Monday, August 11, 2008

Justice League of America #250 - May 1986

sgThe JLA's 250th anniversary issue, and a new leader takes charge!

The Story: "The Return of the Justice League of America" by Gerry Conway, Luke McDonnell, and Bill Wray. Picking up from last issue, Sue Dibny managed to hit the JLA Distress Signal, just as she is blasted by a strange being who has sprang forth from the alien stowaway known as "Junior."

We see who is receiving the signal--first up, its Batman, who is in the process of stopping some kidnappers from getting away with their hostages. After punching out most of them, he ends the melee simply by staring down the last one. Nice.

He is shocked to hear his JLA signal device go off, as is Superman, who finishes putting out a wildfire and then heads off to the source of the signal.

The same thing happens to Green Lantern, currently out in space, and Green Arrow and Black Canary, a little closer to home. Alas, the signal does not make it to everyone
Back at the Secret Sanctuary, we see who this intruder is--a golden skinned man, who short circuits the JLA computer with his touch. He knows more are coming, and he will be ready...

Next, we find ourselves in a bucolic neighborhood, as the girl we know as Gypsy is coming from school. She has a Mom, a Dad, a little sister, and all seems to be well. Is this a dream? A flashback?

She enters a typical teenaged girl's room--stuffed animals, messy bed, Madonna poster on the wall. No, wait, it's a poster of...Vixen?:
Gypsy is pulled into the wall, then watches all her JLA friends start to wither away to nothing, all of them telling Gypsy she is next.

Of course, this is all a hallucination, and Gypsy wakes up from it screaming, in the arms of Black Canary and her fellow former Justice Leaguers:
Gypsy explains what happend, and Batman immediately takes charge. The heroes split up to search the Sanctuary to find the creature that did this.

Meanwhile, Zatanna is continuing her search for her friend Sherri. The trail leads her to a marina, where she assumes regular clothes and finds her way to a docked yacht. Amid weird questions about whether she is "part of the group", across the yacht she sees...Sherri!

As she approaches her, Sherri can only offer "I'm sorry" before one of them hits Zee over the head, knocking her out. To be continued...

Back at the Sanctuary, Green Lantern and Green Arrow run into the mysterious alien attacker, who blasts Hal, aging him the same way the others are! Green Arrow gets an arrow into the baddie's chest before he runs off.

He then runs into Superman and Batman, and they figure out that this alien is "carrying" their friends' life energies in him, and if they destroy him, they do the same to their friends!

The JLAers lure Junior from room to room, until he dives for Batman, misses, and plunges into a web of high voltage wires! Superman then grabs the wires, and, using his own body as conduit, transfers the energy to the unconscious JLAers, restoring them to normal. As Batman says, "It's over."

As the heroes celebrate, Martian Manhunter makes a plea to Batman--he should leading the League. At first he demurs, but finally
In an epilogue, we see the strange alien from the previous issues has survived the trail of fire, and emerges reborn, as...Despero the Destroyer!

To be continued!

Roll Call: Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man, Zatanna, Vixen, Steel, Vibe, Gypsy

Notable Moments: The story a lot of JLA fans were waiting for, if a little dishonestly sold--you got the sense from the ads that Superman, Green Lantern, et al, were rejoining the League, when it was just Batman. Still, progress!

This issue has a two-page JLA Mail Room, now back under the aegis of Alan Gold. Gold had a nice habit of printing the names of every person who sent in a letter, even if he didn't print the letter. To that end, here's the one moment he original JLA book and I converged:
...yep, that's me heading the list. My letter writing at that time was atrocious, and it doesn't surprise me that none of my letters ever got printed. Getting mentioned at all was a total thrill--and in the 250th issue yet!

Ok--we're now a year's worth of issues away from the final issue of JLA. As I have mentioned before, I'm planning about a week or so of posts after that before officially turning out the lights on JLA Satellite.

One of themes I've covered since starting this was naming my favorite issues, whenever they came down the pike.

But what I'd like to hear before we go are your choices for favorite issues. This blog has never enjoyed the (relative) popularity of The Aquaman Shrine, but its audience has remained remarkably consistent--each post of this blog has almost the exact same number of hits each day--which leads me to think those of you who stuck with me through this long, strange trip are, deep down, big fans of the JLA.

So, if you are so inclined, email me a list of your three or four favorite issues, with maybe a few sentences as to why you like them so much, and I'll post everyone's choices!


Earth 2 Chris said...

This issue did tease more than it delivered, but as you said, it was a step in the right direction. As a big Batman fan, it was good to see him back in the JLA, esp. since he quit even before the Detroit era began.

Too bad this essentially went nowhere, outside the very well-done next story arc.


Butch R said...

Nice looking cover there, who did it?

rob! said...

the cover was also by mcdonnell and wray. it is nice, tho i think it earns extra points just by featuring the, ahem, real JLA.

Earth 2 Chris said...

As weird as this sounds, this cover would be one of the last times the "classic" versions of those characters would be seen together for YEARS. Superman was rebooted and kept out of the JL, GA got all urban and hoody thanks to Grell, and was kept out of the DCU for the most part, and Hal floundered through the rest of the 80s.


John Trumbull said...

I don't know what DC was trying to pull by expecting us to buy Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow and Black Canary as the JLA. Everyone knows the REAL JLA has supermodels, cyborgs, teenage runaways and Puerto Rican breakdancers.

...What? :)

I bought this issue off the stands, because, hey, the real JLA was back. Batman rejoining never really rang true to me, since he had just acrimoniously split from the Outsiders a few months before (in a better written story, IMO). But I suppose at this point, DC was desperately trying to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic and trying to something, ANYTHING, to boost up the sales.

For me, the highlight of this issue was GA & Vibe complementing each other's facial hair.

Butch R said...

That's Luke McDonnell on the cover? WOW! I was surprised to read that. I knew Buckler was finished doing the covers but it reminded me of him. While I didn't care for his style inside, that's one nice cover (pardon the Marv/Sin City reference there).

Randy said...

While I loathed the issues leading up to it, I rather liked 250.

I remember being puzzled as to why Batman rejoined the JLA after having 'dissolved' the Outsiders just a little bit prior. And I agree that BATO 32 was better written than this issue.

However, the next story with Despero remains my favorite story from the JLA Detroit era. In fact, issues 251-254 are really the only issues I would consider rereading from this era.

With the exception of the Annual and the debut four-parter with the new team. But that's more because I really kinda like the Cadre.

Tick-Tock Tyler said...

Was there any explanation for the ex-JLAers receiving a JLA signal? I'd think that Aquaman would have collected the signalers from all those old, unreliable JLAers when he formed the new JLA. The fact that MM wanted to send a signal -- knowing that some of the old members might respond -- reveals the flawed logic that was used to disband the old crew in the first place.

I wonder if Conway was really planning to bring back more than just Batman. Maybe the editor overrode that idea?

Anyway, it is good to see that the JLA includes one of the "World's Greatest Super-Heroes".

Anonymous said...

Conway's comments to Rob indicated his 'hands were tied' at this point. Even if Gerry had wanted to bring back as much of the 'old' league as possible, it couldn't have worked, due to the delayed revamping/rebooting/screwing up of characters after CRISIS(particularly Superman and Wonder Woman).
So, I agree with Earth-2 Chris: instead of being the 'joyful reunion' the fans wanted, it was just the 'last gasp' of the old JLA. Plus, it almost seemed like the 'Dark Knight, post 1986 Batman' vs. the last vestiges of the pre-Crisis JLA. Batman takes charge, treats Superman like crap(leftover from that World's Finest debacle the previous year), and basically ignores the others.
The 'Lame-o League' becomes 'The Lame-o League and Batman', and suddenly they act like they're a legitimate team again. Bull.
The JLE tried the same thing a few years later, with Hal as the one 'respectable, old-school hero', and it didn't last then, either!
Take a look at the original Leaguers' reactions in that last panel with Ralph-Batman looks standoffish, Dinah looks sad, Hal and Ollie look noncommittal(why not? They're not included!) and Superman looks like he just watched the Kents die again!

They really should have just had this issue continue into LEGENDS, and cancelled JLA here.

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