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?


russell said...

Man, I hated this story when I first got it. I didn't like how all those Blackhawks and Challengers showed up....who cared? I wanted Hawkman, the Atom, Black Canary, etc, not these bunch of losers! Then the whole "nostalgia" thing didn't work for me at all. Blech! Now, of course, I can appreciate it for what it is, but I think Darwyn Cooke did a heck of a better job in New Frontier than what ended up on paper here. Not one of my favorite stories.

Earth 2 Chris said...

I got this one at a flea market for a good price about 10-15 years ago, and was pretty shocked that they did this. For a total retcon, its well done. Still not sure I ever accepted it as "canon", because it did seem to take away from the classic tale in JLA #9 (and it's classic sequel in #200), but it was nice to see EVERY character then published (or recently published) by DC and Quality show up. Cooke must have definitely read this book at some point.

Oh and the whole "time passes differently on Earth One" thing was kind of a lame way of explaining why dates stick, time passes, but characters don't age. I didn't buy it, and still don't.


Adama said...

I think my favorite part of that cover is Vigilante and his futuristic bumper car...

Earth 2 Chris said...

Yeah, Vig's motorcylce was that in name only!

My favorite part in this book is when Rex detects something (I think a martian? It's been a while) and he looks POSESSED in that panel. Like Rex the Were-Wonder-Dog-Man!


JonnyQuest037 said...

Funniest thing about the issue is that Green Arrow is such a continuity nerd. :)

I'm still amazed that they actually made reference to the heroes operating in 1959 in a 1977 comic.

wich2 said...

"The super-double-secret true origin"

Which one?

-Craig W.

Butch R said...

Well I guess I'm in the minority, but back when this came out, I loved it. Sure, as I got older it didn't make a whole lot of sense, but I still enjoyed it.
I've wondered if there is a connection between New Frontier and this. One would almost have to believe there is, but I won't throw around accusations.
Still, it was fun to see Dillin draw all those characters and learn some "secret" history.

rob! said...

when i first read the story as a kid, i didn't like it all because it seemed to change everything i knew about the origins of the JLA.

but as i got older, i came to love it as an affectionate tribute to a particular era of DC's history. i don't care much anymore about Official Canon because DC has screwed with it so much anyway.

btw, i wanted to keep this as a surprise, but...the story's author will make an "appearance" here on the satellite in a week or so!

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