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...