Bad Robot

This afternoon’s post picks up here we left off in February. This is the July-August 100-page issue of Justice League of America from thirty-eight years ago. I didn’t get this one at the time; most likely  my copy was a back issue from Glasgow’s City Centre Comics  or possibly from the late Pete Root’s boxes in  Forbidden Planet Buchanan Street. The sombre cover is of course by Nick Cardy.

War with the One-Man Justice League: The League re -activates the android Amazo in order to regain their missing powers, stolen by Libra last issue. In Silver Age style,  all ten members of the  team split up and engage the “malevolent manikin” in battle  in the  Arctic, Kilimanjaro and the Matto Grosso. Again, there’s the heinous assertion that Black Canary spends her spare time sewing garish costumes for artificial beings. Green Arrow provides unfunny comic relief; Wein’s pet characters, Elongated Man and Red Tornado are in action; and Batman saves the day, beheading Amazo with a karate chop.

It’s a Bronze Age spin on the 60s Fox formula. All the members of the League get some “face time” but it’s all a bit cute and Amazo looks comically like a giant space pixie. There’s no explanation whatsoever of last issue’s Libra, his technology or his motivation -although his M.O. resembles Professor Ivo as implied in..

Amazo and his Creator:  a two-page reprint featuring panels and commentary from Amazo’s three previous appearances.

Beware the Black Star Shines :  It’s back to Spring 1942 for the final chapters of the Seven Soldiers of Victory adventure. The Crimson Avenger and Wing investigate a medical mystery involving identical twins and an also-ran called The Brain. The Avenger’s sidekick Wing is an outrageous Oriental caricature : “Would like to see if clook crazy as he looks!”

Meanwhile, Stuff the Chinatown Kid is missing from the Vigilante story and the Prairie Troubadour is assisted by an old geezer called Billy Gunn. The Rattler is a grotesque villain who strikes at the Sixty Kiddie Club, a “palace of perpetual play” for retirees.

The Law’s Legionnaires reconvene to beard the Black Star in his castle-laboratory and battle his giant insects and, er giant bunny. Vig and Shining Knight hog the limelight but Stripesy buffets the villain into the growth ray and his own giant size kills him. The Black Star part of the story seems quite disconnected from the individual chapters but I was more entertained by this  second half.

JLA Mail Room:  kudos galore to Wein for his Hawkman/Eclipso story- apart from one commenter who calls it “banal and absurd…hackneyed and silly”. School teacher Joe Arul suggests all members save Bats, Supes, Flash  and Green Lantern should be canned and offers possible replacements in Captain Marvel, Mr. Miracle, Wonder Woman, Phantom Stranger, the Demon and Metamorpho.  See Some Fantastic Place this week for my response to this idea.

The Origin of Starman: a text feature on the Astral Avenger that makes a rare reference to the Justice Battalion of 1942. That version of the JSA would appear in All-Star Squadron. I suspect the text was originally printed in one of the Starman/Canary Brave and the Bold stories. I also wonder if editor Schwartz was hoping for a revival of the character. Would he have imagined there would be six successors to the title?

Starman’s Lucky Star: a December 1942 reprint from Adventure Comics ( home too of the Sandman’s “A Drama in Dreams”, which we reviewed in the  Superboy/Hawk & Dove/Boy Commandos Super-Spec). This sentimental Fox/Meskin melodrama about a blind boy suggests Starman’s Gravity Rod doesn’t function in daylight or under ultra-violet light, which I didn’t recall. Hence the hero’s memorable sobriquet in this story, The Dark Knight. Ahem.

The Super-Exiles of Earth:  A Fox/Sekowsky reprint from May 1963- one month before I was born! Doctor Destiny causes the JLA to be banished into space and creates dream-duplicates of the team with his Materioptikon ( wotta ridiculous name!) The real JLA revert to their civilian guises to defeat their doubles.  Surprisingly to modern sensibilities, they make a big fuss of revealing -and then concealing- their secret identities. We’re so used to the “Clark-Bruce-Diana” badinage, it seems odd to value anonymity in the  team.

This isn’t the most entertaining Silver Age exploit but it was one of about only half-a-dozen from the first two years of the book that hadn’t been reprinted by ’74.

The Fuss’n’ Feathers over Hawkman:  An extra page of LoCs regarding Hawkman’s resignation three issues ( or six months) earlier. Editor Marty Pasko, a former lettercol regular, selects a fifty-fifty split for and against.

A run-of-the-mill issue, this one, although you get plenty of super-heroes for your 15p (or 60 cents). We’ve looked at the next issue, with its iconoclastic one-part JSA team-up, in a previous post. We will return to the JLA four more times in this series however.

Coming soon: Ally Babble and the Fourteen Peeves.

All images are presumed copyright of their respective owners.

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