Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Justice League of America #189 - Apr. 1981

sgThe return of the JLA's first foe--Starro the Conqueror!

The Story: "The Return of the Starfish Conqueror!" by Gerry Conway, Rich Buckler, and Frank McLaughlin. We open up on the JLA satellite, where Black Canary is taking Firestorm through some training exercises.

Firestorm sorta cheats a little bit, and when Black Canary calls him on it, he complains the course is "too tough for anyone."

"Really?" Canary responds. "I run that course every day, Firestorm."

Back down on Earth, a young boy goes fishing, where he reels in something...odd. He reels in what looks like the tentacle of a starfish! That's strange enough, but it's a tentacle that can zap you with an energy ray! That's even weirder!
...I love the positioning of the story title, right after the kid gets zapped. A very exciting, 50's sci-fi-movie style opening.

The kid, now a glassy-eyed zombie, returns home, where his Fin In A Box zaps his Mom and rotten jerk of a Dad. I think this is going somewhere!

Meanwhile, Wonder Woman and Red Tornado are having a picnic with Reddy's family, where Diana is charmed by the love Reddy's family has for him, and vice versa.

Suddenly, some sort of creature blasts out of a nearby lake, and its blasts both heroes when they try and stop it. The creature is revealed to be...Starro the Conqueror!

Starro, for no good reason, explains how "he" survived since the last time he tangled with a superhero, Aquaman, and how he now plans to take over all of New York City!

Meanwhile, Superman and Green Lantern, hanging out at his Fortress of Solitude, get a distress signal, and at the satellite they see Black Canary and Firestorm tending to WW and Reddy.

Wonder Woman wakes up and tells them she now remembers who it was she saw just before she got knocked out--Starro! They then head down to New York, where they vastly underestimate how much more powerful Starro has become.

Starro has literally millions of tiny duplicates, who quickly attach themselves to the JLAers, taking control of their minds and bodies. Starro rallies the troops, and sets his sights on the rest of the world.

We then follow a lonely seagull, as it flies from New York, out to sea, to a battleship:
"We may have to destroy New York!"

A heck of a cliffhanger--the first week in February can't get here fast enough!

Roll Call
: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado, Hawkgirl, Zatanna, Firestorm

Notable Moments: Ok, I'm going to admit this right now--these issues, #189 till around #218, are my all-time favorite JLA stories, ever. All the copies I have in my collection and that I'm scanning here are the same copies I bought off the newsstands, twenty-seven years ago. So expect a lot of car-waxing of Gerry Conway, George Perez, and Rich Buckler over the next week or two.

This is a big story, and it needed the entire JLA to participate. Like I said, the ending is a classic cliffhanger.

The cover is by Brian Bolland, doing some of his earliest DC work. As usual, it's fantastic--exciting, well-composed, and drawn within an inch of its life.

This issue has a subscription form that I filled out for some reason, even though at age ten I had no way of paying for all of them:
...thank God I took lettering classes while at the Kubert School.

One last note--it took the entire JLA to defeat Starro in Brave and the Bold #28, yet Aquaman managed to do it all by himself in Adventure Comics #451.

Just sayin'.


Butch R said...

Well, I'll be darned if that isn't Brian Bolland doing the cover. I was sitting here trying to figure it out and as soon as I read it, it was like a V8 smack to the forehead.
It's kind of funny, I had the 2nd part of this story but had never seen the first part. After I decided to collect as many issues of JLA as I could, I concentrated on the Dillin run. As soon as I realized this was the first part of the story I read "way back then", I couldn't wait to read Rob's synopsis. Always wondered how that story started. Just one question, seems like the military got activated pretty quick and is ready to blow up NY awful quick.

wich2 said...


rob! said...

i went by that until around high school, then switched over.

Earth 2 Chris said...

I never had part one of this story, and I wish I did. Love the cover. I agree this is a high-water mark for the Leauge. Really, the last hoorah of the original run.

I remember a similar subscription ad with Batman that also featured this "Carol" who was she? She looks like Adriene Barbeau here! And she was seen with Swamp Thing around this time ya know...

Dick G knows how to draw the ladies...


Doug said...

I've never managed to snag this Starro story, but plan to someday. Maybe soon. It's amazing how "difficult" these issues are to find in LCS back-issue boxes.

Love the old days when the League actually was called on for help and congregated on places like aircraft carriers. Ah, sweet, sweet nostalgia.

Matt Celis said...

I had this issue from somewhere but was in suspense for ages until I finally got a hold of part two years later. And now I have lost them both and need replacements. Why has none of this stuff been collected in a book?!?!

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