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?