Saturday, April 12, 2008

Justice League of America #142 - May 1977

sgOne of the most unusual JLA adventures ever!

The Story: "Return From Forever!" by Steve Englehart, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. We open with Aquaman, Atom, and Elongated Man in a relaxing moment on the high seas.

Atom is mopey because he's starting to feel his powers are useless, but Aquaman and Elongated Man try and cheer him up, by reminding him that its sometimes only their specialized powers that help, so it balances out.

Of course, all this hand-wringing comes to an end when they notice two spaceships in some sort of dogfight. One of them is blasted and falls into the sea.

It's about this time they get Green Lantern's distress signal, but they're too busy to answer it. Aquaman finds the sunken ship, and he meets the mysterious, beautiful, green-skinned Willow. Willow tells the heroes that she is being chased by something called The Construct, and they must hide underwater.

Aquaman takes them all to Atlantis, but the Construct--a giant robot--finds them anyway, and shows up on their computer monitors, demanding they return Willow in one hour or he will kill every human in the nearest city, Miami.

Willow has a particular mission to fulfill--which she won't fully explain--so she asks Atom to accompany her while Aquaman and Elongated Man head for Miami.

They each run into the Construct's robot armies, where Willow displays nearly superhuman abilties. Atom and Willow take on the Construct himself, where Atom shrinks down, gets inside the Construct, and explodes him from within.

Turns out that Willow was originally an Earthwoman, who met a man from outer space, and their union resulted in Willow being pregnant. Its this new life that will be the first of a new race, one that will "lead all humans to the stars." This is Willow's great secret, and she will remain on Earth, in hiding, caring for her soon-to-be-born child, and only the Atom will know.

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

Notable Moments: This obviously was one of my favorite issues of JLA as a kid, since Englehart took time out to feature the three least-used members. When I first opened the book up, the splash page itself told me this was going to be a different issue:
Instead of hiding the "B" characters and concentrating only on the big guns, Englehart takes the problem head on, and gives them a story where they get a chance to shine. Nice.

Willow is clearly a DC version of Mantis from Marvel's Avengers, who had just been in a major storyline courtesy of Englehart when he was writing the book. As far as I know, Willow has never been seen again. I'm surprised some writer, some where, hasn't picked up this thread...


Vincent Paul Bartilucci said...

This issue is a favorite of mine as well, Rob.

I love the bit where a group of the Construct's robots dog-piles on Aquaman. Ralph momentarily considers stopping in pursuit of their prime objective to help the Sea King ... but then thinks, 'nah, his muscles are designed to withstand the crushing depths of the ocean. He'll be fine.'

Also, you gotta love that cover. Since Supes, Bats, and GL don't know where their team-mates are, Superman can't possibly be using super-ventriloquism. So, he's just shouting! REALLY LOUDLY!

Let's see: The Pre-Crisis Superman shouting really, really loudly in the hopes that The Atom, who could be anywhere on Earth mind you, might hear him. He's probably causing avalanches in the Swiss Alps and Tsunamis in the Pacific!

Poor Green Arrow was standing next to him and his head exploded!

rob! said...

Supes didn't worry too much about what his powers did back then. "What, Cancer...from my X-Ray Vision? Oops, sorry about that Olsen!"

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