I was going to do a thread on my FIVE favorite Justice League/Justice Society team-ups when I discovered that I couldn't pick just five! So I'm going to write about all of them. These won't be synopses since I am assuming that everyone is familar with them, thanks to the Justice League Archives and the Crisis On Multiple Earths TPBs. This will just be my personal recollections and observations with a few facts. I'll start in the Mister Silver Age sub-heading then continue in my Fan of Bronze.
The first seven team-ups were written, of course, by Gardner Fox and the first six illustrated by Mike Sekowsky.
JUSTICE LEAGUE #21-22 (Au-S'63): The Crisis on Earth One & The Crisis on Earth Two
The JLA: This was the only JLA/JSA meeting that the Martian Manhunter played a part in the Silver Age.
Green Arrow meets his future love interest, the Black Canary. Naturally no reaction.
Both Flashes are taken out of the story early since they already had three team-ups in Flash.
The JSA: Instead of including Wonder Woman and Doctor Mid-Nite, Fox revived Doctor Fate and Hourman, neither seen since WWII.
Doctor Fate-restored with his full golden helmet, something that Silver Age readers would not know or even Bronze Age ones since DC would only reprint one Dr.Fate story with his half-helmet! But his gloves would be missing for awhile.
Hawkman-was revived wearing a hawk helmet in Flash #137 yet returned to wearing his yellow cowl. He appeared in Justice League before his Silver Age counterpart, even though he was mentioned in #3.
Black Canary-her marital arts skills and amulet devices are highlighted.
Hourman and the Atom--neither's super-strength is mentioned.
Green Lantern-seemed to hit it off with Hal Jordan right away.
The Villains: The Crime Champions are a great idea but...
Chronos takes on Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman!
The Icicle goes one-on-one with Doctor Fate!
The Fiddler is bald and wears a wig. Take that, Luthor!
The Icicle looks like Groucho Marx! "Last night, I shot Green Lantern in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I'll never know!"
The Crime Champions have a HQ between the Earths in "a great sphere of vibratory energy" that is multi-leveled and tastely furnished. Their civvies however leave a lot to be desired!
Some Notes: The golden, chained cages that the two teams are trapped in #22 was ripped off inspired by Mystery In Space #18 from 1954!
While the two groups meet, they do not team-up until the end when sixteen heroes gang up on six villains.
The Crime Champions do not return until the 80s!
I'm happy to leave O'Neill's treatment of MM at that Commander. I do prefer my superhero universes joined up and consistent if at all possible, too, but I can see that writers approach these stories differently to readers. Writing a good story with a beginning, middle and end and a good spine is tough enough without also making it jibe with a load of other stories.
I was just trying to find a way to look at issue 71 that didn't imply the writer was a lazy scoundrel! (I joke!)
Bond is a strange choice of analogy. The keepers of James Bond are constantly updating his backstory and personality to keep him as popular as possible in the public mind. The chain-smoking mysoginistic WWII vet hasn't been presented to us for a while, and presenting him as such could be seen as doing harm to the character. In the movies he even drinks ghastly supermarket vodka, which Fleming's character wouldn't be caught dead slurping.
I feel a little bad about hi-jacking Philip's thread, but Jeff put his finger on it when he said that these issues are transitional, and worth loking at for that reason. I don't intend to cover all the JLA stories surrounding Philip's JSA issues, but in these issues 63-85 or so, you can see the Silver Age give way to the Bronze Age before your eyes. It's fascinating to me. Change is always painful and growth does involve making a few mistakes.
Not that the Bronze Age is 100% better than the SIlver Age, but sometimes we have to grow and change whether we want to or not, whether the new state is better or not. O'Neill is setting off into undiscovered territory here, so I'm happy to give him some leeway.
I know the above doesn't quite address the Commander's specific point about O'Neill's laziness with Silver Age continuity, but I thought it worth saying.
I'm still enjoying the hell out of these stories, and won't accept them being described as inferior. I see a lot of the ernest hippy seriousness as part of its charm, just as the wildly imaginative over-plotting of the Fox era was part of ITS charm.
Thanks Mr SA for your responses. Not sure you qualify as the typical non-connossoir I was referring to though! Regarding how little hay is made with the inter-generational thing, I'd say it was more the editorials choice rather than the readers choice not to burden the stories with too much reference to the trials and dillemas of their parent's lives. I know when I was 10-12 years old, I loved stories where Captain America met his old teammates and found them aging, or Daredevil ran into his old flames. I'm not talking War & Peace here, just using superhero stories as a window into life as we live it - as the readers were going to live it. As for the readership of the time, weren't they moving away from DC because of the blandness compared to Marvel?
Your point about the perceived 3-5 year reader turnover is very pertinent to the MM discussion.
Thanks for your input Luke. You are always digging up those stubborn facts and points of information that go against the tidy little narratives we construct for ourselves. If O'Neill was the only writer to use J'onn in the early Bronze Age, that goes against my contention that he was just getting the Manhunter out of the way in JLA #71.
That's a great encounter with Harlan Ellison, Commander. Thanks for sharing it. He did go to a lot of bother just to somewhat lamely agree to your original underlying assumption, though. Intriguing!
Issue 76 - In Each Man There Is a Demon! - is narrated by Green Arrow and Black Canary, which is a novelty in itself. This is another historic tale, showing us Ollie’s new Robin Hood look, as well as describing the loss of his fortune. I notice that Brave and The Bold #80 is the real beginning of this new era. The plot is a strange one, as some leftover effect of their encounter with Aquarius causes the evil within the team members to manifest itself as their magic doubles.
Philosophically, it’s a move away from the Silver Age too, asserting that the members of the JLA are just as fallible as everyone else.
“And once more we were fully human – Neither better nor worse than the other 3 billion men and women who walk the Earth.”
That’s quite a move away from the Manichean simplicity of the Silver Age, and marks this story out as very significant, philosophically speaking.
I’ll admit, though, that such a view of the heroes has the seeds of some terrible stories in it, culminating in drug-addled Roy Harper crying over the body of a dead cat!
Another reason I had to talk about these stories is that I have been reading ABOUT many of them since I started hanging around on this board over 5 years ago. It’s really exciting for me to finally read, in context, the issues which the Silver Age fans have been bemoaning for so long.
Justice League of America #77 is a doozy!
"Snapper Carr – Super Traitor!", like "And So My World Ends", has a lot of story and far-reaching continuity events but being another done-in-one, seems designed just to get rid of another embarrassing remnant of the fast-disappearing Silver Age. Snapper willingly takes part on ‘John Dough’s’ scheme to publically humiliate the JLA and call them to account for not being "Normal".
I can see it’s a satire on the older generations mistrust of the long-haired peaceniks who question everything that has been hithertofore held dear, but Snapper doesn’t come out of it all to well. He helps subdue Batman with laughing gas, but the joke’s on him in the end and he has to leave the Justice League in disgrace. Of course, it is Ollie who gets to beat Snapper's brow for him on the way out.
O’Neill doesn't take any prisoners, does he?
These are O'Neill's first overt 'issue' issues, as he uses his superhero tale to highlight a real-world problem, one of the many threats to the general good that the so-called protectors of humanity have been blithely unconcerned with up to now. It’s clear that it's a subject that O’Neill is very passionate about and that adds something to this tale. It even gets a whole two issues!
Of course, showing DC's finest punching out some pollution-loving aliens mightn't be doing much against pollution itself, but O'Neill's story and those apocalyptic covers were a small part of a drive to push these issues to the front of the mass-consciousness and as such it has to be respected.
And, somewhat like the philosophical corner that was turned in 'In Each Man there is a Demon', once superheroes start looking around them at real world problems, it's kind of hard to go back. There may be an indirect effect too. It may partly explain why team books especially have since tended to be plotted in the style of Scheherazade, whereby one adventure no sooner ends than another is begun practically in the same instant. Thus the team is kept too busy to address issues like world hunger, or the sale of arms to genocidal despots for use against their own people.
I admire O’Neill’s tackling of these issues, even if there are some clunky moves along the way. Values are funny things. GA goading the team into paying attention to social justice may be a sudden change of gears for the comic, but the so-called Justice League sitting around bored as we’ve seen numerous times before does push the attitude that all is right on the Earth, and only an attack by a mad scientist or an alien despot can upset this fine little world we’ve got going on here. Saying, or implying, that there isn’t a problem is part of the problem. I don’t blame O’Neill for using this mass-market access to young minds to disrupt received beliefs. The Status Quo was never all that.
O'Neill is commenting metatextually on the earlier Justice League stories and using the comics to refer outwards to the world the readers live in. Its not that Earth One is suddenly being polluted, or as in GL/GA #76, there are suddenly crumbling tenements with black people living in them, but again a DC writer is shifting the ground under the feet of the heroes. Where were such things before? Isn't this a kind of reboot? And if one aspect of reality can be rewritten at a stroke, why not other details? This is one of the ways that a writer views the stories differently to the readers. They see the grinding of the gears and the turning of the wheels that we don't. They know much more intimately that continuity is an illusion, and that might explain their cavalier attitude to it.
Another thing I’ve noticed about this period of O’Neill’s writing is that he often uses Batman’s voice to comment on the tropes and traditions of the form he is writing in. Batman here wonders aloud why they feel compelled to make jokes and puns as they exchange violent blows with their enemies. A very early O’Neill Justice League story had some gangsters talking about this as they tried to tackle Batman. No doubt he has a vision of Batman, especially, as someone who wouldn’t trivialise what they do in this way. So these issues are transitional towards his later grim avenger Batman stories as well as towards the issue-driven GL/GA stories which started around the very month this earnest two-parter wrapped up.
I’ve already pulled out my GL/GA collections and leafed through them. Strange that their introductions were written 20 years ago, and refer to producing the comics 20 years before that! I’d love to trace their progress in parallel with O’Neill’s Justice League. Alas, like George, I also have a day job, so I can’t really do that. The way all these different comics – Brave and the Bold, GL, Hawkman and Atom, are starting to intertwine, Marvel-fashion, is another interesting development that really kicks in with these issues. I’m sometimes much more interested in the sub-universe a single writer creates across his different books than the ersatz-consistency of multiple authors’ input.
"Complete aside, but is it true that George Marshall was given the special title 'General of the Army' because otherwise he would have been called Marshal Marshall?"
"I always heard that that was true - that he basically begged Roosevelt not to make him 'Field Marshal Marshall'. I'm open to correction, of course."
As you probably guessed, gentlemen, I have addressed this, but it turned into such a lengthy discourse that, instead of posting it here and taking this thread 'way off topic, I published it in a separate thread, titled "How General Marshall Came Close to Being Field Marshal Marshall".
To add to Figs' comments, I found my own files for these issues, so it might be a little too serious,
It was #75(N'69) that had the Black Canary join the JLA, with Hawkman objecting and Superman demanding that she be admitted immediately. His motivations become apparent in #219-220.
The Destructors, evil green JLA duplicates created from the residual magic from Aquarius, were a subtle riff on the Avengers. It was reaaaaaal subtle because I never realized it until it was mentioned in Justice League Companion, Vol 1, and I went back to reread it. BTW, is Volume 2 ever coming out?
The Black Canary was given vague, hard to control sonic powers to distinguish her from the New Wonder Woman, Batgirl or Hawkgirl; any of whom could (and to be honest, should have) had her spot!
Here's my continuity conundrum: If #74 took place ONE WEEK AGO, then how could Green Arrow grow a beard, change his costume, get treated by TWO psychiatrists, have his adventure with Batman in Brave & Bold #85 (S'69) in which he says he hasn't been GA in months and lose his fortune in SEVEN DAYS?
Man, that was a bad week! No wonder Ollie copped an attitude!
#76 was a reprint but it did contain the two portraits of The Justice Society and the Seven Soldiers of Victory!
#77 which featured the betrayal of the League by a misguided and conflicted Snapper Carr, trying to rebel and be better than his mentors only leads to his departure, so the joke's on him! However the potential of a college-age, maturing Snapper was never utilized.
Since this issue was covered dated December 1969, it was the last JLA issue of the 60s. Was Snapper's removal meant to distant the JLA from its Silver Age past and a signal for new mature themes filled with the then in-vogue relevance?
#78-79 (F-Ma'70) were filled with contridictions. O'Neil dives into "Relevance" with the blight of pollution, using Green Arrow as his voice of the people, yet he moves the team to their new Satellite, 22,300 miles above the Earth away from the people. He emphasizes some hardcore sci-fi plots and gimmicks and then revived The Vigilante, DC's cowboy hero who warns the team about The Doomsters yet does not figure in the ending at all nor is offered membership. Really if you read the second half and replace Vig with Aquaman, it's the same story!
I don't know if anyone wants to comment on #80-81, but I think they were rather silly and weak. Probably again to justify some nifty Neal Adams covers!
If O'Neill was the only writer to use J'onn in the early Bronze Age, that goes against my contention that he was just getting the Manhunter out of the way in JLA #71.
Not necessarily, because he could have gotten more interested in him after writing Justice League of America #71.
Aside from the stories I mentioned, J'onn also appeared in the 70s in Justice League of America #114 (Len Wein), in a villain's account of his fight against the JLA, and #144 (Steve Englehart), told in flashback (with J'onn very prominent in the story and narrating). After the Adventure Comics/World's Finest storyline (the last part of which was written by Bob Haney, with O'Neil editing) he turned up in 1980 in Justice League of America ##177-178 and DC Comics Presents #27 (the first appearance of Mongul).
Philip said "so it might be a little too serious"
What's the problem with serious? I thought we ran the gamut here from serious to frivolous?
It was #75(N'69) that had the Black Canary join the JLA, with Hawkman objecting and Superman demanding that she be admitted immediately. His motivations become apparent in #219-220.
So he waited over 10 years and after BC had presumably(?) been instrumental in saving the Earth many times over before saying I told you so?
The Destructors, evil green JLA duplicates created from the residual magic from Aquarius, were a subtle riff on the Avengers. It was reaaaaaal subtle...
I'll say. Obviously I never caught it. Care to eleaborate?
Was Snapper's removal meant to distant the JLA from its Silver Age past and a signal for new mature themes filled with the then in-vogue relevance?
"Thus does Jean Loring pass through an agony ... and emerges whole!"
Probably again to justify some nifty Neal Adams covers!
Any writer has trouble making a threat serious enough for a team with Superman, Batman and the Flash on it, and O'Neill is struggling here.
I think the problem is that the writers many times thought strictly in terms of power,and that's a tough order (although including Batman in that trio doesn't impress me as much as swapping him for GL). You need a villain really, really powerful, and then it looks like these uber-powerful heroes are ganging up on him, which isn't a great image.
Many of the early JLAs were more focused on solving puzzles--bringing pieces together, working in small teams and then coming together to figure things out. Those kinds of challenges can't be solved with a green boxing glove.
But those are harder to think up, even if they're way more plausible for stumpers of a team of such powerful heroes. Superman's comics often relied on that notion (which is why Superman's arch foe isn't someone extremely powerful but someone extremely smart and devious). But they too often resulted in hoaxes and goofy stuff to explain away what was happening rather than puzzling out a solution.
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