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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Philip Portelli said:

And what about Wonder Woman? Was there a WW comic on E-1 that young Barry read? He was not shocked to see an exact double of his Justice League teammate on E-2. He seemed to know about her existence as part of the JSA. So was WW a part of Barry's All-Star Comics?

 

Going by the events seen in The Flash # 137, the Golden-Age Wonder Woman was, indeed, part of Barry Allen's experience with comics on Earth-One.

 

On page two of "Vengeance of the Immortal Villain", Allen reflects on the locations of the mysterious lights appearing over certain cities on Earth-One.  His thoughts from panel one of that page:  "Calvin City . . . Washington . . . Gotham City . . . what can they have in common?"

 

Then, it hits him like a . . . er . . . flash.

 

He realises that the cities over which the skylights appeared are those which were the home bases, on Earth-Two, of certain members of the Justice Society.

 

Panel five of page two shows him pulling out a copy of All-Star Comics # 37 (Oct.-Nov., 1947), as he thinks:

 

How well I remember those colorful heroes from my boyhood reading of All-Star Comics!  Hawkman!  Doctor Mid-Nite!  The Atom from Calvin College and Calvin City!  Wonder Woman worked in Washington in those days!  Green Lantern was in Gotham City!  And good old Johnny Thunder . . . .

 

So, yesirreebob, Barry Allen was acquainted with a fictional Wonder Woman long before he became a super-hero himself and formed the Justice League.  What his reaction was to meeting a Wonder Woman in the flesh then is left to our imaginations.

 

I can only echo the sentiments of Commander B and the Captain - the first JLA/JSA team up was a knock out in concept if not execution. As a kid with no knowledge of comics history, the discovery of an entire group of older heroes was a major revelation. The fire would be stoked shortly after when Jules Feiffer published The Great Comic Book Heroes with reprints featuring many of the JSA heroes in their original adventures.  I avidly looked forward to the annual summer team ups, with the individual appearances of the Earth Two heroes in other books an added bonus.
Lee Houston, Junior said:

Unfortunately, times change.

There has not been an ANNUAL team up of the JSA/JLA since before the original Crisis on Infinite Earths and sadly, this is a decision I agree with.

After the uniqueness of the doing so first wore off at the end of the Silver Age, DC had to start bringing a third team into the mix starting in the 1970s. It was only the last (couple?) before the Crisis that went back to the original format of just the two teams.

Yet I also do not agree with the JSA/JLA only meeting in times of need as they do now. Why can't there be like some kind of annual summit or other type of friendly meeting between the two groups? Even if it's just a panel in one of the team books every once in awhile, it would be nice to know that they do not just get together in times of dire need.


I kind of agree here, kind of. Unfortunately, I come later to comics collecting than most of you participating in this thread, so you got to read all these stories when they were fresh, when it was really cool for these groups to meet for the first time, and even more cool for them to join "together again for the first time." By the time I started seeing JLA/JSA team-ups, like Lee said, DC started throwing in a third team, and these bloated, boring tales would run for three or four issues. Sometimes, simpler is better.

As for Mike Sekowsky, his art is an acquired taste for me. I regard him as one of DC's journeymen; never flashy, but dependable, and, as noted, good with composition and storytelling and character interaction and body language, traits other, younger, flashier artists would do well to master.

Philip Portelli wrote: >> Sekowsky had a very personalized style. You couldn't mistake it for anyone else's. But he was an excellent story-telling with a vast range of facial expressions. He drew the JLA, not as modern gods but real people. He also had strong inkers in Bernard Sachs and Sid Greene. Apparently the guidelines to DC's art changed in the late 60s and his artwork suffered because of it.

 

His artwork certainly didn't suffer any on what I consider his main post-JLA title, WONDER WOMAN. In fact, if anything, I think it improved. It could very well be, though, that most of that improvement was due to Dick Giordano's inks. Whatever the case, Sekowsky's artwork on WW was great back then, and it's still great today (I recently read the whole Diana Prince saga thanks to DC's reprinting of the whole shebang in TPB format).

 

Sekowsky on Supergirl, the Metal Men and his SHOWCASE stories is much more of an acquired taste, and I dunno that I'd go very far out of my way to hunt any of those down for the artwork alone. The stories are so darn quirky that they stand out as emblematic of DC's travails in the post-Silver Age to find something, anything, that would work.

To Commander Benson: I wonder if when Wonder Woman first showed up on Earth-One that comic book fans told her her origin, secret identity ("Did you meet Diana Prince yet? No? Well go find her!") and her relationship with Steve Trevor ("Dude, she's right under your nose!")!

And did Superman and Batman appear in Barry's All-Star Comics #36?

I can see your point about the JSA's role in #29-30. Perhaps DC was hedging their bets, featuring the JSA but not letting them overshadow the JLA. Certainly just sitting around as captives for half an issue, waiting to be rescued is not something to put on one's resume!

But that changed big time!

JUSTICE LEAGUE #37-38 (Au-S'65): Earth--Without A Justice League/Crisis on Earth-A!

Let's get this out of the way early. This is not a team-up! This is the first Justice Society story on their own since 1951! When I did my first (primitive) index, I listed the JSA as the featured characters, not guest stars, pushing the JLA out of their own book for two months! 

The JLA: When the Thunderbolt is caught stealing on Earth-One, it's by the one JLAer who would recognize him: comic fan Barry (The Flash) Allen.

All their origins are negated by the T-Bolt. Good thing the Lord of Time or Darkseid didn't think of that!

Props to Sekowsky for drawing Batman as he really looked in 1939! Of course, was Gardner Fox saying that the E-1 Batman was around in 1939? ;-)

At the end, Hawkman is shown without the wings on his helmet. Maybe this took place on an Earth where he joined the JLA soon after his B&B debut!

The JSA: The focal point of this story is Johnny Thunder and his Thunderbolt. A lot of this tale is played for laughs as Johnny is a comic character. Now he would probably be diagnosed with ADD or a learning disabilty. Though it could have something that was done to him as a child to make him, and through him the T-Bolt, more controllable. In the 60s, there would be a plastic T-Bolt figure based on his appearance here. The two would have a semi-antagonistic relationship.

With the heroes knowing about the twin Earths, it's understandable that Johnny would want to meet his counterpart. It would have been neat if he was taken to the past to meet the western Johnny Thunder.

Doctor Fate-regained his gloves and continued his advanced career path, dominating the cover of #38.

Mister Terrific--first Silver Age appearance. There was some agruement as to whether he really was a JSA member in the 40s. I say that 1) he was and 2) it didn't matter! He was one now! Unfortunately the Defender of Fair Play was never handled well and he seemed like a corny remnant of an earlier time.Still it was lucky that he was used at all. Fox could have easily had Doctor Mid-Nite take part!

The JSA disguising themselves as the JLA is a familar theme in Gardner Fox's stories. The JLA switched identites in #11, Superman and Batman did it in #12 and the Crime Champions did it in #21. Flash, Green Lantern and Atom, of course, become their E-1 doppelgangers, though Hawkman becomes the Martian Manhunter instead of the E-1 Hawkman. Doctor Fate transforms into Superman and Mister Terrific has the highlight of his life by temporarily becoming Batman!

The Villains: The Earth-One Johnny Thunder (who should have been a tad younger) was an ignorant small-time crook who dressed like Jimmy Olsen. Apparently he was raised by the Bahdnisians of E-1 but received no T-Bolt of his own. Like our Johnny, he refuses to listen to the T-Bolt and makes his Earth-alternating commands. He has some good lines and he really gets his in the end, begging to make all this never happen! But he too returns in the 80s!

As for the Lawless League, instead of having the T-Bolt transform his gang into a criminal JLA, he orders them to replace the heroes in their own origins! How that would work, I have no idea! Did the T-Bolt make Ripper Jones a Kryptonian infant who landed on Earth, was raised by the Jones and have a career as Super-Bully? How did Monk Loomis fool Abin Sur? Did Barney Judson come up with the white dwarf star technology on his own and so forth?  Luckily they were never seen again.

The Moon menaces that the E-1 Johnny comes up with are both simple and dangerous, much like he is.

Some Notes: Probably my least favorite JSA story. Too confusing, too convoluted. And by the end, it never really happened though we (and the Thunderbolt) know better. There were some cute and clever bits but it was over-plotted and again ends abruptly like they ran out of pages.

With Johnny of E-2 unconscious for most of it, he doesn't get a chance to shine. Indeed, the T-Bolt carries the story and you really feel for him. Being the servant of a moron is not an enviable postion. Hopefully he gets some weekends off!

Could these issues have been "pilots" for a new JSA book? They have Doctor Fate, the four Schwartzian predecessors and an out-of-place Mister Terrific. Or was it a test for Doctor Fate who just had two Showcase teamups with Hourman? Those had cover dates of March and May 1965, so that's four comics starring Fate in one year!

Next: the team-ups can handle super-villains but what about Bat-Mania?

"I lliked most of Gardner's stories. His main problem was too many plot points and gimmicks that bogged down his tales. Sometimes you felt that you had skipped over a page or two or that you walked into the middle of a scene and missed the beginning."

 

Fox's plots became increasingly goofy as the '60s went on. This might have been forgivable if his writing had been funny (as John Broome's could be), but humor was not one of Fox's talents. For truly cringe-worthy comics, read those Atom tales he was forced to camp up in '66. Julius Schwartz said he often wouldn't let Fox leave the office until he'd rewritten his scripts so they made sense.

 

Yes, Fox was addicted to gimmicks. To him, that's what a comic book story was supposed to be. I've read a letter, written by Fox to a fan circa 1964, in which he said there was no room in comics for characterization, so stories had to be all plot -- as his were. But even when Fox wrote this, Stan Lee was proving him wrong (mainly in Spider-Man and Fantastic Four).

Justice League of America # 37-8 (Aug. and Sep., 1965)

 

 

This one lies next to last in my estimation of the Fox/Sekowsky JLA/JSA team-ups.  Like JLA # 29-30, it has significant weaknesses, but they are offset by entertaining aspects.

 

I suspect you’re correct, Philip, that this year’s cross-over was intended to be a showcase for the Justice Society.  1965 was a banner year for the Earth-Two heroes.  By that time, a track record of sorts had been established.  The fan responses from the previous two JLA/JSA pairings had proven to be overwhelmingly positive, and I believe that Julius Schwartz and/or the suits at DC decided it was time to see if any gold could be mined from their Golden-Age characters.  Thus, you not only had the predominance of the Justice Society in the annual cross-over, but that same year also saw the two Showcase issues that teamed Doctor Fate and Hourman (with the original Green Lantern tossed in for good measure) and the two Brave and the Bold efforts pairing Starman and the Black Canary (with a guest-star appearance by Wildcat).  That was in addition to the guest-appearances of the Earth-Two Flash and Green Lantern in their respective counterparts’ titles.  (For some reason, the Golden-Age Atom didn’t surface in the Silver-Age Tiny Titan’s title until 1967.)

 

The opportunity to see the JSA operate on its own was novel enough to forgive a number of sins in this “Crisis”.  And let’s not forget, Gardner Fox hedged his bets somewhat; the actual JLA members may have made only cameos in this two-parter, but their visual presence was maintained, both in the JSAers’ impersonations of them and, albeit in a distorted fashion, in the Lawless League.

 

Of the plot-structure concepts which Gardner Fox employed on his JLA scripts, the small-time-crook-who-stumbles-across-a-powerful-weapon theme was usually the weakest.  Neither Pete Ricketts (JLA # 8), nor Joe Parry (JLA # 31) seemed anything more than mere irritations who shouldn’t have posed as much trouble for the Justice League as they did, except for IITS.

 

JLA # 37-8 relies on the same theme.  I’ll give Fox credit in that, in this case, the situation is developed more reasonably than just having some petty hoodlum accidentally find a super-weapon.  Fox plays upon the fact that, even at that point, the idea of parallel-Earths was still fairly fresh.  It makes sense that the Earth-Two Johnny Thunder would take it into his mind to have his Thunderbolt zip him over to Earth-One to meet his counterpart.  He had no doubt heard from his fellow JSA members that certain of them had Earth-One analogues who were the-same-yet-not-the-same.  And it was consistent with how Johnny had been portrayed in the old days that he would impetuously visit his Earth-One double without telling anyone of his plans---at least, anyone who stood a chance of talking him out of it.

 

And to be fair, it might not have occurred to even one of us, that our other-Earth counterpart would be a criminal.  (A bit of extrapolation here:  the Earth-Two Johnny Thunder, for all of his faults, had always been honest and good-hearted in those Golden-Age tales.  One can infer from this story that the Earth-One Johnny Thunder had probably had a bad streak from boyhood, and that is why the Bahdnesians who raised him did not bestow the power of the Thunderbolt on him.)

 

So I could buy the premise.  But the same problem as with Pete Ricketts and Joe Parry developed---the criminal Johnny’s mishandling of the T-bolt kept him from being a top-tier threat.  If the T-bolt hadn’t been so powerful, the JSA would have wrapped the whole thing up in four or five pages, tops.

 

It was kind of fun to see the T-bolt thwart the various origins of the Justice League heroes.  The Batman one was a little shaky, though.  Instead of fouling the Masked Manhunter’s first case, why not just prevent Joe Chill from killing Bruce Wayne’s parents?  Still, it would have robbed us of seeing Mike Sekowsky’s rendering of the Batman as he appeared ‘way back in Detective Comics # 27.

 

(For my money, in those three or four years just before Batman’s “New Look”, when Sheldon Moldoff was still drawing the Batman stories in a rough imitation of Bob Kane’s chicken scratchings, Mike Sekowsky delivered one of the best depictions of the Batman to be found.  That was during the 1960-1 period of the Justice League, and long before Carmine Infantino got to handle the character.)

 

As for the bit in which the Thunderbolt reworks certain JLAers’ origins so crooks receive their powers, you and I and many others have scratched their heads over that.  It’s one of the weakest parts of the story.  I’ve played around with it in my mind, but any solutions are so byzantine that it just isn’t worth the effort. I finally just wrote it off this way:  it was simpler for the T-bolt to just zap Ripper Jones, Bill Gore, Eddie Orson, Race Morrison, Barney Judson, and Monk Loomis into criminal versions of Superman, Batman, J’onn J’onzz, the Flash, the Atom, and Green Lantern, and then tell the evil Johnny that he had altered the original origins.

 

It was interesting to see J’onn J’onzz get such a big play-up in this tale, this being after Gardner Fox had started reducing the Manhunter’s appearances in the series.  Beginning with JLA # 28 (Jun., 1964), Fox put the Martian Manhunter on the back burner, omitting him from JLA stories more often than any other member.  (J’onn J’onzz appearances in the title would grow even more scarce until late '67-early '68.)

 

I’ve a hunch the Manhunter’s presence in this two-parter ties in with the inclusion of the Earth-Two Hawkman in the story.  At first blush, it would seem to be a huge scripting error that, in choosing which JLAer’s identity to assume, the original Winged Wonder would pick J’onn J’onzz rather than the Earth-One Hawkman.  But I believe that was a deliberate thing and not an oversight.

 

I’m guessing that, for the big showdown between the JSA and the Lawless League, Fox wanted to avoid too many battles between strict counterparts.  That, to an extent, had already been done in the previous year’s crisis involving the Crime Syndicate.  Against the Lawless League, you already had Flash versus Flash and Green Lantern versus Green Lantern.  (Atom versus Atom really doesn’t count because their powers are completely different.)  So, rather than adding a third counterpart battle, Fox put Hawkman up against “the Martian Manhunter”.

 

Other complaints:  this plot is similar to the Crime Syndicate story in that it really consists of three battles---the disguised JSA against the T-bolt, the JSA against the Lawless League, and the JSA versus the three monsterous villains created by the criminal Johnny.  What keeps it from seeming as episodic as the Earth-Three Crisis are the other bits of business---the Earth-Two Johnny Thunder meeting the Earth-One version, the early detective work in which the JSAers seek out the JLAers’ civilian selves (who, after the T-bolt’s tinkering, are just ordinary folk), and the sequence of the T-bolt preventing the JLAers’ origins.  These added a little zest to the meal.

 

This is also the point in which Doctor Fate became the “Big Kahuna” of the JSA’s appearances in the cross-overs.  Fox certainly must have liked the character, since he would appear in five of the six JLA/JSA team-ups he wrote---more than any other Justice Society member.  And it was here that he began to really get annoying to me.

 

True, the conclusion was abrupt.  Very.  But the manner of it I don’t think could have been gotten around.  Any alternative would have carried a grim connotation.  Suppose the JSA had defeated the evil Johnny outright and the Earth-Two Johnny had regained control of his Thunderbolt.  The next logical step would be for the good Johnny to order the T-bolt to put everything aright.  Or perhaps Dr. Fate would accomplish it with his magic.  That would have a serious consequence.  Remember, in order to prevent Superman from coming into being, the T-bolt stopped the nuclear reaction which was going to destroy the planet Krypton.  That preserved billions of lives.

 

If Johnny or Dr. Fate had undone that, they would have been killing billions of people all over again.  Now, it’s a minor point and I imagine one could come up with a justification for it, but I figure Fox and Schwartz preferred to just sidestep the whole possibility of readers’ reactions.  By pinning the blame for everything being put back the way it was on the criminal Johnny.

 

 

I’m looking forward to your analysis of the next JLA/JSA event, Philip.  That one’s my favourite.

I just bought all the TPBs "Crisis On Multiple Earths" 5 JLA/JSA team-ups plus 2 issues of team-ups in mags like Flash, GL, Atom, B&B, etc. These 7 Crisis books were my 58th birthday present to myself. I guess you might say I'm having a mid-life Crisis.

"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!'"  ROFLMAO!!!  WONDERFUL!

 

ITEM:  Anyone remember that this is Hawkman's first appearance in Justice League of America?  It's a great trivia question...

 

ITEM:  The villains were able to beat sixteen super heroes, true... but let's face facts in that a team with Superman, Flash, Green Lantern, J'onn J'onzz, and Wonder Woman doesn't really face a lot of challenges.  (I mean... the Key?)  So the heroes have to be dumbed down even further, and supplied with a tremendous variety of green kryptonite and yellow items.

 

ITEM:  A lot of Justice League - and other Silver Age (Julie Schwartz) covers - were based on Golden Age covers, so JLA 22 really can't be singled out.  You're RIGHT - but it's not that one alone.

 

x<]:o){

Yes, I know that they reused cover ideas in Justice League but it was only recently that I learned how extensive it was!

As for Groucho, I was watching Sesame Street with my two-year old nephew when, in "Elmo's World", a letter W came down, like the Secret Word, complete with eyebrows, glasses and mustache (but no cigar, natch!). All I was thinking, was "Who are they writing this for? Toddlers who are familar with TCM and classic TV?"

"ROFLMAO!" Please explain as I am texting shorthand-illiterate! :-)

Eric L. Sofer said:

"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!'"  ROFLMAO!!!  WONDERFUL!

 

ITEM:  Anyone remember that this is Hawkman's first appearance in Justice League of America?  It's a great trivia question...

 

ITEM:  The villains were able to beat sixteen super heroes, true... but let's face facts in that a team with Superman, Flash, Green Lantern, J'onn J'onzz, and Wonder Woman doesn't really face a lot of challenges.  (I mean... the Key?)  So the heroes have to be dumbed down even further, and supplied with a tremendous variety of green kryptonite and yellow items.

 

ITEM:  A lot of Justice League - and other Silver Age (Julie Schwartz) covers - were based on Golden Age covers, so JLA 22 really can't be singled out.  You're RIGHT - but it's not that one alone.

 

x<]:o){

Philip Portelli said:
"ROFLMAO!" Please explain as I am texting shorthand-illiterate! :-)

ROFLMAO = Rolling On the Floor, Laughing My Ankles Off, or something like that.

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