm such a fan at heart--I love these characters!

I call this interview "Part 1" because I intend to go back and talk to Rich again, this time asking him about the complete issues of the book he drew, #'s 189-191 and 210-212 (which are some of my all-time favorite JLA comics). Rich is very friendly and always makes time for my obsessive, nerdly questions, and for that I am deeply grateful. Thanks Rich!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Justice League of America #152 - March 1978

sgA holiday JLA adventure!

The Story: "2,000 Light Years to Christmas!" by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. Three mysterious aliens, on a long journey through space, unexpectedly get knocked off course by a space warp near Earth.

While the aliens--merely stunned--survive the blow, they each drop the pouch they are carrying, and they fall to Earth. Where will these pouches end up?

Meanwhile, the several members of the JLA--Superman, Batman, the Hawks, and Elongated Man--are relaxing at the JLA satellite playing a few rounds of poker, while Red Tornado stares into space:
...I love Hawkgirl here--"Please tell me again, exactly what is a Royal Flush?" Oh, she's so adorable.

Red Tornado spots some shooting stars, but the JLA concludes its nothing to worry about.

Meanwhile, a war orphan named Traya finds one of the pouches, inside of which is a glowing orb. Another pouch's contents is nicked by a deer(!), which leads to the consternation of a new baddie, Major Macabre! He knows these objects can give one immeasurable powers, and he wants those pouches!

The objects are causing problems all over the world, turning people into monsters, and the JLA divides up into teams to stop them. Traya doesn't know what she's doing with her orb, doesn't understand, but Red Tornado talks to her and gets her to trust him.

Major Macabre shows up, attacks the JLAers individually and fights them off long enough to get the objects. But back at the satellite, Reddy figures out these objects aren't weapons, they just convert the user's emotions, so they're only "evil" under use of someone evil.

The JLA finds Macabre and fights him while Reddy nicks the objects. Without their power, and against the all heroes together, Macabre is defeated. They then return the objects to the alien travelers, on their way to another world, while Reddy offers the orphan Traya a new dawn this holiday season...

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Hawkman, Elongated Man, Red Tornado, Hawkgirl

Notable Moments: A sweet story, and it was nice to Reddy get the spotlight again. And Conway's introduction of Traya would become a permanent fixture in Red Tornado's background.

I could never take Major Macabre too seriously, since, to me, he reminded me way too much of Harry Mudd:
sg be the judge.

There's JLA Mail Room Extra feature in this issue, with a poll asking readers to rank their favorite JLAers, in order. The top three most popular were Green Lantern, Flash, and Superman.

Least popular? Phantom Stranger, Hawkgirl, and Elongated Man. While it's not fair to judge PS against the other members, and Hawkgirl is clearly too new to fully register, if I was Ralph, I would've worried.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Justice League of America #151 - Feb. 1978

sgAmos Fortune is back with his Magic Color Wheel of Death!

The Story: "The Unluckiest League of All!" by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. While the JLA men are throwing Ray Palmer a bachelor party, the women members talk amongst themselves in another part of the satellite.

Suddenly Wonder Woman is zapped by some mysterious bolt of energy, but she awakens and says she is fine. She acts oddly, and storms off. What the?

Hawkgirl and Black Canary try and round up the guys, but Green Arrow interrupts them and tells them to handle whatever it is by themselves. And Green Arrow is supposed to be the Ladies Man in the League?

While on Earth, WW is attacked by a giant robot and knocked out. She wakes up tied up (she's used to that) in the clutches of...Amos Fortune!

He then blasts WW with a ray that will "increase the luck" of various people on Earth, giving them superpowers. Amos then hopes to put those people under his command! Not the best thought-out plan, you have to admit.

Some of these people attack Superman, Batman, Flash, Elongated Man, and Black Canary, who seem to be losing their superpowers!

Meanwhile, tempers flare at the JLA satellite:
...I wonder if Aquaman now regrets his "yea" vote in #146? Shayera Hol don't take no guff!

While the rest of the JLA takes on these menaces, Wonder Woman finds a way to hypnotize Fortune into turning his Wheel of Fortune counter-clockwise, which took the "luck" away from them, enabling the JLA to defeat them!

Meanwhile, Green Arrow apologizes to Black Canary for being such an idiot.

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado, Hawkgirl

Notable Moments: Gerry Conway's first issue as writer. Except for about a dozen issues, he would write all the remaining issues of the book, breaking every other writer's record.

I have to admit, the scene with Green Arrow telling the women to handle their own problems is major, er, league, dumb.

Though I did like Hawkgirl not taking any crap from Aquaman. Shayera was never a wallflower, and even though she's a new member, she ain't having any nonsense. Good on ya, Shayera.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

JLA Satellite Interview with Steve Englehart

sgSteve Englehart only wrote a year's worth of JLA stories, but what a memorable set of stories it was! Steve got to add a new member, bring back an old one, kill Superman(!), give frequently under-used members Aquaman, the Atom, and the Elonagted Man an adventure all their own, and if that wasn't enough, give the JLA a whole new origin!

Steve was generous enough to take some time and chat me with about his time writing for the World's Greatest Super-Heroes:

JLA Satellite: How did you end up writing JLA?

Steve Englehart: I had been doing The Avengers and The Defenders, and all this other stuff for Marvel, and then I quit Marvel, and I had no plan other than to Quit Marvel; that was the extent of it. But right at that point Jenette Khan had taken over at DC and she got in touch and said come on over and do stuff for us.

I said, well, I'm planning on leaving the country in a year and go to Europe and travel around, so I can only do it for a year. And she said that's fine, we need you to revamp The Justice League, we need to bring the Justice League up to speed with what Marvel is doing and you're obviously the guy, having come off The Avengers, to do it.

So we had lunch in New York and I said I'd be happy to do it, but I want to do Batman specifically, and that led on to me doing Detective. But the original concept was, fix the Justice League--y'know, give all these characters character, and so forth.

The other significant thing about all that was, once I thought about it, and if I'm supposed to give every one of these guys characterization and tell a story, I can't do that in a regular-sized book. I need something larger and I came up with this idea for a double-sized book so I could tell what turned out to be fairly expansive stories and get to spend time with each individual character as they showed up.
The final thing about that is, years later, Marvel asked me to do basically the same thing with the Ultraverse. They wanted to bring the Ultraverse back and some point and they wanted me to reintroduce all the main characters and it was the exact same situation so I wanted to use the exact same solution--a double-sized book.

Marvel said that would be completely impossible, and their reasoning was wonderful--they said that anybody who could draw that many pages a month is someone the fans don't want to see; anyone they want to see can't draw that many pages per month.

JLA Satellite: What was it like working with Dick Dillin? Did you have a lot of communication with him?

SE: One of the great things[about the book] was that I had Dick Dillin, and you know, Dick Dillin probably couldn't get arrested today, in today's market. But I totally enjoyed working with Dick, I always loved working with the guys who were around before I came along, that was roots.

And you know, you could say anything to Dillin--it's going to be twice as long, it's going to have all these characters in it, and we're going to this, that, and the other thing, and he'd say "fine", and he'd draw it! It was the old-time comic book approach to things--he was a journeyman in some senses, but he was also a guy who could do what was necessary to turn out that book.

As I said, I enjoyed working with him because of who he was, and because he gave me such nice pieces of artwork every month and told the story I needed to tell, and all in all, the book was a lot of fun to do.

For many years, Batman was the thing I did that everyone remembered, not the Justice League, and I remember doing interviews where I'd say "Now don't forget I did the Justice League, because that was kind of cool." It seems now with the JLA animated show, with the JLA getting its own series, the JLA has become more visible in people's minds...

JLA Satellite: Yeah, outside of comics.

SE: So now I do get asked about the JLA--still not as much as the Batman--but it[the work] has returned from obscurity.

JLA Satellite: I was amazed at those issues because, they were twice as long, and Dillin was still drawing all of it! He was on that book for something fourteen years, every single month, it's just an astounding run. And he did other comics besides that!

SE: The first major series I did was Captain America with Sal Buscema, and Sal is another guy who, you know, could draw anything well, no matter; he could have done the same thing--give him another twenty pages a month, and Sal could've done it.

And Joe Staton, who I did Green Lantern Corps with, was another guy. There are just some guys--I like all their art, I like every one of those guys--their Comic Book Artists. You say "this month, the book is twenty pages longer", and they'd say ok.

I do believe these days if you went to pretty much anybody, any artist, and say this book is going to be twenty pages longer, they'd drop off the book. People don't want to do that kind of stuff anymore, but Dillin was Old School. And you know, for everyone who says Old School sucks, I say no, man, I liked Old School.

JLA Satellite: When you sent the scripts to him, did he need further input, or was he so used to--I mean, he had drawn like a billion pages of JLA by then--did he immediately grasp what you were doing and run with it? Or was there a lot of back and forth?

SE: No, I don't remember if I even even spoke to the guy. Again, that's Old School comics--it was perfectly usual to send stuff in to the editor, like Julius Schwartz, who would then send it to the artist, and Julie would be the traffic coordinator.

Scripts are supposed to tell the artist everything he needs to know to draw the book. There are some people who say "they fight for the next five pages, you take it", and then you've got Alan Moore's scripts, which are like phone books. I lean more towards the former. Hopefully I gave Dick everything he needed; I think I did because I don't recall every hearing from him or Julie saying we need more explanation here. But I never wanted to put the artist in a straight-jacket by giving them too much to follow.

JLA Satellite: How much was Julius Schwartz involved in the plotting? I've read that in the 60s when he was working with Gardner Fox, he was almost co-plotting it, was he that involved by the time you got there?

SE: No. And you know, everything I knew about Julie at that time, was that--I mean, that's not all I knew, but that was his reputation. So I said to Jenette, if I'm in charge of these characterizations, and since I come from Marvel, where I was given free reign to do what I wanted to do, it doesn't make any sense to put me in a straight-jacket, and is that going to be a problem with Julie, and she said no, and then there wasn't.

Julie acted as a good advisor. On Batman, there was a situation I wrote where I had Hugo Strange beaten to death on-camera, and Julie contacted me and said I think this would be better off-camera, and so we did. And that's the one instance I can remember Julie coming in as an edtior, but that was his general approach, and I don't ever remember that happening on JLA.

There was never any problem between me and Julie, and we became good friends, and he went on to live another 107 years[laughs]. We were buddies, but I think everyone was buddies with Julie.

JLA Satellite: There were a couple of things you did, like when you added Hawkgirl[to the team], that was a permanent change that would presumably go past your year. Was that Julie's idea, where he said we want to add this character, or did you say, maybe we should add this character, or was it a collaboration?
SE: No, it was my idea. I was coming in as a professional comic book writer, and as a fan. The DC Universe was all new to me, in terms of writing it, but I'd always been a fan. And there had been letter columns, asking "why isn't Hawkgirl in the Justice League?" and the answer was always "well, we don't have people who have the same powers" but I was coming at it from my usual stand-point, which is characterization.

I'm like "These people are married. They came here from another planet, they're living together, they're married, he gets to be in the group and she doesn't get to be in the group, that's bullshit!" I was trying to look at these people as who they were, trying to build them into something better than they had been, characterization-wise, at least, so I thought she should join.
I thought having a married couple in there was a good thing to do, because you had Green Arrow and Black Canary in there, as the "dating" couple, so there were parallels, so I thought having her in there worked from a storytelling standpoint, and also made sense from the idea to reinvent these people, so they can stand up and be on the same level as The Avengers.

JLA Satellite: As a fan, I should formally thank you for that, because I always liked that they added her, I was thought it made sense, it gave a lot more to the book.

SE: I got a letter once when I was doing Green Lantern [Corps] asking, how can you write characters when everyone has the same power? And, to me, it's not the powers, its the character, and whose using the powers, that's important to me, certainly.

And so I can see on a formalistic basis, you can't have two Hawk-people, but it's like, it doesn't matter, since they're two different people, that's the important thing.

JLA Satellite: You introduced a new character into the book, the Privateer. When took over the book, you said you only intended to write it for a year, did you almost write that whole year out with that in mind? Did you plan it out like, we'll introduce him, we'll bring him back, and then we'll have him betray the team, ior did you just start it and say, we'll see where it goes? Maybe he'll join, or was it more mapped out?

SE: No, it was pretty organic. The way I tend to do stuff is, some parts of my story I've thought several issues ahead--I'm never more than a few issues ahead, I don't start off thinking "I'm going to do this twelve-part epic". A lot of it is done on the fly, I'll be writing a story and I'll go, this thing here would be really interesting, and I trust myself to know what to do later when it has to payoff.
So that's pretty much what that was. I did the Manhunter story[JLA #'s 140-141], and at the end of it the Privateer says "I was wrong, I'm going away" and that was the end of that story. Then a couple issues later, I reintroduced him. I have to plead not remembering exactly, but if I had brought him back I must have had an idea about what I was going to do, because I didn't need another character...

JLA Satellite: [laughs] Right, yeah...

SE: It wasn't like throwing Mantis into The Avengers, or bringing in the rest of the Green Lantern Corps, so I may well at that point have said I've got five issues to go, where would I go with this? I honestly don't remember, so I can't say definitely, yeah that's what I was doing, but it seems most likely that's what I was doing, when I brought him back I had an idea of what I was going to do.

Even then, I'm sure I didn't know exactly how that was all going to work out. I remember coming up with the idea of the android, Red Tornado, understand it because an android would when nobody else would. I thought of that when I was doing that issue, how am I going to pull this off? Oh, this is how I get from here to there, and it's a good bit for Reddy.
That's always the stuff I'm thinking about, what's the story I have to tell, and how does that affect the characters. And as I worked through the year, I did what I was supposed to do--I did my Aquaman story, I did the Elongated Man, the Atom; all these people that hadn't been that important--I worked my way through the Justice League and hadn't done, you know, "The Ultimate Red Tornado Story" at that point, so that was a good way to tie that up.

JLA Satellite: I loved the fact that Aquaman, the Atom, and the Elongated Man got their own story[JLA #142], and it was, ok, let's focus on these guys and have them talk about that their not as "useful" as the other guys. So that was a character-based thing and "let's explore these guys for a little bit?"

SE: Yeah, well I did it everybody, and I came to this knowing what I knew about the guys in the DC Universe, so I knew that Aquaman, the Atom, and the Elongated Man were sort of the second tier of the group, and it would seem to me that they would know it, and yet one of the things I tried to play up in the Justice League was this sense was that...if you were a member, you were a member.

Nobody ever looked at Aquaman and said "You're second-rate"--he might have thought it, and if you hang out with Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman, you might think it, you know, so that's why he thought it.
I definitely said I'm going to do an Aquaman, Atom, and Elongated Man story, so that was one thing, and somebody said to me at the San Diego [Comic] Convention, "Are we ever going to see Mantis again?", so I thought "I can put her in the Justice League! That'd be bizarre."

So that's how I work--I think I gotta do this, I gotta do that, I gotta do this other thing; that leads me to this fourth idea, then I sort of throw them all together into something hasn't been done previously and go from there.
I focused on everybody, but I thought that was a particularly successful story, becaue you got to focus on them, and by bringing Willow into it, it kind of made it a special kind of story, so those guys got to star in a special kind of story, which they didn't often do, so it was kind of organic.

JLA Satellite: Was writing JLA fun? Obviously, when you got the Batman assignment, which you pursued, you really went to town and it's become a legendary run. But was it just as much fun writing something you didn't necessairily go after?

SE:Yeah, it was fun. Even though Batman was what I wanted, I liked the Justice League. And I basically felt what Jenette felt, which was they had been sort of marble statues. I think in the early days--Brave and the Bold, the Gardner Fox days, they were all sort of treated like these demi-gods who were somewhere off the Earth a little bit, in terms of anyone actually relating to them, but they were all stiff and marbleized.

Along the way, Denny O'Neil had taken his run at it, and Len Wein had taken his run, and there had been some loosening up, but they were still kind of off in the distance, I thought, so I really wanted to get in there and do what I do, which is characterization, and that's what Jenette wanted.

So taking each one and looking inside of these DC characters and figuring out how to make them viable was the kind of stuff that I as a writer like to do, so I mean there's no question I enjoyed quite a bit doing the Justice League. I mean, I wouldn't say any of those characters speaks to me on an attavistic level as the Batman, Batman is just this thing I really have a vibe for. Superman? Let's just say I have less interest in Superman, but I'm going to try and write the best Superman I can write. And try and write the best Justice League I can--think about Wonder Woman, think about Black Canary.

JLA Satellite: Were you privy at all to the sales? I know DC and Marvel generally kept that info away from the writers and artists, but did anyone say "Hey, there's been an uptick in the sales since you went on."?

SE: I did when Dick Giordano was in charge ten years later. Back in those days--DC in particular, Marvel in those days made no secret of the fact that sales were going up all the time. They didn't go out of their way to tell you what sales were, but it was generally understood.

DC took an opposite approach. DC's approach--and I know this because Neal Adams told me about it, because the same thing happened to him, before I came over there--DC's approach was "sales suck, you're lucky to have a job."

JLA Satellite: What a wonderfully creative atmosphere.

SE: Well, yeah, the only thing I remember from that era involving the Justice League and sales--although if it had done poorly, they wouldn't have continued to do it as a double-sized book, so obviously it was working out on its own terms, whatever that may mean--but I did go to Europe, so it wasn't until a year later that I came back to discover how well the Batman[run in Detective Comics] had done, so I went to Jenette and said "How about a bonus?"--I know it wasn't in my contract, but howabout a bonus for having done so well with the Batman, and she said "Oh, that stuff never sold."

JLA Satellite: [Laughs]

SE: So that afternoon, Marshall [Rogers] and I looked at each other and said "You know, for a book that didn't sell, it sure seems like everybody's got a copy." But that was DC's attitude, so nobody ever came to me and said sales are doing great, until Dick Giordano later said our Green Lantern sales had done really great.

JLA Satellite: One last thing I wanted to ask you about--the one issue you wrote where its the revised origin of the Justice League [#144], which as a kid I went "What the hell?" because it seemed like such a strange story--was that your bid to write a Gardner Fox-type story?

Because it reads like that--it's very old school, in the middle of a very different JLA book; you've got all these guys in it like Congorilla, and the Vigilante, etc. As a kid, I didn't understand that, but going back as an "adult", it reads like an homage to that earlier style. Was that what was in your mind?

SE: Absolutely. It was the "Untold Story" and I thought it would be fun to throw in everybody from the fifties, and since one of those were the Blackhawks, that was for Dick Dillin.

I tried very much to be true to those characters as they had been in the fifties and write them in that style--it was supposed to have taken place in the Brave and Bold era, so it definitely was an homage to DC in the fifties--not so much Gardner Fox, but DC in the fifties.

I really appreciate the legendary Steve Englehart, who has written so many comics I've loved over the years, took the time to talk to me about such a brief part of his career. It was a thrill to get to talk to him and get his thoughts on his memorable time with the Justice League. Thanks Steve!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Justice League of America #150 - Jan. 1978

sgThe return of the villainous Key!

The Story: "The Key--or Not The Key" by Steve Englehart, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. The JLA is shocked to discover the Star-Tsar is actually their old friend, Snapper Carr!

But before he has to explain, his henchmen show up and attack, distracting the heroes long enough for Snapper to escape.

The JLA splits into two teams to try and track him down, and Green Arrow is a bit worried when Black Canary chooses to pair up with their new friend, The Privateer. "You think he's gonna be a member?" Ollie worriedly asks.

Some of the team follows the Star-Tsar's energy trail, but it leads them to be attacked by a bunch of keys, which of course are the hallmark of another famous JLA villain. They all get sucked into a key-shaped black hole, and find themselves trapped in an alternate dimension, each in their own keyhole-sized jails. Here the Key reveals himself, and tells the JLA he and the Star-Tsar are in cahoots.

Meanwhile, the other JLAers visit Snapper Carr's old stomping grounds of Happy Harbor, where they run into Snapper's sister Janet and she tells them of her brother's tough post-JLA life:
...there's something about this sequence that just sticks with me. This was one of the first times I can think of a writer of a superhero comic taking on the angle of superheroes as celebrities.

The JLA is sympathetic, but that only goes so far when the Star-Tsar attacks! He manages to escape when a second Star-Tsar attacks knocking everyone out! One of them then heads for Washington, D.C., where the Star-Tsar shows up to extort money...President Jimmy Carter!

Now all the JLA are trapped by the Key, but the combined efforts of The Elongated Man and The Flash free them all--including Snapper Carr, who is trapped along with them. They find the second Star-Tsar, who is really, of course, The Key, at least that's how it seems.

The Key's malformed body prevented him from performing the physical tasks needed, so he duped Snapper into helping him. So who is the real Star-Tsar? Red Tornado knows, it's...The Privateer!

Red Tornado uses his perfect android memory to recall that, during all the crucial moments against the Star-Tsar, the Privateer was the one missing!

The Privateer tries to escape, but of course the JLA stops him. Here Mark Shaw reveals (in a full page consisting mostly of text) that while he may not be a Manhunter anymore, the taste for power is still there! All these attacks over the last few issues, involving The Construct, the Key, and Dr. Light, were all part of a plot for Shaw to gain more and more power!

His plan in tatters, the JLA carts him off, but not before forgiving Snapper, and promising him some of the help he needs (to be revealed in an issue of Superman Family, according to "Soft-Sell Schwartz"). Man, the JLA are a forgiving bunch of folks.

The issue ends with Red Tornado having a good laugh over the fact that, of all the members of the JLA, it was he who Shaw overlooked, so it only he who could've defeated Shaw's plan!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado, Hawkgirl

Notable Moments: The JLA Mail Room header, now officially bursting with members, is changed for essentially the last time to a more generic image:
Though the older header would return, in a way. But that's a few months down the road...

This was Steve Englehart's final issue as writer of Justice League of America, and a big deal was made of it:
...all in all, a solid run of issues. Changes, characterization, and lots of fun. I like how the stories are all of a piece, yet work individually as well.

Gerry Conway would take over the book with the next issue, and become, for all intents and purposes become the team's final writer.

But before we start the Conway Era, be here tomorrow where the JLA Satellite presents a word or two from the man himself, Steve Englehart!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Justice League of America #149 - Dec. 1977

sgDr. Light returns! (This shouldn't take long)

The Story: "The Face of the Star-Tsar!" by Steve Englehart, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. We open with Dr. Light trying to access the transporter tube that will take him to the JLA satellite, when he is stopped by the new hero The Privateer!

When the JLA shows up, Dr. Light tucks tail and runs away. After a minute or two of arguing with the Privateer, they take after Light, and its the Red Tornado who finds him.

Dr. Light uses a "image-mirage trick" to fool Tornado into escaping, and in the process throws in a dig at Reddy for falling for it. Dr. Light then bumps into a new villain, The Star-Tsar, and they briefly fight before ST runs off.

Meanwhile, the JLA is getting the lowdown on the Privateer, who manages to charm the socks off the World's Greatest Superheroes. So much so that they wonder aloud if they haven't just met their newest member, a comment that hurts Reddy's feelings:
After battling some of the Star-Tsar's thugs, they run into their old mascot, Snapper Carr, who for some reason was in the area and is acting very defensive. Hmm...

The JLA then runs into Dr. Light (busy day for them!), who traps them with a weapon called The Spectriminator, which divides the JLA into different parts of the color spectrum. Green Lantern manages to put himself back together, and they then run into Star-Tsar again, who says he wants to defeat Dr. Light, too, so he helps them find Dr. Light before vanishing.

They grab Dr. Light, knock him out, but then find the Star-Tsar laying unconscious a few miles away. When they pull his mask off, they see that this new bad guy is...Snapper Carr?!? To be continued!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Black Canary, Red Tornado, Hawkgirl

Notable Moments: I like the Privateer character. You could argue that with Batman and Green Arrow on the team, the Privateer's skills don't add much to the team, but he looks good with them. Had Englehart clearly not had a plan for the character, it mighta been cool to see him join.

Dick Dillin's work was hardly what you'd call flashy, instead it was reliable and comforting, due to its sheer consistency (sometimes--a lot of time, actually--I think comics need more of that). But once in a while DD would pull a rabbit out of his pencil and come up with a really cool shot:
sg rarely saw the Flash from this angle, and I think it's one of the best representations of how the world looks to Barry Allen.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Justice League of America #148 - Nov. 1977

sgAnd with this issue, my JLA run was complete! (see below for further explanation)

The Story: "Crisis in Triplicate!" by Paul Levitz, Martin Pasko, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. The Demons Three (Abnegezar, Rath, and Ghast) newly freed from their magical prisons, quickly realize that they have, well, conflicting ideas on how to rule.

They plan to fight it out, as good villains, do, but realize that if they did their vast powers would destroy the universe, so they need to think small, by turning to the various heroes and forcing them to fight each other by proxy.

It turns into a real donnybrook, with various JLAers, JSAers, and the Legion all beating each other up.

Many twists and turns later, the heroes shake off their enforced fighting, and turn the tables and manage to defeat Abnegazar and Rath, leaving only Ghast. Dr. Fate manages to absorb some of the defeated demons' energy, giving him the power to trap Ghast where the magical objects last existed--inside the JLA satellite!

The modern day heroes say bye to the Legion, with Lantern planting a post-hypnotic suggestion in the JLA and JSA so they won't have any memory of their possible futures. I don't think non-powered heroes like Green Arrow need to worry about being alive in the 30th century, but what the hey...

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

Notable Moments: I had spent most of my teenaged years completing my run of the JLA comic. I had no intention of doing so when I started, but as I grew up(hah!), I came to realize that it wasn't impossible.

So over time, as I made fairly decent money for a teenager(working at a Roy Rogers restaurant on the turnpike, making about $8.00/hr--in 1985 money--because I was one of the few who could be relied upon to actually show up for my shifts), I spent that money on--no, not girls, not saving up for a car--but comics. One can take issue with my decision making abilities at the time, but lacking a time machine...

Anyway, I managed to find all the early issues, even the really hard to find ones like #1 and #9. But for some reason, this issue--#148--evaded me. I would buy every back issue I could find at my local comic shops, cons, but I could never find this one!

Finally, desperate to finish off my collection, I started buying comics via ads in The Comic Buyer's Guide (remember that?), and even then it took a while. Finally, some seller in Arizona was selling this a copy, and after a few nervous weeks, it arrived. A complete run of Justice League of America was mine.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Justice League of America #147 - Oct. 1977

sgMore heroes than you can shake a stick at!

The Story: "Crisis in the 30th Century!" by Paul Levitz, Martin Pasko, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. The JLA and JSA are hanging out for their usual get together when a giant hand materializes in space, grabbing several heroes and then disappearing! I hate when that happens!

Turns out the hand belongs to Mordru, evil wizard of the 30th century! The heroes try and defeat him, but to no avail.

Mordru then explains that he was in pursuit of the magical artifacts bell, jar, and wheel, but accidentally grabbed the heroes instead. Mordru--not the most detail-oriented bad guy in the DCU.

Mordru tells the captive heroes (including some members of the Legion) that he will kill Green Arrow and Black Canary unless they round up the artifacts for him!

The teams of heroes succeed, but they tell Mordru they won't get the last of the items--the red jar--unless he frees their friends. He agrees to this, but when he summons the Demons Three inside the objects--Abnegazar, Rath, and Ghast--they turn the tables on Mordru, zap him with their superior magic, and plan to destroy the magical items which will keep them from being imprisoned ever again!

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

Notable Moments: DC still felt compelled to explain the whole Earth-1/Earth-2 thing to readers:
...though that hand deeply disturbs me.

Even though this team-up occurred in the middle of Steve Englehart's run, he did not write the annual JLA/JSA team-up. Turns out Levitz and Pasko really wanted to write it, and, having a bit more "seniority" at DC, got the gig.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Justice League of America #146 - Sept. 1977

sgYou can't keep a good Construct down!

The Story: "Inner Mission!" by Steve Englehart, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. Continued from last issue, the Red Tornado has miraculously returned, but with no memory of what happened to him since he seemingly died(in JLA #129).

Superman is suspicious, and asks Reddy some questions only he would know. When that trips him up, he suddenly attacks the JLA, with a voice not his own, but one they recognize as...The Construct!

As the JLA decides to go after the real Construct, Hawkman moves to have eternal guest-star Hawkgirl made an official member! Superman puts up an argument, but the Phantom Stranger advises to table the discussion for the moment, in a rare moment where the Stranger acknowledges he is, in fact, a JLA member.

Superman, Batman, and Green Arrow meet up with Aquaman and Atom, where they take on a weapon under the control of the Construct. Aquaman smashes it(yay!), and the Atom tells them to head to Manhattan, where Ray has tracked the Construct's broadcasting beam.

They meet up with the other JLAers at the Construct's headquarters--a basement hideaway beneath, er, the World Trade Center. Its here they find the Construct's robot army, but the big man himself is gone. It's here that Red Tornado shows up, claiming to be the real deal. The JLAers are of course skeptical, but Hawkgirl peers into Reddy's "soul" and claims she knows for sure this is the actual Red Tornado!

They finally find the Construct, but when he attempts to flood Reddy with power to overwhelm him, the presence of Tornado's soul flips the power back at the Construct, destroying him. And Wonder Woman took the precaution to ensure a Construct cannot reform.

And even though the last time they talked about it they couldn't come to a decision, Black Canary predicts the JLA is about to have an election:
Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, Red Tornado, and new member Hawkgirl!

Notable Moments: I have no idea what happened to the bottom corner of the cover. I know I didn't buy it like that.

Hawkgirl's addition--duplicate powers rule or not--was long overdue, and I'm glad Englehart added her to the team.

I also like how the Construct kept coming back, though not in issues all in a row. He could give the Joker a run for his money for sheer persistence!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Planet Comic Book Radio - 4/22/08

sgShameless Plug Department: I will be the guest on my pal Javier "El Muerto" Hernandez's swell online radio show Planet Comic Book Radio next Tuesday, April 22nd!

I will be the guest for the whole hour, and we will talk about my various blogging endeavors, and I'm sure the JLA Satellite will come up.

The show airs every week live at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific Time, and of course available for Podcast afterwards. Please check it out, and tell Javier the JLA Satellite sent you!

Justice League of America #145 - Aug. 1977

sgInside this issue--Superman dies! No foolin'!

The Story: "The Carnival of Souls!" by Steve Englehart, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. We open with the mysterious Count Crystal, who summons the demon Azgore, who promises the demon that, in exchange for power, he will offer up the souls of the Justice League!

Azgore warns that other sorcerers have tried and failed, so Crystal had better make good on his promise, or he will pay dearly!

Crystal then materializes on the JLA satellite, where his magical abilities quickly overcome Superman.

Meanwhile, the Halls and Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance are having an evening out, which is interrupted by Superman's JLA distress signal. They head to the satellite to find Superman...dead!

The JLAers, trying to figure out what's going on, are then met at the satellite by The Phantom Stranger, who also summoned Batman and Wonder Woman. He tells them what has happened, and conducts a seance to communicate with the dear departed Kryptonian.

Superman's spirit speaks through the Stranger, and he tells the JLA to "Avenge me!"

The heroes then follow the mystic trail to Rutland, Vermont(which appeared in JLA before, in #103, also guest-starring the Stranger), where they discover the Carnival of Souls, with Count Crystal there waiting for them.

As Crystal puts the JLA through various death traps, he manages to "kill" the Phantom Stranger, kidnap Hawkgirl, and leave the other JLAers to the same fate as the Stranger.

As the JLA fight for their lives, Crystal makes a deal with the comely Hawkgirl. If she submits to him, to be his slave, then he might spare her friends. Hawkgirl goes against every feeling she has of loyalty and devotion to her husband and agrees to be with Crystal, to save her friends lives. Crystal then gets a tad too confident, and Hawkgirl has had enough:
Hawkgirl helps rescue her friends, when the demon Azgore returns, demanding a soul! Crystal says he gave the demon Superman and the Phantom Stranger's, but since even on "the other side" the Strange has managed to keep their souls from the demon's clutches! Azgore then does what he threatened, and takes Crystal's, who screams in agony.

The JLA wakes up in the morning, dazed but thankful they survived. Hawkman tries to delicately ask, er, how far did Crystal get, but Hawkgirl assures him she emerged unscathed. Suddenly, an old friend suddenly appears...The Red Tornado!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Black Canary

Notable Moments: This was one of those stories that has elements you miss as a kid but resonate later. I had no idea what Crystal was getting at in the above panels, only as a teen and an adult (hah!) did I get the full, icky nature of Crystal's plans.

You can see Englehart laying the groundwork for Hawkgirl's inclusion into the JLA here, since Shayera plays a large role, and, along with the Stranger, is the one who saves the JLA's bacon.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Justice League of America #144 - July 1977

sgThe super-double-secret true origin of the Justice League!

The Story: "The Origin of the Justice League--Minus One!" by Steve Englehart, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. Green Arrow barges into a Poker Game with Supes and Lantern, demanding to know the truth!

The truth about what? Well, while he was going over some JLA log books, he noticed a discrepancy over when the JLA was founded--February 1959*--but yet Hal himself told Ollie he became Green Lantern in September of that year! So what's going on?!?

Superman and Lantern decide to level with Arrow, and show him a tape narrated by the Martian Manhunter. Manhunter tells the tale of how he came to Earth, and how he had to hide due to the paranoia about aliens from outer space. This paranoia even creeps its way in the direction of heroes like The Flash, who gets freaked out by it.

Flash calls in fellow heroes Superman, Batman, and Robin, and word of a full-scale invasion gets other heroes involved, seemingly every one on Earth at the time:
(It's at this moment we jump to the present day, and Green Arrow wonders where he was when all this was happening...turns out he and Speedy had flown to a South Seas island involving a case)

The mass number of heroes split up to investigate alien sightings, except one of them, almost captured by the improbable team of Lois Lane and Congorilla, turns out to be...Adam Strange, in a fun cameo.

The team of Superman, Batman, Robin, Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Rex The Wonder Dog arrive at a rocket base, where they meet young test pilot Hal Jordan. They also meet the Martian Manhunter, who explains to them the situation.

The bad Martians are defeated, but Manhunter wants to stay on Earth, for he sees that his homeworld has become overrun by evil. But since there's still so much paranoia, they decide J'onn should lay low for a while.

And when he does announce himself, it will be with the backing of all of them. Maybe in some sort of club, or group...

Supes and Lantern explain to Arrow that since all the secrecy was to protect Manhunter, when they met again to fight the aliens from Apellax a few months later, they just decided to make that their "official" first case.

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

Notable Moments: Take this story, expand it, and you've got DC: The New Frontier. Everything old is new again.

I like how Lois and Jimmy felt like they were worthy of showing up among that group of heroes. I guess they figured they had their own titles, why not show up?

Oh, and since Rex the Wonder Dog was with all the big guns at the end of the story, shouldn't he have been a founding JLA member, too?

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