This is where my Golden Age (as Mister Silver Age wisely says) begins. Though that's not entirely true as my first comic was Justice League of America #103, but I read this one two or three years later.

I'm also going to split this up by issues at least for this three-parter.

This was Len Wein's first JLA issue as well as its 100th, so he had an anniverary to celebrate, to boot. How do you make this team-up special: you add another team! Strangely he doesn't think Teen Titans or Legion of Super-Heroes, he thinks about a little remembered Golden Age team. I'll speak about them later. First:

JUSTICE LEAGUE #100 (Au'72): The Unknown Soldier of Victory!

The conceit of this issue was that it was the JLA's 100th meeting. I will assume this meant regularly scheduled meetings, not emergancies. If the League met monthly then they've been around eight years, four months. If weekly, then it's less than two years, which seems unlikely.

The JLA: The entire active JLA roster is present here. This allows Aquaman to interact with the JSA for only the second time. There is the first (?) Green Arrow/Hawkman verbal joust. They hold this special event in their original mountain sanctuary, which is nowhere near Happy Harbor. Trust me on this! :-) There are guests though.

Metamorpho the Element Man: after saying "NO!" to JLA membership but becoming a "standby" member and had stood by for 60 issues, Rex finally shows up! Wein probably liked the character and felt the League needed a little muscle for this adventure, which it did!

Ralph Dibny, the World-Famous Elongated Man: Wein loved this guy! He only met the team once in #51. Met them, did not work with them---a long magical tale! But he would soon join in #105!

Zatanna the Magician: she worked twice with the JLA but several times with its various members. Besides why Wouldn't you want her at your party??

Diana Prince, Wonder Woman: this was a woman who felt humbled and would not have even came if Batman had not insisted even though she had more reason to be there than the other guests!

Then there were the cameos:

The Martian Manhunter: this FOUNDING member of the JLA was left out as most writers could not get a decent handle on him. Plus he was on Mars II though he would return for #115.

Snapper Carr: Unable to face his mentors after his actions in #77. He would also show up again in #114.

Adam Strange: Still on Rann. The most deserving "honorary" member had to stay home!

If the Elongated Man and Metamorpho who helped the JLA once were invited, why not Robin, Batgirl, Hawkgirl, Mera, the Creeper, the Earth-One Vigilante or Sargon the Sorcerer? Just asking why not? Wouldn't the wives want to go with their husbands?

The JSA: No new information is given but on hand were: Doctor Fate, Sandman, Hourman, Johnny Thunder, Doctor Mid-Nite, Starman, Wonder Woman, Wildcat and Red Tornado.

Fate brings the JLA to E-2 because of The Hand that Holds the Earth! Literally, a planetary size hand about to crush the Earth, created (somehow, despite no obvious technology nor the massive amount of energy needed to use it) by mysterious villain The Iron Hand.

Fate also with Zatanna and the Thunderbolt summon the cosmic Oracle who knows all of what happened and the past is his domain. He tells the two teams that the answer lies in a third team, one no one remembers, The Seven Soldiers of Victory (7SV)!

BTW, where were the E-2 Superman, Flash, Hawkman, etc? Strange that they would be absent?

The 7SV: their roster was: The Shining Knight, the Green Arrow and Speedy (of E-2), the Vigilante (of E-2), the Star Spangled Kid and *sigh* Stripesy and the Crimson Avenger!

No one remembers them because they were blasted into the past following their destroying of the Nebula Man. Oracle will send seven three-man teams into time to recover the missing Soldiers. He also tell them of the 7SV's first adventure against a crimelord, The Hand. Hmmm?

Now the 7SV were an unknown factor to readers in the 70s or were they? I know I read their reprinted adventure in JLA #111-112 before I read these issues, so I knew who they were!

In JLA #76 (D'69), a portrait of the 7SV was seen, complete with roll call.

In JLA #78-79 (F-Ma'70), the Earth-One Vigilante was revived. There were reprints in Action #403 (Au'71) and #405 (O'71). There were new stories in Adventure # 417 (Ma'72) and #422 (Au'72). He also teamed with Superman in World's Finest #214 (N'72).

The Shining Knight was re-presented in World's Finest #205 (S'71) and Adventure #417 (Ma'72).

Superboy #185 (My'72) had a reprinted Star Spangled Kid tale.

So if you read DC comics during that period, the heroes of the 7SV were familar to you.

Chapter 2: Doctor Fate, the Atom and the Elongated Man appear in Aztec Mexico where they battle a mesmerized Crimson Avenger, who thinks he's a Sun-god because of the powers given to him by a hunk of the Nebula Man that came with him. ICK! By destroying the nebluite, the Avenger is cured and they vanish!

Some Notes: Not to tweak a certain Morrison scholar, but The Nebula Man was originally described as an "awesome, giant Earth-man!" who conquered and killed until he was destroyed by the 7SV's "new weapon" at the cost of a Soldier's life!

Oracle was an intriguing character. Sadly he was not used again after this tale.

Next: Three Soldiers Trapped In Time or I Wanna Go with Superman!

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I liked seeing Batman get broody about the daughter he never had.  He was a more human kind of figure then.  Also liked the regretful thought he had about Silver St Cloud.  That Engelhart run was an understated Batman masterpiece.  I read it again recently.

 

I loved how the captions about the Black Pirate kept going on about Spanish tyranny, but forgot to mention how comfortable he was with English tyranny.

 

Is Rittmeister Hans Von Hammer one of the coolest blades ever to appear in a DC comic or what?  I love that guy!  I guess one of the reasons they kept the interactions with the Historical guys to a minimum was because their own stories depended on a sort of historical realism, and a familiarity with the spandex superpeople of 1978 would spoil that.

 

July 15th 1978, was 33 years, 3 months and one week ago, FWIW!  We're all Yesterday's Heroes, travellin' in time!  :-)

 

The team-ups have become very schematised by this point, with the big meet-ups followed by the whittling down of the numbers to a more managable group.  The time-energy putting them into a coma was a weird business, no?

 

Then the plot of one of them getting knocked off for each level further they made it into the Lord of Time's castle also seemed schematised, but it was powerful by the end, when each of them knew that to step up was to sacrifice themselves, and then in the end all that was left was Ralph with his insecurities and big heart.  That was pretty good stuff, top be honest.  He just turned off the computer by accident, though didn't he?

 

I can see why Morrison loved the DCU and has stuck with it despite suffering as many rebuffs and dents to his pride as any other top creator has.  The DCU seems to have very weird, esoteric stories built into its DNA.  The computer in a 'dimension adjacent to 3786 AD' that will stop all time in 10 hours, despite its makers wishes is one such example.  Using Superman as a supercharged javelin is also just weird.  This is the logic of crazy old folk tales, isn't it?  The Nu52 has moved a long way from this kind of concentrated strangeness.  Something has been lost.

 

That nonsense about needing a defeat that they'd never had before wouldn't play today.  We've got entropy and chaos theory that show that things like the first attack might have killed all the JLA, or left only a few or none still alive.  It couldn't be planned for.  Same with the second attack of 'Yesterday's Heroes'.  These kinds of plot ideas only work because the writer says so.  For all that, the recovery from the defeat and the way it is paralleled with what happened in the War of Independance is quite powerful, even though they equate American history with mankind's blah blah blah.

 

I'd bet Philip would be able to list 10 defeats worse than this one that the JLA had experienced before this!

 

That supercomputer isn't very bright for a supercomputer, is he?

 

The DCU seemed to be in a holding pattern, creatively, for about 10 years before COIE, but this little story seems to have fun within that environment.

 

Some of Dillin's art is pretty good.  I like his Batman, what little we got of him.

I think this was the first time the JLA and JSA held an annual party. If memory serves the lady doctor from the story showed up again in #205.

I liked the reference to Silver St. Cloud, too. When Denny O'Neil had Batman lament lost loves, it was Catwoman and Talia. It's no surprise that Englehart used neither.

Bad defeats, total defeats, crushing defeats, it all depends on one's interpretation but.....

  • JLA #19--they gets pummelled by their dreamselves and barely escape.
  • #71--Mars is left devoid of life
  • #74--Larry Lance is killed, surrounded by heroes!
  • #96-98--Starbreaker nearly breaks their spirits
  • #117-119--Thanagar is infected by the Equalizer Plague and then the JLA is badly beaten by morphing aliens.
  • #128-129--Nekron the Fear-Eater disables all of them except Wonder Woman. Red Tornado blows himself up....again!
  • Plus Englehart's entire run puts the team through the wringer, physically and emotionally.
  • Heck, Superman DIES during it!

But that's just off the top of my head! ;-)

Von Hammer is a truly dramatic hero, fighting for his country though we know that he will lose. The Killing Skies haunt him yet give him purpose. An honorable man in an unhonorable field.

Bizarre things happen in the 70s DCU, no question about that but I do miss Ralph Dibny and his "see-what-I'm-doing" enthusiasm and enjoyment of being a super-hero. The DCnU seems to thrive on angst 100%, 24-7!

It's no surprise that Englehart used neither.

 

Why do you say this?

Simply put, in Englehart's Bat-world, Silver St. Cloud (his creation, IIRC) is THE woman for Bruce Wayne. Having Catwoman or Talia show up would only muddle the romantic pond and perhaps de-emphasize Silver when compared to these more dynamic femme fatales. Also would either have "allowed" Bruce and Silver's relationship to continue unabated? It was only when Silver and Englehart left Batman did the Kitten with a Whip and the Daughter of the Demon reappear!

BTW, there was a story in Batman Family where the Huntress battled the Earth-One Catwoman!

JUSTICE LEAGUE #171-172 (O-N'79): The Murderer Among Us: Crisis Above Earth-One!/ I Accuse...

By Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, Frank MacLaughlin and new JLA editor Ross Andru!

This time the yearly meeting is held aboard the JLA Satellite when things go horribly wrong!

By this time Zatanna with her witch costume and ponytail had joined the JLA, perhaps to counter the JSA's two younger (and *ahem* hotter) members, Power Girl and the Huntress.

The Earth-Two Hawkman now had a new Egyptian style helmet and slightly modified his outfit which made him, for the first time, look cooler than the E-1 Hawkman!

I'm afraid that I have to be a SPOILER since this review can't go on without bringing up the fact that Mister Terrific, a Golden Age C-Lister who was only remembered for plastering "Fair Play" on his shirt and lucking out to being in ONE issue of All Star Comics in the Forties, is MURDERED on the JLA Satellite thus making one of the JLA/JSA the culprit!

The JLA: Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Red Tornado and Zatanna.

The JSA: Doctor Fate, Hawkman, Flash, Green Lantern, Power Girl, the Huntress and, for a time, Mister Terrific.

  • At this time, the Justice Society was appearing in the Dollar-Size Adventure Comics and in #465 (N'79) shows the current roster off to Earth-One where they are joined suddenly by Mister Terrific who hadn't made a major appearance since JLA #102 (O'72). "One Member Will Die!" Gee, I wonder who?
  • I'm reading this from Crisis On Multiple Earths, Volume 5 but in the original books, Mister Terrific was called Jerry, not Terry Sloane and that his last appearance was his first Silver Age one from JLA # 37-38. Both are corrected in the collected version.
  • On a personal note, I missed the first part of this in the summer of '79 because the stationary shop where I got my comics primarily (before I ever had a LCS) was closed for vacation that week! Sob!
  • Terry Sloane, the Man of a Thousand Talents, and was a millionaire as a child, was now (then) an instructor of English Literature at Gateway University!
  • He spotted his old foe, The Spirit King, stealing some device and was unable to stop him. I thought that he was a real Golden Age villain but he was created for this story. He also battled the Earh-Two Flash.
  • The subtext that the others thought Mister Terrific was too old to do this anymore was interesting but odd, seeing that he was as old as the male JSAers. He also claims that one of them will be branded a traitor!
  • The Huntress tells Batman about the death of her father, the E-2 Batman. A poignant moment that would effect the relationship between the two and Robin for that matter. See Brave & Bold #182 (Ja'82) and #184 (Ma'82).
  • Hawkman of E-1 learns about the true nature of Doctor Fate. Exposition about the Mighty Mage now! After all this time!
  • Superman wanted to talk to Power Girl. Hopefully not for more flirting!
  • The Explosion: I wonder why everyone was so worried. The GLs could protect them from exposure unless there's a lot of yellow wood floating up there. Nice touch that Superman is unfazed! Just another day at the office for him!
  • The Repair: takes up three pages of action to offset the mystery!
  • The Discovery: Sadly no one seems that choked up about MT's demise (except for Alan Scott). Hawkman even says that "He was never really one of us". Maybe you should have invited him back like you did Wildcat. He could have been the JSA's strategic thinker and he should have been its best athlete. But that costume...
  • Zatanna tries to mystically probe a piece of evidence and was psychically attacked. She was saved by Doctor Fate, who maybe could have done the probing himself, but is now in a comative state! This upsets the teams more than MT's death!
  • After searching the Satellite and finding no one and confirming no one left, Superman tells the assembled teams that Mister Terrific was strangled to death and that one of them is the murderer! Lightning bolt! Thunder!
  • Superman orders the Green Lanterns and Doctor Fate to seal up the JLA Satellite so no one can flee. This ruffles some super-heroic feathers but they comply. In fact they are worried that they did too good a job!
  • Batman and the Huntress start interviewing the heroes and the Dark Princess theorizes that Mister Terrific was old and may have been going senile which really teed off Alan Scott! Probably going senile too. Of coures except for some gray temples, the JSA never looked old until Infinity, Inc.
  • Batman finds another clue. This one even had a blue pawprint! Seriously!
  • The Huntress is caught in another explosion and is badly burned! The dreaded Batman goes all distraught but Doctor Fate heals her. Fate seems to be doing a lot of clean-up work in this team-up!
  • But she does get the information she needs so Batman can solve the mystery.
  • The charred handprint implicates Power Girl but the Darknight Detective's not fooled. He learned that the device that the Spirit King stole was a seismograph that could track super-speed running.
  • Thus the true villain was the only villain mentioned in the story: The Spirit King who had possessed the E-2 Flash!
  • Thankfully, he, not Jay Garrick, did the actual strangling. He wanted revenge on his two foes by framing one for the murder of the other.
  • Still possessing the Flash, he escapes back to E-2!
  • Superman calls this a victory but I dunno!
  • Nice touch that it was a fair investigation that discovered the true killer of the Defender of Fair Play!
  • The JSA never caught the Spirit King Pre-Crisis. This was pointed out in America Vs the Justice Society #4 but Post Crisis he got what was coming to him, thanks to the Ghostly Guardian in The Spectre #54 (Ju'97) which was also the first appearance of Michael Holt, Mister Terrific II.

This was by no means a great mystery nor a shocking death but it had some great character bits. But was Jay Garrick ever really "there"? Was it him speaking or the Spirit King? If so, why in Rao's name would Mister Terrific tell them in front of the Flash that he had tracked the Spirit King down and that's why he was there? Was the Flash possessed in Adventure Comics as well? If he knew Flash was possessed, why not just tell Doctor Fate in private?

Doctor Fate could have been more proactive here. He did respond but only after the fact!

R.I.P. Terrence (Mister Terrific) Sloane. May your successor prosper in the DCnU!

Next: This Your First Time in the Fourth World? or Another Death in the Family!

I have my doubts about some of Batman's reasoning.

 

"Which left one suspect- one very obvious suspect! POWER GIRL!"

"What!? Curse you, Batman! My plan was perfect! PERFECT!"

"No, Power Girl. You were TOO OBVIOUS. I asked myself, who else could leave fingerprints in SOLID STEEL? The answer was easy, but I needed PROOF. What was that you said?"

"Nothing."

"This was by no means a great mystery . . . ."

 

That's an understatement, to be sure, Philip.  JLA # 171-2 (Oct. and Nov., 1979) is probably the worst of all the JLA/JSA team-ups---and that's saying something because most of the post-Fox/Sekowsky Justice team-ups are at the bottom of the pile.

 

Though I could hurl plenty of brickbats at that tale---some of which you already mentioned---I'm going to restrict myself to just one area of criticism.  To wit, if you're going to craft a mystery involving the Justice League and Justice Society, you shouldn't include members that can solve the case in five minutes.  And it shouldn't have taken the amassed heroes more than five minutes . . . .

 

Superman could have travelled backwards in time and witnessed who killed Mr. Terrific.  Or he could have done the same thing by overtaking light rays in space.

 

Either Green Lantern could have ordered his power ring to turn time backwards, or used it to travel into the past himself, to witness the murder.  Doctor Fate could probably do the same thing with his magic.

 

The Flashes could have also travelled into the past, courtesy of the cosmic treadmill.

 

The Earth-One Hawkman could have used the absorbascon in his space ship to learn who the killer was.

 

Better yet---since someone would, no doubt, raise the argument that the killer was one of the heroes and that individual, whomever he was, could not be trusted---have all of the above heroes use all of the above methods and then compare notes.

 

Once the heroes saw that the Flash of Earth-Two killed Mr. Terrific, it wouldn't have taken them long to work out that the Scarlet Speedster had been possessed by a foe.

 

There's nothing thrilling or engaging about a mystery in which the reader can work out a half-dozen sure ways to solve it when the characters themselves cannot.  The only way Conway could have made it work would have been to exclude all of the heroes I mentioned above, and any other super-doer who would have the power to travel through time.

 

Or, he could have contrived plot reasons for why each of the methods I mentioned above could not be employed.  But that would have made the story even more awkward than it was, became a case of too many "well, maybes . . . ."

 

If I had been writing that story, I would have left out all of the heavy-hitters.  I would have made sure that my JLA line-up included the Batman and the Elongated Man, and that my JSA line-up included Robin and the Huntress.  The focus would have been on watching four trained detectives handle the case.

 

There would be two approaches for the detectives:  (1)  that Mr. Terrific was the intended target, and why; or (2) Terrific was not the intended target, so who was and why?

 

The other members present would handle the ancillary chores, such as maintaining the integrity of the satellite and searching the satellite, to ensure that no unauthorised personnel were on board.

 

And even as I write this, I've thought of a clever trick which would lead to the solution of the case. 

 

No, it was sloppy mystery writing by Conway.

Another point is that there was no way the Spirit King could have planned this in advance! We know that he stole a seismograph from Gateway University in order to track and trap the Earth-Two Flash, his old enemy. But he did not know that the man who tried to stop him was his other old foe, Mister Terrific. The Spirit King does possess the Flash but what his scheme was after that was is unknown. But obviously he

  1. Didn't know Mister Terrific was tracking him
  2. Didn't know that the JSA was going to Earth-One
  3. Didn't know Mister Terrific would join them at the last minute
  4. Couldn't have possibly known anything about the layout, equipment or the existence of the JLA Satellite beforehand
  5. Couldn't have known to safeguard his plot from Zatanna
  6. And lastly come up with a plan to defeat a group of heroes with Superman, Doctor Fate, TWO Green Lanterns, etc!

So this became a crime of opportunity. The chance to kill one enemy while framing the other. But eventually he would have to unpossess Jay Garrick and he would have no memory of these events and the others would investigate and the truth would be revealed.

Power Girl may fill two parts of MOM (Method-Opportunity-Motive) but she had no motive to kill Mister Terrific. Wildcat, maybe?

Gentle reader - If you liked the foregoing, you'll love this!

...I think Uncle Sam's dialect is suppose to be more northern/rural NEW ENGLANDER , Figs ???????!!!!

Figserello said:

#107-108: Speaking of offensive stereotypes… thet Uncle Sam character sounds lahk a hillbilly! He oughta talk more lahk thet Cap’n America feller. Tarnation!

 

All-in-all, I thought these issues were just fine escapist entertainment.  There's nothing much to add.  Nazis make great villains.  Who's going to stand up and take offense at their portrayal after all?  Classic war-comic Germans at that with their inappropriate use of the word "Scnell" and their sausage-inflected Englisch.


I was going to comment on Uncle Sam's quaint downhome dialect.  It does seperate him from the others when this line of comics is still suffering somewhat from interchangeable personalities.  Not having spent much time in the Appalachians (or West Kentucky, or wherever it's supposed to be), I can't say if Wein gets the voice right.

 

It's interesting that Uncle Sam's voice reflects the agrarian, neighbourly roots of America's self-percieved values.  Rome too, tried to see itself as holding onto simple agrarian, freeholding values even as it became the beneficiary of the biggest militarily enforced empire in the known world at the time.  Plus ca change!

Poor old Tornado does indeed mess up mightily at the start of this tale!  But the final result was good for Earth X, and who's to say his hand wasn't directed by a higher power?  :-)

 

You make a great point about the difference between the Vision and the Red Tornado.  Like all great insights, it's very obvious after you see it.  He really was a tabula rasa from the get-go, wasn't he, and had to work his way up.  I checked Wein on wiki and that's another good point about Wein, too.  He was very young when he wrote this.  I've read elsewhere about the difficulty the comics companies had interesting writers and artists in working for them at this stage, and Wein's age attests to that, somewhat.

Great.  That supports my point even better if so, as that is one of the earliest areas of the US to be colonised.

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