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!
#71, as I gathered, was a sore spot for the Commander, Mister Silver Age, Fogey, Dave and the rest as it completely altered J'onn J'onzz's origin and backstory! He went from a reluctant visitor to a political exile after boasting how peaceful and wonderful Mars was. Yes, it gave a reason for not asking the team not to bring him home but for space travellers like Superman, Green Lantern and Hawkman, it made them oblivious to what was happening "next door"!
". . . And So My World Ends", from JLA # 71 (May, 1969), is the classic example of a writer who has this Neat Idea, and by gum, he isn't going to let any established facts get in the way of it. It's also a textbook example of a lazy writer---because everything that O'Neil wanted to accomplish, he could have accomplished without ignoring what had gone before in the Manhunter's stories.
In the Manhunter from Mars series, during its run in Detective Comics, we had seen occasional glimpses of life on Mars. The longest and most in-depth look came in "The Mystery of the Martian Marauders", from Detective Comics # 301 (Mar., 1962). And it was nothing like the war-torn, martial-law-based society O'Neil insisted it was, in JLA # 71, at the time Mark Erdel's robot brain teleported J'onn J'onzz to Earth.
A couple of years back, I did a Deck Log entry pointing out the probable reasons why J'onn J'onzz did not use the robot brain, or ask his JLA buddies, to return to Mars. Explaining it plausibly did not require a complete rewrite of the Manhunter's history.
O.K., so O'Neil wants to write a story about a power-mad white martian, Commander Blanx, devastating Mars in his effort to conquer it. He could have done it simply by having J'onn J'onzz's narrative to his JLA buddies in issue # 71 going something like this:
". . . After I was able to use the robot brain to travel back and forth to Mars [which MM was able to do, as of Detective Comics # 301], I had planned to return and visit my family. But between my Justice League duties and my efforts to destroy the criminal combine Vulture, I never got around to it.
"Finally, after putting an end to Vulture, I made that long-postponed trip home---and was devastated by what I discovered.
"On my world, there is a race of white martians. They have always been a war-like, belligerent people, but they constituted a small fraction of Mars's population and had never posed a real threat to our society. But, in the years since my last visit home, the white martians had plotted, designing great weapons of war, and then sprung against the peaceful green martians, under the command of their leader, Commander Blanx.
"In time, the green martians were able to defend themselves with terrible weapons of their own, and for the first time in millennia, Mars was at war! Total, annihilating war!
"To my horror, I discovered that I had returned to a world not burgeoning in civilisation and life, but desolate and in ruins . . . ."
And from there, O'Neil could have written just the story he wrote---without having to change a single fact already established in the Manhunter's history.
Ah, Commander, how I wish that you were writing comics... I would pay good money for stuff like that!
Come to think of it... I wish I were writing comics! Or Cap, or any of a number of us...
Oh, and regarding that Superman time travel story you cited... I never read it, but it makes absolutely perfect sense. And by the way... WAYNE BORING ART! YUM!!! I wasn't sure about his art at the very first (when I was seven years old... :) but I learned how good he was! I compared his art to Al Plastino's and... well... Plastino had his ups and downs, but too many downs. I loved that Boring art. (Not Curt Swan, of course, but then... who else could do what Swan did?)
TRIVIA QUESTION FOR EVERYONE EXCEPT COMMANDER ADAM: Anyone remember the only time Wayne Boring's artwork appeared on Justice League of America?
Wasn't that "The Return of Mopee", where he came back even more powerful than before? No-one ever remembers that one.
(cough) cover #59 (cough)
A really mind-blowing fill-in for Boring was in Superman #150, when he inked Curt Swan on the cover story (but not on the cover). It's Swan poses but they look like Boring's characters. It's really strange.
Now that I've thought about Justice League #71 some more, there were glaring ommissions and flaws. The Green/Good Martians never really fought back. They did not help the JLA fight their battle and fled their world without even waiting for J'onn. Now granted there were evil, criminal Martians shown in Detective and Brave & Bold #50, but that proves that there must have been some ways of dealing with them on Mars. And what was Commander Blanx's goal here? To rule a dead planet? And why would the White Martians agree to that? What's in it for them?
Then there's the confusion over why the Manhunter would put on a disguise instead of shape shift. And these aliens buying Mars, wouldn't that get the attention of the Guardians? So many questions for one story!
Also, DC always seemed to tweak Superman's face on their covers but the rest of the JLA look unconscious, he looks like a zombie!
Their thinking at the time could very well have been: "We're gonna write this character off anyway, what does it matter if we get a few details wrong?"
That seemed to be the thinking at DC across the board in the early-to-mid '70's, given the rife of continuity mistakes that plagued their titles.
The debate about getting the details right as always divided into two camps:
You have the non-continuitists, who insist that getting past details correct doesn't matter, if it's a good story. Most of these folks are equivocating. What they really mean is: ignoring past details that I didn't know about or that don't matter to me is O.K., as long as it's a good story. But if a detail that is significant to the non-continuitist is ignored, he'll be as put out as anyone.
Then you have the continiuity-mavens. These are the folks who expect a new writer to familiarise himself with the past details of a series when he takes it over. And then not make any changes in the past facts without an accounting. This, I believe, is reasonable. As long as it's not a slavish insistence on continuity. The rub there is, what is a slavish insistence to a detail in the opinion of one person, is a necessary adherence to another. My rule-of-thumb has always been---if I, just a casual reader of DC's comics in the Silver Age, detect an error in continuity, then the professionals, the guys who get paid to put out those books, should have caught it, too.
Besides that, they have all the talent available to them for consultation. I mean, how tough would it have been for O'Neil or Schwartz to pop over to Jack Miller's office and ask, "Hey, did the Martian Manhunter ever go back to Mars, or did we ever get a look at Mars, in his own series?"
The fact that O'Neil or Schwartz apparently didn't do that may be because they were afraid of what the answer would be---that the Mars shown in the Manhunter series was nothing like the one they wanted to depict in JLA # 71. Now, in my opinion, O'Neil had an obligation to rewrite his story to conform to the earlier depiction of Mars, or at least, explain why it was different. And as I pointed out, it wouldn't have been that tough to do.
Certainly, a great many fans are non-continitists, and they wouldn't care if ". . . and So My World Ends" violated past continuity or not. But those folks are going to be on board with you, one way or the other.
Ignoring past continuity alienates the continuity-mavens. It disrupts the cohesive sense that the DC titles occur in a shared universe, and for the continuity-mavens, that's an important quality. It's not like comics of the Golden Age, in which editors and writers pretty much figured them to be disposable entertainment. By the 1970's, DC's staffers knew there was a strong fan-base who followed the events of the heroes.
So the part that I don't understand is, even though O'Neil was writing off the Martian Manhunter, why do it in such a way that turned some of the JLA fans away---the continuity-maven ones? Why deliberately sacrifice some fans, particularly since O'Neil could have gotten exactly the same story without doing so.
The first answer that comes to me is---lazy writing.
I love the idea of a joined up interwoven fictional universe too. As you say, there was no reason, storywise, not to make it consistent with earlier MM stories.
Still we're left with "...And so my world ends" rather than another story, and its an interesting thing in itself. It seems as if 'editorial' weren't interested in having the story be consistent, so there was no moral or professional onus on O'Neill to make it so when he wrote the story. Clearly, he wasn't being paid to write such a story. From what I understand of the how many of these writers approach their work, he was being paid to write a story (any shelf-filling story - on time - to keep the printers and distributors happy) but he wasn't being paid to research the stories! I think there is a difference between how much a jobbing writer will know about the last few years worth of comics, and how much a 12 year old dyed-in-the-wool fan will know. Those MM stories in particular would have been obscure, appearing in a few different disparate low-selling comics, from what I understand.
Otherwise we are just wishing these comics were produced under different circumstances - treated more like art, as I've argued elsewhere.
Looking at what we do have though, I am struck by how callously MM and his whole world was dispatched. These are momentous events involving perhaps the very first all-new Silver Age character, and should have been a 2-3 issue story at least! It looks like the decision was made to not have him around anymore. From the evidence of JL #71 and his notable absence in comics leading up to it, it looks like they decided that he would not even be contenanced as existing. Was he such an abject failure with the fans? Perhaps his high power level was a problem once they decided to deem him an unperson. The Creeper could just disappear into the background and still be thought of as punching out low-level gangsters, but the question would always be asked as to J'onn's wherabouts every time a major alien invasion occurred!
Stories that are editorially mandated 'housekeeping' are often much less satisfying than stories a writer feels are worth telling, and I think that's affected this story. O'Neill is just getting it out of the way. There are things here that even a Justice League neophyte like myself saw as being quite a bit off, not to mention Philip's objections.
Still, thinking about this story offers an intriguing insight into how these comics were produced during this era.
I noticed that there was no mention of J'onn's family either. I have to say, that the post-Crisis MM was a more satisfying character. Seperated tragically by a gulf of time, as well as space, from his home and loved ones, someone with deep emotions and attachments that don't run close to the surface, and someone often depicted as thoroughly alien to us. All improvements on the green, bald-headed, not-Superman we had in the Silver Age!
JUSTICE LEAGUE #73-74 (Au-S'69): Star Light, Star Bright--Death Star I See Tonight/ Where Death Fears to Tread!
Again there’s not a lot for a neophyte like me to add to Philip’s entertaining take.
Using the comics to make some general observations though:
I’m sure the difference between Marvel and DC comics must seem like a very fine distinction to non-fans, like wine connoisseurs telling which side of the vineyard the grapes in two similar wines grew. But to comics connoisseurs, Marvel and DC do have subtle yet distinct differences. The opening scene with the council of sentient suns seems like it could only belong in a DC comic. It’s just too fanciful and defies any application of hard science. Marvel has always been more grounded. Sure Galactus is larger than life and almost God-like in his powers, but he still seems like something the universe as we know it might just possibly throw up.
The Council of Living Stars belongs in a fictional universe that celebrates making the impossible real. The DCU in the Silver Age really was a place where the only bounds were of the imagination. Too bad they chucked all that out with the Crisis on Infinite Earths!
‘Realism’ isn’t much of a compensation when you lose things like the Council of Living Stars!
The other thing that strikes me, reading yet another JLA-JSA team-up, is how little hay they make with the passing of years, the differences between generations or the trials of middle-age. I’ve said elsewhere that superheroes are defined by what they DO, rather than what they stand around talking about. Meltzer proved that with his abysmal reboot of the post Infinite Crisis Justice League. Still, these Silver Age team-ups are the other extreme! How can the comics be about these generational teams’ periodic meetings, but never be ‘about’ the passage of time, or how the generations relate to each other, or anything thematic like that?
It’s as if the creators have too little faith in what they can do with these types of stories, or the weighty issues their young audience might be able to deal with. In fact, superhero escapism is the perfect channel for introducing their no doubt intelligent young audience to more serious themes. The death of Phoenix and its aftermath was my first real contemplation of our mortality. There is a limit to how much thematic weight superheroes can bear, I'll admit, but they can take a lot more than Silver Age DC allowed them to.
And its not as if they didn’t have the super-selling example of Marvel to give them a few clues. OK, maybe they didn’t want to throw out things like the wonderfully fanciful Council of Living Stars with the bathwater, but it looks like they didn’t even try.
I’m not talking about ‘relevancy’ or dreary ‘realism’ here either. Alan Moore showed that a universe like the DCU was loaded with whimsical symbolic metaphors and parables that could be used to discuss ‘the saliencies of existence’. Or you can make up a whole subsection of the DCU peopled with living symbols and metaphors, as Jack Kirby had before him.
My understanding is that DC was on the back foot sales-wise against Marvel from the mid-sixties onwards. Too bad crediting their readership with some intelligence wasn’t high on their sales plans.
For what it’s worth I see O’Neill trying to wrestle the JLA story-form into something that he can use to tell meaningful stories in these issues. As he doesn't quite succeed, they are somewhat transitional tales in that regard.
For what it's worth, I love Dr Fate in these team-ups. It might just be the costume. No-face masks always work well in comics, and he has those blacked out eyes too.
I'm not a close enough reader of these comics to tell what his personality is like!
And I'm not a critical enough reader to have a grudge against magic characters. I guess I'm kind of passive. If a story is carrying me along with fun and spectacle, I'm not too worried how this use of magic here contradicts the spell he did in another comic, or is some evidence of the writer not thinking up a more sensible way for the team to get out of their fix. The very reason I read comics is to see things like guys in no-face helmets conjuring impossible solutions outta their butts!
And check out the TWO iconic crying Supermen at Larry Lance's funeral!
As usual, Fig, you bring some interesting points to the table, and strongly enough that I find myself agreeing with you on some of them.
"It seems as if 'editorial' weren't interested in having the story be consistent, so there was no moral or professional onus on O'Neil to make it so when he wrote the story. Clearly, he wasn't being paid to write such a story. From what I understand of the how many of these writers approach their work, he was being paid to write a story (any shelf-filling story - on time - to keep the printers and distributors happy) but he wasn't being paid to research the stories!"
This is incisive on your part, and I actually agree with you---to a point. We have no way of knowing, of course, but if Julius Schwartz didn't care if O'Neil was consistent with the Manhunter's continuity, then O'Neil wasn't obligated as an employee to make his story conform to previous details presented about J'onn J'onzz.
However, as you've guessed, there is a "but" coming, and in this case, I believe it goes to the professional ethic of a writer. I've used this model before, so I'll repeat it as briefly as I can: if I were hired to continue the series of James Bond novels, following John Gardner and Raymond Benson (no relation), you better believe that my editor would expect me to familiarise myself with all of the traits and set pieces and earlier established events of James Bond and his life. I would be expected to know these things inside and out. For that matter, that expectation would attach, even if I were writing a comic strip or a comic book about the character.
But, let's take your point about Schwartz possibly not caring if O'Neil adhered to the Manhunter's continuity and apply it in my model. Suppose, for some wild reason, my editor hired me to write the next James Bond model and his only marching order was "Make it a good story." In such a case, I would still feel obligated to research Bond and get all of the past details down pat and then either conform to them in my story, or provide a reason for changing them.
You see, James Bond isn't my character. I would simply have been handed stewardship of him for the moment. As part of a professional ethic, I would feel obliged to learn the past details. And if I had a Neat Idea that I was dying to put to paper, it would be incumbent upon me to provide a rationale for any changes I introduced in Bond and have that rationale make sense. It doesn't matter that the boss didn't order that; I would feel it was part of my job, professionally.
Now, I understand that, for comic-book writers, the deadline clock ticks much faster. And no, I wouldn't expect Denny O'Neil to spend a day poring through DC's bound volumes of Detective Comics or House of Mystery, researching details. On the other hand, I would expect him to do some research. As I said, many of the people at DC would be living archives that he could consult without taking too much time out of his day. Many resources, even in that pre-Internet era, would be only a telephone call away.
That's why the gross errors I see comic-book writers and artists make about the military annoy me to no end. It wouldn't take more than a five-minute phone call to any number of subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy. So the comic-book writer's argument that he doesn't have time to do the necessary research doesn't always hold water.
"Looking at what we do have though, I am struck by how callously MM and his whole world was dispatched. These are momentous events involving perhaps the very first all-new Silver Age character, and should have been a 2-3 issue story at least! It looks like the decision was made to not have him around anymore. From the evidence of JLA # 71 and his notable absence in comics leading up to it, it looks like they decided that he would not even be contenanced as existing."
This is a keen observation, Fig. It pretty much reflects my very thinking at the time. As a JLA fan, it became obvious around late 1965 that Gardner Fox, probably under orders from Schwartz, was shoving some Justice League members to the back of the bus in order to play up Superman, Batman, the Flash, Green Lantern, and, to a lesser extent, Hawkman. Yet, of all of the downplayed JLA members, the Martian Manhunter fared the worst; he was practically banished. From around 1964 to late '67, J'onn J'onzz rarely took part in a JLA adventure, and when he did, it was nearly always in the infrequent stories which featured the entire League.
Then, after Batmania died down, Fox started using the downplayed members again, and the Manhunter enjoyed a brief return, only to disappear without explanation again in the spring of 1968.
The upshot of this "history lesson" is that, to me at the time, it sure seemed like somebody---Fox or Schwartz or whomever---was making a dedicated effort to keep the Manhunter specifically out of the JLA stories. Nor do I think it was coïncidence that J'onn J'onzz's abrupt vanishing act in 1968 occurred at the same time his series in House of Mystery was cancelled.
And then, it took Denny O'Neil almost half a year after he took over the JLA writing chores to get around to addressing the absent J'onn J'onzz (who, by then, had not been seen in the title for eight issues). And I'm of the thought that O'Neil wouldn't have done it at all, except that lots and lots of JLA fans were writing letters asking what became of the Manhunter. Schwartz probably told O'Neil something like, "Hey, write a story about the Martian Manhunter so these damn fans will stop pestering me about him. I don't care what, as long as its a good story, but make sure that you write that green-skinned pain-in-the-keister out of the series for good."
If that was the case, then your comment below was spot-on:
"Stories that are editorially mandated 'housekeeping' are often much less satisfying than stories a writer feels are worth telling, and I think that's affected this story. O'Neill is just getting it out of the way. There are things here that even a Justice League neophyte like myself saw as being quite a bit off, not to mention Philip's objections."
Figserello said: I’m sure the difference between Marvel and DC comics must seem like a very fine distinction to non-fans, like wine connoisseurs telling which side of the vineyard the grapes in two similar wines grew.
I think you either underestimate most people or the magnitude of the distinction between DC and Marvel comics back then. In many cases, we can tell whether it’s a DC or Marvel comic just by the story title, without even seeing the comic, characters or art! It’s the difference between “Double Danger on Earth” and “Lo, There Shall Come…An Ending!” or “Zero Hour in Silent City” and “This Man…This Menace!”
Once you get into the comics, the differences are even more apparent. I think that’s why some fans preferred one over the other so passionately. I liked reading both, although I was much more of a DC guy, if only because the choices were so much wider. I read comics for escape, not for total anarchy!
The other thing that strikes me, reading yet another JLA-JSA team-up, is how little hay they make with the passing of years, the differences between generations or the trials of middle-age.
There was some of that in the individual team-ups, but DC comics and JLA in particular were mostly about moving along the plot. I think they were less interested in the generational distinctions or reflecting on the trials of middle age – not really the readers’ biggest interest—than in simply showing two versions of the same character together or cool characters we didn’t see much.
Alan Moore showed that a universe like the DCU was loaded with whimsical symbolic metaphors and parables that could be used to discuss ‘the saliencies of existence’.
To be fair, I don’t think Moore’s version of the DCU would have gotten off the ground in the Silver Age. The readership was at least 10 years younger then and had different interests and concerns when they were plunking down their 12 cents.
Moore showed that these characters could have interesting lives for adults to read about, which DC had never much acknowledged. Moore’s JLA could ruminate on middle age, but I don’t think Schwartz’s could have. That's the same reason we never see a married Spider-Man when anybody buys the license for a show. That character's concerns appeal to a much different audience.
For what it’s worth I see O’Neill trying to wrestle the JLA story-form into something that he can use to tell meaningful stories in these issues.
I always thought O’Neill tried way too hard to make a meaningful point at the expense of entertainment in those stories. Although I do point to his JLA stories as the first examples of “relevancy,” when people want to say that concept is what started the Bronze Age, starting with O’Neill’s GL/GA. I think those worked better, most likely because he got some experience in balancing the two in JLA.
No-face masks always work well in comics, and he has those blacked out eyes too.
Wow, I feel just the opposite. I think no-face masks are really bad and have a lot to overcome, because they hide any emotion and don’t let us relate to the character well. Spidey’s works as well as it can because we get a constant barrage of his thoughts as he’s wise-cracking, and we know that if we could see his face he’d mostly have a look of sheer terror.
That’s probably why they cut back Fate’s mask to a half-mask in the GA for awhile. I agree the full mask is cool for Fate, but he’s supposed to be such a cold, inscrutable character that the full metallic face works for him. But it also keeps me from caring that much about him. He works as a supporting character, but I’ve never read a title that starred him.
Then the Commander said: I believe it goes to the professional ethic of a writer.
Well, the writer’s ethic is to please his editor. So it’s up to the editor to maintain the character’s integrity for the company and the continuing readers. That’s frankly still the problem with comics today. I don’t blame writers who abuse characters or even kill them off half as much as I do the editor who lets them do it. He’s the one who should be looking out for the long-term interests of the character.
In such a case, I would still feel obligated to research Bond and get all of the past details down pat and then either conform to them in my story, or provide a reason for changing them.
That sounds good, but it depends on the situation and the editor. As you note, Denny might not have had the time or capabilities to learn the back story. Schiff might not have been available. Even worse, maybe he did ask Schiff about visits to Mars and he either shrugged his shoulders or said “nope, never did it.”
Plus, there’s this: Schwartz was known for working over the plots with his writers before sending them off to flesh out the details. Schwartz comes up with some points, and Denny says, “We can’t do that. I talked with Schiff, and he says that wouldn’t be possible.” Man, I would not want to be sitting in that room when he said that! The nicest part would be when Schwartz said, “You did WHAT?”
That's why the gross errors I see comic-book writers and artists make about the military annoy me to no end. It wouldn't take more than a five-minute phone call to any number of subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy.
I always say that you don’t have to know lots of stuff to be an expert, you just have to know where to look it up to be one. I would guess that the writers have a combination of two problems: they don’t know who those subject-matter experts are, so tracking them down that first time will take a lot of time, and they also don’t care enough, or think the readers care enough, to do it.
Were it me, I’d do it wrong once and then when a reader like you complained, I’d ask you where I could get the right answers. That way, the expert comes to me, I get the information I need to be right from now on, you’re happy I took your advice to heart. Win-win.
The real problem comes when there's someone like Bob Ingersoll widely known who publicly says he'll help any writer with courtroom details--and none take him up on it. They're no doubt afraid he'll tell them he can't do what they want to do, and they want to do it more than they want to be right. They may get away with it, but if they don't, they can damage the story and their own credibility with readers. That's not usually worth the risk, IMO.
For artists, I would think the Internet takes away the excuse of not having the proper reference for most things. It's just too easy to find things any more that used to only be available in old catalogs or manuals. I cut them less slack on authenticity, especially for guns, cars or uniforms.
Schwartz probably told O'Neil something like, "Hey, write a story about the Martian Manhunter so these damn fans will stop pestering me about him. I don't care what, as long as its a good story,
I can believe it went something like that, although I doubt Schwartz ever sent a writer off just saying, “Write a good story” from what I hear of his story conferences. I doubt he cared what might have happened years earlier in Detective back-ups. And he probably figured his readers didn’t know either, given the 3- to 5-year theory of reader turnover.
Stories that are editorially mandated 'housekeeping' are often much less satisfying than stories a writer feels are worth telling.
I think that’s true, because the stories have a different agenda than being entertaining, and the two often diverge. That’s what dims down Roy Thomas’ All-Star Squadron so often. He thought those two were the same, because All-Star was his favorite comic of all time. So he used issues to explain away inconsistencies that really had no explanation in the run of a comic that was 40 years ago.
So a lot of time was spent on things of no importance to the reader (since he had no idea what was even being cleared up) but that Roy was passionate about explaining. I imagine many times that Roy was the only one who cared so much about these points he was writing about. So his idea of a good story differed from his readers.