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!
Well, I picked up a few of the issues after the Black Canary wingding.
The 3-part 'Beasts' shows a sudden tendency for extreme violence, with people being killed pretty graphically in a gladiatorial arena. I was kinda on board with Conway's thesis about the bored selfish rich folk being the true beasts!
#224 - the Supremacy Factor might be the earliest Kurt Busiek comic I've read.
Then there is a 3-part 'Hellrazer' story by a guest writer. The leaders of an ancient all-powerful hidden sect that was controlling the world from behind the scenes turned out to be pretty daft morons.
Finally, another 3-parter concerned J'onn J'onnz first appearance since issue 71. Note that they do reference the 16 years he'd been gone as 16 years here, and they'd referenced the 13 years since J'onn first appeared in JLA #71, so if we take them all as gospel, these superheroes have been around for about 29 years at this point!
Which brings us to the next JLA/JSA crossover. I think with only 10 issues between the criossovers, they might be coming around too soon for the JLA creative team, and they are losing their specialness.
Meanwhile the letters and editorial pages bring tidings of great changes going on behind the scenes. Partly, there are hints about Conway's new direction for the team, which I am very curious to see in action, and partly there is news about an encyclopaedia of DC in the works, and also a 'History of the DCU'. I think these would develop into the Who's Who and ultimately Crisis on Infinite Earths, although I know that there was also a History of the DCU, because I have a copy of the collected edition.
It would seem that they haven't quite realised just how sweeping will be the changes brought along by the Crisis. Still, it's impossible to read these final few years of the Bronze Age proper without thinking that they were heading in a certain direction, perhaps running out of narrative options and winding down. All the hints and portents are there in the letters pages and editorials, so I don't think I'm projecting too much into it.
I realised just as I was reading these comics, that a) perhaps Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing had started by this point and subsequently b) I realised that this iteration of the League is exactly the one that appears in his Floronic Man issues, early on in his run.
I'm appreciating, especially after the mind-boggling Thomas Black Canary continuity car-crash, that we are being provided with pretty good nuts and bolts JLA comics here. They do what they say on the tin. However, one letter writer does say that he is very impressed with the League as they had appeared in some recent comics, finally depicted in their true glory in a high-stakes story. Unfortunately, that was in Moore's Swamp Thing. I'd have to agree with that letterhack.
So the increased violence in the comic, the beginning of Moore's remarkable tenure as DC writer, the rumblings of change in the background; all these seem to point in hindsight to the approaching end of an era. I'll be very interested to see how these last set of Justice League stories play out, and how the historic JLA/JSA meetings wind down.
Looking at the covers for Justice League of America #221-230 and my old notes, my basic thoughts are:
So the Martian Manhunter never truly went away during the Bronze Age. His sporadic appearances only boosted his appeal and made you want more!
Thank you for calling our attention to the two previous threads on the JLA/JSA. I haven't done this much "cramming" of previous posts since I first joined the board last year!
Philip Portelli said:
On the top of this page are links to both the 60s and 70s JLA/JSA team-ups. Many people here have added to my inane comments, so don't be shy about contributing!
Oh, yeah -- I remember that "Beasts" arc seeming pretty over-the-top at the time. Chuck Patton always suffered in comparison to George Perez (doesn't everbody?), but I really miss his clean line these days.
...Seeing them a few years later around the earlyish 90s I thought those DWM " comic strips " from theFifth/Sixth ( Frobisher !!!!! :-) ) were about as good as the DWM strip got ever...
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.)
I think Dave Gibbons did all the adaptions of the 5th Doctor too, and gave up when they finished. The large Panini collections of these strips are well worth having, and I'm in the middle of enjoying some of them these days. There are two books for the complete 4th Doctor strips, 1 book for all the 5th Doctor strips (The only fifth doctor adventures I've consumed in full...) and 4 books for the complete 8th Doctor strips where they took advantage of not being so tied to continuity and where they followed up some loose ends from the TV movie. The 8th Doctor might be my favourite.
Apologies for wandering so far off the topic....
Dave Gibbons did the first story or two for the Davison run, but then someone else took over.
I never cared much for the art after that, until John Ridgway came along, for the Colin Baker run.
Is that Zeus and Wonder Woman? Hoo boy!
Sadly, no. That would have made the story better or, at least, more interesting!
Funny that the DCnU Zeus is Wonder Woman's father because the Post-Crisis Zeus had other "intentions" for her!
In the Justice League animated series, it was hinted that Diana's father was actually Hades who had a dalliance with Hippolyta who later became his jailer!
Family! What can you do??
Oh dear. Well, in for a penny, in for a pound. I'll get stuck into them anyway.
At least Wonder Woman appears to get a damn good thrashing in it! That's something.