Earth Under the Martians

This afternoon’s post is devoted to JLA 115, cover-dated February 1975.  No Johnny Peril filler this issue. It’s three “full-length novels!”

The Last Angry God: J’Onn J’Onzz enlists the aid of the JLA to fight against a threat to the Martian colony world (last glimpsed in issue 100). This is a fanged, albino giant called Korge, God of Rage. He! Speaks! Like! This! How! Annoying! The tiny Atom devises a plan to defeat the giant. How! Ironic!

This issue marks the one-off return of Denny O’Neil: architect of the Satellite Era and the man behind the Green Arrow and Black Canary romance. He was also the writer who wrote J’Onn J’Onzz out of the JLA, so I suppose it’s fitting that he brings him back to guest star here.  Aside from harking back to the Silver Age, as usual, I assume the story is intended to lead into JJ’s back-up series in World’s Finest. To my knowledge, he doesn’t return to the JLA  until the Englehart Era,  as a video recording and with a slightly more alien aspect.  In any case, neither O’ Neil nor editor Schwartz seem to have had any interest in restoring the Manhunter to his previous role as the JLA’s counterfeit black member.

Evil Star Over Hollywood: This is an enjoyable JSA story from December, 1948.  A masked racketeer, with a natty line in star-shaped cufflinks,  launches an attack on the movie industry. The Stalwart Seven have to stop him ruining a picture called “Thief In The Night”. The JSA pair up – except for Green Lantern ( that big gayer, Alan Scott!), who is obviously the,er,  star of the story. Atom is no longer in that ludicrous luchador outfit and the Black Canary has replaced Johnny Thunder. Bravo. The story’s climax sees the JSAers tied up in the studio’s private cinema, in front of a knife-throwing machine!

One of my cousin Jim’s comics, that I fell heir to in the early 70s

Writer John Broome would recycle the villain’s name for a Green Lantern foe in the Sixties. There are numerous movie star cameos: I spotted Bogart, Bacall, Jimmy Stewart, Crosby and Hope, Cary Grant and Peter Lorre. The setting of Stellar Studios became the fictional home of the JSA’s kids,  Infinity Inc. in the mid-80s.

JLA Mail Room: Three plaudits for Wein’s “War With The One-Man Justice League” and one panning. The stories are contrived and Giordano’s inks don’t suit Dillin’s pencils.

Indestructible Creatures of Nightmare Island:  A reprint from November, 1965, the fifth year of Gardner Fox’s tenure as the  League’s author. Andrew Helm , a well-intentioned scientist raised in the utopian Tibetan enclave of Ta Ming- think Reed Richards crossed with Dr. Strange-  uses his knowledge to create an artificial conscience for the human race. This leads to humorous scenes of the Penguin and Captain Cold turning themselves in. However, Helm becomes trapped on the astral plane and the JLA have to intervene to disable his machine.

The hallucinations created to thwart the JLA are dealt with rather perfunctorily. Helm’s backstory dominates the tale (So interesting is it, that it must have influenced the origin of Iron Fist!) so maybe this should have been a two-parter.

JLA Mail Room Extra: Three plaudits and one panning for “Creature in the Velvet Cage” ( aka “Nuklo -the Invader That Time Forgot”, I tells ya!). I sense a pattern here.

One of the discoveries I’ve made, reading these Super-Specs, is that I find Denny O’Neil’s scripts  corny and tongue-in-cheek. His mid-70s work doesn’t usually match up to his award-winning reputation.  Wein is the better writer, even if his stories tend to be “kisses to the past”.

With Wein’s departure for Marvel and the role of editor-in-chief,  JLA entered a period of rotating scripters including Bates, Maggin, Martin Pasko and Gerry Conway. There was no sense of direction, just a series of homages to the  Silver Age and the sour taste of  70s swinger ennui. Compared to Englehart’s contemporary Avengers, where the Vision and Mantis explore their histories and discover themselves ( very “Me Decade”!), JLA stories aren’t about anything, apart from , very vaguely, the importance of teamwork.

Coming soon:  The Mystery Men of August. Some gifted youngsters, a cyborg, a florist, an Asgardian, Merlin’s demon and your friendly neigbourhood Spider-Man!

All images are presumed copyright of their respective owners.


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