The Story: "The Chess-Master of Mars!" by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. Continued from last issue, the JLA members, having experienced weird phenomena involving ordinary crooks turning into chess piece-like statues, meet up at the JLA satellite.
As they talk, another chess piece--the bishop--beams into the JLA satellite via the transporter!
It blasts Superman with Kryptonite eyes, and hits Batman with a lightning bolt-type ray, leaving the rest of the JLA to take it on!
The fight appears to be a standstill, until Zatanna casts a spell to encase Aquaman and Black Canary in an impenetrable protective shield. Aquaman then lands a blow, cracking the being in half, which allows Black Canary to use her Sonic Cry to finish it off.
The Atom examines the wreckage, and tells his teammates that this thing could've easily defeated them all--it let them win! This tips off Zatanna, who begins to investigate her theory.
Turns out that bishop was under the control of the Martian Manhunter, who is imprisoned by Despero. Despero wonders if Manhunter isn't throwing the game?
We learn that Manhunter is in an impossible situation--if he loses the game, he and his people on Mars II will die, but if he wins, that means he has killed his JLA friends!
Manhunter next calls up a knight, but suddenly none of Despero's "players"--the JLA--can be found! And, as Manhunter points out, by the rules of the game, Despero loses because he cannot field his players!
Despero, not a sore loser, tries to play other JLAers not yet participating, but then suddenly the Atom appears, knocking Despero to the ground. Then all the JLAers show up, via a spell by Zatanna, and they fight Despero's killer chess pieces. Superman hurls the Atom with super-strength into them, exploding them from the inside.
What Zatanna figured out what that Manhunter had his bishop destroy the JLA membership file, as a clue for them to discover. Everyone is happy to see their old friend again, except for one...
To be continued!
Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Atom, Black Canary, Zatanna
Notable Moments: Zatanna's spells got the JLA out of a lot of jams.
Aquaman gets another nice moment, where his sheer strength is highlighted, when he cracks the bishop piece almost in two with one punch. Damn straight.
This issue's cover, by Jim Starlin, is a nice tribute to the very first issue of the book:
...nowadays it seems like half the covers on comics are "tributes" to some previous cover, but this was pretty rare at this time. And, tribute or no, its well done and works all on its own.