Parade of the Wooden Soldiers

This afternoon’s post on DC’s Super-Spectaculars is over a month late! It concerns another of my top five Desert Island 100- pagers. The previous entry was the Batman/Two-Face issue;  number two is Justice League of America 110.

With this issue, JLA expanded to Super-Spec dimensions for seven issues. It’s also the first time I ever saw the expression “Super Friends”.

My most vivid recollection  of this issue is reading it on the coach back from East Kilbride’s Dollan Baths when I was in Primary school. I hated the whole idea of swimming, right down to the verucca powder. I didn’t learn anything and didn’t try again until I was nearly thirty-one.

This issue sees the JLA under Len Wein at a storytelling peak that won’t be matched until Englehart’s tenure. Is it as good as The Avengers/Zodiac story, running concurrently at the Other Company? By Odin, I say aye and the art is better!

The Man Who Murdered Santa Claus: This was my first encounter with GL John Stewart. The League have to stop the Key from detonating a bomb in St. Louis on Christmas Eve and, one by one, they appear to succumb to his deathtraps. The Phantom Stranger saves the League’s bacon, however. Red Tornado, who is one of Wein’s main audience- identification figures (Ralph Dibny being the other) gets his gaudy new costume which makes him look like a Mardi Gras version of the Vision. Comedy, drama and sentiment in twenty pages.

The Plight of a Nation: as a kid I was bored by this JSA novel but now I really appreciate it. It’s a Golden age stab at Relevancy in comics as the story comments on “juvenile delinquency”. When a Labour MP says hitting your kids would stop them joining gangs, it seems quite contemporary.

The Society tries to foil The Crimson Claws while a kid gang mimics their activities and adopts their name. The climax of this gritty melodrama sees Wonder Woman using her Magic Sphere to show the boys their own executions by electric chair! Suffering Sappho, that’s Tough Love!

This story was also my introduction to the luchador-style Atom. I was not impressed.  I also missed Dr. Fate but the artwork by Infantino and Toth makes up for his absence.

Z-as in Zatanna- and Zero Hour!: A typically light-hearted slice of mid-Sixties JLA campery.  Sid Greene embellishes Sekowsky beautifully, particularly the nubile Zatanna . The Elongated Man makes a guest appearance as the quest for Zatara is finally wrapped up. Swok! Zunnk! A few Adam West-style sound effects clutter a traditional Gardener Fox script featuring elementals, the sword of Paracelsus and Amen-Hotep, the necromancer from the Nile.

This repint is interrupted by the second appearance of a 2-page pin-up of the Justice Society by Murphy Anderson, complete with the adult Robin in his Batman-inspired costume.

JLA Mailroom: one letter calls for a reduction of the roster by about half. Another requests the membership of Metamorpho, Deadman and Mr. Miracle, while a third asks for Supergirl (whom I think works better in the Legion). Other LOCs praise, quite rightly, the Earth-X two-parter. I should review that one someday…

Next: Finale for Secret Origins

All images are presumed copyright of their respective owners

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One comment on “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers

  1. Kid Robson says:

    Ah, the Dollan Baths. I also remember my unwilling trips there in the ’70s with my secondary school. My ingenuity was always exercised in coming up with an excuse not to participate. Swimming? Me no likee.

    As for the JLA, was never much of a fan. Batman always worked better on his own, and there were far too many heroes in the group to allow for a smooth story – on axxount of them all having to be shoehorned in somewhere for their obligatory turn in the spotlight. Marvel’s Avengers always made for a more entertaining read and handled its roster of characters with far more flair.

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