Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Justice League of America #156 - July 1978

sgBehold...the Fiend with Five Faces!

The Story: "The Fiend with Five Faces!" by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. We start this issue in a very unusual way...with Aquaman!

We find Aquaman climbing out of the water, barely able to move. He staggers his way on shore, and runs into some toughs. But even weakened, this is still Aquaman, and he dispatches them with just a couple of punches.

He finds his way to a cab, and asks to be taken to the Bristol Building. He asks the cabbie to help him to the elevator, which they take to the roof.

The cabbie leaves the mysteriously-dressed stranger there, who he recognizes as...Steve McQueen!:
While Aquaman is attended to on the satellite, Flash and Green Lantern run into a sort of wood nymph type bad guy, who seems to control the vegetation around them, which he uses to knock the two heroes out.

Aquaman tells the JLA about this mysterious being he encountered...the Fiend with Five Faces! Investigating a series of natural underwater disasters, the trail led him to a small isle, where he saw this bizarre creature, who was a statue that came alive, and then blasted Aquaman as soon as it saw him!

While discussing what to do, the Phantom Stranger appears, explaining he is there to offer assistance. Uh-oh, this must be real trouble!

Various teams of JLAers answer distress calls, where they each run into god-like beings who were once combined but now are free to wreak havoc on Earth.

The JLA manages to fight some of them off, and their leader, Tangora who tells them that this moment of freedom is to replenish their souls before they must rejoin into one being, not to cause destruction. Tangora reforms them all into one beings, the isle where they came from sinks, order is restored.

There's an Epilogue, where The Atom debates with his friends about whether to tell Jean his secret identity. Batman is against it (surprise), but Flash, Elongated Man, and Aquaman are for it. So what's he going to do? To be continued!

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado

Notable Moments: The Phantom Stranger hangs around during the "Should I Tell Her?" debate with Ray, but says nothing. I think it was a lost opportunity, not to have PS say something like "Look, I've been with Joan of Arc, Queen Elizabeth, Madam Curie, Mata Hari, Ava Gardner, and Jane Fonda. I'm telling you, Ray, women can't handle dating a superhero!"

Followed by awkward silence from the rest of the team.


Earth 2 Chris said...

Don't tell her Ray! You and all of the DCU (and 75% of its fans) will regret it 25 years later!


Tick-Tock Tyler said...

LOL re your Phantom Stranger pseudo-quote, rob!

The contrast between the advice given by Superman and Batman on the one hand and the other JLAers on the other is interesting. Black Canary's reply to Superman, "If you had an sense, Clark, you'd tell Lois Lane--" was priceless. At that time I think Superman and Batman were more "locked in" to their characterizations than the other heroes. The writers for Flash, GL, and the Atom had the luxury of making changes to their situations, such as getting married or revealing their secret IDs. But with the big guns, the writers had (or were allowed) less leeway. I assume they were afraid to tinker too much with their backstory, for fear of confusing the casual readers.

BTW, did anyone else get annoyed at how the JLAers started calling each other by their "real" names during this period? I understand that the writers thought it made them more human, but I don't like it all. Especially having them call Superman "Clark". Aaargh!

Tick-Tock Tyler said...

Did you notice the similarity between this issue's cover and #94's? What kind of discussion went on in the cover-design session...

Editor: Put Aquaman on the cover. It's been long enough for everyone to forget he's in the JLA.
Artist: Should I have him doing something heroic?
Editor: No. Same as before. Have him passing out. And put a disembodied head floating over him.
Artist: Gotcha!

rob! said...


wow, i never noticed that! good catch!

Vincent Paul Bartilucci said...

I still love that opening sequence with the Steve McQueen comment.

You don't get cooler than McQueen or Aquaman.

Matt Celis said...

Is Batman qualified to give anyone advice on relationships? Would anyone seek out his opinion? If so, why?

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