Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Justice League of America Annual #3 - 1985

sgThe final JLA Annual as they meet the Crisis head on!

The Story: "Force of Nature" by Dan Mishkin, Rick Hoberg, and Mike Gustovich. We open in a way a JLA comic hasn't opened in a long time--the JLA satellite!

Former member Red Tornado is there, amid the wreckage, using his powers in conjunction with the (still functioning) JLA computers to try and find out more about himself. He was intrigued when (in Crisis on Infinite Earths #5) the Anti-Monitor called him "More than machine...more than man."

But a giant bolt of energy hurtles through space, hitting the satellite, knocking it out of its orbit, sending it heading towards the Earth below!

Meanwhile, other former JLA members Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Firestorm have teamed up to help keep a local auto plant safe from the falling satellite debris.

Martian Manhunter takes to the skies to help out, too, and drafts Steel and Vibe to assist him. Manhunter and Firestorm help deflect a giant fireball, keeping most of Detroit safe.

Vibe takes that as his cue to relax, which irks Green Arrow to no end
Firestorm plays referee, and then Manhunter discovers a troubling piece of wreckage: the Red Tornado's head!

Meanwhile, in New York, Reddy's love, Kathy Sutton, returns home to her apartment, and is startled when she sees Red Tornado show up on her television, asking for her help!

At the same time, Zatanna and Elongated Man are at S.T.A.R. Labs, where they are asked to help secure the Golden Gate Bridge, which is in danger of being damaged--not by all the anti-matter energy flying around due to the Crisis, as Ralph thinks--but by S.T.A.R. itself!

A S.T.A.R. scientist reveals that the crazy weather happening is due to some weather-control satellites they have been testing, and have lost control of, due to some unknown force. These satellites are affecting weather all over the world!

Back at the JLA's Detroit HQ, Manhunter and the rest communicate with Zee and Ralph, who explain what's happening and why.

Meanwhile, Kathy Sutton arrives in Gotham City, as per Reddy's instruction. We see that Reddy's powers have increased greatly as he touches base with Kathy again:
Batman and the Outsiders stumble across Kathy on a windswept Gotham bridge, and she tells Batman that Reddy told her to meet him there.

Superman is also on hand, and he spies a massive warp in the sky--he tries to enter it, but it tossed to the ground. Geo-Force then tries to use his powers to try and close the warp, but he fails, too.

The warp then sucks Green Arrow, Black Canary, Firestorm, and Kathy Sutton into it, closing itself before Batman can tell Geo-Force to turn off his powers and let the rest of them get sucked in, too.

Our heroes are then dumped by the warp on the other side of the country, where the rest of the League are.

Up in space, Manhunter and Superman discover one of the rogue satellites, and use their combined muscle to smash it to bits. Whoever or whatever has taken control of them transfers "itself" into another one of the satellites, and talks of running out of time to "collect the energy it needs."

The weather has calmed down, and the heroes pause to try and figure out what's going on. Vibe takes five, which sends Green Arrow into another rage:
...I think a lot of us had been waiting for this moment.

Arrow informs Vibe that this is life and death, and his friends like Red Tornado and Supergirl are dead, so he better wise up.

Meanwhile, Superman and Manhunter keep smashing satellites, the last one releasing a giant...tornado?!?

The tornado starts talking about finally being "free!", but promises the heroes it means no harm. To prove that, it assumes a form they all know--their friend, the Red Tornado!

Reddy explains that when the JLA satellite got hit, all he could do was transfer his consciousness into the nearest electronic system, which was one of S.T.A.R.'s satellites.

The JLA is a little non-plussed, telling Reddy he's responsible for a lot of destruction, but Reddy claims he is now a "force of nature", with power to "re-make the world!" Uh-oh!

Kathy Sutton can't accept this, and concludes that some of part of the man she loved is still in there, that's why he called her to come to him! She jumps into the giant tornado (brave girl, that Kathy) where she talks to Reddy, who tells her that he will show people "a new light" and she "will always be at my side." Double uh-oh!

Kathy still doesn't buy this, and tells Reddy that to be accepted as a savior, he has to approach humans as one of them, not above them. Reddy assumes his more superhero-like shape, and is in the middle of giving up his lust for control, when the Man of Steel uses his super-breath to encase Reddy in a block of ice!

Turns out this was all a plan, the JLA using Kathy to get Reddy to pull back from the edge. The JLA congratulates her for doing what was necessary, but Kathy feels like she betrayed the man she loves.

Of course, Supes' block of ice can't hold a force of nature, and Red Tornado breaks free of it, re-assumes his massive tornado shape, castigates Kathy, and disappears, promising one day "...there will be a reckoning!"

All the heroes are left with is a rainbow...

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

Notable Moments: What a sad story!

I don't "sad" as meaning "bad" necessarily, I just mean that Red Tornado was a punching bag in the DCU for so long, it seems...wrong, somehow, to have his story end this way. Unfortunately, Reddy was just another casualty of the Crisis going on at the time. Some of the changes that occurred because of the COIE were good, some...not so much.

It was fun seeing Green Arrow slap Vibe around a bit, especially since Vibe is written here as real uncaring jerk. Maybe he wouldn't have been so capricious if he knew he'd live through the Crisis, but not DC's next big crossover event.


russell said...

I'm thinking this was the last issue of JLA I bought for a while. I HATED this story, even with all the old JLAers around. What DC was doing to its "classic" heroes was terrible, and without Aquaman in the League, I gave it up. Pretty soon after that I went to Japan, and actually came across a few issues of JLA in bookstores there, but the love was gone...and this issue was the last straw.

Adama said...

Green Arrow smacking around Vibe?

My day is made!

rob! said...


i thought you'd enjoy those...

Earth 2 Chris said...

This issue really summed up the down-side of Crisis. The feeling that everything you know is changing and or dying is very palpable here. Characters were being dispatched left and right, no one was safe. Crisis certainly did what it was meant to do (in part anyway); shake up the DCU forever.

I remember there being some talk about how the JLA satellite was destroyed like what, 3 or 4 times? The first Crisis-era continuity gaff?


joe said...

This issue struck me as sad also. Shortly after reading I happened across a Red Tornado Super Powers figure at Kmart. I gladly paid the 1.86 for it as he was one of my favorites. Sadly it seems like Reddy is always the JLA member to get blown up and rebuilt. It's as if when they need someone to be self-sacrificing they call on him because Doc Magnus and crew are waiting to rebuild him. You think with all of that going on they'd finally get it right and build him something a little bit more indestructible.

BentonGrey said...

Well, the good thing is that Vibe got smacked around a bit.....but that's about it. The story with Red Tornado is actually a rather interesting idea, and has some real compelling potential, but I don't think this was handled right. There is some real Pathos there, when Superman freezes his former friend....but Reddy deserves better than this in the end.

Robert said...

My first and only issue of the original Justice League of America purchased new off the rack (a spinner rack in a drug store on Main Street in my hometown -- how cheesy can you get?) I was 6 in November 1985 and very into the Super Powers figures and the various reruns/new episodes of Super Friends/Super Powers cartoons.

My first DC Comics included this one, The Flash #347 (the guilty cover), Green Lantern #188 (John Stewart reveals identity), among others and they were all bought off the same spinner rack. My young 6 year old self quickly figured out that strange things were afoot in these books that didn't match the cartoons (The Flash murdered someone? GL is black? and he gave away his secret id? The JLA are actually these guys?) I think that this is why I became a lifelong DC fan and why I have always been so partial to the pre-Crisis universe.

Tick-Tock Tyler said...

adama said..."Green Arrow smacking around Vibe? My day is made!"

Yes, Ralph let us down yesterday. But Ollie knew there was a butt that needed kicking. Go Ollie!

Umm, what was that hideous thing Dinah was wearing? Did the whole "I thought I was my own mother" thing finally take its toll?

robert said..."My young 6 year old self quickly figured out that strange things were afoot in these books that didn't match the cartoons"

I've often wondered how young kids reacted to the so-called superhero comics in the mid-80s. When I started reading (1972 and age 8), it was easy to tell heroes from villains. Not so clear a decade later. And if the upheaval of Crisis on Infinite Earths had occurred in 1975, I think it would have turned me off of comics completely.

John Trumbull said...

YEAH!!! Green Arrow should punch Vibe out every issue. Bet that would've kicked up the sales. In fact, DC should resurrect Vibe just so GA can punch him out again.

Outside of the old JLA-new JLA interaction, I remember finding this story pretty dull. The whole Red Tornado-Earth Elemental thing never held a whole lot of interest for me, I suppose.

Reading over your summaries, Rob, I'm struck by how many of the Detroit JLA issues I ended up with. I have this Annual, one of the Amazo issues, #248 & 250 and at least 2 parts of the 4-part intro storyline. Now granted, at least a few of those are freebies I got when I visited the DC offices in January 1986 (I got to assist Jonathan Peterson in the DC library for a day!), but still, that's a lot more than I thought I had. Seems I gave JL Detroit more of a chance than I remembered.

Rob, I recently realized I never sent you scans of my autographed copy of JLA #200. Would you like me to before your end-of-blog extravaganza?

rob! said...

>>DC should resurrect Vibe just so GA can punch him out again.<<

that made me shoot the water i was drinking out of my nose.

i think they should do that book, with a different creative team each issue, just to see how many variations you can do on a theme.

john, yeah, i'd like to see those scans--i'll be announcing a "submit your favorite issues (and why)" theme, to run during our last week. so if #200 is one of your favorites (and HOW COULD IT NOT BE?) then you can send 'em then!

dbutler16 said...

This is one of the few JLA vol. 1 issues missing from my collection, so thanks for the write-up! I'm reading through all of my old JLA's and was missing this one.

I actually liked Red Tornado, when he wasn't whining (which wasn't too often) so I didn't like the way he was constantly treated by the DC folks. He's a bit of a higher profile version of Jocasta, who also never got a chance to shine, and really got dumped on. I feel like Red Tornado was one of the most human members of the JLA, at least within the pages of the JLA.

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