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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Thanks Rob, I've picked it up. 

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

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. 

Here's something else not included in the omnibus (not that I'm recommending it).

Oh go on I'm just going to say it...

   I bought this.

    It is actually good.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Here's something else not included in the omnibus (not that I'm recommending it).

Justice League of America #237 (04/85)
Writer - Gerry Conway -co-creators- Chuck Patton - Penciller
Editor - Alan Gold Inker - Mike Machlan
Cover Art – Chuck Patton & Mike Machlan
“Lest Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot..."

Now, who looked at that cover and thought....'a fill-in issue from before the new team"..? How many therefore ignored this issue on the racks back in 1985? (Probably offset by the same amount that bought this thinking 'the real JLA' were back?)

Anyway, we have no new team members featured and so Chuck Patton gives us his versions of Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash against... is that the 'Fiddler' or someone similar..? Can't see him being a credible threat to the featured heroes though - isn't that reinforcing everything that was old and tired about this book prior to the big change - that the big guns are just too much for most threats?

We open with a prologue where the injured Vixen discusses Aquaman's confusion over his wife Mera leaving him recently.
Was this supposed to be a plot question - were we supposed to wonder why or worry about Mera?

I loved the Death of A Prince storyline during which she didn't leave so should be curious as to what made her leave now...but I still think it's just a way of getting a single-Aquaman available for some sub-plots. Even in Conway's lengthy Forward to the Omnibus (as transcribed above - thankyou Jeff) we don't get reference to this.
Arthur dismisses the idea of him leaving the League to search for Mera as he has a duty to this new team (it's no spoiler to refer to why and when he eventually does go then is it?) and reminds long-term readers that of the Original League, Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash are still unaware of recent changes as we shift scene's to their arrival at the ruined JLA Satellite.

Now we know why those three got cover space eh?

We soon learn that the 3 old guard have, to them, only been gone a few hours - off to the Earth 2 crossover issues in #231-232. (Which in my humble opinion was one of the worst JLA/JSA crossovers ever!)
Aside from discovering the satellite destroyed they determine the device that destroyed it was ' built by the Mikaelovich Design Group. In the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics..."
Really, the JLA are going to attack Russia....?

Back at HQ in Detroit Aquaman tests the team's response to an alarm and briefs them on the three amigo's return and USSR direction of travel.

In Russia as reaction to their arrival, missiles are fired, "Typical Military Response" says Wonder Woman, who basically was the one jumping to conclusions a few pages ago!

Eventually, the usual misunderstandings are averted and our heroes meet the faux-Fiddler from the cover, "He looks more like some kind of Symphonic Conductor..." who plays his accordian thingy which manifests green demon-like monsters and beat and capture the good guys. We learn the bad guy is/may be called the Maestro and wait for the cavalry...

Steel and Dale Gunn arrive at Steel's grandad's base with Elongated Man tagging along. Grandad slips up…"I'm not sure I approve of your association with my son...ah...grandson." while recapping (for anyone who hasn't picked up any new-league issues) the dubious qualities of the new members.
Steel and grandaddy Steel actually come to blows which the elderly chappie shrugs off adding to his own mystery.

Back in the USSR (I had to didn't I?) and the Maestro's boss uses him to step up the line of command while the heroes learn the instrument once belonged to a guy called Allegro who fought against the League back in #163 (anybody remember that one?) and we face a cliffhanger as we are told one of our captured heroes, to prove the power at their command will be executed!
No, surely no-one expects any of the three to be actually killed next issue - which renders this cliff-hanger a tad lame.

Talking about lame, I know we're in 1985 here but the League against the USSR is a bit pedestrian as a plot isn't it?

We finally get to see Elongated Man in costume doing something although not much, for once Gypsy and Vibe take a back seat but there's no space for Zatanna here and why didn't the three returning JLAers contact someone like Batman for an update or chat before racing off.
The 'mystery' of Steel and his family origins continues but already threatens to be a bit of an anti-climax when revealed - are we just going to learn that grandad has cyborg parts too and has therefore lived longer than expected and that he is actually Steel's dad etc...?
Artwise everything carries on as before, functionable but not earthshattering... which kind of sums up the entire series .... or do you disagree..?

Next Issue -- just 'To Be Concluded -- Next Issue!"

Come Back...

I actually remember Allegro! Last year, when we were doing the comic book 20 Questions game, I used him as one of my entries. These Detroit-era issues were what made him cross the "no one-shot characters" threshhold and be eligible.

Justice League of America #238 (05/85)
Writer - Gerry Conway -co-creators- Chuck Patton - Penciller
Editor - Alan Gold Inker - Mike Machlan
Cover Art – Paris Cullins & Mike Machlan
  “Savage Symphony"

Who noticed that cover? I think it's quite good - maintaining the feel of this series - who noticed it is by a different artist!?
"Let's show what we can do!!" - Strangely missing Zatanna though.

We open with Nasty Commie General ordering the Maestro to use the magic keyboard-thingy to attempt to murder Wonder Woman with wispy-demon-monsters until Superman warns things could get difficult as both the Kremlin and the JLA would not take Diana's death lightly. Our villains withdraw.

The story opens properly with the assembled New JLA (and that Dale Gunn chappie) flying their ship into Soviet airspace.
"Anyone else got goosebumps?"
They discuss how difficult it would/should have been to capture our heroes and how the press condemned this new League before given a chance (and before Gypsy joined - as if that has made all the difference!)
Interlude 1 is another checkin with Vixen's arch enemy General Maksai - still as bloodthirsty as ever and Interlude II highlights that a strange black car is hanging around the JLA's HQ. Not sure either will excite any reader.

Zatanna and J'Onn say they will tackle the Russian fighter aircraft dogging them but in the end it is Zatanna who goes all Orroro/Storm and scares them off with lightening etc.
"She's a sorceress, isn't she?" It's about time Zatanna got a little spotlight, she has a chance to be a major powerhouse in this team, I hope this kind of action for her keeps up.

As the villains prepare our old-guard-JLAers mount an escape plan, while paralysed, with dissidents Dimitri and Allegro helping them.
J'Onn smashes up one of the Russian planes and enjoys scaring the pilot. He remarks that his Martian appearance seems to frighten people easily and Vixen again takes the opportunity to inform him she likes her men green,
Zatanna adds, "She likes her me, period." and Ralph gets her to admit that despite trying, Zatanna really dislikes Vixen! So the initial joint flirting seems to have developed into open warfare between the ladies - conflict within a team is often quite healthy but as with a lot he's doing here, it feels to me like Conway is ticking items off a list again instead of building story from actual character.

As the incapacitated heroes learn how Allegro lost his instrument they walk into a wall of waiting soldiers at the same time as our heroes arrive and the fight is on as the old-guard remark... "Who--"

"--In Hera's Name--"

"-- Are They?".
The Maestro's music summons more monsters and they battle the new league in a full-page spread.
The Flash reminds us that in the last battle against the instrument it was the Black Canary's cry that saved the day -- and she's not around.

Allegro though, steps forward and smashes the intrument into pieces in the Maestro's hands, unaffected by the music as ...he's deaf!

That defends him from the monsters but not the General's bullet as he is shot down.

Gypsy confronts this general and it seems she transports them both really high above a mountainous range with a previously unseen power and either transports them back before the General falls to the ground or turns on and off a previously unseen power of illusion making him think he was falling from such a height. Aquaman askes what happened as he had watched the General look at Gypsy and " he fell apart"
Gypsy explains - "Gee. I don't know. It never happened before."
This does at least and at last show that there may be more potential to Gypsy than the camoflague power has so far shown and we're all thankful for that!.

Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash recover mobility (presumably now that the instrument is smashed?) and want to tell Aquaman about the destroyed JLA Satellite HQ which they probably think the JLA are not aware of and Aquaman ends the issue explaining they'll sort everything out later as we mark, in passing, the heroic sacrifice of Allegro.

What is painful here is how short and sweet that ending is, not much eulegy for Allegro and no passing-of-the-torch from the old-guard JLA to the new JLA, infact no real reference to the new status quo at all. It is as if they ran out of space.

Perhaps there'll be a big meeting covering all these points opening the next issue but I doubt it. If that is happening I would like to see how heroes like Hawkman, Green Arrow and even Batman feel about the new team. We'll see...

Otherwise, the badguys here were abit pedestrian and generic (although credit has to be given for a continuity link to previous JLA issues) and this is a creditable performance for the new group, they did save the big-gun heroes. (or would Allegro have been able to do it without them?)
I think I'm beginning to feel more comfortable with this team and my interest is building.
Where will they go from here...?

Next Issue -- "Home Are The Heroes..."

Come Back...

While by this point much of Steel's backstory was being treated as mysterious, his grandfather's background is actually well established.  Just not for readers that limit themselves to JLA.

We will have it clarified a lot in #243-#244, as well as in the crossover with Infinity Inc.

That said, I don't know if Steel's origin was ever truly presented in a coherent manner.  I think I have mentioned before that what little we learn is contradictory.

Richard Mantle said:

Justice League of America #237 (04/85)


Steel and Dale Gunn arrive at Steel's grandad's base with Elongated Man tagging along. Grandad slips up…"I'm not sure I approve of your association with my son...ah...grandson." while recapping (for anyone who hasn't picked up any new-league issues) the dubious qualities of the new members.
Steel and grandaddy Steel actually come to blows which the elderly chappie shrugs off adding to his own mystery.


The 'mystery' of Steel and his family origins continues but already threatens to be a bit of an anti-climax when revealed - are we just going to learn that grandad has cyborg parts too and has therefore lived longer than expected and that he is actually Steel's dad etc...?


Justice League of America #239 (06/85)
Writer - Gerry Conway -co-creators- Chuck Patton - Penciller
Editor - Alan Gold Finishes - Mike Machlan
Cover Art – Chuck Patton & Mike Machlan
'Very special thanks to Rick Hoberg for assistance on pages 19-23'
  “In The Shadow of the Ox"

That's a pretty good solo cover for Vixen, with Patton back on the pencils but I'm not sure the Ox shadow is prominent enough, just doesn't feel very imposing but definitely loving this look for Vixen.

Inside and Conway continues his habit of throwing in an almost unrelated prologue or at least a pretty dull one that I keep missing the significance of.
The story itself begins with effectively a splash page showing that old league debate/conversation with the new league that we felt we were owed last issue.
Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash get brought up to date through Aquaman's disbanding of the old ineffective League and his rebranding with this new 'dedicated' League.

There is quite a telling panel here where Aquaman kind of sums up the beginning of the end for the old guard with the welcoming of Firestorm to the League and... "J'Onn J'Onzz was the first to resign: The Batman, the Last."
"The League was already dead, at least in it's original sense. I simply signed the death certificate." This is a succinct way of putting it and even the big guns have to agree.
"Under the Circumstances
" I guess the only thing to say is... Good Luck."
"Thanks, we may need it."

It falls to civilian Sue Dibney to try to cover a bit more housekeeping with questions as to how the old guard could have been away so long, especially as the Flash's been on trial throughout? (She notes that Aquaman allows her to speak this time but not before...)
"Hey, Sue's right! I smell a mystery!"
"May I suggest you were caught in a probability paradox while travelling between earths? A  ripple in the river of time." This not only side-references the current 'Crisis On Infinite Earths' but solves all writer Conway's problems (!) and our heroes decide to go back three weeks and avoid that/this paradox.
(That's just waaay to easy isn't it?)

So the proverbial baton is passed.

Zatanna, very aware that she dislikes Vixen for no good reason, follows Vixen and watches her kiss (or as we British call it...'snog'(!)) Dale Gunn in the monitor room. (Surely that makes it worse? He's on duty damn it!!)

Vibe's sister shows up on the monitor so Vixen goes off to see her, leaving Gunn to ask himself, with both Zatanna and Vixen vying for his attentions, "Since when did you become irresistable??"
Is he really or is there some unseen force at work...?

Vibe's sister is after help as little-old-lady Mother Windom matriarch of the neighbourhood has been kidnapped. Rosa also shows her interest in Steel here.
Windom is to be killed if the JLA do not surrender Vixen to the 'Gored Ox' who we saw fight each other back in the 'Rebirth' episodes.

Vixen declares she'll go but Aquaman pulls rank and although she refuses to obey him he takes it further -- further than he's ever taken things before?
Using his telepathic powers... "Vixen... ...Stop."
"My Head! What are you doing to me?"
This shocks the entire team and as J'Onn stands forward to shame Arthur, Vixen makes off on her own personal agenda.
Yet again J'Onn 'overrules' Aquaman here, admittedly it seems Aquaman has stepped over a line but it being J'onn that stops him kind of underlines the fact (?) that in reality J'Onn is more of the leader of this group than Arthur is.

Across town and in an old theatre Vixen confronts General Maksai and in return for the release of Mother Windom, hands 'the Gored Ox' her 'Tantu Totem' .... with a warning, "Are you sure you can control the power it contains?"
As he puts it around his neck we are reminded of the prologue (?) and the Ox begins a painful physical transformation into a man-beast!

This beast is confronted by the now-powerless Vixen who manages to take the Totem back, regain her powers, channel those of a Rhino and knock the Ox into debris of shards of metal and spikes, impaling him and (presumbly) killing him once and for all.

I think the Totem affects Maksai badly because he is evil rather than Mari who controls the powers better because she's a goodie.

That's almost offensively simplistic isn't it?

Vixen is finally freed from her memories and fear of her murderous uncle and has her revenge on the killer of her father.
That ends the issue.

The fight does feel like we've been here before which after the baton-passing is a bit of a shame, it would have been good to see the new-JLA beginning a new phase out of the shadow of the past, may be that will start next issue.

What is the 'appeal' of Dale Gunn? Is that and the friction between Zatanna and Vixen linked and is an outside force responsible?
Will the team take any action against Aquaman's use of his powers?
Is this where the idea for the 'Identity Crisis' mind-wipe storyline came from?

The mere fact that I am remotely interested in any of these questions highlights the fact that I do believe I am beginning to enjoy this title more and more...
Anyone else?

Next Issue "what's wrong with Aquaman? You'll learn the answer in JLA #241"
- nope, that's not a misprint - #240 is an unrelated fill-in issue although art team Patton and Machlan still manage to turn in a cover for it!
I can't see any link to the Detroit League (and it is omitted from the Omnibus) - So we'll jump straight to #241 as well, ok?

Come Back...

Zatanna and Vixen are fighting over Dale Gunn because he's their only option, story-wise. Steel and Vibe are too young for them, Aquaman and Elongated Man are married and J'onn J'onzz too alien and probably way too old for them, though he did show an interest in Diana Meade.

Zatanna did appear to be interested in older men like her brief flirtation with the Flash and the other women in the JLA were older than her so this is the first time she had to work with another attractive, single woman her own age.

I know you like Vixen's look here but c'mon, she could be Wolverines and Storm's daughter!

 That does sum up her look Philip! Decades before Storm and Wolverine became an item too!

Philip Portelli said:

I know you like Vixen's look here but c'mon, she could be Wolverines and Storm's daughter!

Justice League of America #241 (08/85)
Writer - Gerry Conway George Tuska - Penciller
Editor - Alan Gold Inker - Mike Machlan
Cover Art – Chuck Patton & Romeo Tanghal
  Sea Change"

The cover blurb announces "Amazo is loose - and Aquaman is AWOL!
And That's only for Starters!"

Nice to see League-enemy Amazo back and fighting this new League, show's they have proven themselves to be the legitimate team now.
I cannot say I'm happy about civilian Dale Gunn (in a strangely spandex-looking costume) starring on the cover alongside the heroes - he's not a member is he? AND while he gets cover billing - Elongated Man is missed off again!! Ralph is not getting much action in this group is he?

Another opening prologue and another dull almost pointless one - drunken bum in St Jude, Canada is attacked by a mysterious figure (kind of made much less mysterious by that cover..?)

The issue proper begins with Vixen watching Aquaman in their HQ pool and we realise the artist is not the regular one - Chuck Patton, despite the fill-in book last issue and stalwart George Tuska's familiar linework illustrates this issue.

Vixen informs us that a quiet two-weeks has gone by since our last adventure and she suggests to Aquaman that... "the time for you to find Mera is now."
and adds, "Give me one good reason why you won't take time off from the League to find your wife."
before eventually Arthur gives his reply, "The woman left me. It was her own free choice and I have to respect it. I'm not about to chase after her. Not now, not ever."
It is an interesting exchange (Arthur details he has been married for 'seven years' for instance) but I can't help but think Zatanna knows Arthur better than Vixen, why doesn't she prod him in this way - or is it that lack of history that allows Vixen the freedom to speak her mind?
"Find the lady, Arthur. Talk to her. You both owe it to what you had."

Vixen then gets distracted by cooking smells and joins Gunn, J'Onn and Gypsy making chilli.
J'Onn states he's been on Earth for 'three decades' - how does that line up with Arthur's seven years of marriage, continuity-wise?

Gypsy slips and drops the chilli - only for the Elongated Man to stretch in and save it!

Another 'comedy moment' for Ralph.

Gypsy remarks how they seem different to 'real husbands and wives' and admonishes J'Onn for asking how she would know with a "mind your own business!"- I'm guessing we're going to meet her old/ex/missing/villainous husband in a later storyline..?

Conway is not done with Aquaman's marriage misery (justifying last issue's
"what's wrong with Aquaman?" query. Arthur struggles with his position wondering if the death of Aquababy and Mera leaving had actually influenced his disbanding and re-organisation of the League. All of this you might think, we've covered before but he does go further, aware of his dubious use of his telepathic powers... "That's something I never would have done before."
He does not however come to any conclusions, "What am I going to do? What am I going to do?"

Team woes apart, the action turns back to St Jude where another man gets his car picked up and smashed up by the mysterious figure we saw before, seemingly having taken on the personality of the drunk chappie from the prologue, only with powers - he uses eye-beams to cause the car to explode in a quite unnecessary full page spread that is a bit rushed and dull (even for Tuska)

Ralph Dibny and civilian wife Sue go a wandering among the common-people only to be ushered towards a fight between... Hank and Paco (Steel and Vibe) over the right to date Vibe's sister Rosita. Paco thinks Hank should have asked his permission!
Ralph asks what we all want to know, "Is he serious?"

We know this is Ralph as he is clearly stretching as he asks but the next panel shows Rosita talking to Ralph but referring to him as Hank and asking Hank to humour Paco's sensibilities, which the next panel shows him doing...
"Oh all right. Paco... do I have permission to see your sister, Rosita?" which has the desired effect as Paco re-introduces them as if the match was his idea. "Have fun, you kids, okay?"
The Ralph/Hank panel is just miscoloured I think but did confuse me on first reading)

Does this smack of old-fashioned and quaint or outrageous?

The scene is broken up by the League members being recalled to HQ via their new 'signal rings'.

"Say, what d'ya know? These things work."
I know 'signal rings' and the like are a DC tradition but it's a bit twee here isn't it?

Vibe announces he's got a new suit and we see it when we move on to the team briefing.
"I've got to admit, Vibe... it's an improvement" - which is of course very true!

For such a design change so early in a hero's career I have to ask who was responsible for the ridiculous original look? Was it a drastic failure on behalf of the artist or was it a deliberate plot-point from the writer that wanted to show some maturity in Paco by this point?
Either way he needed the change. (Shades of Wonder Man??) - just don't call him cute...

"Cute? You call me cute? Do people call the Batman cute?"

J'Onn moves the briefing forward, explaining the reason for the duty-call... "Aquaman has disappeared."
Vixen believes she knows why but doesn't want to say - why not? It seems quite reasonable that she might point out he may have just gone to look for his wife/taken some private time. Why the secrecy?

Then we get the second problem briefing - the mysterious lone figure that we are told has single-handedly destroyed the town of St Jude. J'Onn lists the powers this mystery man has shown and Vibe remarks... "Wow... sounds like a One-Man Justice League, eh?" and (thankfully) J'Onn ends the mystery by identifying … "Amazo."

The team heads in their Quinjet ship to Canada as we have a recap of Amazo's origin and are reminded/informed that he must have escaped from Superman's Fortress of Solitude that he was last imprisoned in. (Careless Kal-El!).

It is also explained that the drunken-bum's hatred of the town must have been absorbed by Amazo along with his energy, explaining his current rampage. (All a bit Proteus on Muir Island eh?)

J'Onn takes control and splits the team up which he instantly second-guesses (has he ever been quite so backward in coming forward before?)
Amazo (finally looking like himself) attacks J'Onn (oh yes and that Dale Gunn chap) and defeats him pretty quickly and easily leaving him thinking...

"Where is the true leader of the New League? Where is Aquaman?" - which is a bit unfair really, I mean okay, he should have left word he was taking time of but...

...we get a last page/epilogue where we catch up with Aquaman who takes the plunge and leaves in search of Mera...
(takes the plunge..? Oh please yourself!)

So, despite George Tuska's fill-in artwork (which was quite functional, don't get me wrong but hardly 'cutting edge') there's quite a bit of team characterisation here, and the team does seem to be working better. Vibe's new look is fine, the lack of bitchiness between Vixen and Zatanna was quite pleasant actually (although I don't think Zatanna even got a line out this issue) and the return of an old JLA villain well timed.
Way too much is being made of Arthur's matrimonial issues and I would like them resolved quickly - I do hope he stays around and stays as leader a while longer as he is a draw for me to this book but I fear Conway can't quite get a handle on him and may be pushing him out?

Anyone else out there reading along thinking the team is turning or corner..?

Next Issue "BattleCry!"
More Amazo? Anyone else need a costume change? Will Aquaman be back?

Come Back...

Justice League of America #242 (09/85)
Writer - Gerry Conway George Tuska - Penciller
Editor - Alan Gold Inker - Mike Machlan
Cover Art – Chuck Patton & Mike Machlan
  “Battle Cry"
This is a familiar cover design, usually the roll-call outside of the main framed picture is used to show different members of different teams in a crossover but here it's just the team (and hangers on) oh and thye villain.
Annoyingly we get 'Ralph 'N' Sue' instead of his heroic identity and along with Sue appearing on the cover we get fellow civilian Dale Gunn. I can't really see why.

The main cover picture then is Aquaman and Mera, reunited and looking very happy to be so - are we in for a good-news story? Maybe but Amazo gets a "Plus Amazo! Just to spoil Everybody's fun!" blurb.

As per this series convention, we open with a two-page prologue, here featuring Aquaman and recapping that his wife Mera left him "six weeks ago", he searches the seas for her, asking passing fish if they've seen her (no, honestly) and is sent looking for her in 'the place of dark currents"...

Back in Canada and the splash opens with (at last) Elongated Man (in costume) and Gypsy involved in their own search, this time for last issue's badguy Amazo.
They are confronted by a bear and Gypsy's camoflague power proves useless as the bear can smell her location. This forces her to use her new 'illusion' power and she scares the bear (by making it think it had fell into water - I think?.) 
Then Amazo attacks.

Elsewhere and Steel's "electronically augmented hearing" (again - where is this different to Cyborg?)  picks up his teammates battle sounds and Zatanna creates a mirror that shows the fight as if on a screen. (Don't ask how - it's magic.)
Zatanna reminds Steel that J'Onn J'Onnz told them to contact each other with "our signal rings" where Steel wants to race right off. At least Zatanna got to say something even if it was a bit dull.

Elsewhere again and Vibe and Vixen contrast reactions to the wilderness, Vibe hates it and Vixen loves it. They are alerted via signal watches of the Amazo sighting and while reminding us of his origins and that he had escaped Superman's Fortress of Solitude prior to this adventure, Vibe realises he suffers from hayfever.
I think that's supposed to be a comedy moment.

Elsewhere, finally, Dale Gunn (thankfully not in yellow spandex) helps J'Onn pull himself together and J'Onn announces the answer to defeating Amazo is... water.
Which brings us back to Aquaman's underwater search for Mera. (seemless segue Gerry!)... and he finds her! (The 'place of dark currents' not really being a plotpoint.)

Steel fights Amazo (who, remember, has the powers of the Original League), who has absorbed the rather unhinged mind of local resident Jake MacGregor as the rest of the team arrive.
We actually get a good fight here, probably the best we've seen this new League while J'Onn and Gunn actually fly away to go back to the Artic on J'Onn's hunch while he actually believes the rest of the team will not engage Amazo, "my orders were clear".


Aquaman and Mera finally reconcile by voicing their long suppressed feelings regarding the death of their son, "Welcome home, my husband, my love. Welcome home."
It's a full blown 'ahhhh' moment.

Evil-Canadian-controlled Amazo explains that he hates everyone as he used to work down a mine and drops a rock over a hole he's buried the JLA in so they can experience the dark like he did.

Fade to black cliff-hanger.

So, we get a nice amount of time for all team members here, probably the best balance so far and this really is actually beginning to feel like a team.

Thankfully Aquaman's marital woes tearing him away from his team member duties appears to be over and I think it's fair to assume we might get a full team reunion next issue.

Despite the cover appearance, Sue Dibney was not in the issue at all.

George Tuska turned in a much better performance here, with some really nice figures here, Zatanna looking good and he seems to have Steel down well although his Aquaman's haircut is awful!.

Am I alone in getting to like this series?

Next issue- "To Be Concluded Next Issue: Return of the Sea King!"
(He's not really been gone much has he?)

Come Back...

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