Sunday, May 25, 2008

Justice League of America #182 - Sept. 1980

sgThe return of Felix Faust!

The Story: "Reprise" by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. This issue opens with Green Arrow, having just resigned from the Justice League, aimlessly wandering the crime-ridden streets of Star City.

As he breaks up a car theft, he doesn't notice a mysterious, shadowy figure nearby--who we can see is the JLA's old villain, Felix Faust!

But no time for love Dr. Jones, since Arrow is then suddenly whisked away by a transporter beam, up to the JLA satellite, where some of the members who only now have heard what happened are demanding an explanation.

Arrow ain't having any of it, refusing to justify his actions further. Unfortunately for him, the JLA has already changed his membership status to "inactive", meaning he cannot beam down to Earth. Stuck there, he takes a seat, seeing who will break first.

Meanwhile, we follow Faust, who has found the secret journal of Nostromus at the Star City library (ha! and fundamentalists think Harry Potter promotes witchcraft!), and as he opens it he is blasted by some sort of energy beam.

Back at the satellite, Black Canary is trying to talk some sense into Green Arrow, when a ghostly vision of Faust appears, warning the JLA that the legendary warlock Nostromus is using Faust's body as a way to return to the land of the living to wreak havoc on the world!

The JLA follows Faust's signal to a small village outside Zurich, where they take on Nostromus' demon forms, to no avail. Luckily, the Nostromus-controlled body of Faust is stopped in mid-resurrection, thanks to a well-timed arrow which skewers the book, destroying it, and the warlock's chance of returning.

The JLA all congratulate Green Arrow for his fine work, and Superman welcomes him back to the JLA. But
:
sg
Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Black Canary, Zatanna

Notable Moments: Wow, is Ollie a major league a-hole on that last page. It doesn't even really make sense, since being in the League doesn't mean you live at JLA HQ full-time (although Aquaman obviously liked the sound of that idea), so why does Green Arrow act like he has to break up with Dinah? And...have you seen those fishnets, Ollie? Are you nuts?

There's also a back-up tale, a solo Elongated Man story titled "The Sun Queen Snatch!", a cute little mystery by my pal Paul Kupperberg, with art by Rodin Rodriguez and Vince Colletta.

It involves the Dibnys and the Halls taking a vacation cruise together, and Ralph stumbles onto an attempted kidnapping, foiling the plot in the time it takes Carter Hall to suit up as Hawkman, in a goofy last panel that makes me laugh every time I see it:
sg
I just love how silly Hawkman looks, popping into the last panel like that, while Ralph relaxes with as stiff drink. Well played, Mssrs. Kupperberg and Rodriguez.

I'm assuming DC needed their regular books' artists to get up to speed with the longer page count (since DCs were now 50 cents), so they slotted in this back-up for this month only. Too bad, since I thought this was a lot of fun, and it might've been interesting to see other back-ups featuring JLAers who didn't have their own books.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have fond memories of these 1980 JLA issues,especially the end of GA's membership! Too bad the actual story in #182 wasn't that great, even though the cover was!
Looking back, Ollie's characterization from 1969 onwards had gotten pretty stale, perhaps because the whole 'hipster hero vs. establishment super-square' thing had been done with Hawkeye and Cap-and because such descriptive traits as 'hipster', 'establishment' and 'super-square' were outdated, too!
Ollie's apparent 'breakup' with Dinah was a bit weird-I don't know if Conway intended for it to be permanent, but if so, it was eventually resolved both here and in GA's WORLD'S FINEST feature.
At any rate, while JLA had some damn good stories in '80 and '81, it still felt a bit weird not having GA around.
BTW, with another JSA team-up about to be featured here, it's too bad that Ollie's last active part in one of those stories is already behind us(1977).That was the one drawback of his return-he barely appeared in one team-upshortlybefore rejoining(in '81), then got left out of the rest!

Commander Benson said...

"It doesn't even really make sense, since being in the League doesn't mean you live at JLA HQ full-time . . . ."

Which, obliquely, raises a point which it seems the later writers of JLA overlooked.

Conceptually, the Justice League and the Justice Society are different from certain other DC teams, such as the Legion or the Challengers or the Blackhawks.

Let me explain: there are essentially two types of super-groups--those which self-serve the members and those which are collateral to the individual members.

In the groups of that first order, the heroes' principal reason for existing is as part of the team. They became heroes to be part of the team and they are principally identified as part of that team. These would be such teams as the Challengers, the Blackhawks, the Sea Devils, and the Legion of Super-Heroes.

However, the JLA and the JSA are composed of individual super-heroes--super-heroes who had established themselves in that field without respect to being part of a team. It was only after that they had established themselves as solo heroes that they formed the group or were approached to join it. And even after their memberships, they still operate as individual heroes who band together when the need arises.

By way of analogy, one might look at groups like the Challs or the Legion as being akin to a police department--each individual member is primarily recognised as being part of the group; while the members of the JLA/JSA are similar to an organisation such as the Kiwanis or the Knights of Columbus, or any other social group in which the members are seen principally as individuals in their own fields and only obliquely as members of said group.

In the former type of group, the dynamics of the membership are much more important since the members spend much more time together; they are in near-constant contact.

However, in groups like the JLA, the dynamic is not so important since the membership meets only once a month, or in an emergency.

Though it was not his intention when he came up with his fourth JLA formula--the "rotating membership" formula--Gardner Fox observed the nature of the group's conceit by having any number of members miss a meeting, due to pressing personal matters (the "tied up on an urgent case of their own" excuse). This stressed the fact that the JLA, while important to the members, was not the most important aspect of their lives.

Post-Fox writers attempted to change this conceit by producing scripts based on the JLA being the other kind of group, the one in which being a member was the main reason for the heroes' existence. Much of that came from the influx of inducted heroes who did not have series of their own. That way the writers could work their characterisations without having to worry about contradicting something in other titles.

The upshot was, in tales such as this one, and in Green Arrow's resignation in the issue previous, the writers insisted on putting a greater emphasis on its effects on the League. In Gardner Fox's League, if the Green Arrow felt whatever business he was handling in Star City at the time was more critical, he simply would not attend the regular meeting or respond to the emergency signal. There wasn't a conflict, because he was not required to show up at every meeting. Because being a member of JLA was collateral to his regular super-hero duties.

However, the later writers, in creating such conflicts, such as G.A.'s resignation and the uproar it caused, they were subtly implying that the League was the most important part of each hero's existence.

As Mr. Bartilucci, in comment on the previous issue, so accurately pointed out, it appeared that the Bronze-Age JLA writers were trying to turn the Justice League into the Avenger. The Avengers, too, began as the second kind of group--successful individual heroes who banded together when the need arose--but were turned, with the removal of the original members and the insertion of Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch, into the first kind of group, whose members existed primarily to be in the group.

And like Mr. Bartilucci, I didn't care for this transformation of the Justice League into DC's version of the Avengers. If I wanted the Avengers, I could always go to Marvel for the real thing.

Anonymous said...

"There's also a back-up story here, a solo Elongated Man story titled "The Sun Queen Snatch!", a cute little mystery story by my pal Paul Kupperberg, with art by Rodin Rodriguez and Vince Colletta."

My favorite part of that particular story was the title.

I think the back-ups in the books at that time were meant to be permanent because I have in my files a script for another Elongated Man story (I think my editor on that was Ross Andru?) that was done for the next issue but never drawn or published. It was Ralph and Sue, still on vacation -- I think our conceit was that EM and Sue are ALWAYS on vacation, living off her money -- this time in Egypt, where their car being stolen leads to a mystery. Ah, the good old days of back-up stories...! (Although I'm back to doing some for Moonstone's new CAPTAIN ACTION title: I've written a 6-pager featuring Fantomas, a turn of the 20th century French pulp character, and I'm working on my 2nd CAPTAIN ACTION back-up story for them now.)

Paul K.

russell said...

Man, I hated this lead story. Not only did Green Arrow walk right past a car theft before slapping his forehead and saying, oops, I could have had a V-8, but then at the end he was really going to hike back to civilization??? His pal Clark or Katar or Hal wasn't going to airlift him somewhere? That was just stupid.
The best part of this issue was the cover. RIP Dave Cockrum. You are missed.

Tick-Tock Tyler said...

Wow. GA was a jerk on the last page. Assuming BC was leaving too? Where'd he get that from? For all his liberal talk, he sure liked to boss Dinah around.

Meanwhile, Batman is thinking, "I'll just bide my time a little, then make my move."

I gotta agree with Commander Benson that Ollie should just ignore the JLA signal occasionally. It sured looked like half the other members were doing that.

rob! said...

C-

wow! i think your comment has more words than the actual story. :)

but you and vince were right, the JLA's raison d'etre was always different than the Avengers, so i didn't understand GA's attitude.

Paul-
glad you stopped by! i could've read more of your EM Tales of Mystery. the Dibnys had a real Nick and Nora thing, and i think you hit all the right notes with this story.

and like i said, that last panel still makes me laugh--"What are you all staring at? I'm HAWKMAN!"

also, i assumed the title was meant to be a little dirty, but i didn't want to say that. you have young children, for pete's sake!

TTT-

"Meanwhile, Batman is thinking, 'I'll just bide my time a little, then make my move.'"

...that just made me laugh. I'm sure Bats wasn't the only one thinking this was His Chance with Black Canary.

Adama said...

Adama to Ollie: "Man, Ollie, way to overreact! I'm one of your biggest fans, but sometimes, really, you make it hard to like you. I mean, look at that girl! Good Lord man, how can walk away from that just because some of your friends wanted you to rejoin their little club?!"

dbutler16 said...

I thought this story was OK. I didn't like the way the JLA acted, basically kidnapping GA to "explain himself" but it did lead to an amusing scene. As far as the apparent breakup at the end, it was weird because, the next time BC appears, in #186, after the JLA/JSA crossover, she and GA are back together again, with no mention of any breakup. However, in #188, she mentions that she and GA have been having problems. The three most powerful JLAers get knocked out early here, allowing GA to save the day. Conway seemed to be going out of his way to make GA look good and the other members look incompetent.
The backup story was cute, though nothing special.

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