Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Justice League of America #171 - Oct. 1979

sgThe JLA and the JSA's annual team-up this time involves a murder...committed by one of them!

The Story: "The Murderer Among Us: Crisis Above Earth-One!" by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. Zatanna is chairing the monthly JLA meeting, which happens to coincide with the annual get together with the JSA.

The JSAers this time around include Hawkman, Green Lantern, Power Girl, Huntress, Mr. Terrific, Flash, and Dr. Fate. No points as to which one of these heroes doesn't make it to the end of the issue.

Anyway, the two teams of heroes are participating in chit-chat, and Zatanna mentions to Hawkman and Power Girl that she still feels a bit nervous about working with a team, because she wanted to prove she could make it on her own. Hawkman reassures Zee:
sg
...Carter Hall, ladies man.

Anyway, over in another group, Mr. Terrific is telling a story about running into one of his old foes, The Spirit King, who was in the middle of some nefarious scheme when he was discovered by Mr. Terrific, but...:
sg
...After a few awkward moments, Superman notices some of the heroes suddenly aren't around. Hmm...

But before he can look into it, a huge explosion rips open the satellite! While Dr. Fate and the Lanterns help build a patch for the hull, Superman discovers a casualty on a piece of wreckage...Mr. Terrific.

The Flash discovers another piece of wreckage, but with strange markings on it. Zatanna takes it and tries to use her powers to determine what happened to it, when she is hit by some burst of energy from it, which sends her into shock!

The Flashes search the satellite, and no one else is aboard. Red Tornado checks the records and sees that no one else has beamed off or on the satellite in the last hour. Which means...one of them is a murderer! To be continued!

Roll Call
: Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Red Tornado, Zatanna

Notable Moments: This is one of those stories that I think works depending on when you read it. I think if I had read a comic like this now, when an old-time hero is brought out of retirement just to be killed off, I wouldn't like it.

But since I this comic came out pretty much right when I was first reading comics, I accepted it, and it was a shocking turn of events. Major changes are more easily accepted if they happened long before you came around.

That said, I like the murder mystery concept, and I still think the story works fairly well. Let's see how it wraps up tomorrow.

10 comments:

Butch R said...

Totally agree with your comments Rob, the story works depending on when you read it. I should have been about 9 or 10, and like you I liked it, found it shocking and couldn't wait to see who the Flash was accusing.

Though even back then, I wondered why didn't Dr Fate cast some spell to call back the spirit of Terry Sloane and just ask him who killed him.

Great cover, I remember seeing an ad for it and couldn't wait to read it.

Side note: is it just me or does Mr Terrific's and GL Alan Scott's costumes look very similar? Green top, black belt red pants for Terry, green pants, black belt and red shirt for Alan. Just a thought...

I hated the fact that for years DC never finished this story. I remember it was close to this time that the JSA finally had it's own book and was in Adventure. Never touched up again, even though there was a prelude in Adventure. Got back to Earth 2 and ... Thankfully Jim Ostrander and Tom Mandrake FINALLY ended this story back in their run on Spectre.

Butch R said...

Oh, one more thing. My prime suspect was Hawkman Carter. Why? Well I thought you would never ask... Notice how he gives Zatanna an ego boost with his comment and she kisses him. Then she gets the shock coma. Kind of sounds like a possible set up to a 10 year old... :)

Earth 2 Chris said...

I remember the ads for this at the time, but I didn't get these two issues for years. With comic deaths happening every 3rd panel in modern books, all deaths seem pretty cheap now. Now it would seem even cheaper than usual for creators to dust off a guy like Mr. T just to kill him. But in 1979 comic deaths were pretty rare, so it works pretty well.

Oh one thing I forgot to mention a few JLA/JSA crossovers back: Anyone else weirded out by Powergirl hitting on the Earth 1 Superman? Is that pretty much incest? YUCK.

Wich2 said...

>Is that pretty much incest?<

But, Chris - she can use the Woody Allen Defense:
"Yeah, PRETTY much - but not LEGALLY!"

Best,
-Craig W.

russell said...

I guess I'm in the minority because I HATED this team-up. It's pretty much my all-time least favorite. First of all, I wasn't too keen on the "one of us is a murderer!" scenario. One of the world's greatest super-heroes, a murderer? Really? (more on this tomorrow 'cause I don't want to spoil anything) Basically, I'm a huge mystery lover, and I thought this was just badly plotted. And of course, my eternal complaint: the same characters, over and over again!! Where is the Atom, Aquaman, and Hawkgirl---especially Hawkgirl, because Katar is here, but no sign of Shayera!!!! I thought she joined in order to spend MORE time with him, not less! And it's a real shame Ralph Dibny wasn't here instead of Batman---not only is he a detective, but he has no real "job" to be doing, so he should be able to "hang out" more than, say, Bruce or Clark...and yet he never did. (sigh)

Anonymous said...

Earth 2 Chris wrote:
Oh one thing I forgot to mention a few JLA/JSA crossovers back: Anyone else weirded out by Powergirl hitting on the Earth 1 Superman? Is that pretty much incest? YUCK.

I remember that from the '77 team-up! YUCK indeed! At least when
'Gerry Conway's Pal, Firestorm' joined a few issues later, Power Girl had someone closer to her own age to team up with!

Earth 2 Chris said...

Also forgot to mention:

Anyone notice the "tell" on the cover? I don't want to spoil the 2nd part, but the murderer sticks out pretty well if you know what to look for.

Chris

Luke said...

Well, poor Mr. Terrific didn't hang around long, did he? AH well, I guess them's the breaks. Of course, I think the new Mr. Terrific has pretty much surpassed the original in just about any measure of popularity or fan-interest, but I still like the classics.

Tick-Tock Tyler said...

Way back in JLA #110, there was a two-page portrait of the entire JSA. I had just started reading comics, so I had never heard of most of these heroes. But within a couple of years I had learned about Starman, Dr. Mid-Nite, the Spectre, and most of the others in either JLA or All-Star Comics. But Mr. Terrific still was a mystery to me. What did he do? What powers did he have? Why didn't he ever appear?

When I saw Mr. T in the roll call in #171 I thought, "Yay! Now I can see him in action!" Instead, he showed up just long enough to get killed off. He didn't even get to do anything. Poor Terry. I guess the Spectre and the Phantom Stranger were too busy to bring him back from the dead.

MatthewZD said...

Maybe I'm weird, but I always liked some of the little personal interactions between the JLA and the JSA. One of my favorite examples of this was the scene where Huntress and Batman are mourning the recent death of her father and his counterpart. It seems odd when you really think about it -- she's sharing memories of her father with someone who is essentially a carbon copy of him, and he's mourning the loss of a virtual brother whom he never met (And it still bugs me a little that the two Batmen never met) -- but it's a cool kind of odd.

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