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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Philip Portelli said:

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



For some reason, I reminded of an exchange from Blazing Saddles, which is sort of the mascot film of this site:

 

"We must do something about this immediately!  Immediately!  Immediately!"

 

"Harrumph!"

 

"Harrumph!"

 

"Harrumph!"

 

"Harrumph!"

 

" --- "

 

"I didn't get a 'harrumph' out of that guy!"

"Give the Commander a 'harrumph'!"

"Harrumph."

"Watch your @$$!"

Actually, the way it seemed to me, I was the guy who didn't give the 'harrumph'.

 

But it's always good to have a fellow Blazing Saddles maven here!

Yes Sir! I humbly offer you a laurel...and hardy handshake!

Before I get to the next team-up, I thought that I would add some context, as Figs would say. Len Wein's short run as the Justice League writer was a highlight of the series, IMHO. I could be biased as these were not only my first JLA comics but some of my first comics, period. Wein had taken advantage of other writers' characterizations like Cary Bates' Superman and Flash and Denny O'Neil's Batman, Green Lantern and Green Arrow. No longer interchangeable, there were definite personalities to spice up his work.

The individual heroes had fallen on hard times. Superman, Batman and the Flash had their own titles, while Green Lantern became the regular back-up in Flash. The Green Arrow/Black Canary duo shared the back-up spot in Action Comics with the Atom. Hawkman was one of the rotating features in Detective. Aquaman was homeless until the mid 70s.

In the late 60s, the League lost, in succession, Wonder Woman (who lost her powers), the Martian Manhunter (who lost his world) and Snapper Carr (who lost his way). They were replaced with Golden Age heroine, Black Canary who was given an unreliable power and went from a grieving older woman to a hip, younger one who skated the edge of counterculture and began a relationship with a decidingly unSilver Age Green Arrow.

But this left the team understaffed and under powered. By this time, Wonder Woman was once more in her Amazon glory yet she did not retake her place among DC's elite. She felt that she had to undergo "twelve trials" from Wonder Woman #212-222 and did not return until #128-129.

But Wein rapidly expanded the League with the Phantom Stranger in #103 though he would appear infrequently, the fan-favorite Elongated Man in #105 whom Wein enjoyed writing and in #106 the android from Earth-Two, the Red Tornado who was seemingly destroyed in #102.

The Red Tornado, for whom I admit a great fondness to (which should surprise no one) was blasted to Earth-One and lost his ability to traverse the dimensions. He was found by a blind sculpter who crafted a face on the Faceless Whirlwind and tended to him. We missed the "Fire Good!" scene, unfortunately. But those recollections were false, implanted by Reddy's true repairer, his evil creator, T.O. Morrow who, for reasons only he knows, humanitized the Ruby Revolver more. Of course, he wanted to use his "son" to destroy the Justice League, but they read their own back issues and recognized Morrow's M.O. a mile away!

The Tornado was leery about joining the League; the stings of the Atom calling him "an instant disaster area" and ordering to stay, like a dog and Green Lantern considering him "the JSA's pet android" but his sense of duty won. With his new face, he met and began romancing employment agency/ social worker, the beautiful and patient Kathy Sutton. But being stuck on E-1 bothered him and we soon begin....   

Having started my way through Showcase Presents: Justice League of America Vol. 5, and having recently picked up Crisis On Multiple Earths vols. 3 & 4 I can make the following observations:

 

* Mike Friedrich really, really needed an editor.  Like a Mort Weisinger.

* You've not gotten there yet, but the story in which Cary Bates becomes a super villain is to me a classic example of a Bob Haney story--bad, but fun.

* Yeah, that Seven Soldiers story did have a really bad ending, despite how good most of it was.  I do have to say that the way Red Tornado had been portrayed up to that point, his sacrifice seemed obvious.  Of course, this was the time when the Justice Leaguers (and the Justice Society) seemed to have trust issues with anyone who wasn't around in the Golden or Silver Age.  One wonders if the JSA would have treated Ma Hunkel the same way. 

* Is it just me, or did Friedrich come up with new abilities for the Leaguers when he needed to advance his plots?

Mike Friedrich does get a bad rap, considering he wrote only one JLA/JSA team-up and it wasn't that bad. At least there was a very menacing Solomon Grundy. If you really want bad, read his JLA "tribute" to Harlan Ellison!

And he did have an editor, Julius Schwartz, a pioneer in the Golden Age and one of the main architects of the Silver Age and stalwart of the Bronze Age. None of these premise-changing events happen without his sayso. And he must have said so!

So when did Friedrich's JLA run start and end?

 

I have just finished the first issue of the 7SV quest.  It's great that you have kept each issue's comments spoiler free, so it seems I don't have to read to the end of the whole story before looking at your posts on it.

 

#100 is a great issue.  Really epic stuff with both the Nebula Man and Oracle being larger-than-life grandiose characters.  It's probably no coincidence that Wein created them so early in his career, as more seasoned writers are very reluctant to contribute such completely original properties to the big companies.  It's strange that neither were used again until Morrisons own 7SV.  (In fact their lack of use probably contributed towards his decision to use them.)  Their independance from previous DC concepts probably contributed to how they weren't used again.  In any case I loved how fresh they seemed when I encountered them here.  If only more superhero stories had completely original concepts and characters in them like this.

 

And then there is real pathos in the whole backstory of the 7 Soldiers - quite under-powered heroes taking on a monstrously powerful being, being defeated and returning to beat him at the cost of great sacrifice, and everyone forgetting their sacrifice too.  It confers a lot of reader sympathy on these shadowy, almost forgotten characters before they even enter the story properly.

 

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!

 

That line jumped out at me too.  Well, perhaps the cosmically omniscient all-seeing Oracle got it wrong?  Eh?  No?  All right then.  mumble mumble.

 

I loved the little Aztec-era adventure.  By now I'm sure that I don't mind magic-using characters one bit, so long as they are used as Dr Fate is here.  He's a colourful fantasy character doing colourful fantasy stuff in a comicbook.  I can see folks would complain that here at one point he battles his opponents in a long-drawn out fashion, (to exciting effect), but when this adventure has to wrap up in only few more frames, he quickly whips up "a Spell of Suspension to restrain your guards."  Couldn't he have done that at the outset? they cry!

 

There are rules to how his magic can be used, but they are governed by narrative principles rather than scientific ones.  Terry Pratchett mused how fictional worlds might have an extra force, like gravity in ours, called Narrativium, that caused things to happen in a certain way.  Narrativium is the secret of Dr Fate's magic, I think...

 

Great first chapter.  Now I'm off to read issue 101 on the bus home.

"The sheriff's a n-!"

"What's that?"

"He said 'The sheriff's a-nearer!'"

 

Philip Portelli said:

Yes Sir! I humbly offer you a laurel...and hardy handshake!

Well, in one Fogey's opinion, Mike Freidrich's JLA work was DREADFUL.  He was trying to write Marvel stories at DC, and I can only think of three times that came close to working; The Doom Patrol, Metamorpho, and some of Denny O'Neil's work (and some of Denny's attempts were crap also.)  It was never a good risk, but this was the time when Marvel was surpassing DC, and in desperate response, some relevancy was beginning to work with Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and the lightest touches in Superman.

 

The Justice League did not need to be relevant.  The Justice League did not need to be "hip."  Batman and Black Canary did not have to have the hots for each other.  The Justice League did not need to FAIL so damn often.  And Harlequin Ellis?  HARLEQUIN ELLIS?

 

Freidrich's work drove past the boundaries of story-telling into published books of what seemed to be a self-exploratory diatribe, coming close to embarrassing for its intimacy.  I didn't read a lot of Freidrich's work on his Robin stories... maybe it suited that character, or it suited a strip with a single main character.

 

But for the JLA?  Oh my God... fighting pollution, "fat cat" businessmen, fighting pollution, filled with "personal comments"... it was awful.  When I bought these, I was so young that I didn't know how bad they were, and that I could actually SKIP buying them.  I kept on getting 'em, waiting for them to improve... which didn't happen until JLA 100, and Len Wein's run.

 

Len's work on JLA, in retrospect, hit a standard of pretty good - maybe not great, but pretty good.  And at the time, it was a ten gallon pitcher of cold water after a two day walk through the desert!

 

Again, one Fogey's opinion... but now, whenever I see work by Freidrich, I avoid it like the plague.  A knee jerk reaction that might (might) be making me miss some good stories... but I won't take that chance.

 

ELS

x<]:o){

I read those stories after the fact of their publication, but when I was still very young. To me they were backstory, "carved in stone" as it were, and even today I’m willing to cut those 22-23 year old kids a little slack. One might even say those stories stirred the crashpounding of my reader’s soul.

O'Neil acolyte Friedrich wrote #86-99. His highlights were his JLA/JSA team-up which was better than O'Neil's second one and Fox's confusing Earth-A tale. Also he introduced Starbreaker in #96-98 who should have been a major villain. My personal favorite was #90, "Plague of the Pale People!" which focused on Aquaman and had some great team dynamics and a provoking use of relevance.

To Fogey: you can't blame Friedrich for the Batman/Black Canary Desperate Housewives moment. That was the Canary's creator, Robert Kanigher who only wrote #84 and decided to warp the League's interpersonal relationships for fun! But it could have been worse! He could have had Green Lantern locking lips with Dinah!

To Figs: My question was, Did Doctor Fate even need to bring the Atom and Elongated Man along?

Also if the 7SV fought the Nebula Man who was said to be causing global havoc in 1948, where were the Justice Society?

 

 

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