Every Grain of Sand

Today’s post revisits Justice League 113, cover-dated October 1974. This was, unusually, a “done-in-one” edition of the annual JLA/JSA summer crossover. I think, if memory serves, it was also a  mail order purchase in the very early 80s. I would like to see that dramatic, imposing Nick  Cardy cover illustration at full size.

The Creature in the Velvet Cage:  We’ve often heard  tales of the similarities between Swamp Thing and Man-Thing or between the Doom Patrol and the X-Men. Yet to my knowledge, no one’s compared this story with Giant-Size Avengers 1, “Nuklo-The Invader That Time Forgot”, from August ’74. In both comics, a giant yellow humanoid goes on the rampage in three separate locations and is revealed to have a tragic connection with a Golden Age superhero. Did Wein unconsciously borrow from Roy’s story? After all  he was already working for Marvel, introducing the Defenders to the Son of Satan and Alpha, the Ultimate Mutant, while pitting the Hulk against some gaudy Wildcat knock-off called The Wolverine…

Had he stayed for another year, I wonder if Wein would have gone on to reinstate The” Great Step Backward” Wonder Woman since he uses the E-2 version here?  Wein’s favourite The Elongated Man also features again and the GA Sandman gets the Adam West treatment with a Sand-Car and a secret hq below a “plush townhouse”. However, Wein’s story would appear to write finis to the career of the Grainy Gladiator. Was this an editorial degree? The kid-friendly Simon and Kirby Sandman was waiting in the wings…

The Case of the Patriotic Crimes: A reprint from All-star Comics in 1948  featuring the second, less monstrous line-up of the Injustice Society; no sign of Vandal Savage or Sivana-lookalike the Brain Wave.  The tedious Thinker and Gambler are also awol. Instead, it’s a collection of Robert Kanigher super-crooks and former femmes fatales, Black Canary and Harlequin are on hand to turn the tide for the JSAers. In fact, this is the story that sees the fishnet-clad Veronica Lake-alike joining the Society. It’s quite a diverting period piece but every time I see Dr. Mid-Nite, I wish it were Wildcat or Batman.

I’m fond of both the bespectacled Molly Mayne Harlequin and the wacky 70s “Joker’s Daughter” version but I accept that Harley Quinn is the most recognisable iteration of the gimmicky gal.

There’s quite a controversy brewing about DC’s intention to introduce a new gay male superhero ( Starman Mikaal seemingly written out of the New 52). The E-2 Green Lantern is a likely contender although I don’t think the character could really be described as iconic. Ironically, almost thirty years ago, Roy Thomas was planning to introduce a new gay male version of Harlequin, who may very well have been Alan Scott’s son with his “loving enemy”.  However, this Harlequin looks too much like the Charlton/Captain  Atom villains  Punch and Jewlee,

The Cavern Of Deadly Spheres:A reprint from December 1962, this is from  Fox and Sekowsky’s second year on the regular JLA title and it features a typical “inescapable doom-trap”. It’s the kind of genteel puzzle I expect from that era and it’s also a bit of a love letter to fans Jerry Bails…and Roy Thomas. Neat!

The JLA Mail Room: There’s a jarringly large space in the mail room header where Hawkman once stood. Meanwhile,  Randy Emenhiser suggests Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Metamorpho and Zatanna all deserve to be in the JLA. I can’t fault his choices but a fourteen member League seems unwieldy.  I’ll talk about that in a future post…

Three out of the seven letters published complain about Reddy’s new look. They’re right; the arrow, the pinstripes and the cape trim are fussy. Four readers were pleased to see John Stewart guesting with the JLA.  Editor Schwartz didn’t take heed however.

An entertaining summer special and for fans of the Justice Society, it would be an exciting autumn…

Coming soon: The Monster Society of Evil

All images presumed copyright of their respective owners

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