The Story: "The Final Crisis" by Gerry Conway, Joe Staton, and Mike Machlan. Following events in Infinity Inc. #19, the JLA has been kicked out of their Detroit headquarters by its owner, Hank Heywood, Steel's grandfather.
So the JLA, under the leadership of the Martian Manhunter, is making a trip to their old, ruined satellite.
Vibe wants to know why they've made this loooong trip, and why, in his eyes, they are "running" from those kids in Infinity, Inc.
Manhunter says the JLA needs assistance (in fighting Infinity, Inc.? Oh, how the mighty have fallen...) and gets busy culling information from the JLA's computers.
Vibe asks Elongated Man who they're supposedly getting help from, and Ralph explains the whole Earth-1/Earth-2 thing:
That Vibe, he's a charmer.
Meanwhile, back the JLA's Detroit HQ, Infinity Inc. investigates the place, and can see no evidence of what Commander Steel told them--namely, that the JLA were bad guys, planning some sort of insurrection.
As Northwind and Silver Scarab head off to do some more investigating, Fury heads a different way, and discovers something horrible--the robot known as Mekanique (first seen in All-Star Squadron) seemingly torturing a young man (who we recognize as Steel)!
Commander Steel gets the drop on her, though, and knocks her lights out.
Back up in space, Manhunter has Zatanna use her magic to power up the JLA's transmatter tube, which carries them to Earth-2. At the same time, Commander Steel and Mekanique attack all of Infinity Inc., and with the element of surprise, buries them in rubble.
Commander Steel has been driven quite mad--he sees this new JLA as outlaws and traitors, and not worthy of his grandson, his superhero namesake.
In the midst of his tirade, he is surprised by the sudden appearance of the Justice Society--Dr. Fate, Dr. Mid-Nite, The Flash, Hawkman, and Wonder Woman--who are shocked to see what has happened to the man they knew.
Using Mekanique as a decoy, Commander Steel manages to escape, only to find himself in an underground basement, where Fury and the JLA are waiting for him!
Steel says this is between him and his grandfather, and they begin a knock-down, drag-out fight, while the red skies of the Crisis loom ominously outside.
Mekanique vanishes, and Dr. Fate warns something worse is coming. The JLA and Infinity Inc. meet up and team-up to fight off the disasters raging outside:
...I like that top panel. Very "chaaaarrrrge!"
While the heroes save lives, the battle between the two Steels ends. It seems Commander Steel is...dead?...as Hank stands over him, his eyes filled with tears.
Roll Call: Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man, Zatanna, Vixen, Steel, Vibe, Gypsy
Notable Moments: A nice fill-in job by Joe Staton, drawing what would be the last ever JLA/JSA team-up, at least as they were classically defined.
I noticed the "jerk" quotient of Vibe got ramped up here, both from Conway and from Dan Mishkin, who wrote the third JLA Annual, which came out this same month (and we'll see here tomorrow).
This is editor Alan Gold's final issue as editor, handing the reins over to Andy Helfer. Unless I'm very careless, I can't find any mention of why Chuck Patton left the book. Weird!