Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Justice League of America #190 - May 1981

sgPart 2 of the return of Starro the Conqueror and the battle for New York!

The Story: "Our Friends, Our Enemies" by Gerry Conway, Rich Buckler, Bob Smith, and Larry Mahlstedt. Continued from last issue, we find the remaining JLAers not under Starro's control aboard a battleship, along with a fleet of other ships, waiting out in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Admiral in charge explains to the JLA that, if Starro can't be contained, they may have to "lose a finger to save a hand" and destroy New York!

The JLA notices the Admiral says they have until nightfall to resolve this, and its that window that they think they can use
:
sg
...I love that sequence, with all the JLAers talking in turn. Cool.

Back in New York, Starro is using the zombie JLAers to build giant energy conduits to make himself more powerful. But he doesn't notice that Red Tornado is not actually under his control, and is sneaking off, heading out of the city.

The other JLAers arrive, wearing "repellor-disks" of Thanagarian technology to keep themselves safe from the Starro drones. They split into teams, and head off into the city streets.

Aquaman learns from his finny friends that Starro has some of his minions heading out of the city in boats, and he sees if he "can dissuade them."

He can, because he's Aquaman and he rules:
sg
Meanwhile, Batman, Flash, Zatanna, and Elongated Man are down in the subways, and also stop the Starroistas from getting out of the city (though not before Batman and Ralph notice something seems a little...different...about Flash and Zee).

Red Tornado, unbeknownst to his fellow teammates, participates in a bit of sabotage, by shutting down a major power station, keeping everyone in the city.

At the same time, the Hawks discover the original little boy (from last issue), alone and crying, Starro-less, inside a giant restaurant's freezer.

Back to Tornado, who seemingly sacrifices himself to destroy a circuit board, cutting off power directly to Starro, who is holed up in Grand Central Station.

Starro notices this, and is none too happy to see all of the JLA before him, where they explain to him that they discovered bitter cold can freeze his duplicates, freeing the other JLAers.

Green Lantern and Firestorm combine their powers, and zap Starro into a giant frozen block. Elongated Man wonders if the JLA might want to market Frozen Starfish On A Stick.


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

Notable Moments: A great, fun conclusion to the story. I especially loved the "stealth mission" aspect to the JLA. Aquaman gets some good moments, all on his own. Thank you, Gerry Conway.

Another spiffy cover by Brian Bolland...but that's superflous, isn't it?

This issue's letters page featured one of the oddest letters--if not the oddest--to ever run in the book:
sg
...back in 1981, 1999 seemed so far away.

Of course, had the original JLA book (and two more subsequent series) not been cancelled, the original Justice League of America title would be up to around issue #520 or so. That woulda been cool.

"Plunked down a C-note"--Steve wasn't that far off, was he?


Update: Russell in the comments section mentioned that he didn't see the Atom anywhere, in either issue.

Upon further examination, I realize that The Atom is not in this issue, a fact I've somehow overlooked even after having read these issues approximately fifteen thousand times.

No mention is made of the Atom, and why he's the only JLAer not in the story. This was long before Sword of the Atom, so I have no idea why he isn't here!

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I still think this was the best cover in JLA history...though if they really had gone ahead with the idea of EVERY JLAer under Starro's control, I think DC would have had to import the Avengers to stop him!(File that idea under 'cool comics we'll never see!'

james said...

Starro made for a fun villain in the JLA's first issue. I was surprised when they brought him back, though, considering how comical he looked by Bronze Age standards. (It wasn't long before he ended up facing the Zoo Crew.)

russell said...

This 2 parter is also one of my favorites, because if I recall, it's one of the few times ALL the JLAers participated after it became so big....wait a minute, I don't see The Atom in that scene on the aircraft carrier, but you say he was in the issue, so I'll trust you. The story was still good. Starro was funny looking but also kind of creepy.

Commander Benson said...

It's probably just because I'm in a curmudgonly mood this morning, but I feel like mentioning . . . one set of panels that you posted for this issue's review and one in your review of JLA # 189 inadvertently touched on one of my pet peeves--the inability of most post-Silver-Age comic-book artists to draw an accurate military uniform.

I count five different, obvious errors in that Navy "admiral's" uniform--and that's not counting the colourist's mistake in giving the uniform a hue never used in the United States Navy. (And, yes, I am factoring in the fact that the story was drawn in 1981; though, Navy uniforms haven't changed significantly since then.)

It's my understanding that professional artists make use of reference photos--whole files of them. If an artist is required to draw the Empire State Building or a 1948 Packard or the eighth Vice President of the U.S., he doesn't wing it; he finds the appropriate photograph to use as a model.

But since the '70's, it seems that most comic-book artists wing it when it comes to military uniforms, and I've never understood that. Even back in the pre-Internet days, there were any number of references available. World Book Encyclopedia has always run full-figure photographs of uniforms for all of the services.

I won't buy the argument that deadlines prevented those artists from checking a reference. Guys like Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, John Severin, and Kurt Schaffenberger also had deadlines, but they got military uniforms right.

The thing of it is--I can accept the fictional conceit of colourfully costumed super-heroes, but seeing a grossly incorrect military uniform--and Earth-One was supposed to mirror our Earth in all the conventional aspects--just knocks me right out of the story.

Which is a pity in this case, since the assessment of russell (whom I seem to agree with a great deal [fill in your own gag about great minds, etc.]) about the story overall pretty much echoes mine--this was one of the rare high points of the post-Silver-Age JLA.

Butch R said...

I'm kind of glad that great Bolland cover didn't come true though, who would have saved us? Superman, WW, Firestorm, GL Hal, Batman, Barry Flash & Zatanna in the front? I'm guessing the JSA would call in Dr Fate & Spectre as the way out! :)
Funny thing is as soon as I saw that letter, I remembered it also. (Mostly because I couldn't believe the JLA would let Jimmy Olsen in as a member!) Still it was interesting and different, good catch on your part Rob!

outburst said...

I agree with the first commenter. The cover for this issue is great. Very iconic.

Adama said...

Man, that cover is classic!

Oh, and Arthur, way to go, buddy.

Plaidstallions said...

My son recently drew this cover for his own JLA comics (which rock despite being overstapled). I don't know where he saw it but it really struck a chord with him.

buttler said...

I was waiting for this. I always loved that cover.

It probably helps that at this point we're right in the middle of "my" era of the JLA. I would have been ten when this came out, and I started reading JLA when I was 7 or 8, right around the time Zatanna joined.

But then again, Starro's awesomeness speaks for itself. It's universal. Here, just put this starfish on, and you'll see.

Doug said...

This is one of the BEST covers ever. Personally, I've never owned this bad boy, but without a doubt THAT cover is JLA baby!

rob! said...

>>I don't see The Atom in that scene on the aircraft carrier, but you say he was in the issue, so I'll trust you.<<

wow--i just went back and looked again, and realized i was wrong--the atom is not in this issue! i've read these issues so many times and yet i never noticed that.

jeez, that's embarassing.

Earth 2 Chris said...

I remember staring at this cover for hours. Even then, at around age 6, I could tell that this cover had more fine detail than most. I really wanted to see what the JLA looked like under those starfish. It was such a great shot of them if those damn starfish weren't in the way! It made Starro's menace seem that much more "real" to have him obscure such beautiful art.

Starro is one of those enemies that never needs to be overdone, or he could get real goofy really quick. This story, Morrison's "star fish conquerer" arc and Batman Beyond's 2-part episode "The Call" show that this invertebrate can be quite the menace!

Chris

John Trumbull said...

If I remember correctly, I think the letters page revealed that Bolland did the cover for #190 first, which ended up inspiring the two-part storyline. Way to go, Mr. B.

Randy said...

Best. Cover. EVER!! Except that it's missing Aquaman!!

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