Monday, April 21, 2008

Justice League of America #150 - Jan. 1978

sgThe return of the villainous Key!

The Story: "The Key--or Not The Key" by Steve Englehart, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. The JLA is shocked to discover the Star-Tsar is actually their old friend, Snapper Carr!

But before he has to explain, his henchmen show up and attack, distracting the heroes long enough for Snapper to escape.

The JLA splits into two teams to try and track him down, and Green Arrow is a bit worried when Black Canary chooses to pair up with their new friend, The Privateer. "You think he's gonna be a member?" Ollie worriedly asks.

Some of the team follows the Star-Tsar's energy trail, but it leads them to be attacked by a bunch of keys, which of course are the hallmark of another famous JLA villain. They all get sucked into a key-shaped black hole, and find themselves trapped in an alternate dimension, each in their own keyhole-sized jails. Here the Key reveals himself, and tells the JLA he and the Star-Tsar are in cahoots.

Meanwhile, the other JLAers visit Snapper Carr's old stomping grounds of Happy Harbor, where they run into Snapper's sister Janet and she tells them of her brother's tough post-JLA life:
...there's something about this sequence that just sticks with me. This was one of the first times I can think of a writer of a superhero comic taking on the angle of superheroes as celebrities.

The JLA is sympathetic, but that only goes so far when the Star-Tsar attacks! He manages to escape when a second Star-Tsar attacks knocking everyone out! One of them then heads for Washington, D.C., where the Star-Tsar shows up to extort money...President Jimmy Carter!

Now all the JLA are trapped by the Key, but the combined efforts of The Elongated Man and The Flash free them all--including Snapper Carr, who is trapped along with them. They find the second Star-Tsar, who is really, of course, The Key, at least that's how it seems.

The Key's malformed body prevented him from performing the physical tasks needed, so he duped Snapper into helping him. So who is the real Star-Tsar? Red Tornado knows, it's...The Privateer!

Red Tornado uses his perfect android memory to recall that, during all the crucial moments against the Star-Tsar, the Privateer was the one missing!

The Privateer tries to escape, but of course the JLA stops him. Here Mark Shaw reveals (in a full page consisting mostly of text) that while he may not be a Manhunter anymore, the taste for power is still there! All these attacks over the last few issues, involving The Construct, the Key, and Dr. Light, were all part of a plot for Shaw to gain more and more power!

His plan in tatters, the JLA carts him off, but not before forgiving Snapper, and promising him some of the help he needs (to be revealed in an issue of Superman Family, according to "Soft-Sell Schwartz"). Man, the JLA are a forgiving bunch of folks.

The issue ends with Red Tornado having a good laugh over the fact that, of all the members of the JLA, it was he who Shaw overlooked, so it only he who could've defeated Shaw's plan!

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

Notable Moments: The JLA Mail Room header, now officially bursting with members, is changed for essentially the last time to a more generic image:
Though the older header would return, in a way. But that's a few months down the road...

This was Steve Englehart's final issue as writer of Justice League of America, and a big deal was made of it:
...all in all, a solid run of issues. Changes, characterization, and lots of fun. I like how the stories are all of a piece, yet work individually as well.

Gerry Conway would take over the book with the next issue, and become, for all intents and purposes become the team's final writer.

But before we start the Conway Era, be here tomorrow where the JLA Satellite presents a word or two from the man himself, Steve Englehart!


Plaidstallions said...

My son and I have been trying to find this issue, I'll have to tell him how it ends.

Butch R said...

I didn't find this issue until the late 80's/early 90's when a comic store finally opened, I had money to go to it and was completing my collection. I always wondered how it ended. :)
Can't wait to see what Mr Englehart has to say. If you can, would you please ask him about working with Dick Dillin? I've never read that much about Dillin and love(d) his art.

rob! said...


we already did the interview a while ago, but don't worry, Dick Dillin definitely came up!

Hatter J said...

This was one of my first JLA comics. The copy that I had never had its cover, so I never quite knew what it looked like...until a trip to my comic store on Saturday when I was able to finally pick up a copy. I noticed the mail room header also, and I think that the letters column mentions that it was "fan made."

Wich2 said...

The first JLA villian ever done as a toy, I do believe!

-Craig W.

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