Saturday, August 13, 2011

DC Retroactive: 1980s Justice League of America

The return of "Justice League Detroit"!

The Story: "Siege" by Gerry Conway and Ron Randall.

Deep inside the new HQ of the Justice League of America, we see our heroes and some civilians clearly the worse for wear:
Aquaman informs us this the work of the original JLA's old foe, Felix Faust. Aquaman, the team's new leader, tries to give his teammates an inspiring speech, intended to rally the troops, but it falls on deaf ears when Steel is openly contemptuous of it and, seemingly, Aquaman himself.

When Aquaman refuses to back down, Steel loses it and goes after the Sea King!
A loud "whomp" from outside the chamber focuses everyone's attention. As Aquaman formulates a plan, we flash back to ten hours earlier, as the JLA is giving a tour of their new HQ to local schoolchildren, as part of a plan to be part of the community.

Everyone seems up for the meet-and-greet, except Martian Manhunter, who feels a sense of unease. Good reason, since Felix Faust is nearby, watching his old foes. Using some sort of magical tablet (no, not an iPad), he calls forth massive black clouds which descend upon Detroit!

Meanwhile, Aquaman is defending the new JLA from one particularly snotty kid, who insists the team is now a bunch of nobodies. Another kid, in a Superman t-shirt, pipes up and defends the new group, much to the JLA's admiration. But just Zatanna is about to entertain the kids with some magic, there's an explosion, and the cause of it reveals himself:
The JLA fans out, taking on Faust's demonic creations. After Manhunter and Aquaman are knocked out, the team regroups in the medical lab, which is hermetically sealed behind them.

As Faust's minions pound their way in, the JLA forms a plan and, for once, acts as a team:
...except for Gypsy, who ignores Aquaman's order to help Elongated Man and Dale Gunn get the kids to safety. While Faust was distracted, she sneaks by and grabs the mystical tablet, breaking it in two over Faust's head!

As the demons fade into oblivion, Aquaman decides what to do about Gypsy's disobedience:

...the end!

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

Notable Moments: Like the Retroactive 1970s book, this story feels like a bit of a missed opportunity: this is the first time the JLD has been seen in years (and probably will be the last time, with the new DCU just around the corner), so I wonder why the story is so focused on the internal monologues of the characters, in that I mean we get a lot of dialogue with the JLAers (Steel mostly) yelling at each other, which was one of the things I think that sunk the team in the first place.

Also like the 1970s one-shot, its up to another character (in that book Adam Strange, in this one the young superhero fan named...Geoff) to sort of spur the plot and get the JLA moving. Since when can't the Justice League of America carry their own story?

All that said, of course its great to see the JLA--even this version--back again one more time. I still think the JLD could have worked, if given enough time, but editorial meddling kept that from ever really happening, so the team remains a mostly sad footnote to the legendary team's history.

Not to be too picky about this, but I'm not exactly sure when this story takes place. The story mentions (repeatedly) that the "Big Guns" are decidedly no longer part of the team, which places it after the events of JLA #239 (see below). But by JLA #241, Aquaman was already off searching for Mera, never to return. So I guess we'd have to say this is what the JLD was doing while the book was doing a sort of special "DC Retroactive" of its own.

This issue also features a reprint of Justice League of America #239, also by Gerry Conway.

We hope you JLA fans enjoyed this look back, both in the comics and on this blog! I know I did!

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