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!

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Commander Benson said:

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.


The answer that comes to my mind is that Dennis O'Neil isn't Roy Thomas or Mark Waid, two writers who love to wallow in all the minutia and emphemera and arcana of the Golden Age and Silver Age (or, in Thomas's case, the Hyborean Age, given all the work he did on Conan the Barbarian).

The end result can be fun for the reader who gets all the references, but it isn't always for the reader who doesn't. I had that feeling recently with the Return of Bruce Wayne miniseries; I bailed after three issues, in part because all these allusions to stories I hadn't read made -- which, it seems, was entertaining for other folks here -- left me cold.
Now that I’m all caught up reading this thread, I’m glad to see that it is continuing well beyond the post directly concerning the last of the Silver Age JLA/JSA team-ups, because I, too, have been inspired to re-read some of the stories from this era. I chose to start with Justice League of America Archives Vol. 9, reprinting issues #71-80. These issue show, not the first stories by Denny O’Neil and Dick Dillin, but stories of a JLA still very much in transition. It’s a good series of stories to illustrate that transition, featuring as it does the return of the Martian Manhunter, the return of the Red Tornado, a JLA/JSA crossover, the transition of Black Canary from Earth-2 to Earth-1, the beginning of the satellite era and more.

I should state right up front that my preferences lie firmly in the Fox/Sekowsky era when it comes to the JLA. I also fancy myself as something of a “continuity-maven” as described in this thread yesterday by Commander Benson (just this morning in the TV forum I lamented the changes the 1795 EYKIW wrought upon Dark Shadows continuity), but some of his comments about “non-continuitists” cut me to the quick! The first time a read a JLA comic the year was 1973, but I didn’t start collecting until 1984, shortly after the three-parter which heralded his return (#228-230) as a matter of record.

I think I also owned issue #200 at that time, but it didn’t take me long to acquire the handful of the Manhunter from Mars’ previous JLA appearances right back to issue #71. I was not to read his first appearance in Detective Comics #225 until the batch of Silver Age Classics released to commemorate the closing of the printing plant in Sparta, Il in… what year would that have been? 1988 or so? Anyway, the Manhunter had never been a favorite character of mine, and JLA #71 was about the most interesting of his stories I had read up until that time. I had accumulated many of the early issues of JLA by that time, and didn’t bother tracking down any previous appearances of a character I was only marginally interested in to begin with. I other words, I didn’t know any better! Had I known, though, I certainly would not have approved of O’Neil’s handling of the character’s backstory. Re-reading this story recently, I was a little surprised to note the term “White Martians” was not used in #71 even once; they were referred to exclusively as “Polar Martians” (or “Pole Dwellers”).

One of my favorite reading projects is to follow the Black Canary arc from her team-ups with Starman (reprinted in her own archive edition), through her stories in JLA #73-75, right into her appearances in GL/GA (and I’m sure Phillip will be getting around to posting about the JLA/JSA team-up in #219-220 any week now).

Before I close, someone refresh my memory: in which comic did the Spectre bring the Spirit King to justice for the murder of Mr. Terrific?

"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."

 

An excellent point, Mr. S.A., and I was remiss for not stating that myself.  I agree; it is the editor who bears the final responsibility for insuring the integrity of a character's continuity.  (Whether he cares about it or not, is up to him.)  But I don't feel that it obviates the writer's duty to make the best attempt he can to do the same thing.

 

 

"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."

 

That reminds me of my Harlan Ellison story.  I'm not sure if I've ever told it here, but if I have, it was a long, long time ago, back on the old site, or maybe even on the old old site.

 

A dozen years or so ago, one of Peter David's "But I Digress" articles included a panel of the fictional President of the U.S. Lex Luthor unveiling his nominees for the Cabinet.  Included in the panel was the character Major Sam Lane, as "Secretary of Defense".  This was like nails on a chalkboard to my sense of military propriety.  Foremost, because it violates federal law for an active-duty serviceman to serve in a Cabinet post.  (The one exception in America's history was General of the Army George Marshall, when he served as Truman's Secretary of State; Marshall was an exception because of a technicality, but it still required an act of Congress to waive the federal law in Marshall's case.)

 

Second, because the "Army" uniform that Major Lane was wearing in no way resembled any Army uniform worn by its members in the last thirty years.  Obviously, the artist used no references; he had just drawn something he thought looked like an Army uniform.

 

I was pretty sure I could guess the writer's thinking on this matter:  "Hey, we need someone to be Luthor's secretary of defense.  That's military, right?  Why don't we use Lois Lane's father?  That would give us some good sub-plots and Lane's a major---that's a pretty high rank, isn't it?"  In other words, that was probably the extent of the writer's research into the military and key government posts.  And the artist had even less of an excuse for drawing it wrong; on-line and off, there are multiple---and easily consultable---sources which display the correct Army uniforms.

 

I sent Peter David an e-mail.  I didn't hold him responsible for that panel, of course.  But he was in position to address my question.

 

Now, from what I've gleaned of Mr. David from reading his column, I'm pretty sure that, ideologically, we are on opposite sides.  But I also noticed that when he addresses an issue in his column, he displays logical thought and applies a reasonable rationale.  That was what mattered to me, along with the fact that he was a comics writer himself and, therefore, was able to speak to the subject with reasonable authority.

 

In my e-mail, I asked Mr. David why comics writers and artists seemed to be constantly inaccurate in their depictions of the practises and uniforms of the military, when it was so easy to research the subject matter, nor would it be prohibitively time consuming.

 

Mr. David replied by e-mail and asked for my permission to run my e-mail in one of his column articles.  Sure, I replied, and in a month or two, it appeared.  Mr. David had used my e-mail as a springboard to address the greater topic of why writers and artists get things wrong about a great many professions and fields of endeavour---the miltitary, medicine, the law, and so forth.  His explanation in his column was pretty much what he had told me in his e-mail response:  that largely, writers didn't know what they didn't know.   The writers thought they had it right, at least were sure enough to run with it, but would get bitten by things they didn't know about.

 

It was a cordial, reasonable, articulate article, but not really satisfying, because his answer left me right back where I started.

 

Within a few days after that article appeared, I happened to be back in the States.  That was during the time I was assigned to the staff of Commander, SEVENTH Fleet in Japan, and I was home for a couple of weeks' leave.  Toward the end of that two weeks, I got another e-mail from Peter David, asking me if I would mind receiving a telephone call from Harlan Ellison in reference to my question.

 

Now that puzzled me.  First, because, while I really didn't know any more than I did before, I considered my question asked and answered.  And second, why would Harlan Ellison even care?  I replied that Mr. Ellison could call me, with my blessing.  I informed Mr. David that there were some logistic problems; Mr. Ellison wanted to call me sometime in the following week and that was after my leave had ended.  Fortunately, I had some Navy business at Naval Station Jacksonville, Florida, that week, before I flew back to Japan.  I provided Mr. David with a telephone number and the best time to call me in Jacksonville.

 

The idea that Harlan Ellison wanted to call me preoccupied my thoughts my entire week in Jacksonville.  Like most of us, I knew him only by reputation.  I had heard that he did not suffer gladly those whom he considered to be fools, and could be, shall we say, assertive towards them.  Now, my e-mails to Peter David had been cordial and temperate, so I couldn't imagine that Ellison would want to jump down my throat.  But, in terms of world view, we were probably even farther apart than Peter David and myself.  I couldn't imagine any reason why he would want to call me at all.

 

The day before I was due to ship back to SEVENTH Fleet, the telephone in my quarters rang.  I answered.

 

"Commander Benson, please."

 

"Speaking," I said.

 

"This is Harlan Ellison."

 

It was him.  I recognised the voice.  I had seen Ellison in television interviews enough times to know that.

 

Now, there is a secondary point to this story, besides the matter we've been discussing over the last few posts.  A parable, if you will, about preconceptions.

 

I was battened down for a storm, just in case a Hurricane Harlan was blowing my way.  For no reasons other than his reputation and the mystery over why he was calling and our no-doubt opposed ideologies, I was half-expecting the worst.

 

What I got was far from it.

 

Harlan Ellison's courtesy was impeccable.  He was cordial, polite, informing, and we chatted for a few moments about small matters first, and we discovered that we have some personality traits in common (and that both of our wives suffer for it).  We talked for only about ten minutes or so, but it was one of the most pleasant conversations I've ever had, and I was left with the sense of mutual respect.

 

As to the point of his talk, Mr. Ellison stated that Peter David had shown him the first e-mail I had sent, asking about the comics writers' constant mistakes in displaying the military.  They acknowledged that my missive had been objective and non-accusatory, but they both agreed that my sub-text, what I was really saying, was that comics writers were lazy in doing their research.  That's why he wanted to call me.

 

"To be honest," I told him, "yes, that was my major suspicion, but I might have been wrong.  Besides, I wasn't about to attack anybody in Mr. David's profession, since I was an outsider."

 

Ellison chuckled and said, "Well, you are right.  Many comics writers are lazy."

 

"Well, I couldn't come right out and say that."

 

"That's your answer.  They're lazy."

 

I thanked him for the courtesy of his call and he wished me well in my career, and that was that.

 

And that's my Harlan Ellison story.

 

 

 

 

To Figs: I was going to mention Larry Lance's funeral as it was, literally, the nail in the coffin of the Black Canary's Earth-Two life. To use a familar phrase, DC wanted the readers to know that Larry wasn't only merely dead, he was really most sincerely dead. I liked that Superman presided over the ceremony though I hope it was the E-2 Superman but with the way he was shoved into the background everytime the E-1 Man of Steel showed up, you never can tell!

To Jeff: That happened in The Spectre Vol 3 #54. It also involved the Ghostly Guardian's foe, Shaitan. The Spirit King was one of the few villains who actually killed his arch foe, though his feud with Mister Terrific was never seen.

To the Commander and Mister Silver Age: I agree that O'Neil was too ambitious with the themes of his tales. He was never a "super-team" writer and preferred non-powered heroes like Batman, Green Arrow and Daredevil. My feeling is that it wasn't the powers of Martian Manhunter that stymied O'Neil but the out-dated name, the now unbelievable backstory and, yes, his very appearance. A half-naked, lime green man in shorts and chest-straps do not lend themselves to the serious story-telling that he was revolutionizing at the time. J'onn needed to go, though obviously both his and Wonder Woman's departures left the League under-staffed and under-powered! 

I also agree that, as editor, Julius Schwartz was responsible to maintain a coherent continuity/world for his books but he also approved of Mopee, the Bottler, the Eraser, having Iris Allen now being born in the future, the wimping of Green Lantern, the liberalization of Green Arrow, etc.

Jeff of Earth-J said:
I should state right up front that my preferences lie firmly in the Fox/Sekowsky era when it comes to the JLA. I also fancy myself as something of a “continuity-maven” as described in this thread yesterday by Commander Benson (just this morning in the TV forum I lamented the changes the 1795 EYKIW wrought upon Dark Shadows continuity), but some of his comments about “non-continuitists” cut me to the quick!



But, Jeff, there's no reason to be impugned by my definition of a "non-continuitist".  It doesn't apply to you.  As you said, if you had known the details of the Manhunter's back-story, then you would not have approved of O'Neil's handling of ". . . and So My World Ends".

 

The key is not the "not knowing earlier details"; it's how one perceives a later story once he becomes aware of the earlier details.

 

A non-continuitist, in your place, would view ". . . and So My World Ends" differently.

 

"Wow!  That story in JLA # 71 was great!" the non-continuitist would say.  "I loved the way O'Neil had J'onn J'onzz exiled from Mars by Commander Blanx.  It explains why JJ never went back to Mars, even though he could have had Superman or Green Lantern take him there."

 

"But, the Manhunter did go back to Mars.  The robot brain took him there in Detective Comics # 301, and the Mars in that story looked nothing like O'Neil's version.  For that matter, in the first Manhunter story in Detective Comics # 255, J'onn J'onzz reflects that there hasn't been a war on Mars in millennia.  So how could he have been the leader of the scientific-military forces in a martian civil war?"

 

Where you would say, "Hmmmmmm . . . that changes how I look at O'Neil's story," the non-continuitist would say, "Awwww, those things don't matter.  O'Neil told a great story."

I've not read #71, but it could be viewed as an issue that bought the Manhunter's Mars into what was to be the Bronze Age DCU. As we've noted before, the Silver Age DCU wasn't fully integrated, so the Manhunter's series had not resulted in appearances of his people in Superman's or Green Lantern's features, or even in Justice League of America earlier. (Other Martians did, however, show up in The Brave and the Bold #50.) By wiping the civilisation on Mars out and having the surviving Martians emigrate, O'Neil kept the DCU realistic with respect to its depiction of our solar system, while leaving J'onn's race a place in DC continuity.

 

I notice O'Neil was involved with all the Manhunter's non-flashback appearances in the 70s. He wrote World's Finest #212, the issue of Superman leading into it, Justice League of America #115, and the Manhunter's series from Adventure, and edited the conclusion of the latter series in World's Finest #245 (and perhaps had more of a hand in the story than that implies, as the issue was much more continuity-oriented than Haney's stories for the title usually were). That could mean he had a special interest in the character in that period.

 

(corrected)

It so happens that the first entry in "Comic Book Legends Revealed" #305 has a wonderful story about artists doing their research. Look here: "Helicopter Shot"
And that's my Harlan Ellison story.

Good story.

That happened in The Spectre Vol 3 #54.

Thanks. Phillip!

But, Jeff, there's no reason to be impugned by my definition of a "non-continuitist". It doesn't apply to you. As you said, if you had known the details of the Manhunter's back-story, then you would not have approved of O'Neil's handling of ". . . and So My World Ends".

I can’t shake the feeling I should have delved deeper. Still, I’ll accept the compliment. I suspect the particulars of this discussion will resurface when we begin discussion the JLA/JSA/LSH crossover (#147-148) in context (#144).
I recall the Manhunter's 70s appearances as "rare" events, especially the Adventure back-ups in #449-451 in which he was drawn with that heavy brow again. If O'neil wrote all those, then he was very confused over what color sun Mars II had (red or yellow), if the Martians had powers there (all, some or none) and if J'onn was the leader or even liked. He was like the Harry Potter of Mars, considered a champion yet they would turn on him in an instance!

Luke Blanchard said:

I've not read #71, but it could be viewed as an issue that bought the Manhunter's Mars into what was to be the Bronze Age DCU. As we've noted before, the Silver Age DCU wasn't fully integrated, so the Manhunter's series had not resulted in appearances of his people in Superman's or Green Lantern's features, or even in Justice League of America earlier. (Other Martians did, however, show up in The Brave and the Bold #50.) By wiping the civilisation on Mars out and having the surviving Martians emigrate, O'Neil kept the DCU realistic with respect to its depiction of our solar system, while leaving J'onn's race a place in DC continuity.

 

I notice O'Neil was involved with all the Manhunter's non-flashback appearances in the 70s. He wrote World's Finest #212, the issue of Superman leading into it, Justice League of America #115, and the Manhunter's series from Adventure, and edited the conclusion of the latter series in World's Finest #245 (and perhaps had more of a hand in the story than that implies, as the issue was much more continuity-oriented than Haney's stories for the title usually were). That could mean he had a special interest in the character in that period.

 

(corrected)

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.
One of my favorite TV characters is In Plain Sight's Federal Marshal Marshall Mann.

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