Thursday, May 29, 2008

Justice League of America #186 - Jan. 1981

sgThe return of the JLA's goofiest foe!

The Story: "Who Can Stop The Shaggy Man?" by Gerry Conway, George Perez, and Frank McLaughlin. We open in the frozen wastes of a remote spot in the Soviet Union, with two lonely guards getting attacked by some sort of giant monster.

One of them is killed, but the other survives to tell his tale to his superiors, who summarily execute him to cover up the story.

Meanwhile, at the JLA satellite, Elongated Man, bored while on Monitor Duty, has his boredom interrupted when a Russian space ship hurtles by! He sends out a JLA distress signal and we watch a few of the team respond, like Black Canary, who ends her exploration of Green Arrow's quiver to answer the call.

The JLA is shocked to see his Cosmonauts in their satellite, but they show the heroes some pictures they took from space....that of The Shaggy Man, rampaging through Russia!

The Flash is downright rude to the Cosmonauts, who shows them that they have The Shaggy Man imprisoned, after their last battle (JLA #104). Even when its brought up that this could be the other Shaggy Man, last thought to be trapped underground (JLA #45), he still calls the Russians bald-faced liars.

Turns out he and Green Lantern fought that second Shaggy Man several months ago, and defeated him, so he now thinks the Russians freed him to use as a secret weapon, except its all gone wrong. "Let them deal with it", Flash says.

The other Leaguers ignore Flash's bitterness and head to Russia to stop the rampaging monster, leading to a wonderful little sequence with Batman
...Perez was always so good at stuff like that, turning what could be a routine sequence into a funny and exciting couple of panels.

While the fight continues, Bats lures the Shaggy Man onto the top of a rocket he has rewired to blast off into space. The Shaggy Man, being none too bright, of course isn't smart enough to let go, even as the rocket hurtles out of the atmosphere.

At first, the JLAers think Batman has just sacrificed himself, but he shows up behind them telling them it was a dummy for the expressed purpose of fooling the Shaggy Man long enough to get him into space. The Dark Knight Detective isn't about to be taken out by the friggin' Shaggy Man.

Roll Call
: Batman, Flash, Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man

Notable Moments: A fun issue, and after the mammoth JLA/JSA three-parter, a nice change of pace to have the whole story in just one issue.

Gerry Conway definitely amped up Barry Allen's conservative feelings (at least in comparison to his fellow JLAers), but here he is a real jerk. Even when its obvious that--planned or not--the Shaggy Man is on a rampage, killing people all over Russia, he barely cares.

The JLA Mail Room page is filled with contradictory letters regarding Green Arrow's departure. Two comic book reading sisters (sounds like a Maxim photo spread), Karen and Alicia Wu are divided on it, as, it seems, are most of the fans.

On the splash page, it states this issue is dedicated to Dick Dillin.


russell said...

FINALLY! According to my tally, this is the first issue since 135 that doesn't feature Superman. That's 50 straight issues of the Man of Steel! Okay, so he was a big draw during the Superman Movie craze, but, geez, 4 straight years with no break?
Besides that, or perhaps because of it, I enjoyed this issue. I, too, thought Barry Allen was portrayed as something close to a jerk, especially because I was/am a fellow midwesterner. Unfortunately, this is what constitutes "characterization" to Conway. (sigh)

Anonymous said...

"Mischaracterization", actually.
Conway pbviously had his take on the Flash, which certainly wasn't what Cary Bates was writing in Barry's own book at the time.
At any rate, this didn't last we saw next issue, he and Zatanna started flirting with each other, until Conway abruptly ignored this development, and finally explained it away in #206. Maybe editorial told Gerry to stop messing with the charater?
Back to this issue, it was a fun change of pace seeing the 'less powerful Leaguers'...though it was too bad that even when Supes wasn't there, somebody in the story always had to comment 'Too bad he's not here!'
The cover is reminiscent of a bygone era...the 'hero watches helplessly while a teammate faces certain doom' scenario...see also Black Canary two issues (days) from now!
BTW, Rob...nice subtlety on Dinah 'exploring Ollie's quiver'!

rob! said...

thanks for catching that. :) more than one time did the JLA cut to Ollie and Dinah going at it (well, sort of) when the JLA called.

jonnyquest037 said...

Not one of my favorite issues. The Russian stuff dates it badly, IMO. But maybe I'm biased because I only read it in back issue form, after the Cold War had been over for years.

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