Sunday, August 17, 2008

Justice League of America #255 - Oct. 1986

sgZatanna in the fight of her life!

The Story: "Rising" by Gerry Conway, Michael Ellis, Luke McDonnell, and Bill Wray. When we saw Zatanna last, she was a captive of the mysterious Adam, who seems to be the god-like figure in a cult that Zee's friend Sherri is a part of.

Zatanna is tied down a grimy mattress, which a tough-looking nurse watching over her. She dreams(?) she is talking to her late father, the master magician Zatara.

Zatanna and Zatara squabble over what is real and what is not, and Zatanna starts to recall the events leading up to where she is now.

She sees herself on the yacht, sees her friend Sherri, except she remembers events as different than what we saw last issue. Instead of getting hit on the head, Zatanna remembers it as
She then remembers being put under Adam's creepy operating machine, which he wants to use to steal Zatanna's genetic code, so he can become one of the Homo Magi.

Zatara leaves her with promise that she won't be hurt again, which wakes Zee up. The nurse sees this and tries to ply her with more tranquilizers, but Zee uses her magic powers to throw the woman across the room and free herself from her constraints.

Zatanna, as she is escaping, runs into Sherri, and then is blasted by Adam, dressed in a costume befitting a would-be demi-god. He uses his powers to trap Zatanna in some magical bonds.

Zee managed to hit her JLA signal device, but Adam is powerful enough to "see" the signal arrive at JLA HQ, where the team regroups and heads out to find Zatanna.

Meanwhile, John Jones. P.I., works on the murder case he's been framed for, which leads him to the real culprit--the woman's husband's mistress, who claims it was he who "made her do it."

The adulterous husband loses control and fires a few slugs into John, which of course doesn't hurt him. What does is when the force of the bullets knock him into a fire raging in a fireplace! The man and woman leave Jones to die.

Later, we see the JLA arrive at the building where Zatanna is. But when they get there, she's waiting there for them, telling them it was all a false alarm:
To be continued!

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

Notable Moments: This is Gerry Conway's last JLA issue. Too bad it was such an ignominious end--after almost eight uninterrupted years of writing the World's Greatest Superheroes, DC yanked Conway off the book in the middle of a story.

Also--I don't know who this Michael Ellis guy is. I assume its some form of pseudonym, since this is Ellis' only DC comic book credit. Weird that this credit would appear on Conway's final issue, with Ellis credited for the script, as if Conway needed help with that.

I find the sequence of Zatanna trying to recall what happened truly disturbing. Maybe I'm reading into it, but Zee's prone position in the second panel I posed, surrounded by faceless, threatening men, has a dark, disturbing subtext to it, only exacerbated by the fact that Zee is stripped naked and has her body violated by Adam's creepy machine.

Again, maybe I'm reading into it.


Butch R said...

You are not the only one who finds the Zatanna sequence disturbing. I didn't like looking at the cover because it looks one of those weird manga books where machines have their way with women. Just made me totally uncomfortable and then when I read the story, it didn't get any better. It gave me a very weird vibe (pardon the pun) and that was pretty much the end of the "new" JLA for me.

RAB said...

Whenever I run across the name Michael Ellis, I assume it's a reference to this. Because I'm sad that way.

rob! said...


i thought about asking gerry who ellis is/was, but i'm betting, since he was in the process of getting kicked off the book, it was some writer brought in to change gerry's script, and i didn't want to ask too many questions about that rough time.

Randy said...

Actually, I keep thinking of when Steve Englehart left West Coast Avengers, Silver Surfer and Fantastic Four all at the same time back in the late 80s/early 90s. He was upset with the Powers-That-Be that all his ideas were being quashed that he wrote his last few issues under the pseudonym of John Harkness.

Maybe this Michael Ellis was Gerry Conway's pseudonym.

C. Elam said...

Hey Rob! Some of what I'm about to type duplicates a comment I just left on the Justice League Detroit blog.

Also--I don't know who this Michael Ellis guy is.

I found myself thinking this same thing a couple of nights ago, which led me here (among other places). I wound up discovering that J.M. DeMatteis had used the name for Captain America #300 and posted to the GCD mailing list. Fellow member Allen Ross asked Mr. DeMatteis on his blog about the JLA issue and he confirmed it was him, with an explanation.

Since I stumbled across this blog during my search, I thought I'd pass the info along. Another minor mystery solved!

P.S. - On his Amazon blog, DeMatteis confirms that it is a Monty Python reference!

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