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!
JUSTICE LEAGUE #73-74 (Au-S'69): Star Light, Star Bright--Death Star I See Tonight/ Where Death Fears to Tread!
This team-up is written by Denny O'Neil who was brillant on Batman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow but fell short on JLA, which he freely admits. The artwork is by Dick Dillin and Sid Greene.
There needs to be a preamble for this tale. The previous issue (#72) had the hook of Hawkman being turned to salt and the arrival of the Red Tornado from Earth-Two with an urgent message but he is told to wait, which he does for TWO WEEKS until the League decides to hear him out. The following is what had happened to the Justice Society.
The JSA: It opens with Starman who first battles the mad, living-star Aquarius. This is his third JLA/JSA appearance and he is defeated for the third time! Worse, his cosmic rod is taken! Unconscious, he is found by Black Canary and her husband, private detective, Larry Lance who are visiting. While the Canary investigates, Larry tries to kill her then does not remember it. She summons more JSA members who briefly deal with other menaces that come and go. They include:
Doctor Fate--taking the lead again
Green Lantern--showing a hardline attitude
Doctor Mid-Nite-- the JSA's doctor and star of an action figure line!
Wonder Woman--receives a much higher profile in these team-ups since her E-1 counterpart was ruined lost her powers and left the JLA.
Superman of Earth-Two--First Silver Age Appearance. Finally the reality of another Man of Steel is actually shown. Unfortunately, there is no background, no difference to the Earth-One Superman. In fact when the JLA's Action Ace meets him, he barely utters another word for the rest of the adventure, a trend that would continue.
The Red Tornado--they made him a member in #65 but they don't treat him that way! In fact, he's referred to as the JSA's "pet android" and told that he "botches things up". His inexperience is mentioned but not any training. It's not like the JSA are that busy with their yearly case! And the JLA treats him worse, ignoring him despite his warning!
The Villain: The exiled, mentally imbalanced "living star" Aquarius possesses vast power, moreso with Starman's cosmic rod. He crushes Superman and nearly erases Earth-Two, its existence only kept alive by the memories of the JSA! A definite crisis, though he does look goofy!
The Justice League arrives in #74 and are immediately attacked by a mesmerized JSA!
Superman Vs Superman of E-2: a stalemate with both collapsing
Batman Vs Doctor Mid-Nite: Doc forgets bats can manuever in the dark, too!
The Flash & the Atom Vs Doctor Fate: Flash outraces Fate's magic lightning while the Atom pinches Fate's nose!
Hawkman Vs Wonder Woman: WW's lasso wraps her up due to Fate's misdirected magic, saving the Winged Wonder from a massive beating!
Green Lantern Vs Green Lantern of E-2: Hal has an easy time against a powerless Alan.
Green Arrow Vs Black Canary & Larry Lance: the most long-reaching battle. GA's "stickum-shaft" glues down the Canary, leaving her in the path of Aquarius' out-of-control energy sphere. Larry breaks free of the Mad Star's control and sacrifices himelf to save her! Earth-Two is saved but Larry Lance dies!
An aside: Red Tornado is told to not to take part in the JLA/JSA fight. He is also told by the Atom not to hunt down Aquarius through space because he's "been helpful enough as it is! We don't want to press our luck!" And we know how useful the Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite, Batman and Green Arrow are in the void!
Shortly in their pursuit, the combined teams are trapped in a space-warp in suspended animation except for the two Green Lanterns who lure Aquarius into the Negative Universe where he is destroyed on purpose! That's how they dealt with villains who killed heroes back then!
Afterwards. as we know, Black Canary leaves Earth-Two, the JSA and her grief behind for a new start on Earth-One and with the Justice League!
Some Notes: The absence of Wonder Woman led O'neil to add the Canary to the League, with her sonic powers debuting next issue, along with the New Green Arrow! Of course, she needed those powers to augment her martial arts skills. Indeed, if not the "Diana Rigg" WW could have remained. But back then most teams had a one-woman-at-a-time limit, except for the Legion.
As stated, there were several examples of the patronization and abuse of the Red Tornado. No one would have tolerated the Vision being called the Avengers' "pet android"!
The Superman of Earth-Two would only shine in those JLA/JSA team-ups where the E-1 Superman is absent!
Next: Weird Parallels, Net-Creatures and Ghostly Guardian Confusion!
JUSTICE LEAGUE #82-83 (Au-S'70): Peril of the Paired Planets/ Where Valor Fails...Will Magic Triumph?
This is the second and last Denny O'Neil JLA/JSA "team-up". Dick Dillin is inked by long-time Batman artist Joe Giella with mixed results. Of all the team-ups prior to #100 (the start of MY Golden Age), this one ranks at the bottom and I regret to say that any JSA is bad but this one made little sense.
The JLA: Right off the "bat", both Superman and Batman are taken out of action mysteriously and the rest of the team is apparently lost without them. And worse, the Flash collapses as well.
Green Lantern, Green Arrow and Black Canary are called back from their leaves of absenses (see Green Lantern/Green Arrow). GL even gets the full use of his power ring back for the duration. Green Arrow is rather rude to Hawkman, so this may be where that starts.
Those left conscious figure out that Earth-One and Earth-Two are slooooooowly merging, which will result in the destruction of both. The Atom theorizes that something with a link to both Earths is causing this and Black Canary says it must be her and the obvious (???) solution is that she must "cease to be"! And no one can come up with anything else!
Hawkman then mysteriously collapses, too.
Green Lantern, showing some initiative, tries to get to Earth-Two and ALMOSTS gets directly involved in the story! Which leads to:
The Villains: Creator 2 and his minions apparently are cosmic contracters hired to build a new planet to his client's specifications. He also needs the energy and basic elements released from the annihilation of two worlds to build one! Guess which two he chooses? But he discovers the existence of the JSA and sends his minions, armed with web-snares programmed to defeat the JSA. Speaking of which:
The JSA: We begin with the Red Tornado flying through space, bemoaning his non-humanity, desperate for approval and wanting to be liked, stumbles onto Creator 2's ship and is quickly deactivated. They install a gizmo inside him that draws the Earths together, leaving him between dimensions. Also RT's head is hollow! He's not a character here, just a plot devise.
Superman of Earth-Two appears again and is quickly dispatched by the web-snares. Again we learn nothing about Kal-L's life.
Doctor Mid-Nite, after calling the JSA's answering service, is defeated as well and the Earth-Two Flash, after a good battle, falls.
This causes the E-1 Superman, Batman and Flash to become comatose.
The JSA hold an emergancy meeting (more on this later). Some of them leave, the rest are attacked by the web-snares and are defeated real fast!
Starman goes down in two panels, his fourth quick defeat in these team-ups!
Wonder Woman has her bracelets bound, a classic Golden age strategy and is vanquished in half a page.
Hourman has his hour of power sped up and is caught.
Hawkman is shown defeated in one panel to justify the collapse of his E-1 counterpart.
Green Lantern puts up a fight but is trapped in a wooden cage that somehow paralizes the JLA's GL just as he was about to confront Creator 2!
Of course, it's Doctor Fate left to save the day, along with (surprisingly) Johnny Thunder and his Thunderbolt. Since discretion is the better part of valor, the trio travel to a cemetary where Doc summons The Spectre from the crypt where he has been imprisoned. (More on that later). So while the Spectre once agains puts himself between the Earths (his special niche), Doctor Fate and the T-Bolt take out Creator 2, causing his spaceship to explode and bringing everything back to normal. Except that the Spectre is freed from his ghostly existence.
Some Notes: hough I try not to summarize the stories too much, one can't help but notice that the Justice League does nothing in this adventure. Only Green Lantern has contact with the JSA and that was to be told what happened!
The absense of the E-1 Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter combined with the decrease in GL's ring-power leaves the JLA severely weakened. Once Superman was eliminated, they were lost, especially without Batman to think for them. I mean the Atom's a scientist and he sits there in tiny defeat. Maybe the E-2 Atom was home feeling depressed and that affected him!
The JSA is defeated much too easy. They seem more like beginners than veterans.
We finally see the Batman of Earth-Two at the JSA emergency meeting, looking like he would rather not be there. And Robin was missing. So why, when Doctor Mid-Nite was defeated, that affected the E-1 Batman? It doesn't count if you're in "semi-retirement!"
Johnny Thunder talks like he's trying to be a Marvel character but ends up sounding like Bob Haney's Teen Titans! And the T-Bolt says Johnny has to tell him what to do or he can do nothing! So why, for the climatic battle in space they leave Johnny on Earth? Did he just go " Say you do whatever Doctor Fate tells ya and don't forget to pick me up afterwards!" And the T-Bolt was capable of creating an alternate Earth, that Fate couldn't countermand, but now he's a "grade-three sorcerer" and Doc, in a weakened state, has to keep saving!
The Spectre was at the JSA meeting in #82, with dialogue and an active role but in #83 he is trapped in a crypt, unable to act unless summoned. This was never explained! Actually it seems like the two parts were written seperately, with little contact between them or else just to justify the covers!
The Spectre wouldn't reappear until his series in Adventure Comics and those took place on Earth-One!
Next: Even Steven Teams! Generation Gaps! Grundy!
I just thought I'd check in here to say that I'm trying to keep up with the reading, and do intend to post.
The trouble is that these stories are all completely new to me, so I'm still processing them. Also there's that thing about having trouble engaging with these blank interchangeable characters... (Maybe once Ollie installs his facial furniture?)
I don't have the team-up where the Robin of Earth II shows up, but its prob worth saying something about, as it seems special. Then I have read #64-65, but as it was a few issues into my Showcase Presents volume, I read all the ones that preceded it to give it some context. Boy! Are they fun comics! All about the plotting. Fox kept things very busy.
But reading them has kept me back from reading later JLA/JSA stories. I'll try to catch up. I'm especially interested in seeing how O'Neill's JLA stories fit around his GL/GA stories (or vice-versa!) Reading the earlier JSA/JLA team-ups AKA the "real" stories :-P, has also put me in the mood to read Fox/Sekowsky's Adam Strange, which I've been meaning to read anyway. I hope to post on those too, elsewhere. And then there is a small pile of much less charming recent superhero collections that are already overdue at the library and need to be read before the overdue fees make a pauper out of me.
Which is all a very long-winded way of saying that I have nothing to say at this point!
"The trouble is that these stories are all completely new to me, so I'm still processing them. Also there's that thing about having trouble engaging with these blank interchangeable characters... (Maybe once Ollie installs his facial furniture?)"
Characterization was not DC's strong suit in the Silver Age. The worst, for me, was Challengers of the Unknown. It had four heroes with basically the same personality and same speech patterns. They were only distinguished by hair color -- and that was lost in black & white reprints! So in most panels, I had no idea which one was talking.
We finally see the Batman of Earth-Two at the JSA emergency meeting, looking like he would rather not be there . . . . So why, when Doctor Mid-Nite was defeated, that affected the E-1 Batman? It doesn't count if you're in "semi-retirement!"
I've seen this point raised in other reviews of this team-up, on other fora.
It goes to how the merging of Earths One and Two affected the web-snares. It wasn't an exact counterpart-to-exact counterpart interrelation. The fact that the snares' first victims were the Superman and the Flash of Earth-Two led to that misperception, because they have direct counterparts on Earth-One.
The secondary effect of the web-snares was actually this: when someone on Earth-Two fell victim to a snare, the person on Earth-One who correlated the nearest to the Earth-Two victim was also affected. When the snare rendered Doctor Mid-Night comatose, what Earth-One hero correlated closest to him? The Batman.
I pondered that myself once. I originally assumed Eath-One's Diana Prince collapsed when the JSA's Wonder Woman did, but Supergirl might be a better fit, since Diana didn't have any super-powers at the time----depends on how one wants to say the web-snares made the cross-dimensional match.
I also assumed the Black Canary was immune to the effect because she was a native of Earth-Two.
We never saw the snares conquer the Batman or the Atom of Earth-Two. Perhaps they were still making a fight of it. But if they had fallen, then I would have logically expected the JLA's Atom and Green Arrow (the closest Earth-One correlation with the Earth-One Batman already hors de combat) to go under.
Just who the Earth-One correlates to Starman and Hourman were is more problematic. But I think it all goes to your overall criticism of the team-up, that it wasn't very keenly plotted.
I agree that the JSA fell much too easily. As you pointed out, these were veteran super-heroes with decades of experience as team players. I just can't see them dropping like flies---especially with some of the heavy-hitters in the room.
If the script had shown the Earth-Two heroes to be the champions they were supposed to be, that would have made up for your astute observation that the Justice League was pretty much impotent throughout the whole thing. I could live with the JLA sitting one out, if it had been compensated for by having the JSA show their mettle. Too many JLA/JSA team-ups shoved the Earth-Two heroes aside so that the stars of the title, the JLA, could save the day. It would have been nice to see the JSA take the win for a change.
As it was, the victory was pulled out of a hat by the convenient tactic of having the Spectre wave his green-gloved hand and put everything to right.
It was supposed to be the end of the Spectre as his series ended with #10. Ironically he "died" between the Earths, a fate foreshadowed in #46.
It was a very confusing, downer of a story, despite the hope at the end!