Wednesday, April 16, 2008

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.



russell said...

NOW we're talking! With this issue and the next, Steve Englehart established himself as one of the premiere JLA writers. Then he went and wrote the anniversary two-parter as well. Man, this was good stuff. By the way, the first time I read this issue I totally missed that the Phantom Stranger was on the cover. I think I noticed it only when a LOC pointed it out a few issues later.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Thanks for the info -- helped me with a buying decision.

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