Justice League of America Annual #2 (12/84)
Writer - Gerry Conway Editor - Alan Gold
Penciller - Chuck Patton Inker - Dave Hunt
Cover Art – Chuck Patton & Dick Giordano
“... The END of the Justice League!"

Lets deal with that cover first.
I love it!
With the DC Bullet top left, the ANNUAL masthead and the issue indica top right these were perfectly framed books.
This entire cover is a classic one, heroes collected on rooftop but with the old guard in the clouds the sense of batton-passing is so reminicent of the All-New X-Men (Giant-Size X-Men #1) it's bordering on an homage!
What is really nice to see is that the interior artist - Chuck Patton - is given the introductory front cover rather than relying on a perhaps more well-known or popular artist for the 'new-direction'.
This visually interesting cover however completely ruins most of the tension in the storyline, as these things often do, as it shows right from the offset who is going to be in this new team regardless of any red herrings or mis-directions of the plot.
(I cannot let the cover go by without mentioning that the lack of any visible body for Elongated Man irks me!)

The strangest thing of all is perhaps the editorial decision to relaunch the JLA at this point - in the second Annual issue..?
That may not be that difficult to understand once we look a little closer, as this 'relaunch' is embedded deep in recent JLA history and produced very much as a continuation of the current series (indeed this book sits in continuity between #230 and #233. (231-232 being an annoying fill-in)) - no renumbering/new volume here!

The book opens, then with that continuity being addressed in a prologue...
The pre-existing Justice League Satellite has been destroyed and some of the last remaining recent members of the team discuss the chances of rebuilding 'it' (both the Satellite and the League) -- Aquaman announces the title of the book , while we get an instant follow up proclamation indicating the real purpose of this all... "Beginning A NEW Chapter In The 24-Year History of the World's Greatest Heroes!"
(Your mileage may vary.)

We are reminded/informed that it was a recent war between Mars and Earth that, amongst other things, caused the destruction of the Satellite and Aquaman equates that with the end of the League despite positive attitudes from members such as the Green Arrow. (Positive but not on the cover notice.)
Before a planned meeting at the United Nations in a week, Aquaman finds his wife has left him. (She cites his wanting to be with his team rather than his wife in the recent battle as the catalyst for her exit but both accept their strains relates back to the death of their son. (Aquaman. Death of A Prince. - one of the best comicbook stories ever in my opinion.)
This clearly leaves Aquaman available to direct all his attention to any new team, should he feel the need...

That UN Meeting does not trigger a new League however, Aquaman (suprisingly?) disbands the League after reminding everyone that the big-hitter members had been conspicuous by their absence when the team needed them. Most members present don't like the idea but in the shadows J'Onn J'Onnz nods.
Despite Firestorm's anger (I much preferred this original Firestorm meld of Ronnie Raymond and Prof. Stein than any since), Aquaman explains his point of view, "The world needs a committed fighting force -- a team of full-time, active members, living together, training together -- sharing a common purpose, a common duty." - which sounds like he's saying the world needs -- the X-Men.

Aquaman challenges the teammates to commit totally to the team and stalwarts such as Red Tornado, Green Arrow and Black Canary conceed they cannot do so. (I get it with the latter two with their helping the little man on the crime-ridden streets etc, but why not Reddy? His 'family-life' could have worked with the team couldn't it?) Hawkman and Hawkwoman have their allegiance to Thanagar first but even that's a bit thin as an excuse.

Zatanna signs up to this new commitment as does Elongated Man, dragging his wife Sue with him. Firestorm surprises  by announcing he will commit only to be overruled by Prof Stein. (see, he wasn't on that cover either was he?)
As the old guard leave and we are reminded of others having gone before, J'Onn J'Onnz steps forward and joins up. Zatanna nudges Aquaman to lead the team and Ralph announces their foursome as... "We're The NEW Justice League!"

Time to meet new faces on that cover? A military (old)-man called Heywood hears of this new League and calls for his Grandson...
Model Mari McCabe hears the news and quits her job and an abandoned factory has lights turn on...
The four JLA members and Sue Dibney get to know each other and are, apparently attacked by ... the Vixen (Mari McCabe in a new-look costume than her debuts in Action Comics #521 and DC Comics Presents #68)
"I want to join up, what else?"
"Count me in too." "The name's Steel" Steel arrives and offers a new HQ.
Steel is the grandson we were nudged about earlier and at this point I as a reader had no idea who he may be, had no knowledge of his pedigree or where he was getting all his toys from but that cover kind of let me know he was going to be staying around.
(How did Vixen and Steel know where our heroes were staying by the way?)

Steel ships the team out to (under) Lake Michigan and Detroit to show them around a perfectly purposed building he offers as a new HQ for the team, while remaining secretive about it's origins.
The team is attacked by a mystery man in an armoured suit and Steel shows his abilities while defeating him and revealing the man inside as being like a father figure to him called Dale Gunn, (were we supposed to recognise him or the name? I didn't.) This leads Steel to explain his grandfather General Hank Heywood had the place built preparing for trouble. (we also get an idea that grandfather was behind Steel's abilities too as even Mr Gunn remarks, "How did you get so strong?"
"It boils down to one word Dale: Grandpa".

There are still some unknown faces on that cover right? The action moves to downtown Motown and we see street violence and graffiti artist Paco Ramone (Vibe) who has possibly the worst and most annoying 'accent' ever in comics (other perhaps than Gambit?) "Wha'chu think? Fresh, huh? 'Vibe', That's chill." breaks up the mobs with a kind of vibration-power and some breakdancing moves. (I know - the 80s!).
Steel and Vixen, out of costume, see this Vibe and recommend him as a potential recruit to leader Aquaman who refuses to consider the suggestion opening up potential team-control issues between him and Steel.
Vibe however then arrives anyway and Aquaman reconsiders.
I did like the "Wonderful. Our first day and already our 'secret' headquarters is no secret" comment"

(Anyone notice Aquaman thanking Gunn for his new wet-suit-like, well... wet-suit? I take it this is kind of like Namor's blue-suit - is the 'every hour he needs water' trope gone?)

While we get to know a little more about Vibe and his family (and accent) we meet another local resident coincidentally also with powers, the last one from the cover - Gypsy who appears to be a thief able to turn invisible.

Hank meets Paco's sister and is smitten while Dale Gunn is propositioned by Zatanna "Do you snore in your sleep...?" (Who knew she would be so forward?) while Vixen does warn she is interested in him too!
Gypsy breaks into the HQ, J'Onn can see her although after she spins a yarn she disappears all together - nit quite a member yet then.
The local residents welcome the team as 'good neighbours' and a s apart breaks out the New Justice League begins...
"None of this is working out as I planned."

So there we have it. A new team for a new Era. As much as this resembles the All-New-X-Men it also evokes memories of the 'Cap's Kooky Quartet' days of the Avengers with a depowered team and leadership quibbles.
New members Vibe and Gypsy are awfully generic at this point, Steel not much more interesting but with more planning for a background while Vixen is so-far-so-Tigra.
Old members Elongated Man seems to be likely to be given comedy-lines while Aquaman plays Captain America/Cyclops.
I know I was always in the minority - but I really liked Zatanna's costume here!
Up to this point I knew very little about J'Onn J'Onnz as he really had not been in the spotlight much but I found him somewhat overpowerful and yet a tad dull.
Did we the readers know what we were in for? Could the title survive without the traditional League members?

Has anyone any comments as we launch into a (hopefully) fairly regular read-along of the entire Detroit-Era JLA..?

Next issue -- "The Beginning..." (which is, of course, Justice League of America #233 if you want to get ahead and look it up.!)

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Sorry, that's a customized figure. There was, sadly, only one female SUPER POWERS action figure and that was Wonder Woman, though there were plans for Supergirl and Batgirl.

Richard Mantle said:

 What about this one Philip...?

...AND she's wearing the costume she wears in this Detroit series!

Philip Portelli said:

Excluded from the line were his fellow JLDers Elongated Man and Zatanna as well as the Atom, Black Canary, Phantom Stranger and Hawkgirl/woman.

Shame. It looked great.

Philip Portelli said:

Sorry, that's a customized figure.

Regarding J'onn -- while as Philip mentions, J'onn had more appearances than Beast Boy, he was still really scarce in the DCU at the time, until the Detroit League formed (and his appearance in the story that precipitated that, which I think can be lumped in with the Detroit JLA, rather than "previous appearances.") That's basically four JLA stories, two team-ups, and a backup 3-parter in a decade. (And reprints, of course -- he'd show up in the JLA feature "100 Issues Ago," for instance.)

So I think it's definitely worth recognizing that the JLA Detroit run brought J'onn back to the DCU as a sustainable character...where he's remained for the 35 years since. For all of the run's other failures and weirdnesses, that's a tremendous, lasting success.

I quite agree, Rob.

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

Regarding J'onn -- while as Philip mentions, J'onn had more appearances than Beast Boy, he was still really scarce in the DCU at the time, until the Detroit League formed (and his appearance in the story that precipitated that, which I think can be lumped in with the Detroit JLA, rather than "previous appearances.") That's basically four JLA stories, two team-ups, and a backup 3-parter in a decade. (And reprints, of course -- he'd show up in the JLA feature "100 Issues Ago," for instance.)

So I think it's definitely worth recognizing that the JLA Detroit run brought J'onn back to the DCU as a sustainable character...where he's remained for the 35 years since. For all of the run's other failures and weirdnesses, that's a tremendous, lasting success.

Justice League of America #234 (01/85)

Writer - Gerry Conway -co-creators- Chuck Patton - Penciller
Editor - Alan Gold Inker - Bill Anderson
Cover Art – Chuck Patton & Dick Giordano
“Rebirth: Two" "Claws"

The Cover repeats the titles along with a "VIXEN! She Means To Make The Bad Guys Cringe!"
This is not a bad cover, top right of that four-cover illustration. I'm not minding these floating heads as Zatanna is clearly recognisable beside newbie Steel.

Best thing here (and best amongst the new members) is this new-look Vixen. I like her look fine here and do think it works better than her slightly strange mask from her previous appearances/debut. (Usually I prefer how they start of but if anything Vixen has improved with each revision of her costume.)

The story again starts with a Prologue returning us to the beginning of life on our planet in a pretty wasted page I think.

The story proper begins as this issue showcases new-JLAer Vixen and opens with her acrobatics assisting a Police chase and stopping a car from hitting innocents at a church. There she meets the Reverend Andrew Sinclair and a mutual romantic attraction is suggested.
Interestingly there is no explanation of Vixen using her magic-animal-totem-talisman-thingy to channel powers of the animal kingdom or any other explanation of her powers or origin which new readers may have needed.

At JLA HQ, Ralph and Sue Dibney watch a TV news interview where Vixen is informed of the link between those in the car she stopped and a terrorist group from African nation 'M'Changa' and it's villainous head General Mustapha Maksai which shocks Vixen deeply.
On her return she remains vague to our domestic-duo about Maksai.

Ralph plays elder-statesman to Steel explaining the 'old' JLA kept out of each other's personal issues and begins old-war stories again (almost) filling the role of comedy-relief.
Steel makes use of the free pool at the HQ ruminating on how the other members must think... "He's not human" as he informs us he has "a steel alloy skeleton... fibreplast skin instead of flesh... motors instead of muscle..." although he looks perfectly normal. (why if such synthetic skin is possible does Cyborg of the Teen Titans never use it to cover his cyborg parts?)
As he considers his lot in life he is attacked in the pool and thrown out of it - by Aquaman who tells him he should always be on his guard for an attack. Steel (justifiably?) points out how safe he thought he ought to be in their private pool and feels bullied by Aquaman storming off when he doesn't get much support from Zatanna.
Not that Zatanna fully agrees with Arthur's leadership to date and she tells him so, throwing him back into the water which amuses both of them and they too share a possible romantic moment.

What is Conway up to? We've had Zatanna and Vixen vying for the attention of Ben Gunn previously and already this issue we've had Vixen eying up the Rev and Aquaman and Zatanna getting close!

Is Conway just throwing everyone together and seeing which stick or which readers react positivly too or is this just an over-the-top way of trying to show the difference between this new-JLA and the no-real-deep-connected old-JLA?
With Conway markedly cutting Aquaman off from his previous life and marriage, the reader should reasonably expect him to be top of any list of potential matches shouldn't we?

Vixen researches Maksai and J'Onn J'Onnz tries to get out of her why he upsets her so much but she cuts out on him.
She cryptically mentions "I've got a thing for big green guys--" again highlighting how available she is for romance..?

One thing about J'Onn while we're on his subject and he's been discussed a bit between issue-entries ... I am VERY interested in spotting just when he starts being used to 'X-Men-ise' the JLA and provide the first 'psychic link' between members that he always seems to provide in modern books. Keep an eye guys.

Elsewhere and the big bad Maksai is watching Vixen's interview and sets his sights on her Tantu-Totem, the source of her powers.

Hank Heywood goes to visit (with romantic interest) Vibe's sister thinking even Vibe won't mind... "...Forget it, man!"
We get a short summary of Hank's character in... "You look like Redford, but sometimes you act like DeNiro." by Vibe's sister and she and Hank do actually kiss only for Hank to spot the ethereal Gypsy and chase after her.
"Gypsy is this 14-year-old girl who's been hanging around the League," - so why does Hank bother to chase after her?
Interestingly (well, almost,) Gypsy's 'invisibility' power is described as "she's some kind of human chameleon, able to blend herself into any background." - so it's not quite invisibility, making her a little different to J'Onn J'Onnz...okay?

Hank loses Gypsy, Vibe dances ridiculously around him spouting, "Chu not bad -- chu sad." until Vixen runs by and they decide to follow her...

Conway is juggling these ciphers around desperate for some sparks of characterisation but I don't feel he's winning... do you?

The rest of the team learn that Vixen is the bad General's niece..!
"His niece? but Mari is an American... A high-fashion model! If this were true, the press would have destroyed her!"
Apparently... "The press does not know."
Really? In a world where Lois Lane represents investigative journalism and Cat Grant gossip columns... the press does not know.?

We learn the history of military coup d'etat by Maksai and Mari's true heritage and the League discuss how unfair it all is.
The thugs in the police car chase we opened with are apparently beaten up for information by Vixen, who rips open the wall of their cell to get to them in a show of great strength! She then makes off presumably with the information she wanted.

The scene cuts to the mysterious duo cropping up in most DC issues about now, the Monitor and Lyla (not yet Harbringer) who are interested in this new League and discuss the building big bad we heard of last issue The Overmaster who has amassed a baddie-group the Cadre and adds a new member to it's ranks, being Shatterfist heir of Kali and the issue closes. (No epilogue this time!)

All of this is a cramped info-dump during which we may miss the fact that this Shatterfist has been a meek monk for fifteen years -- the same amount of time since the coup in Vixen's homeland. Could there be a connection?

So we've learned a fair bit of backstory for new member Vixen being spotlighted this issue which is a good thing, although exactly how the Totem works we don't yet know.
The rest is all a bit chaotic and this team still doesn't feel very connected yet but then, in fairness to Conway (I really am trying to be fair Gerry, honest!) we are only now halfway through the four-part opener.

I will say I am finding myself much more welcoming to Vixen joining DC's headliner group than ever I was Marvel's Tigra joining the Avengers.

I still have zero interest in Gypsy.

Next Issue "Rebirth" (you know that's quite a good umbrella term for a relaunch don't you think?) continues-- this time with a focus on Steel, further revelations concerning Vixen and an update on the whereabouts of Superman, Wonder Woman & Green Lantern! Be with us in 30 for Heavy Metal!"
We knew they couldn't last long without at least cameo/guest appearances from the old guard... how will they view this new League..?

How do you..?

“I for one would love a glimpse on Gerry Conway's thoughts on the JLA of Detroit nearly 30 years after the fact.”

Okay, Luis… this is for you. Enjoy!


“By 1984, I’d been a writer on the Justice League of America for almost 10 years. I wrote my first Justice League story for the book’s original editor, Julius Schwartz, in 1975. A couple of years later, I became the full-time writer, staying on the book till 1986.

“That was, at the time, a pretty long run—longer than the original series writer, the legendary Gardner Fox.

“Lots of things happened in the comic book world during those 10-plus years. The Silver Age ended; the Bronze Age came (and went, I think). Comic book publishing underwent a fundamental paradigm shift from being a newsstand business to being a comic shop business, from ass publishing t niche publishing. Creators began to share financial equity in characters they created. Writers and artists began to leverage their fan appeal to encourage publishers to take risks on new creative approaches to series and characters and genres that had become stale. Superman: the movie became a blockbuster hit. Comics, as a cultural institution, began, in a modest way, to grow up.

“During most of this era, the Justice League of America remained what it had always been—a constant, predictable presence in the DC Universe, a familiar home to the greatest of DC’s superheroes: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Green Arrow, Aquaman, the Atom, Black Canary, Red Tornado, Firestorm, Zatanna.

“By 1984, however, reliable and predictable were anathema to the powers that be (and to fans, and to those of us creative types who may have felt a little bit tired of delivering the same kind of story month-in and month-out). Change was in the air. It was morning in America, or so our president said. One of the higher-ups at DC was quoted as saying nobody over the age of 30 could really write for the modern comic book readership.

“I was 32.

“In conversation with my editor on JLA at the time, Len Wein, we talked about changing the team in some fundamental way. Both of us were proponents of character-driven storylines, and in other books I wrote for DC (Firestorm, Batman, Scalphunter, Cinder and Ashe, et al) I’d developed long, involved plotlines driven by character conflict. That was much harder to do in Justice League, however, because the main characters were also the main characters in their own solo series, which would always take precedent. I could develop involved, character-driven storylines for heroes and heroines who didn’t have their own solo series—I did so with red Tornado ad, to a lesser degree, with Zatanna, for example—but the featured characters were always off limits. I couldn’t confront Superman or wonder woman with an existential personal crisis, because that might conflict with a different crisis they might face in their own titles. All I could do was to bring them together for a contained adventure, with no major emotional stakes for the heroes involved. (Later, better writers like Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns found a way around this limitation, but at the time I was stumped.)

“I wanted to break these constraints. I wanted to do what HGeorge Perez and Marv Wolfman were doing on Teen Titans: create stories focused arounf the personal lives of the team members, driven by their individual personalities, with stakes that mattered because there were no other solo series featuring the characters to dilute them.

“Sometimes, when you’re faced with a barrier that appears to be an impossible Gordian knot, the only way through it is to cut it down.

“My way through the barrier of the Justice League’s Gordian knot was to cut the League apart—to end the Justice League as we’d known it for 25 years.

“One the decision to ‘end’ the Justice League was taken, the next question was—what should we replace it with?

“My criteria were pretty simple: I wanted to write characters whose primary status was as members of the ‘new’ Justice League. That meant I could bring in characters who didn’t have ongoing series: Aquaman, Elongated Man, Martian Manhunter and Zatanna were the ones I thought had the most potential for development. It also meant I could rescue a pair of characters I’d created who didn’t have a permanent home—Steel and Vixen, victims (like Firestorm) of the infamous ‘DC Implosion’ half a decade before. And it gave my artist, Chuck Patton, an opportunity to create two new characters, who’d add to the diversity we wanted to bring to our team: Vibe and Gypsy.

“(In 1984, ‘diversity’ wasn’t the oddly divisive concept it is today; we didn’t even call it diversity. We just thought it would be a good idea to include characters from different ethnic and gendered bacjgrounds because, well, it was just a good idea. Different backgrounds provide opportunities for different stories, different conflicts, new experiences. Call me crazy, but that’s kinda why I read comics—to experience new and different things).

“After discussing this with Len, working out the new team, designing costumes and a new headquarters with Chuck, I was ready to start work on what fans would eventually come to call ‘Justice League Detroit.’

“Then Len left the book as editor, and another editor—a fine gentleman with no previous experience writing or editing comics—replaced him. Editing a book with decades of history that was about to undergo a major transformation in concept, tome and execution would be a challenge fr any editor—doing so with no background in comics, working with a writer whose wn experience on the book went back 10 years, must have been particularly difficult for our new leader. I was nervous about the change we were going to implement. I knew we’d probably encounter some negative fan feedback. (Fans claim they want innovation, but they want innovation without change. Fans hate change.) I wanted and needed an editor who understood what we were trying to accomplish and why it was important. I needed an editor who’d defend the project when initial sales went soft, and when fan response was hostile. I needed an editor who could offer creative solutions to story problems that cropped up as a natural consequence of such dramatic change. I needed an editor who could guide the book’s creative team to fulfill their original concept of the series without panicking and shifting course, backtracking or leaving character questions unanswered.

“I needed Len Wein.

“Sadly, I didn’t have him.

“The initial fan response to the change wasn’t positive. In fact, it was out-and-out hostile. Publishers don’t like hostile fan responses. Without a strong editorial voice to defend and promote what we were doing, Chuck and I became demoralized, and eventually Chuck left the book. My own inexperience writing characters who weren’t middle-class white boys from Queens left characters like Vibe and Gypsy sadly undeveloped, despite my best intentions. Maybe a stronger editor with more creative insight might have helped me develop those characters more fully; I’ll never know. I do know that failing to do more with Vibe and Gypsy to make them more complex ad realistic is completely my responsibility. I created these characters (with Chuck), and whatever flaws they had in their original expression are completely mine. I just wish I’d had someone watching over the book who could have pointed me in a better and more fulfilling direction.

“Ah well.

“I think it’s safe to say that the original run of ‘Justice League Detroit’ was a disappointment to longtime fans of the JLKA and to its publishers. Eventually I was encouraged to leave the book, and the next writer quickly and efficiently dispatched the newer members. Fairly soon, the JLA was back to its previous incarnation as a team of first-rung superheroes and superheroines, and within a few years Justice League Detroit was a dim memory.

“But things have a funny way of working out.

“While longtime readers of the Justice League were appalled by the Justice League Detroit era, readers who picked up the book for the first time were enthralled. Readers like a young Geoff Johns and a young Marc Guggenheim. Just as the original Justice League had caught my imagination at a similar age in 1961, kids like Geoff ad Marc were introduced to the Justice League through characters like Vixen, and Vibe, and Gypsy, and Steel…

“And they remembered.

“When Geoff began his own career as a comic book writer a decade-and-a-half ago, he remembered Steel and reintroduced him in Justice Society in a new incarnation as ‘Citizen Steel.’ When Marc became Executive Producer of the CW’s Arrow, he remembered Vixen and introduced her first as a CW Seed animated webseries, and followed up with a live-action version of the character in Arrow itself.

“Cisco Ramone (a.k.a. Paco Ramone) became a vital continuing character on The Flash, and soon gained the powers that made him Vibe. Shortly after, a version of Gypsy appeared.

“And on the CW’s DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Geoff’s version of Steel, Nathanial Heywood, took up residence with another version of Vixen.

“Improbably, 30 years after its ignominious departure, Justice League Detroit is back.

“And now, in your hands, you hold a collected edition f that League’s stories. What was new became old, and what was old is now new again.

“I hope you enjoy what you‘re about to read. I think it’s much better than fandom’s assessment of it at the time. I’m pretty sure Geoff and Marc would agree.

“Funny how things work out.”

Justice League of America #235 (02/85)
Writer - Gerry Conway -co-creators- Chuck Patton - Penciller
Editor - Alan Gold Inker - Mike Machlan
Cover Art – Chuck Patton & Dick Giordano
“Rebirth: Three" "Heavy Metal"

The Cover adds the blurb "STEEL! Warning! He's looking for a threat to flatten!" as we get Steel's spotlight cover (bottom right in the quardr....fourple...typchtip....you know the one.) this time with Elongated Man and Vixen's floating heads.

Steel does look painfully like Captain America to me and I'm confused why he wears a mask - is his identity a secret?

Prologue 3 opening the issue, in which a dinosaur dies, is just as dull and superfluous as the previous two.

What really opens this issue is an ambitious two page splash showing our heroes watching Vixen's antics on a big screen and even shows not-quite-a-member-yet Gypsy looking on.

I haven't mentioned the artwork much, as to be honest it's functional but not that memorable at the best of times but it does add to the experience that we are getting solid and sustained pencils by the same artist (much more a rareity nowadays) and although inkers have changed the style has not.

The two-pager continues the internal conflicts of the team as Aquaman rails against naughty Vixen and everyone else rails against him.
Oh and we kind of finally get an idea of what's up with Gypsy in that she muses how can this team help her if they can't help themselves. (Anyone else spot the typo?)
Although... if Gypsy wants the team's help...why does she run away everytime we/they see her?

Captain America and Hawkeye Aquaman and Steel bicker until Steel backs down thanks to a telepathic nudge from Arthur. Is Conway saying Steel is a 'fish' in his actions here or is this a ramp up for Aquaman's powers? I don't remember ever seeing Arthur able to influence human beings before? Does it ever happen again..?
Aquaman orders Zatanna to use her magic to fins Vixen and Sue Dibney asks what happens then only to be (rightly?) put in her not-a-member place.
I think J'Onn suspects Arthur's actions.

Feeling woozy (no-one ever feels woozy anymore do they but Steels looks it here!) Steels steps out for air only to Gypsy to appear for a chat...and this issue's bad-guy Fastball attacks. Again that secret HQ never quite worked did it?
Fastball is a kind of baseball pitching armoured 'C' lister, full of bravado but soon beaten by Steel who throws a concrete slap from the ground at him a-la straight out of the cover. So the earlier pose was a red herring/coincidence.
I really do like when the action includes that depicted on the cover so top marks here!
" I... I don't believe it!"
"Believe it, Mister. Believe It!"

The rest of the team come on out to congratulate Steel but find Fastball has disappeared and so has Gypsy. Vibe repeats the 'Who was that masked man' trope re Gypsy which really is becoming annoying... still, her spotlight next issue...yawn.

Elsewhere and (the most interesting new JLA member?) Vixen attacks her Uncle, the nasty dictator of an African country who just happens to be at his Embassy in the US. (I haven't mentioned but Maksai means 'Ox' in Swahili and he's known as the 'Gored Ox' which Conway seems proud of but grates a bit again as cliche'd.)
Maksai and Vixen have their own Kingpin vs Spider-Man moment and we learn more in Vixen's tactics about her and her powers than in her own spotlight-issue as she draws on the strength (presumably through the Tantu-Totem) of an elephant to beat Maksai and a monkey for speed before being clipped by a bullet and falling from the highrise embassy window.

The JLA arrive to protect Vixen from Maksai's staff, with J'Onn morphing himself into a door to surprise them and Steel to deflect bullet's with his... well...steel-like skin.
Zatanna finally gets to say some backwards magic which also seems to rhyme - it'll be interesting to see if Conway keeps that up!.

Vixen again flirts with J'Onn and Zatanna points it out as their (light hearted?) rivalry continues.

Police arrive but Maksai makes no public complaint although that still leaves Vixen wanted for the damage she caused to the prison last issue.
Surprising most of the JLA Aquaman stands up for Vixen and takes her away leaving the whole team now in trouble with the law.
Steel doesn't understand why Aquaman is still angry and Zatanna spells it out, "Maksai is untouched... and we have made enemies of the law."
"Oh great. I hadn't thought of it like that. Guess I'm a real Jerk."

We then learn backstory of Steel. His grandfather's exploits, his father and mother's deaths, being raised by absentee grandfather and his friend Dale Gunn eventually leading to the bunker and...surgeries!
"There was no reason? That's monstrous! Your grandfather must be mad!"
"Did I ever say he wasn't?"
We expected background on Steel this issue and this is more depth than we've had before and still leaves questions, it feels like Conway has much more of a complete backstory/characterisation sorted for Steel than most of the rest of the team.

The JLA ship is suddenly attacked and our heroes seem to be transported somewhere else where they are introduced to a team of bad-guys, including Fastball from earlier this issue apparently led by (literally big) big bad calling himself, "I Am The Overmaster." and announcing "And Your Destiny Is Death" at the close of this issue.
It's Overmaster's grinning facemask that we can now tell fits in the centre of the four-cover illustration and he's been the villain hinted at since the beginning of this 'Rebirth' arc.
We have no idea yet though, why this guy is setting himself against our new League.

As a spotlight on Steel this wasn't too bad and we still continued Vixen's plotline while cameo-covering Vibe and Gypsy.
I'm expecting a 'Gypsy saves the day' next issue culminating in her officially joining up.

The pacing here feels alot better and things seem to be moving along quite well although there's no real surprises going on or very likely. It is solid enough super-heroic though and in fairness that consistency is what the JLA title is trying to achieve here.

Anyone reading along have any observations or anyone just reading my thoughts have anything to add?

Next issue "Rebirth, Part Four (the conclusion) "Gypsy Genius""

Come Back...

Aquaman's telepathy, far as I know, has consistently been depicted as biased towards fish.  But there was a short time period when Peter David showcased that it could work on humans as well.  Grant Morrison had Aquaman use it to strike down a white martian in the Midnight Summer's Dream storyline.  Apparently there is some form of huge usage cost associated, though.

Steel's backstory always strikes me as teasing of a sort.  While Vixen may (or may not) be a better character overall, Gerry Conway spotlighted Steel considerably more.  I got the sense that we were being groomed for some sort of emotional flashback detailing the situation leading to his surgeries, but far as I know we never had that.  It may have been meant to connect with a separate plot that we will see later in the Earth-2 crossover.

Whenever I think of this Steel, I have a feeling of unsolved questions and unrealized plots. 

Richard Mantle said:

Justice League of America #235 (02/85)
Writer - Gerry Conway -co-creators- Chuck Patton - Penciller
Editor - Alan Gold Inker - Mike Machlan
Cover Art – Chuck Patton & Dick Giordano


Next issue "Rebirth, Part Four (the conclusion) "Gypsy Genius""

Come Back...

Interesting that they had J'onn shape-shift into an object (a door). In my mind he could only change his appearance as another life form. This is more of a Plastic Man bit. Did the door look green with his uniform? (Also  a Plastic Man bit.)

It is a bit vague  Richard but the door is green and the handle looks yellow before becoming J'Onn's hand.

As you say, quite Plastic Man.

Richard Willis said:

Interesting that they had J'onn shape-shift into an object (a door). In my mind he could only change his appearance as another life form. This is more of a Plastic Man bit. Did the door look green with his uniform? (Also  a Plastic Man bit.)

Justice League of America #236 (03/85)
Writer - Gerry Conway -co-creators- Chuck Patton - Penciller
Editor - Alan Gold Inker - Rick Magyar
Cover Art – Chuck Patton & Dick Giordano
“Rebirth: Part Four-- Conclusion Gypsy Genius"

The Cover adds the blurb "GYPSY! When she comes out of Hiding-- Look Out!"
So we round out that four-cover exercise with semi-faded Gypsy spotlight-star of this one, although she does look rather small and vulnerable with floating heads of J'Onn J'Onnz and Vibe.
I don't think this cover gamble paid off for DC - I cannot remember it ever being done again - can you?

Prologue 4 opens the issue suggesting that through history extinction events have all been overseen by this Overmaster guy. I'm not convinced he's that kind of a threat.

Again we open proper with a two-page spread presenting our new JLA and their enemies, overseen by the Overmaster bad... although Gypsy is nowhere to be seen.
Encouragingly our heroes debate the likelihood of this bad-guy being as all-powerful as he suggests as he attacks.

Zatanna's backward magic no-longer rhymes. (I knew that wouldn't last!)
Overmaster's underlings 'the Cadre' get introduced as the fighting goes on, Black Mass, master of gravity and Shrike a kind of semi-animal Banshee soon have our heroes on the ropes.

Back at JLA HQ, civilian Dale Gunn returns to find everyone gone (after recapping Steel's origin) and Gypsy reveals herself to inform him of the status of the team.
Girl with camoflague power prepares to come to the rescue.... it's not like keeping Superman as backup is it?

Back at the fight and Steel shows some leadership savvy as he tells Vibe to use his powers back against the Banshee-Shrike.
"What can I tell you? It was easy."
Enter next bad-guy, Crowbar, who appears to be wearing a metal nappy(daiper) making him look less than menacing. (Anyone else feel like Conway really scraped the barrel here?)

Aquaman steps up. He catches Crowbar's crowbar in mid air and throws Crowbar's crowbar back only to be hit by Shatterfist's fist which shatters Crowbar's crowbar.
"Y-yuh... you broke my crowbar!"

Despite possibly having the Cadre on the ropes, J'Onn instigates a retreat which upsets Aquaman who thinks (rightly?) he's failed as leader of the team on their first real trial.

We learn that Gunn and Gypsy are flying their craft through the Auro...Aurarro..Northern Lights approaching the Arctic searching for the JLA. Did we know the Arctic was the location (smack anyone too much of Magneto's base in the X-Men circa #113ish..?)

Miles of machinery face our heroes who comment...(paraphrasing the only good line in Star Trek V)
"since when does a 'God' need machinery?" .

Ralph at last shows his nose-power as the mystery grows and we turn the page to find a full page spread of some kind of massive alien being fed by machinery (?)

This I think is the very first surprise on this entire run.

As Aquaman and J'Onn discuss, " a telepathic presence" they both feel, the bad guys attack again.
Steel deflects an explosive ball with his invulnerable body as Arthur sends J'Onn off with a-  "J'Onn we're both telepaths ... but you have more experience communicating with alien minds. You know what to do."
He does?
...and with a 'We Are The Justice League!" the fight is back on.

A gold glowing 'jewel' of a pyramid hovers above the alien and J'Onn heads for it as Overmaster tries to stop him. J'Onn shape-changes into an alien beast (green and blue) and delays Overmaster as he instructs the newly arrived Gypsy to go for the jewel.

Finally we learn a little of how Gypsy thinks as at her touch to the jewel everything lights up... "Why am I doing this? all my life I've hid from people... why should I risk my life helping them? Wellll... why not? Steel's cute and Vibe is sexy and I just love the way Vixen combs her hair... and maybe they can help me with this problem I have."
Obviously we're supposed to pick up on the 'problem' as a future plotline but am I reading too much into a potential LBGT agenda..?

The jewel, the big alien and the bad guys all disappear in the light.

The apparently victorious heroes leave the mountain base and J'Onn and Aquaman explain that Overmaster was not what he made himself out to be.
It is suggested the Overmaster was a parasite on the true alien using the jewel and Gypsy (not a telepath -- is she?) had made contact. The mountain is revealed to be spacecraft which takes the opportunity to return to the cosmos ... or something.
"Maybe it's better if we never know."

So that's it. The opening story arc bringing the team together and giving us a partial, if not a complete, understanding of the new members and how they fit with the older ones is over.
The villains were a bit lame, the ending a bit basic and rushed but is the team starting to gell?

I still have no interest in.....you know.

I'm getting a kind of 'New Defenders' vibe rather than an X-Men or Teen Titans one but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

We are promised that there is still much to learn and still many unanswered questions … Next Issue when our guest stars will be Superman & Wonder Woman returning from Earth 2 with some questions of their own... Next Deadly Symphony!"

Come Back...

Just as a heads-up, because I don't think it's included in the Omnibus: JLA Incarnations #5, featuring the Detroit League, is on sale for 99 cents on Comixology through 6/17. It's an untold tale... and from what I recall, a good one. 

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