This is where my Golden Age (as Mister Silver Age wisely says) begins. Though that's not entirely true as my first comic was Justice League of America #103, but I read this one two or three years later.

I'm also going to split this up by issues at least for this three-parter.

This was Len Wein's first JLA issue as well as its 100th, so he had an anniverary to celebrate, to boot. How do you make this team-up special: you add another team! Strangely he doesn't think Teen Titans or Legion of Super-Heroes, he thinks about a little remembered Golden Age team. I'll speak about them later. First:

JUSTICE LEAGUE #100 (Au'72): The Unknown Soldier of Victory!

The conceit of this issue was that it was the JLA's 100th meeting. I will assume this meant regularly scheduled meetings, not emergancies. If the League met monthly then they've been around eight years, four months. If weekly, then it's less than two years, which seems unlikely.

The JLA: The entire active JLA roster is present here. This allows Aquaman to interact with the JSA for only the second time. There is the first (?) Green Arrow/Hawkman verbal joust. They hold this special event in their original mountain sanctuary, which is nowhere near Happy Harbor. Trust me on this! :-) There are guests though.

Metamorpho the Element Man: after saying "NO!" to JLA membership but becoming a "standby" member and had stood by for 60 issues, Rex finally shows up! Wein probably liked the character and felt the League needed a little muscle for this adventure, which it did!

Ralph Dibny, the World-Famous Elongated Man: Wein loved this guy! He only met the team once in #51. Met them, did not work with them---a long magical tale! But he would soon join in #105!

Zatanna the Magician: she worked twice with the JLA but several times with its various members. Besides why Wouldn't you want her at your party??

Diana Prince, Wonder Woman: this was a woman who felt humbled and would not have even came if Batman had not insisted even though she had more reason to be there than the other guests!

Then there were the cameos:

The Martian Manhunter: this FOUNDING member of the JLA was left out as most writers could not get a decent handle on him. Plus he was on Mars II though he would return for #115.

Snapper Carr: Unable to face his mentors after his actions in #77. He would also show up again in #114.

Adam Strange: Still on Rann. The most deserving "honorary" member had to stay home!

If the Elongated Man and Metamorpho who helped the JLA once were invited, why not Robin, Batgirl, Hawkgirl, Mera, the Creeper, the Earth-One Vigilante or Sargon the Sorcerer? Just asking why not? Wouldn't the wives want to go with their husbands?

The JSA: No new information is given but on hand were: Doctor Fate, Sandman, Hourman, Johnny Thunder, Doctor Mid-Nite, Starman, Wonder Woman, Wildcat and Red Tornado.

Fate brings the JLA to E-2 because of The Hand that Holds the Earth! Literally, a planetary size hand about to crush the Earth, created (somehow, despite no obvious technology nor the massive amount of energy needed to use it) by mysterious villain The Iron Hand.

Fate also with Zatanna and the Thunderbolt summon the cosmic Oracle who knows all of what happened and the past is his domain. He tells the two teams that the answer lies in a third team, one no one remembers, The Seven Soldiers of Victory (7SV)!

BTW, where were the E-2 Superman, Flash, Hawkman, etc? Strange that they would be absent?

The 7SV: their roster was: The Shining Knight, the Green Arrow and Speedy (of E-2), the Vigilante (of E-2), the Star Spangled Kid and *sigh* Stripesy and the Crimson Avenger!

No one remembers them because they were blasted into the past following their destroying of the Nebula Man. Oracle will send seven three-man teams into time to recover the missing Soldiers. He also tell them of the 7SV's first adventure against a crimelord, The Hand. Hmmm?

Now the 7SV were an unknown factor to readers in the 70s or were they? I know I read their reprinted adventure in JLA #111-112 before I read these issues, so I knew who they were!

In JLA #76 (D'69), a portrait of the 7SV was seen, complete with roll call.

In JLA #78-79 (F-Ma'70), the Earth-One Vigilante was revived. There were reprints in Action #403 (Au'71) and #405 (O'71). There were new stories in Adventure # 417 (Ma'72) and #422 (Au'72). He also teamed with Superman in World's Finest #214 (N'72).

The Shining Knight was re-presented in World's Finest #205 (S'71) and Adventure #417 (Ma'72).

Superboy #185 (My'72) had a reprinted Star Spangled Kid tale.

So if you read DC comics during that period, the heroes of the 7SV were familar to you.

Chapter 2: Doctor Fate, the Atom and the Elongated Man appear in Aztec Mexico where they battle a mesmerized Crimson Avenger, who thinks he's a Sun-god because of the powers given to him by a hunk of the Nebula Man that came with him. ICK! By destroying the nebluite, the Avenger is cured and they vanish!

Some Notes: Not to tweak a certain Morrison scholar, but The Nebula Man was originally described as an "awesome, giant Earth-man!" who conquered and killed until he was destroyed by the 7SV's "new weapon" at the cost of a Soldier's life!

Oracle was an intriguing character. Sadly he was not used again after this tale.

Next: Three Soldiers Trapped In Time or I Wanna Go with Superman!

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"A yellow wooden arrow" ...

 

..."out in space"?

 

Really?

 

 

Luke Blanchard said:

"I'LL take the medicine to Cercon IV. Back in two ticks."

"NO, Superman! It might have a KRYPTONITE CORE!"

"Then I'd better take it! Kryptonite isn't a problem to my power ring!"

"But the planet might have an INVISIBLE YELLOW AURA, like the Shark! Your ring would stop working when you entered it, and you'd plummet to your death!"

"Then I'LL take it! My robot plane can cross space!"

"But it could spring a leak!"

"My SPACESHIP won't! And Hawkgirl and I will wear air helmets all the way just in case!"

"But you'll probably have to SLEEP on the journey, and you might have BEDBUGS. And cosmic rays could penetrate the shield of your craft and mutate them into GIANT FLESH-EATING MONSTERS!"

"Then I'LL take it! I'll use my BACKWARDS MAGIC to summon a crystal ball that all me to map a path to Cercon IV using INTERDIMENSIONAL JUNCTURES."

"But if you accidentally mispoke and said latsyrc tellab raeppa instead of latsyrc llab raeppa you might be distracted by a performance of Swan Lake by diamond ballerinas."

"Then I won't SAY latsyrc tellab raeppa damn, oh wow check out that choreography."

"Then I'LL take it. I'll teleport myself there directly using Dr. Erdel's electronic brain, it's in good working order, it has the range, there are no combustible gases in Circon IV's atmosphere so I don't need to fear fire - FIRE! brrr - and the locals already know and like me because I stopped Despero's attempt to take the planet over last year."

"But they can't turn against you unless they already know you. And they ALREADY KNOW YOU, so there's a danger they'll turn against you!"

"Why don't you take it, GA? Zatanna can give you Superman's powers, Green Lantern will lend you his ring, you can take Hawkman's spaceship, we'll stow Wonder Woman's plane on board as a back-up and lend you a can of Raid, and we'll teleport the whole shebang to Circon IV directly using Dr. Erdel's electronic brain."

"But what if Circon IV has a Kryptonite core and an invisible yellow aura, I prove to be allergic to Raid, I can't figure out the controls of WW's invisible plane because they're designed to be used by a woman and the brain accidentally turns me inside out? And I should be in STAR CITY, helping out people who NEED me. I say we send RED TORNADO. Because he's just a machine none of us like him he's immune to Kryptonite and yellow and, being a robot, won't suffocate in Circon IV's oxygen free atmosphere."

"Too late! He's already done it! Oh no! He's been killed again!"

"How about that! According to the JLA computer, Circon IV has a core of molton iron."

 

 

Awesome.
"A yellow wooden arrow" ... "out in space"? Really?

Hey, man, don't ask me. Ask Oliver Queen.

Awsome.

LOL funny. Really.

The Baron said:
Awesome.


Of course, they could just asked the Iron Hand what defenses the Hand had, since he was going to die with them!

It echoed a bit of Ferro Lad's death with Superboy not stopping him. There were at least six heroes (Superman, Doctor Fate, the two Green Lanterns, Wonder Woman and Starman) capable of stopping the Red Tornado. He didn't have that much of a lead and it was a long distance to travel. Zatanna could have simply said "Kcab emoc, odanroT deR!"! And Reddy just snuck out while carrying a torpedo with THIRTY heroes in the room! With time to write a note and leave them with a massive guilt complex! And why couldn't the Lanterns fly into space and shoot the nebula-rod into the Hand? The Hand wasn't on Earth like the Nebula Man was so they could strike from afar.

And what was Green Arrow doing with a yellow, wooden arrow anyway?

"The Lantern Protocols"

You're absolutely right, Philip, that the ending was contrived.

 

For all of the railing that some do about Gardner Fox's minimal characterisation, the climax of this "epic" shows how ridiculous it is when a writer takes characterisation too far.

 

Teamwork has always been the hallmark of both Justice groups; instead of arguing about why this hero or that one can't do the job, they should have---and would have, under another writer---put their heads together to see what would work.  There was no reason why a team of three---say Superman and Doctor Fate and a Green Lantern (better choice would be the Earth-Two version).  G.L. would haul the nebula-rod with his power ring, while the Man of Steel and Dr. Fate ran interference.  Then, as you pointed out, G.L. could use his ring to insert the rod into the hand and trigger it.  The three heroes'  various powers would protect them from the blast.

 

But, no, Len Wein had to make the JLA/JSAers act like morons so that whiny, useless Red Tornado could make his big sacrifice and we have that choke-in-the-throat moment.  I had a choke-in-the-throat moment when I read that ending; it was me trying to stifle a gag. 

 

The fact of time-travel in the DC universe made Ferro Lad's sacrifice moot, but at least he was acting from the only option he saw available at the time.  Based upon what he knew at the time, his sacrifice was necessary; thus, he was heroic.

 

But, for all intents, the Red Tornado's act was foolhardy.  There wasn't anything necessary about his sacrifice.  As you and I both pointed out, teamwork would have delivered the nebula-rod to the foe without incurring the certain risk of death.  And he should have known that.  Now, had the writer shown that the Tornado was committing deliberate suicide---that would have been interesting. 

 

The only thing I liked about the ending was I thought that it meant I wouldn't have to put up with that annoying Android Agoniser anymore.  Boy, I was sure wrong there.

 

And as for the other mystery, oh, come on, who didn't figure out that Wing was the hero who sacrificed himself the first time?  It was obvious two issues earlier.

"Then I won't SAY latsyrc tellab raeppa damn, oh wow check out that choreography."

That's worth the price of admission, right there.

Commander Benson said:

"As for the other mystery, oh, come on, who didn't figure out that Wing was the hero who sacrificed himself the first time? It was obvious two issues earlier."

Well after giving us a dead Soldier of Victory and rescuing all Seven Soldiers, yeah it had to be Wing who was mentioned and even shown in one panel in #100. A better question would be why Len Wein thought that anyone, outside of the Crimson Avenger, would care? He convienently got rid of an embarassing sterotype with no fuss, a character that he had no intention of ever using and would not been seen for another fifteen years to any great extent until Secret Origins #5. But it gave the story that extra emotional punch since a sidekick dying in an explosion can't help but conjure up memories of Bucky!

As for the Red Tornado being suicidal, reread Justice League #72-74 and #82 to see how his fellow heroes treated him, thought of him and made him feel. Gives his sacrifice some bonus pathos, doesn't it?

Philip Portelli said:

As for the Red Tornado being suicidal, reread Justice League #72-74 and #82 to see how his fellow heroes treated him, thought of him and made him feel. Gives his sacrifice some bonus pathos, doesn't it?

 

Hardly.  Sure, the JLAers heaped grief on the Red Tornado, but as Abigail van Buren---or was it her sister?---always said, "No-one can make you feel bad without your permission."  If the Tornado didn't like being viewed as a screw-up, then he should have gone out and proved 'em wrong!  Instead, he just sat around and had a good cry over it.

 

As far as I'm concerned, when the Red Tornado snuck out of the JSA hq to stick the nebula-rod in the hand, I'd have held the door open for him.

 

If you ask me, it was Wing who got the short shrift.  From what it sounds like, his sacrifice truly was noble and necessary.  Unfortunately, we have to go by what it sounds like---because Len Wein didn't see fit to show Wing's death, just tell us about it.

 

The only Crimson Avenger-and-Wing stories I have read are from the first handful of Seven Soldiers of Victory tales in Leading Comics.  I had never held any particular opinions of the Crimson Avenger before that, but as it developed, the chapters with him and Wing turned out to be my favourites because of their interaction.

 

Sure, Wing was drawn and given dialect in a stereotypical style, but aside from that, he was intelligent, resourceful, clever, and witty.  The dialogue exchanges between him and the Crimson Avenger reminded me of the those which Stan Lee wrote between Captain America and Bucky during that brief period when Cap's series in Tales of Suspense concentrated on his World War II adventures.

 

Wing was a top-drawer kind of guy and he deserved to have his own moment in the sun, instead of us just being told about it after the fact.

I can't help think of the Crimson Avenger and Wing* without having called to mind the Green Hornet and Kato.  Is it a stereotype?  I don't think so, although I don't know my mind well enough to be sure.  But honestly... heroes with colored identities, and very capable and competent oriental sidekicks?  No, no, I'm sure it's coincidental - it's just that that's what it makes me think of.

 

*Boy, Wing must have been REALLY clever and innovative to get that original missile into space to destroy the first galactic hand.  Sir Justin or The Kid and Stripesy were the only original Soldiers who could go airborne that I recall, and I don't know if either of them would have had much better chance than Wing did.

 

Hmm?  The original hand wasn't in space?  Why assume that?  Why wouldn't the Hand put it in space, considering that the JSA was around at the same time as the SSoV?  Or was it explained in the JLA books and my silver age memory is forgetting it (always a possibility...)  Yes, I remember seeing the drawn explosion, and it looked terrestrial... but the Hand didn't strike me as being clever enough to change strategies THAT much.

The 7SV fought the Nebula Man on Earth. In fact he teleported them (and their weapon, not the smartest move) to the Himilayans where Wing made his sacrifice and the Soldiers got exiled to the past. The Hand that held the Earth was composed of the same substance as the Nebula Man. What the Iron Hand, who purportedly created both, hoped to gain by either is left unrevealed beyond the revenge factor!

And Wing, in his original interpretation, would be unusable in modern comics or Silver/Bronze Age ones as Chop-Chop or Ebony White.

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