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!


Tick-Tock Tyler said...

Okay. I missed the Englehart era the first time around. Thanks to eBay, I filled in the gap just a couple of years ago. But it was just this week that I sat down and read #139-150 in order. What a jam-packed bunch of issues.

Yahoo! Hawkgirl finally joins the JLA! Shoulda happened long ago. Really, Hawkman and Hawkgirl were a team right from their first appearance. Yeah, other JLAers had partners. But if you read their early stories, the Hawks were equal partners -- or at least more equal than any other duo in comics. How is it the JLA only took in Katar way back in #31?

Bad things in #146: Superman saying the JLA had a rule against duplicate super-powers in the JLA. Was he having a flashback to his Legion days? When did the JLA ever have such a rule? Also, Shayera had to share the issue with Red Tornado. Shayera should have been on the cover, and the question of her membership should have been the the focus of the issue.

Good things in #146: Katar toeing the line about Shayera's membership. Right on, Katar! And of course, Superman basically accepted the inevitable in the end.

All in all, a good issue.

russell said...

This issue ROCKS! It is one of my all-time favorite issues (with #150 probably my all-time number one). Everything about it was awesome (except the art---look at the panel Rob chose to reprint and tell me that Diana, Dinah, and Shayera are not all midget women! Red looks like he's seven feet tall in this panel!). Having enjoyed Steve's run on The Avengers, with The Vision and the Scarlet Witch, I kind of saw parallelisms between them and Red Tornado and Hawkgirl. I don't think they would have fallen in love, mind you, but I think they would have gotten along more like Zatanna and Red eventually did. I often wonder what would have happened if Steve's run on the book had been longer.....(sigh)

russell said...

wasn't this the issue where the JLA Mailroom picture went away and was replaced by the satellite?

rob! said...

no, but its coming up soon!

Commander Benson said...

I've been a lurker on this board since I discovered it a couple of months ago. I enjoy the run-downs. Rob, you show a flair for concisely describing an issue's content, yet pointing out the significant items.

I haven't posted because, being an old-timer, for me the JLA stopped with issue # 63--the last one done by Fox and Sekowsky--and nothing that came after that, even though I read them all, ever matched those first eight years of the title. I've also resisted commenting on some things with which I've disagreed, such as the general disparagement of Snapper Carr (who was my favourite JLA member). Mainly because there was no point; suum cuique and all that.

However, I'm breaking my silence here to address Mr. Tyler's questions:

"How is it the JLA only took in Katar way back in #31?

"Bad things in #146: Superman saying the JLA had a rule against duplicate super-powers in the JLA. Was he having a flashback to his Legion days? When did the JLA ever have such a rule?"

I have talked about this subject many times before, most recently last December in my "Deck Log" column which runs on the Captain Comics website. Here is the gist of it:

Myth 3: Hawkgirl was Originally Rejected as a JLA Member Because of the League’s “No Duplication of Powers” Rule.

This notion took root in JLA # 146 (Sep., 1977). The writer of that issue, Steve Englehart, was trying to provide a reason why Hawkman’s wife and long-time crime-fighting partner had not yet been admitted to the Justice League. What Mr. Englehart came up with -- a “No Duplication of Powers” JLA by-law -- I suspect he cadged from a similar rule devised for 1970’s Legion of Super-Heroes stories (and which, also, was not part of the Silver-Age Legion canon). He could have saved himself the trouble if he had bothered to read the Silver-Age JLA story of Hawkman’s admission to the League in JLA # 31 (Nov., 1964).

Hawkgirl was initially not admitted to the group because the Justice League’s by-laws only allowed one new member annually. In fact, this was stated plainly when the Atom appeared at a charity function to inform Hawkman of his induction into the League, on page 5, panel 2:

ATOM: “Please understand, Hawkgirl, that our by-laws permit taking in only one new member at a time -- and -- er . . . ."

HAWKGIRL: “I understand . . . and approve! Hawkman is the leader of our ‘team’ and I feel sufficiently honored by having him accepted into the Justice League!”

Gardner Fox did not pull this excuse for excluding Hawkgirl from the group out of the air, either. Under his reign as JLA writer, he had established that the League strictly controlled its membership. There was no “Hey, this hero helped us out on this case; let’s make him a member” nonsense. Wonder Woman stated the restriction on membership clearly in JLA # 4 (Apr.-May, 1961), the issue in which the Green Arrow joined the League: “Remember -- according to our constitution and by-laws -- we can admit only one new member at a time!”

As Silver-Age readers witnessed, only four times did the JLA hold a meeting to consider new members (JLA # 4, # 14, # 31, # 42), and while individual members certainly had their preferences, no member ever sponsored a hero for membership. A vote was taken and the hero who got the majority of votes was offered membership.

Why Hawkgirl was not made a member subsequent to her husband’s admission in the Silver Age, one can presume, was simply a matter of her not getting sufficient votes.

So, no, the Justice League never had a "no duplication of powers" rule until Mr. Englehart pulled it out of a hat to explain Hawkgirl's lack of admission to the League in JLA # 146. But if he had bothered to read the old stories, he would have discovered that such an excuse wasn't necessary.

And frankly, I think a much better story would have come from the Silver-Age explanation. The notion that so many members had voted against Hawkgirl's membership over the years would have created some nice character frisson between Hawkman and those members who voted against her, for whatever reason.

You run a good site here, Rob. I have continued to read and enjoy your comments, and those posted in reply, even though you've long gone past the Fox/Sekowsky days.

rob! said...


wow, what a post!

thanks for checking out the site and the kind words. sometimes i feel like my plot summaries are too rushed, but trying to describe everything gives me a headache. i sort of look forward to getting to the issues i know by heart.

thanks, please don't let it be another 146 issues before you leave another comment, especially since we only have another 115 issues left!

Commander Benson said...


Boiling down a complicated plot to its salient points, yet preserving the narrative flow--plus emphasising significant developments--is an infrequently seen talent. All too often there is the temptation to keep tossing things in. ("Uh oh, I better mention that, too!) Pretty soon, one has turned a synopsis into a novel. You do an excellent job of avoiding that. A large part of good writing is being able to cut away the deadwood. (The hard part is knowing what the deadwood is.)

Unfortunately, I discovered your site too late to make timely comments on the JLA's Fox/Sekowsky years. And I'm afraid I have very little, if anything, positive to say about the post-# 63 issues, and I don't want to bring down the obvious enthusiasm for that period I see here. My take on it is negative, but a great many people look upon that time with great fondness.

But should another question, like the one about Hawkgirl's delayed membership, arise that I can address, I'll be glad to chime in.

And thank you for the cordial welcome!

rob! said...

one of the things i've learned from doing all these blogs is that EVERY ERA of a particular comic is SOMEBODY'S FAVORITE era. so there's little point in playing the "this stuff sucks, this stuff is good" game, something i've always been keen to avoid.

my favorite JLA issues, hands-down, are #s 189-200. hell, i think JLA #200 is The Greatest Publication Western Civilization Has Yet Produced, so you can see where my head is at. :)

hmm, i think there's an essay for Hey Kids! somewhere in here...

John Trumbull said...

Very nice job again, Rob.
I was lucky enough to get the Englehart issues in back issue form, and you're really capturing them well.

One small criticism, though: I think you mean to say that "Wonder Woman took the precaution to ensure a Construct cannot reform." Unless, of course, Wonder Woman was actually taking out an insurance policy on the Construct. Which might be an interesting read... :)

rob! said...

bwa-ha-ha! didn't realize i did that, duly corrected!

WW taking out an insurance policy on a villain would now be a storyline long enough to fill a TPB. :)

michael chang sue said...

Apart from inducting Hawkgirl, Steve Englehart also affirmed the Phantom Stranger's membership in this issue.

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