Friday, August 29, 2008

Your Favorite Issues

Over the course of this blog, we've covered what were my favorite issues, so now let's talk about yours! After all, this blog wouldn't have amounted to much if so many of you didn't feel about the JLA the way I do.

Here are some of the answers I received from you JLA fans:
Randy M: "My #1 pick would have to go to JLA 100-102. It's where the JLA and the JSA team up to rescue the Seven Soldiers of Victory. The digest that reprinted it was the very first comic book ever bought with my own money. I was ten years old, and my life-long obsession with the JLA and the JSA and the Law's Legionnaires was born from this.

Next, would have to be JLA #200. The two-month long quest I went on to find this sucker and to have the good pay-off that it WAS totally worth the wait, makes this one a no-brainer.

Next is going to be another JLA/JSA crossover. This one involves the All-Star Squadron. Both books were my favorite reads way back when. So to see a story that involved all three teams and time travel, to boot? Another no-brainer."

Butch R: "The Manhunters issues--Dick Dillin at the top of his game, galactic scale, good storyline and we see some DC History revealed (always wondered what the GL writer at the time thought of this, I'm guessing it was ran by the GL Editor(s) at the least).

JLA Origin Minus 1
--The fact the actual publishing date was considered the heroes debut was interesting and we got to see so many "forgotten" heroes. It really did feel like a "secret" we were seeing.

JLA/JSA/Legion of SuperHeroes team-up--Probably my favorite "big" team up, and part of why I liked Pre-Crisis DC so much. How many corners of the DCU did this touch? And again, Dillin art still looking good.

The Ultraa storyline--Being born in 1969, I was too late for the Earth-2 to Earth-1 change over and there weren't too many new heroes being created. I felt like I was there when Earth Prime's Superman was "born". Even though the later introduced an Earth Prime Superman, we were there for the first "native" hero.

JLA/JSA team up against Jonah Hex & Co.--I never cared for Elongated Man but this story told me anyone could be a hero, even people/characters you didn't think could."
Vince Bartilucci: "You knew you’d be hearing from me, didn’t you?

Here are my favorite issues of the Justice League of America. I made it an even (?) 5.

5. #193. As a kid, I always had a soft spot in my heart for Red Tornado, a fondness that I couldn't explain then and can't really explain now. Perhaps there was a part of me that related to his feelings of inferiority. Regardless, I love this issue featuring Reddy's untold origin.

There is something strangely satisfying about the new recruit, Firestorm, being the only person privy to the whole story. Again, I can't really explain it but it just felt right that Ronnie should be the one to know Reddy's secret.
And I can't mention this issue without bringing up the remarkable opening sequence. Aquaman attacking T.O. Morrow in his lair is capital "C" cool! The George Perez artwork depicting Aquaman smashing through that window is absolutely stunning.

4. #142. Unlike most team books, the classic satellite-era JLA almost never ran stories spotlighting individual members. This issue, focusing on three of the more under-used Leaguers, was about as close as the book got.

Arthur and Ralph counseling the engaged Ray to be open and honest with his wife-to-be Jean Loring, Ray's insecurity about his effectiveness in the League, and his subsequent defeat of the Construct are all handled wonderfully.

Plus we get one of my top 10 favorite Aqua-moments when Ralph momentarily considers assisting the Sea King with a pack of robot henchmen (henchrobots?) then decides, nah, he's Aquaman. His muscles are designed to survive the ocean's depths. He can handle it. Damn right, he can handle it!

3. #200. A great, action-packed story harkening back to the League's origin coupled with fantastic art by some of the best artists to ever work in comics. This issue is so very nearly perfect. It could have been honest-to-gosh, no qualifiers perfect, too. But, unfortunately, "get over it" is simply not an option when you're talking about a slight, unintentionally or not, to my boy, Aquaman!
2. #144. I wasn't born when The Brave and the Bold #28 hit the stands. Ditto for JLA #1. And JLA #21? That celebrated first JLA/JSA meeting was pre-Vinnie, too.

But I was around for this issue with the untold "real" origin of the JLA and, being ten years old at the time, it seemed incredibly historic to me. Sure, I had missed those other seminal League events but now those older JLA readers had nothing on me! I was in on the secret, too!

Little did I know that this tale within a tale would never be referred to again. Oh well, it was still cool seeing all those characters that I had never been exposed to before like the Blackhawks and Rex the Wonder Dog and Congorilla. How awesome was Congorilla?!?! Plus, I can"t possibly express how much I love Green Arrow's reaction to discovering this untold tale in the JLA log books. It's so out of proportion, so over the top. It's like he just found out Hal was sleeping with his mom. Jeez Ollie, try decaf!

1. #139. The JLA's first double-size issue and the issue that started my unbroken run on the title. In later years, I tracked down back issues and completed a JLA run that reached back to #98, the first ish of the League that I ever bought.

But there's something special about those collections that grow month after month, issue by issue, you know what I mean? That's why this will always remain my favorite single issue of JLA. With a fantastic cover by Neal Adams cover and Dick Dillin at the top of his game on the interior art, how can you go wrong?

And the lead story? This is exactly the kind of tale that illustrates the difference between the DC and Marvel comics of my youth. Marvel stories were basically soap operas with slugfests while DC stories always seemed to feature some sort of weird obstacle or condition that the hero had to overcome in place of, or sometimes in addition to, the villain of the piece.

Sure, you can argue whether or not Marvel heroes battled more powerful menaces than their DC counterparts. But there is no doubt that DC heroes faced more interesting predicaments. Marvel heroes worried about the rent when they weren't worried about being killed by Dr. Doom or Kraven the Hunter. DC heroes worried about being turned into puppets, or infants, or, as in this case, Zeta-beam phantoms."

Russell Burbage: "Okay, I've been thinking about it, and I'm not sure if I should list "issues" or stories, so I'm going with stories. In no particular order: JLA 13 "Riddle of the Robot Justice League"--Gardner Fox tried very hard to show that every member was useful, and in this one he proved that "they also serve who also stand and wait." Besides, Aquaman saves the galaxy. Awesome.

JLA 103 "A Stranger Walks Amongst Us"--Is he or isn't he? Phantom Stranger, Felix Faust, and sorcery in JLA were never used better. JLA 111 "Balance of Power" and JLA 112, "War With the One Man Justice League"--First appearance of Injustice Gang, beautiful Dillin-Giordano art, re-appearance of Amazo, all members featured. What's not to like???
JLA 139 "The Ice Age Cometh" --All the JLAers (huge plus) actually doing things, cool villains, great personalities. Probably my all-time favorite JLA story. Either that or...

JLA 146--The Return of the Red Tornado and the Induction of Hawkgirl/Woman. The JLAers' personalities ring through, and the two most maligned members both get their moments to shine. If every JLAer had been present, this would be my number one.

How's that??? :-)"

One of the more unusual lists came from Chunky B: "Okay I'm going to attack this assignment in a different manor then probably the rest of your readership, so sit down as you learn the truth of having never read an issue of JLA! Bum, bum, buuuumm!

That's right I've never read an of the classic run of JLA, sure I've picked up a few of the modern versions of the team, but none of the classics. (I think I asked you at one time if they made compilation reprints). So how am I going to pick my top ten must read/have/favorites? Like any kid would, the cover. I'm going to pick them like they were all on the news stand.
1) Brave and the Bold #28 - there's a reason why this is such an iconic image, earth's mightiest heroes doing battle against an overwhelming beast, Starro!
2) JLA #7 - This one is just an eye catcher, cosmic fun house, what has happened to the Flash!
3) JLA #14 - Why are our heroes watching as that tiny man in the bubble is suffering?
4) JLA #25 - Has Superman turned evil, is he training the league, has the comic world turned upside down?
5) JLA #81 - I know, I know it's crazy, but aren't you just a little curious as to what happened to them?
6) JLA #87 - Batman has always been king of the world, right? Plus look at that cool kryptonite looking robot!
7) JLA # 94 - It looks like Aquaman is done for, it can't be...even Superman looks worried, here's my quarter, let's see what happens!
8) JLA #110 - I'm a sucker for Christmas super hero stories, and I can't believe Santa is dead! Lucky the League is on the case and Batman can put those detective skills to good use!
9) JLA #136 - Okay maybe my adult mind is having an influence on this one, but the white space of this cover is so appealing, I think younger Charles would appreciate, plus he likes Batman and the Joker!
10) JLA #217 - Just because it's got a lot of heroes on it! Seriously though it doesn't speak of any event, they just look iconic running at you!"
John Trumbull: "Here you are, Rob, my favorite JLA issues!

Justice League of America #140--March 1977--Steve Englehart's first full issue as JLA writer, and what an issue it was! Englehart's clever story ties together Jack Kirby's Manhunters with the Green Lantern mythos.

Englehart also includes some refreshing characterizations among the team. I love the easy camaraderie the JLAers have here --it reminds you that they're not just teammates --they're friends! Too many writers these days forget that. This storyline is so good it served as the basis for the first regular episode of the Justice League cartoon.

Justice League of America #192--July 1981--A wonderfully atmospheric opening, a look at a "typical" meeting of the JLA, 6 of the 7 original members (plus "new kid" Firestorm), tremendous artwork and the beginning of new revelations about the Red Tornado's origins. All wrapped up with one of George Perez's strongest covers. What more could you ask for?

Justice League of America #195--October 1981--This was the very first issue of my subscription to JLA in 1981. My very first exposure to the concept of "Earth-2." My very first exposure to the Justice Society of America. AND my very first exposure to George Perez, still one of my artistic faves. And that gorgeous JLA/JSA pinup in the center of the book!
Justice League of America #200--March 1982--Like you, Rob, I think this issue is just about the greatest thing since the invention of the Gutenberg press. This is the very first place I ever learned the origin of the JLA. A great story filled with wonderful moments throughout.

The collection of amazing artists in this issue still gives me tingles when I think about it: George Perez, Brett Breeding, Pat Broderick, Terry Austin, Jim Aparo, Dick Giordano, Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, Frank Giacoia, Brian Bolland and Joe Kubert! I'm proud to say that over the years I've gotten 6 of the 11 artists to sign my copy.

Honorable mentions go to The Seven Soldiers of Victory story from #100-102, The Freedom Fighters story from #107-108, "Takeover of the Earth-Masters" from #118-119, the Atom's wedding from #157, the Fourth World story from #183-185, the Starro story from #189-190 and the Paragon story from #224."

Thanks to everybody who sent in their lists--and some interesting choices too!

Notice how all but one of you picked at least one story from Steve Englehart's run--a damn good batting average for a guy who only wrote the book for a year.

Tomorrow: One Last Thing.


RAB said...

I was a little surprised not to see more love spread over the first hundred issues -- which may reflect the relative youth of the participants as much as anything else -- but Russell Burbage made me feel a bit better about it, and Chunky B's choices were great!

Still, I wish I had done my list. I got on board during the Fox era, but it was Mike Friedrich who really blew my mind and cemented the book as an unmissable favorite...then Wein and Englehart and Conway each did particular stories that made me feel they were also hardcore fans of what had gone before. I'm grateful to them all for the immense reading pleasure their JLA stories offered...and grateful to you for doing this blog and reawakening all these cool memories.

Frank Lee Delano said...

This is why I never even considered doing a list-- I'm a Post-Crisis fan all the way. I hate Fox's work, and O'Neil wasn't much better. The Wein and Friedrich stuff I've been exposed to never did much for me. I did like the Englehart I've read, as well as a number of Pre-Detroit Conway adventures. That said, I'd take JLI & "JLA" over the lot of them. I'm not the target audience, I'm afraid, and disappointed to see things end before "my" eras.

Earth 2 Chris said...

I wish I had sent in a list. Slipped my mind for some reason (a 9-month old that doesn't sleep will do that to you). The Conway/Perez era was the highlight for me, with #200 being the single greatest comic book ever. The others are all fine choices.

For issues before my comic-buying time, I must say Wein and Englehart were ideal for JLA. Wein is the best under-rated comic writer the medium ever saw, IMHO.

I really hate to see this blog go. I know, naturally it's time, but I've really enjoyed it, and looked forward to reading it every day. Thanks Rob!


Tick-Tock Tyler said...

I tried to come up with a list, but I couldn't narrow it down to just a few. Len Wein's run (#100-114) still stands out for me, I guess because they were the first ones I bought.

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