JUSTICE LEAGUE # 183-185 (O-D'80): Where Have All The New Gods Gone?/ Apokolips Now!/Darkseid Rising!
By Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin (#183), George Perez (#184-185), Frank McLaughlin and Len Wein (editor).
Personal Note: George Perez is an amazing artist whose work has gotten even better over the years. Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Justice League of America and, of course, New Teen Titans have all benefitted from his contributions. Any true fan would want him on their favorite title. And he wanted to do JLA but not under these circumstances.
Dick Dillin, after drawing Justice League of America since #64 in 1968 (missing only two issues in that run) died at the young age of 51. He also had long runs in Blackhawk, World's Finest and DC Comics Presents. He was the artist of two of the first four comics that I ever read. His work improved throughout the 70s and he drew the majority of the heroes and villains of the DCU at one time or another. The news of his passing shocked the fifteen old me and was truly the end of an era. Thinking back, perhaps his passing combined with New Teen Titans #1 signaled the end of the Bronze Age, my Golden Age.
Character Notes: By this time, Gerry Conway had added to the Justice League his own creation: Firestorm the Nuclear Man! But as he giveth, Conway also tooketh away as Green Arrow resigned because he felt he and the League weren't on the same page anymore. That and his candidate for membership, Black Lightning, didn't even want to join!
The JLA: Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Firestorm
The JSA: Doctor Fate, Wonder Woman, Power Girl and the Huntress
The New Gods: Orion the Hunter, Metron, Mister Miracle, Big Barda and Oberon
The InJustice Society: The Fiddler, the Icicle and the Shade
More to follow!
Other uses of continuity in Justice League Annual #1 were John Stewart as Green Lantern as Hal Jordan was exiled from Earth (or did he resign by that point?) and Batman had left after a tantrum to form The Outsiders. Also Wonder Woman fought off the advances met the Sandman in Wonder Woman #300.
I think that Doctor Destiny was his real name until The Sandman.
In Justice League of America #35, he builds a Materialopticon in his dreams and it worked!
John Stewart took over after Hal resigned. He didn't like Stewart at the time, and felt the Guardians picked Stewart SPECIFICALLY to "stick it" to him for having quit!
Of course, then, when the CRISIS arrived and things started to get really crazy, you had a renegade faction of Guardians (if memory served) who decided to reactivate Guy Gardner, who hadn't been seen since his debut (if memory serves). So suddenly you had 2 GLs from Earth running around at the same time, while Hal sat on his A** trying to decide whether to get his act together or not.
Gardner was seen in one story, I think, since his debut. He debuted in the 60s (GL 59), and was brought back in a storyline in the 70s (around the early 120s of GL/GA), where he was thrown into a coma that the rogue Guardians revived him from in the 80s (GL 195).
Thanks. To this day, the only early GL issues I've read have been the first 2 ARCHIVE books, the Neal Adams run, and then, almost nothing until Dave Gibbons got on the first time. Sadly, he wanted to do space stories, but Len Wein decided to do a "back to the basics" run set almost entirely on Earth with Carol Ferris and 3rd-rate super-villains. Gibbons got bored and left in MID-STORY... and Len, on a whim, decided, "Okay, then I quit, TOO!" SHEESH. It's almost miraculous that only 2 months later, Steve Englehart arrived and Joe Staton returned to pick up the pieces and finish the mess Len started. (According to Steve, it was the first time in the book's entire history that sales DOUBLED. And with a "cartoony" stylist on the art, too! Who could have seen that coming?)
Yikes! Was Wein still an editor for DC at the time?
Reading the JLA comics around this one, Batman has just left to form the Outsiders, and Commissioner Gordan kicks off the Dr Destiny adventure by appealing to the JLA for help because Batman is incommunicado. It makes me want to read the first Outsiders Showcase to follow the story across.
Hal Jordan seems to have been exiled in space but is back again at this point, and house ads hail the arrival of Dave Gibbons' run on GL and presumably some sort of 'back to basics' restart for the character. I'd like to read those.
Regarding John Stewart, he also serves to prevent the team looking like the 'Justice League of Caucasia', which is no bad thing.
Along those lines, and in case I haven't been getting the hint across, everyone should read Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory. There are so many nice and thoughtful things in it. One is that as well as touching on her status as the child of a loving single parent, Morrison plays up Zatanna's immigrant heritage. Her father's real name is stated as Giovanni Zatara, rather than the anglicised 'John'.
It's nice, and thoughtful, to show that American society isn't a WASP monoculture, and that there are all kinds of people and families that make it up, and that those who belong to those alternative cultures can be heroes and contributers to the common weal too.
Finally, the DC Wikia states that this annual came out between issue 217 and 218 of the series, yet it seems to be set after the Black Canary/Sleeping Beauty episode. In that light, isn't this an intriguing sequence?:
Doesn't it suggest that maybe they were thinking of a different origin for this Black Canary whereby she was born with the Canary Cry, rather than being cursed as a child by the Wizard? Intriguing, as I say.
It looks to me that Levitz is trying to be a good continuity player, in meshing his story with what he believes is about to be revealed elsewhere, but somehow the mechanics of Thomas' story took him off in a different direction halfway through and he had to amend the plans. This is one illustration of how continuity can never be water-tight, making the following of it central to any comic's worth a fool's enterprise!
(Edited to add: And I see Henry has addressed some of my points before I even got to post them!)
The Wein-Gibbons run went from GL #172-186 (Jan'84-Mar'85). I picked up a few issues before it started, no doubt intrigued at what was coming. I feel like I was one of the few people who knew Dave Gibbons' work before he came to DC Comics. I'd seen his work in DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE, where he did what I felt was one of the BEST adaptations I'd ever seen of a TV show to comics form. (He illustrated the entire Tom Baker run, and the early Peter Davison stories.)
Before they arrived, Ernie Colon had edited GL, and what I remember most was his utterly BIZARRE letter pages. Len took over as editor with #172, but Andy Helfer took over with #185. I wonder if this had anything to do with Len's last issue as editor being a Dave Cockrum reprint? Wein & Gibbons had 2 more issues under Helfer, followed by ONE fill-in by Paul Kupperberg & Bill Willingham. ONE. I point this out by comparison to how Marvel around that time got into the horrible habit of having 6-8 issues of chaotic fill-ins whenever any long-running team left a book before a new regular team would take over. You really get sick of seeing 6-8 issues in a row, each one by a completely different set of people, each team fighting for the honor of "worst comic published that month".
And then Steve Englehart & Joe Staton took over with #188, and kept going without a break all the way to #213. That's the kind of consistency I like to see! Englehart actually did all the way up to #223 without missing a single issue, but Joe Staton was distracted by the ABOMINABLY bad MILLENNIUM mini-series (also written by Englehart). The pair might have kept going and going and going... except for the decision to CANCEL the book so that GL could become the "anchor" of ACTION COMICS WEEKLY, which was another project edited by Mike Gold. (There's a thread at another board which has been discussing Mike Gold's disastrous decisions on GREEN ARROW and HAWKWORLD. For a guy who did so much good at First Comics, his output sure seemed to go completely off-the-rails when he got to DC.)
Instead, we got Denny O'Neil, Gil Kane, and a variety of others, who over the space of one year in ACW, drove GREEN LANTERN completely INTO THE GROUND!!!!!!!!!
Funny thing... it was up to the returning Andy Helfer to put GL as a series back together again once ACW ended. I think he was a guy who made me realize that in comics, you have "builders" and "destroyers"-- and he was one of the "builders".
After the horrific mess in ACW, incoming writer Gerard Jones wanted to follow in the footsteps of Roger Stern's STARMAN series and introduce an entirely new version of GREEN LANTERN. It was Helfer who convinced him instead to spend the next 5 years bringing "closure" to Hal Jordan's career, before having him quit and then be replaced by a new, younger GL. It worked fine for the first 2 years of the long storyline... until Helfer moved on to something else, and his assistant ("Green Lantern's Number One Fan"-- SO-CALLED!!!) took over. HE wound up running GL into the ground AGAIN, and then firing Jones just before Jones was about to finally get to the "main event" of the story he'd been slowly working toward for 4 whole years. When I heard what was planned, I quit buying the book right then. I never bought it regularly again, until GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH more than a decade later.
One thing worse than out-of-control writers, is totally out-of-control EDITORS.
It kinda sounds like they may have originally intended the power to be at birth and changed their minds. The footnote in the Black Canary/Green Arrow sequence in the other comic was forgotten and left unchanged. Maybe the "at birth" idea was nixed because it sounds too much like the X-Men.
Doesn't it suggest that maybe they were thinking of a different origin for this Black Canary whereby she was born with the Canary Cry,
rather than being cursed as a child by the Wizard? Intriguing, as I say.
It looks to me that Levitz is trying to be a good continuity player, in meshing his story with what he believes is about to be revealed elsewhere, but somehow the mechanics of Thomas' story took him off in a different direction halfway through and he had to amend the plans. This is one illustration of how continuity can never be water-tight, making the following of it central to any comic's worth a fool's
It could suggest that. But It could also be the case of Levitz just having Green Arrow speak inexactly... or that Levitz misremembered a story he was briefed on, and then the editor either didn't catch it or didn't think it mattered. Either seems equally likely to me.
I do find it weird that it's a reference to a story that wouldn't see print for a couple more months... but like DC Wikia, Mike's Amazing World confirms that the JLA Annual came out in May, and Thomas's story began in July.
Oh, man, Ernie Colon's lettercols were bizarrely antagonistic, weren't they? He edited Flash, too. And the last issue of his run, #171, was a fill-in, too -- an Alex Toth-drawn story (!) with the writing by Robin Snyder, but credited to the pseudonym Noel Naive. Wonder what that was about?
Morrison plays up Zatanna's immigrant heritage. Her father's real name is stated as Giovanni Zatara, rather than the Anglicized "John".
Au contraire, mate! It was in DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #5 (D'80) where Zatara's first name was revealed to be originally Giovanni in a story written by....Gerry Conway!
Henry R. Kujawa said
John Stewart took over after Hal resigned. He didn't like Stewart at the time...
Hal never disliked John Stewart. He didn't expect the Guardians would pick John to replace him which is an odd expectation to have! Unless he figured that the Guardians wouldn't have chosen another Earthman!
As for the Black Canary comment, I would assume that there was no final decision made until #220 was prepared.
BTW, Green Lantern was renamed The Green Lantern Corps for #201-224.
Read my lines again. I didn't say he invented the name, just that he 'states it is' Giovanni and plays up his Italian heritage.
I'll bet quite a few writers since 1980 referred to Zatara as 'John', rather than using the fine italian-sounding name available to them. I suppose most of them just used Zatara, but in that case, Morrison is making the little bit of extra effort to highlight that Italian-sounding folk are Americans too, Signore Portelli!