Sunday, June 22, 2008

Justice League of America #206 - Sept. 1982

sgThe return of the Demons Three!

The Story: "The Secret That Time Forgot!" by Gerry Conway, Carmine Infantino, and Romeo Tanghal. This issue opens in a very unusual place...the 25th Century!

Thomas Parker and his son Gardner are visiting the Space Museum, where Gardner marvels at a very unusual display--a bell, a jar, and a wheel, all broken and damaged.

The museum's description reveals that these objects were an essential part of a case involving the Justice League of America.

Gardner, having no idea who that is, is led by his father into The Hall of Justice, where they see:
...if this place existed in my world, I'd be there every day.

Anyway, Thomas gives his son some backstory about the JLA and the Demons Three, relating to him the events of JLA #s 10, 11, 35, 147, and 148.

We then learn that, back when the JLA was moving from its Secret Sanctuary to its satellite, Green Arrow was assigned the task of packing up the team's trophies.

Just as he got to the bell, jar, and wheel, the Demons Three projected themselves into Green Arrow's mind, making him leave the three objects behind.

Many years later, a man on a mountain climb finds the ground underneath him giving way, and he finds himself at the lip of the former Secret Sanctuary's entrance, where he finds himself compelled to cart off the three objects. He then sells them to a Pawn Shop owner, who uses Black Magic to release the demons!

For his trouble, the now-free Abnegazar, Rath, and Ghast immolate him.

Meanwhile, the JLA was having a meeting, electing their new chairperson--Zatanna! The meeting then breaks up, leaving just a handful of the members behind, where The Flash brings up--again--his feelings for Zee
"...when Zatanna is around, it's hard to remember what What's-Her-Name even looks like."

I assume Barry is talking about Fiona Webb, who was in his solo book at the time?
Wow, that is harsh.

Anyway, the festivities are dispelled when the Demons Three--in giant form--attack the satellite, trying to rip it apart! The satellite's defenses fend them off momentarily, and Zatanna says their mystical trail leads to Stonehenge.

Once there, the demons blast Flash, Elongated Man, and Atom. Batman then uses himself as a decoy, assuming that the Demons Three won't expect an attack from Zatanna, who was not a member when they fought last.

After thinking Zatanna fell into a trap (involving switching themselves with the three objects), Abnegazar, Rath, and Ghast are defeated when Zatanna recreates the objects with her magic, which drags them back inside, imprisoning them.

We end our tale back in the future(!), and Gardner's Dad tells him that the reason he knows this story is because one of the JLA is an ancestor of theirs! Which one, well...

Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Atom, Elongated Man, Zatanna

Notable Moments: An unusual issue, since with Carmine Infantino as guest-penciler and its futuristic, one-issue-only setting, this story feels like an inventory tale. But since it fits in with current JLA storylines, it was obviously planned out.

Superman and Wonder Woman appear in only one panel, and we do get Green Arrow as well, in the flashback.

This same month, the JLA also made a guest-appearance in the Air Wave back-up feature in Action Comics #535, courtesy Bob Rozakis and Alex Saviuk:
You know, in a lot of ways, I could've pictured Air Wave joining the JLA--he was young, but he had a connection to an old-time DC hero. But I think once Firestorm was in, there wasn't any real "room" on the team for another young, inexperienced hero.


Anonymous said...

Rob, I never read ACTION # 535, but that Air Wave page is more exciting than JLA #206's story! Good find!
As for the Space was OK, but not great. The whole thing is just a big tease, buildup to a great finish that never came(sort of like what the JLAers did to Air Wave...the bastards!;-) )
It was nice seeing Infantino draw the JLA, though in all honesty, I wasn't a big fan of his work.
Even with the extra page(crowding out the letter column..minus another ten points!) the ending seems rushed, as we go from 'everybody but Zatanna is just about dead' to 'then she got all better and saved the day, the end!' thanks to this issue's clunky narrative device!
And that whole 'mystery ancestor' thing...well...maybe the story took place in one of those alternate timelines that DC had back then, and the JLAer in question wasn't a member yet...but would join later...after the tantalizing hint seen in that month's issue of ACTION!(Too bad the Crisis wiped out the alternate future in which Air Wave joined instead of Steel!)

Earth-2 Randy said...

This was another issue I didn't care for way back when. I've never been a fan of Infantino's art, although I do enjoy his 60's work on Flash and Batman.

I do remember enjoying that spread of the JLA members and the satellite. And I'd often wonder who the Parker's ancestor was. Was that ever revealed anywhere?

Tick-Tock Tyler said...

It seems obvious to me, the mystery ancestor was...

Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-man!

John Trumbull said...

I would say that this is the issue where Conway's Zatanna love really went overboard. Chairwoman AND the Flash making the moves on her again? JLA was in danger of becoming "Gee-Isn't-Zatanna-Great Monthly".

I wish Air Wave had been able to join, but I agree that after Firestorm, it probably would have been rendundant.

Conway did an interesting thing in the Space Museum framing device: He skipped ahead one generation to show the son from the original stories now taking HIS son to the museum. Cool touch.

Doesn't this issue also have a reference to the JLA satellite exploding in the early 21st Century?

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