Thursday, July 17, 2008

Justice League of America #228 - July 1984

sgThe return of J'onn J'onzz the Martian Manhunter and a crisis that will change the JLA forever!

The Story: "War--of the World?" by Gerry Conway, George Tuska, and Alex Nino. We open on the red planet Mars, and find former JLA member The Martian Manhunter aboard a small spaceship, desperately trying to evade another ship!

As J'onn approaches his goal--Earth--we see the pursuers are his fellow Martians, including one named J'en, who we learn loves J'onn, but continues to pursue him because she believes he has "betrayed our people."

Not too far away, we find some members of the JLA aboard their satellite, going through their various paces--Green Arrow and Black Canary are doing training exercises, Red Tornado is doing a diagnostic check on his inner circuitry, etc.

On Monitor Duty this fateful day is Aquaman
Aquaman alerts the other members of the space battle taking place before his eyes, one of them evening the odds with some clever maneuvers.

The pursued ship blasts right by them, and is headed for the East Coast of the United States. The JLAers beam down, just in time to see the Air Force hit the invading ship with some missiles!

Aquaman is annoyed that the Air Force did the whole "shoot first, ask questions later" thing, and is quite testy when the JLAers try and see their side of it:
Aquaman finds the rocket, and is shocked when he is hit by an escaping Martian Manhunter! Manhunter makes his apologies via mental telepathy, pastes Aquaman one, and takes off.

Firestorm, who has the least experience with J'onn, takes it upon himself to flush Manhunter out by converting most of the East River into steam! This works, but Hawkgirl scolds Firestorm for such a careless act. Manhunter then lands on shore, and collapses in Hawkgirl's arms.

Later, Manhunter explains what has happened--on his new home planet of Mars II, he stumbled upon a group called the Soldiers of the Red Brotherhood, a militia whose leader wants his people to conquer Earth!

As Manhunter stood helplessly by, he watched this group slowly gain power, and convince nearly all of the Martian people that this act of aggression is justified and necessary! Manhunter, who openly opposed this, became an Enemy of the State, and was chased off of Mars II.

As the JLAers try to comprehend what they're facing, a Mars ship arrives in New York. The Martians' leader tells Earth that they must surrender...or be destroyed:
To be continued!

Roll Call: Aquaman, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado, Hawkgirl, Zatanna, Firestorm

Notable Moments: This is the big one, the story that changed the JLA forever.

Over time, I've come to appreciate the work of George Tuska, but I think even his fans would admit he and superheroes were not the best match. Having such a huge story drawn by Tuska (and then by another artist next issue) gave this three-parter a slapped-together feel that, at the time, really grated on me.

Although I was thrilled to see Aquaman getting so much to do, even if he kind of a jerk to his teammates. Of course, at the time, I had no idea this was just the beginning...


russell said...

(sigh) And so it ends....Alan Gold couldn't have found SOMETHING better to do than what he and Gerry Conway came up with? Really??

Earth 2 Chris said...

I think JLA was the victim of X-Men-itis. Everyone and their mother wanted in on the craze that the new X-Men was stirring up. So they'd take a few old characters, make up a few new ones, throw them together, and expect to find the next Wolverine in there somewhere. New Teen Titans actually worked, and was apparently developed independent of the X-Men influence, but it was still the same idea. So then you got Outsiders, Infinity Inc. and for some reason, JLA. The thing was, JLA wasn't JUST a super hero group. It was THE super hero group. Even more than the Avengers, it was the BIG GUNS of that particular universe. The Avengers didn't have Spider-Man, the FF, the X-Men, Daredevil, or the Hulk (usually). But the JLA did have the biggest DC characters. And then they had...Vibe. And they wondered why almost everyone loathed JL Detroit.


russell said...

I totally agree with Earth 2 Chris. In idea, I think the "revamp" of groups is fine. In execution this time it just didn't work. All through this time the letters pages were full of hype about the upcoming changes; I distinctly remember people suggesting Batgirl join to take Batman's place. Ah, if we had a few "second-tier" characters instead of the third-tier characters we ended up with. (sigh)

rob! said...

yeah, i think that the conception of a more focused JLA was a fine one; it was just the execution that was flawed.

but as we've seen, there are so many cooks in these things that, like movies, its amazing that there are any good ones ever made. :)

we will learn more about this when we talk to Gerry Conway next week!

John Trumbull said...

I feel similiar to E2 Chris, but I feel that what Conway & co. were trying to do is duplicate the then-phenomenal success of the New Teen Titans. They followed the same formula - keep a few members of the old group, invent some new ones to allow for more character interaction.

The only problem was, they kept some of the least interesting characters & the new ones weren't that great. Vibe and Gypsy weren't exactly Cyborg and Starfire, you know? And unlike, Robin, Wonder Girl & Kid Flash, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Zatanna & Elongated Man didn't really have enough in common to form the nucleus of a new group.

John Trumbull said...

Two more quick thoughts:

1) It's never really a good idea to tie a character to a temporary fad like breakdancing. As soon as the fad dies, the character looks ultra-irrelevant. Marvel made the same mistake with the Disco Dazzler.

2)Conway had the sense to bring the Martian Manhunter back & figured out a good way to play him. And J'onn stuck around the JLA & the DCU for the next 24 years, so they obviously did something right.

Frank Lee Delano said...

Ooooo, Conway! I'm surprised we're only getting to him now. I'm looking forward to that, for sure!

Every time I look at the cover to JLofA #230, I curse Chuck Patton for missing these issues...

Vincent Paul Bartilucci said...

Yes, the JL Detroit definitely followed the "lets build a super-team" formula. It even used the "digging up an existing yet relatively obscure character" trick (Wolverine, Beast Boy/Changeling, Vixen) and the "new character with a familiar sounding name" trope (Night-Crawler, Starfire, Steel).

I have to admit that I'm very torn about the changes made to JLA. At the time, I guess I fell down more on the "what the @#$% are they doing to 'my' JLA" side. But, in hindsight, I'm a bit more conflicted. Especially considering what was to come. At the very least the JL Detroit acted like super-heroes. Marvel super-heroes, sure, but super-heroes.

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