Sunday, June 15, 2008

Justice League of America #200 - March 1982

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Welcome to the 200th issue of Justice League of America!

The Story
: "A League Divided" by Gerry Conway, George Perez, Brett Breeding, Pat Broderick, Terry Austin, Jim Aparo, Dick Giordano, Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, Frank Giacoia, Brian Bolland, and Joe Kubert.

This mammoth, 72-page anniversary issue opens, after the wonderful three-page origin prologue, with Firestorm, bored out of his mind while on Monitor Duty.

Suddenly, founding member The Martian Manhunter comes smashing through the hull of the satellite!:

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Firestorm, not having boned up on JLA history, has no idea who this guy is. At the same time, Manhunter is acting very strangely, even without all the satellite-smashing. He doesn't seem to know that this is the JLA satellite, even though he has been here before.

Firestorm manages to fend off Manhunter for a while, until his inexperience gives Manhunter the chance to knock him out and grab what he's there for--a small green meterorite residing in the JLA Trophy Room.

Minutes later, Firestorm wakes up amid the wreckage, and, not knowing what is going on, sends out a Triple Priority Signal to all members, past and present!

Soon the satellite is filled with JLAers Atom, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado, Zatanna, and Green Arrow. They inform Firestorm who it was he faced, and alone among them its Green Arrow that seems to know what's going on, and why none of the original members--Superman, Batman, etc.--have answered the distress call!

They quickly figure out that all the original JLAers must be after the Appellax Meteors, relics of the JLA's first case.

Then another face from the past shows up--Snapper Carr! Green Arrow takes charge, breaks up the heroes into teams, ordering Firestorm to stay behind with Snapper. Pwned!

Next we find ourselves at the Indian Ocean:

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Aquaman doesn't know why he "needs" to get the Appellax Meteor, but he does it anyway. He is attacked by Red Tornado in the process, and Aquaman gets a good shot in, plunging Reddy into the water.

As Aquaman's back is turned, Reddy is about to try again, but he is hit by a force of energy from The Phantom Stranger, who, as usual, is seeing The Big Picture, as is only fulfilling his "destiny." Aquaman then takes off, and its up to the Stranger to tend to Reddy.

Cut back to the satellite, where Reddy, unconscious, mysteriously appears from out of nowhere! Firestorm wonders aloud, "How did Reddy get up here, anyway?"

As the book says, "somewhere, a Stranger is smiling. His job is done."

Next we go to Paradise Island, where Zatanna is hoping to stop Wonder Woman before she performs her task:
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Unfortunately, the Amazing Amazon beat her there, and Zatanna proves to be no match for her. She gets knocked out by Diana using one of Zee's own spells against her, and she wakes up, hours later, with the Amazons using their curative Purple Ray on her.

Next, in Zimbabwie, a local General receives a phone call, and is a little shocked to see who made the call:

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The Atom finds Green Lantern, digging up one of the Appellax meteors. He momentarily knocks GL on his butt, and tries to reason with him, trying to make him remember who he really is.

It seems to be working, except that GL has just been sneaking up on Atom, and traps him with his ring. He grabs the meteor and takes off.

The Atom shrinks beneath the atoms of the ground, and slips out of the bubble, and heads back to the satellite. The Atom chalks up all their defeats to the "edge of experience" the others have, but Red Tornado theorizes that its because the original members are facing unknown opponents, while they are fighting friends.

Over in Italy, The Elongated Man lays in wait for The Flash:
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He gets the drop on The Flash, and feels sick about attacking his friend, but like Reddy guessed, the Scarlet Speedster has no such compunctions. One good super-speed punch, and The Flash has accomplished his mission.

Down at the original JLA Sanctuary, the original members start to talk, and can't figure out when all these changes--Wonder Woman's new uniform, the sancutary in ruins, Mars II--occurred.

On the North Carolina coast, Green Arrow joins Black Canary in searching for Batman:
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The Batman, of course, gets the drop on both of them, and uses the tight, confined space to his advantage. Green Arrow fires off an arrow, which misses, bounces off a tree, and knocks out Black Canary!

As Green Arrow finds himself handcuffed, he yells at a departing Batman: "You can't do this to me!" To which a smart-ass Batman replies: "I already have."

Canary then wakes up, and Brian Bolland shows off his mastery of distinct facial expressions:
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...I love Canary's annoyed, pursed face in panel four. They move on, thinking they've found Batman, but it turns out to be a decoy--Batman, and the Appellax meteor, are gone.

Last is what can only be the result of Hawkman drawing the short straw: he has to take on Superman!:
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Hawkman figures Superman can't retrieve the Kryptonite-laden meteor himself, so he isn't surprised when he encounters several Superman robot duplicates instead. But the third one looks a little different--its actually Superman!

One punch, and its all over, ending with Hawkman being hit so hard he drifts into outer space. Superman, using a paper-thin lead alloy suit to cover himself, finds the meteor and heads off.

Hawkman wanders so far into space he hits an oncoming Zeta Beam, and disappears! He is then found by old JLA friend Adam Strange, who calls the JLA and tells them they plan to beam Hawkman back. The Elongated Man, stretching himself farther than he ever has, shoots himself out of an airlock, and retrieves The Winged Wonder.

Meanwhile, at the Secret Sanctuary, the JLAers notice that all the Appellax meteors are glowing, and they eventually explode open, releasing the seven Appellax warriors!

This obliterates the JLAers' amnesia, and they are told, years ago, the Appellax meteors put a post-hypnotic suggestion in them, triggered to go off, just as it did.

The JLAers attack the Apellax warriors, but they find themselves overwhelmed, one by one, until finally there is only Wonder Woman:
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...that panel always felt so harsh to me. Yeah, I know Diana is nearly invulnerable, but taking a bunch of crystals to the face like that? Ow.

The Appellax warriors decide to pick up where they left off--that is, to fight one another, to see who will be the leader of their home planet!

Next, we see Batman and his fellow JLAers slowly waking up, but surrounded by their fellow heroes. Apologies are made, the heroes collect themselves, and head out to stop the aliens:

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(click to JLAify!)

The massive group of heroes split up into teams, classic Gardner Fox style, and Batman, Black Canary, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Zatanna head to Vermont to battle the Wood King, Crystal Creature, and Mercury Monster.

Unlike what defeated them before, the JLAer use teamwork, and after a well-placed Batarang shatters the Crystal Creature, its over.

Next, we go to the Irish Coast, where Aquaman, Elongated Man, Flash, and Red Tornado find the Glass Creature and the Fire Monster. The Flash tries a frontal assault, giving Aquaman the chance to sneak up from behind:
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...this is one of my favorite Aquaman sequences of all time. I love the examination of Aquaman's ability to survive in depths that would kill almost anyone else, but holding the Glass Creature by the throat until he shatters into little bits is just hardcore.

In the meantime, Flash, Elongated Man, and Red Tornado take out the Fire Monster--mission accomplished.

Last, in the heart of New York City, The Atom, Firestorm, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter take on The Golden Roc and The Stone Creature.

Lantern pummels the latter into chunks of rock, and The Atom is fired directly into the head of the Golden Roc, giving Manhunter the chance to shatter it with a well-aimed punch. It's all over!

Back at the satellite, Green Lantern and Red Tornado shoot the aliens' remains into the sun, destroying them forever.

Then the three old JLA friends, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, and Snapper Carr take their leave...well, two of them do:

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

Notable Moments: What to say about this issue? Its one of my all-time favorite comic books ever, and certainly my all-time favorite superhero comic, ever.

I love the scope of it, and the fact that Conway took the time to work in as many people from the JLA's past as he could--The Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Snapper Carr, Adam Strange, The Phantom Stranger...

Of course, the one glaring exception is Hawkgirl. Apparently over in the solo Hawkman feature in World's Finest running at the time, Hawkgirl was missing or something, hence her not being here.

As as kid, I loved internal continuity, and having all the characters work in a definable time line. But--in this instance, I wish Conway and whatever other editors would've made the call had forgotten that for a moment, and put Hawkgirl in here. This is the big JLA story, and Shayera definitely should've been included.

The art is of course fantastic--Aparo, Perez, Kubert, Bolland, and lots more, many of them working on their signature characters (Aparo even gets a two-fer). Having Perez do all the linking chapters gives the book a cohesiveness that improbably works, considering all the people involved.

Fun Fact: The Superman/Hawkman chapter was lettered by The Joe Kubert School, the first time I can remember hearing of such a place. Little did I know I would be a student there, a little less than eight years later.

As if all this wasn't enough, Gerry Conway gives us a two-page text piece on the history of the team, which is enormous fun. Click
here to read it.

I remember buying this comic at the now forgotten-but-not-gone Voorhees Tobacco and News Shop, which had a huge selection of comics, many more than my local 7-11. To that end, I used to beg my Dad as much as I could to take me there.

Like I said, the place is still there:

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The copy I have is the same one I bought in Dec. 1981--its beaten up, has brown pages, the binding is held together with high hopes and a lot of scotch tape. Yet if there was ever a fire in the house and I could only save one comic, this would be it.

To me, this book sums up everything that is fun about the world of superhero comics, and what drew me to the Justice League so passionately at such a young age--camaraderie, action, humor, plus a sense of enormous history. Not too long after this, the Crisis would take place, forever putting the DCU I knew and loved into the Past Tense. This book is one glorious 72-page tribute to what made DC so great for so long.


How can we possibly top this, especially since #201 is just a "normal" issue? Well, we're going to try--#201 will show up two days from now, with tomorrow being the day for an interview with the man whose idea it was to make the 200th issue so special: legendary comics writer and editor Len Wein! Be here!

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rob, thanks for reprinting the first three pages among all the other great scans! My somewhat less-battered copy is missing pages 1 through 4 (a long ago screwup involving spilling whatever I was drinking on those pages, which stuck together and then tore apart when I tried to unstick them!)
I consider this the true 'Jump the Shark' moment for the original JLA title, as things really never were quite the same for the group after this blowout. Hawkgirl's absence, while unfortunate, did not ruin the story for me, but it apparently set the dangerous, and ludicrous, precedent that any member could be removed from the League if the editors of the heroes' own books said so.
Around this time, GL was 'exiled into space' for the first of however many times in his own book, thus Hal made only one more in-continuity appearence (#224, with 210-212 being the 'casebook' story originally intended for publication in 1978).
Then, of course, the Atom, Flash, and even BATMAN, for cryin' out loud, were 'sacrificed' for more 'compelling' developments in their own book, or to sell a mini-series, or launch another super-team title. It was just never the same after this one...all the more reason to cherish it!

Frank Lee Delano said...

I love Hawkgirl and inclusionism, but I didn't miss her here.

This is one of those comic book milestones that can never be repeated:

Firestorm by one of his defining artists, inked by a fellow associated with the best drawn Martian Manhunter stories to that date.

Aquaman & Phantom Stranger by an artist responsible for the best stories of both, and he drew that jobber Red Tornado better than he deserved!

Wonder Woman by one of her greatest penciller/inkers, serving Zatanna well!

Green Lantern & Atom by their co-creator, who happened to be one of the greatest comic book artists ever!

Flash & Elongated Man by their co-creator!

Hawkman by one of the greats, though Superman got a bit shafted through lack of association!

Only Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Batman were drawn by someone never much associated with them at the time. Of course, he became one of the most celebrated cover artists ever, and these represent some of the too few pages of sequential art he's produced!

All wrapped up by the most revered everyone-and-the-kitchen-sink group artists of all time!

The only person who can pull together this kind of jam these days is Jeph Loeb, "treating" us to the modern "masters" like Ian Churchill, Mike Turner, and Rob Liefeld!

All hail JLofA #200! Never equalled!

russell said...

I don't know, I'm one of those people who just didn't like this as much as everybody else seemd to. I know I should have. There were treats, yeah, but... remember those full-page spreads of the heroes fighting each other? I only really remember the Gil Kane one "worked." Of course, the art was the best part of the issue, hands down. As for the story? I *hated* that Aquaman was the one original member who would have been taken down by the 2nd Generation Member if the Phantom Stranger hadn't lent a hand. I hated that Hawkgirl wasn't there. I hated Firestorm. I hated that the JLAers basically killed all those aliens at the end. And they didn't team-up so much as smother them in numbers. The whole thing just left me feeling, well, BLAH. JLAs 100-102 or JLA Annual 1 were better stories, IMHO.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci said...

Loved it. Loved it. But ...

Can I grouse, like Russell does, that Aquaman got diss'ed? Wasn't there some other way to use the Phantom Stranger that didn't involve him bailing out the Sea King? Or, as I said when you spotlighted (spotlit?) this issue over at the Aquaman Shrine, why didn't Adam Strange appear to help Flash against Elongated Man? I'm sure all the aging fanboys would hve loved to see Infantino handle Strange one more time. Either solution would have been okay with me.

It's a great, great, great issue. But it coulda been perfect.

matthew jones said...

Just read JLA#200 again earlier today, and it's still a great comic. It has its flaws, but is everything a good comic should be. What an amazing and never to be repeated selection of great artists it contains. Shame about no Hawk Girl/Woman, but Mr Conway and friends did good with this one. It's also the only actual issue of the JLA I own at the moment, though I have issues reprinted in other places.

BentonGrey said...

Man, this does sound like a fantastic story.....why, oh WHY won't DC put out DVD archives?

Earth-2 Randy said...

I tried sending this before but the bad weather here caused my computer to freeze.

Anyways, I remember the month I spent trying to find this book back when it originally came out. It was the first time I was looking for a particular book and would be far from the last.

I'd scout book stores, news stands, 7-11s and anywhere that sold comics looking for JLA 200. My frustration continued the day I found #201 and the ever-elusive 200 was still far from my grasp.

Finally came the day both my mom and grandma had their hair done at a salon in Skokie, IL. I went to the 7-11 across the street and finally found the book. Several copies were there too so I was able to find the best copy.

I still read that book every once in a while. It's easily one of the best Done In One stories.

Tick-Tock Tyler said...

I stopped reading JLA soon after Dick Dillin's passing, so I missed #200 the first time around. I picked up a copy a couple of years ago with a large lot of JLA comics. I wasn't expecting anything better than a Conway story similar to those that had lost my interest many years ago, but I was very surprised. Conway really lived up to the history of the JLA with this story. The one-on-one battles were handled well, as were the team-up chapters where the heroes mopped up the bad guys. But it was not perfect . . .

I will echo some complaints that others have voiced:
- Phantom Stranger "swinging" the fight for Aquaman against RT. Not only did it diminish Aquaman's place in the story, but it was a typical PS-style "help the mortals, but only to add an unnecessarily spooky element to an otherwise normal story".
- The mere cameo of Adam Strange. You'd think he could at least bring Katar back to the JLA satellite, rather than dump him in orbit for the JLAers to pick up. You're a real pal, Adam!
- The absence of Hawkgirl. Come on, already! If you're going to ignore her, at least write a story where she resigns from the JLA. That would be preferable to having her on the roll but always absent.
- Hawkman vs Superman! You say GA made the assignments? Looks like he still has a grudge against Katar. Wouldn't it have made a lot more sense for Zatanna to go after Superman? Of all the available heroes, she at least has a power that Supes is vulnerable to. Meanwhile the Hawks (both of 'em, by Polaris!) could have gone after Wonder Woman. Katar had been to Paradise Island before, he just has to keep flying so as not to touch the ground.

I really like the variety of artwork in this issue. Infantino looks great with Giacoia's inks. And Kane, Aparo, Giordano, and Kubert were terrific as always. But the stand-out, IMO, was Bolland. Wow! This was my first exposure to Bolland, and I was very impressed. If they had brought him in as the regular artist after Dick Dillin, I probably would have kept buying.

A minor complaint about the art: too bad they didn't include Irv Novick, Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, and Neal Adams somehow. With those additions, all my favorites would have been in one issue.

John Trumbull said...

I'm with you, Rob. This is the very first place I ever learned the origin of the JLA, and it's probably my all-time favorite superhero comic. And how about that double-page spread of the JLA Satellite! Whoo!

When I lost my original copy, I quickly bought another one at my local comic shop for $1.50. When I got it home, I discovered it was signed by none other than George Perez! I later found my original copy, too.

Over the years, I've been able to also have my copy signed by Pat Broderick, Dick Giordano, Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, Brian Bolland and Joe Kubert! Ironically, I've never been able to meet George Perez to ask him if the signature in the book is authentic. Someday...

rob! said...

i am long past the point in being able to view this book rationally. its simply the best comic book ever produced.

better than Dark Knight, better than Maus, better than Watchmen, better than all of Will Eisner's The Spirit combined.

see?

>>Over the years, I've been able to also have my copy signed by Pat Broderick, Dick Giordano, Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, Brian Bolland and Joe Kubert!<<

holy JLA, what a great idea! i can't believe i haven't done that myself!

Adama said...

Wow! From the sound of things, I would really love this issue. My only regret is that I probably won't get to read it until/unless the Showcase comes out.

I did really like the fact that Ollie if front and center in that one spread! :) And of course he realizes he's been kind of a jerk the past few months, and goes back to the League, where he belongs!

I'm a little miffed about Aquaman needing help. Surely there was a way he could take out Reddy by himself. The badassery exhibited later when he totally pwns that glass creature does kinda make up for it though.

Adama said...

Also, Voorhees tobacco? Do a lot of nubile teenage campers go missing while shopping there?

rob! said...

the Aquaman being saved by PS doesn't bother me because he gets to be so bad-assed at the end. it was worth it to see both Aquaman and the Phantom Stranger drawn by Jim Aparo again!

adam-

no, no axe murders near the store as far as i know. tho me and a friend were mugged in the town of Voorhees after seeing Friday the 13th Part VII in 1987, so there's that...

John Trumbull said...

>>Over the years, I've been able to also have my copy signed by Pat Broderick, Dick Giordano, Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, Brian Bolland and Joe Kubert!<<

>>holy JLA, what a great idea! i can't believe i haven't done that myself!<<

There's still time, Rob! Most of the JLA #200 artists are still with us.

The autograph project started at Dragon Con in 1991 where Giordano, Kane and Bolland were all in attendance. Honestly, I'm not sure if I ever would have thought of it if that George Perez signature hadn't been in the book already. Sadly, I was never able to meet Jim Aparo & get him to sign the book before he passed away.

If you'd like, Rob, I'd be happy to scan the signature pages of my copy if you'd like to put them up here.

Luis said...

Yes, I own this incredible issue I'm produ to say. It was especially cool to see all my favorite artists contribute. Jim Aparo (one of my all-time faves), Dick Giordano, George PĂ©rez, but the best one was by far the Black Canary/GA/Batman story with Brian Bolland art. Great stuff!

Luke said...

Wow, I can certainly see why you are such a big fan of this story! It really does have everything you'd want in an anniversary issue. The "every member" motif reminds me of Avengers #100, which is a favorite of mine.

Matt Celis said...

Aparo Aquaman, Infantino Flash, Kane Atom, Kubert Hawkman, and Giordano Wonder Woman...beat that

Matt Celis said...

Because no matter how much I like Aquaman he's no match for Red Tornado and no one is a match for the Flash. That's why.

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