When You’re Talking With Your Super Friends

That quote from Blondie introduces today’s post on the Justice League of America. When I was last home in Glasgow in February, this tpb was an impulse buy.

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My earliest memories of comics revolve around 80 page issues of World’s Finest Comics and the JLA . They are images of sunny days ( aren’t they always?) outside my dad’s pigeon lofts on endless afternoons.

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I still love seeing Mike Sekowsky’s block, bulky heroes in pairs or in trios soaring all over the world -or on sidereal worlds- or to the star suns of Aldebaran or Fomalhaut.

Rip Jagger’s Dojo is doing a far better job that I at reviewing these seminal science fantasy romps :(http://ripjaggerdojo.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/silver-age-jla-cosmic-fun-house.html)

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However, the highlights for me from this collection include Ilaric, the time-travelling master-robot; the manticore and the dryads; Kanjar Ro and his three arch-enemies ( especially the strangely alluring Hyathis) and the Cosmidoor.

Starro, Despero and Amos Fortune ( whom, I noticed for the very first time, is wearing a black and white robe!) are such quirky, grotesque menaces- right up there with Sinestro or Flash’s Rogues.

Snapper Carr

 I missed the Atom and his tiny, floating chair and I quite like Edd Byrnes rip-off, Snapper Carr, as the POV character. I hope Cisco/Vibe is his replacement in future tv or movie JLA project.

 But I confess I am still bored by Batman and Superman stand-ins, Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter. Aside from her cameo as Kathy Kane in “The Cosmic Funhouse, why no Batwoman? Her feminine gimmicks would have been an amusing counterpoint to the essentially magical powers of Wonder Woman or Green Lantern.

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We would then have a League in the early Sixties that looked a little like Alan Davis’s take, above. The parallel world popularised by the summer team-ups with the Justice Society have often inspired me to other fancies…

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In my personal, alternative history of the JLA, Batgirl replaces Kathy Kane in 1967. That might then mean there’s no need to transfer Black Canary from the JSA when Wonder Woman is depowered, of course. But I am so accustomed to the Green Arrow/Canary team that I can’t countenance her retirement, really.

Around 1975 (on this Earth-D for Dougie) Len Wein stays for one more year as JLA scribe and Elongated Man is elected chairman. I think this is a logical step for a character Wein introduced as a member.  Another, perhaps more audacious idea, would be a third transfer to the JLA from Earth-2 in the shape of fan-favourite, Wildcat.

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I’ve posted before about the street-level JLA I envisage circa 1975-76: my “Justice Incorporated” with Batman leading a vigilante squad including Green Arrow, Wildcat and the Creeper.

Here’s a link to my first thoughts on that grouping, from four years ago .http://somefantasticplace-dougie.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/mystery-men-of-1975.html

(Later, I’d change my mind about Talia, Rex and PS)

But I don’t think it would be long before the sci-fi success of Star Wars ( which saved late 70s Marvel, basically) would have an influence on my alt-JLA.

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I could see Gerry Conway and Mike Vosburg at the helm of a JLA team of “star-warriors” including Captain Comet and Conway’s own Bronze Age Starman ( perhaps stifling the Ditko/Levitz iteration.)

And what if JLA Detroit didn’t come about in 1984? The huge success of the X-Men, the New Teen Titans and the Giffen/Levitz LSH in the early 80s eclipsed the original super-hero team of E-1 under Conway, Buckler, Heck and Patton.

Vixen

So, just imagine instead, movie writing partners Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas- perhaps with Jerry Ordway’s pencils- launching a younger, fresher take on the JLA. Gerry might induct his  own creations Firestorm, Power Girl and Vixen; Roy, formerly scripting stories with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman and a lifelong fan of Hawkman, might bring in the Winged Warrior.

PG Firestorm

Real world locales were replacing the Star and Coast Cities of the DCU and with Hollywood scribes, perhaps the JLA would be based in Los Angeles.

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There might still have been a Crisis Crossover in 1984- perhaps introducing the Centurions, the heirs to the JSA- but if the “New Adventures of the Justice League” was a hit, there may have been no need to streamline the DCU with a COIE.

Anyway, it’s just a series of Imaginary Stories! After the Easter weekend, more Doctor Who comic strips here and on SFP, my top ten Time Lords.

All images are copyright of their respective owners

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A Song For Europe

I had been planning to revisit my earliest memories of the JLA, with the arrival in the UK of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow series ( one which owes a huge debt to our Doctor Who but also features some terrible dialogue). However, at present, the first JLA stories are being dealt with in depth on this site:

http://ripjaggerdojo.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/silver-age-jla-despero.html

I still think I might link to a post on the Silver Age Batwoman and Batgirl and their contemporary counterparts on Some Fantastic Place. In October, to celebrate the fortieth birthday of Captain Britain, we’ll look at his Bronze Age career; his adventures with Excalibur; and other super-Brits, such as Micromax, Caledonia, Beefeater and the Knight and Squire.

But today, with the Brexit saga and the Eurovision Song Contest final in May, I thought it might be amusing to look at European super-doers from Marvel and DC. ( For Erin’s finest, please see, from 2012,  https://materioptikon.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/st-dominics-preview/ )

Allez maintenant, let’s celebrate the Auld Alliance in La Belle France:

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Despite his rather villainous attire, Marvel’s Le Peregrine is a winged, French martial artist hero  and a horror writer in his civilian identity. Romantically linked with Ireland’s Shamrock,  he appeared a few times in the 80s and very early 90s. Peregrine doesn’t mean falcon in French, however…

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The Muskeeter was one of the Club of Heroes ( the, ahem, inspiration for Roy Thomas’s WWI hero, the Crimson Cavalier from Freedom’s Five). He retired and became rich on the profits of his tell-all book. Dem Frenchie.

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Fleur De Lys, co-created by Len Wein, made her debut in the late 80s page of Infinity Inc. A secret agent who had lost a child, she had a liaison with Deathstroke. Poor choice, mademoiselle!

JLE Crimson Fox

The role of Crimson Fox was in fact shared by taloned twins, heirs to a perfume fortune. One of the twins was murdered by the daughter of GA villain the Mist.

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Nightrunner is a Muslim superhero. A parkour expert, he was also a member of Batman Incorporated.

Mein Gott!

Deutschland

Hauptmann Deutschland is the, er, Captain America of Germany, with powers over kinetic energy. He was briefly renamed Vormund, which seems to mean guardian (as in ” parent or…” Oops.) His last appearance was surprisingly recent:  Al Ewing’s Mighty Avengers 4, February 2014.

Wild Huntsman

 

The Wild Huntsman was one of the Global Guardians from Super Friends, introduced in the summer of 1981. I think he’s awfully like Thor, with a magic horse and hound.

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An earlier ENB iteration was a member of Evillo’s Devil’s Dozen in a whimsical mid-60s LSH tale.

Legionary

From Bella Italia and another member of the Club of Heroes, The Legionary was another surrogate Batman. Armed with a lance, he ended his career ignominiously as a gluttonous slob and was murdered in Grant Morrison’s Black Glove Bat-serial. Ah, peccato.

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Marvel’s Ultimates introduced a Captain Italy.

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The only Spanish DC hero I can find was created by Jack Kirby. The Troubador was one of the Green Arrows of the World ( archery-themed versions of the Batmen of All Nations, including the Phantom of France and The Bowman of Britain). Unfortunately, Troubador seems to just be a fan designation .

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Captain Spain, with Captain France just off-panel

Empath

As we’ve seen, there was also an Ultimate Captain Spain at Marvel and of course, the evil mutant Empath, (getting his comeuppance, above).

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Norwegian heroine Icemaiden later became known simply as Ice and had a long career in the 80s and 90s JLA/JLI. She had a confusing backstory that had some Thor-like elements.

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The Blackhawks, in their Sixties ” Junkheap Heroes” phase give us a number of bizarre international heroes: the Leaper (Sweden), the Weapons Master (Netherlands), Golden Centurion (Poland) and  M’sieu Machine ( France, n’est-ce pas?)

Mermaid

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Finally, from Denmark and Greece we have the Little Mermaid ( an aquatic mutant) and The Olympian, who has all the powers of Jason’s Argonauts.

The big question is, naturally, could any of these characters be viewed as legitimate contenders for membership in a  Big Two super-team…or their own strip?

Well, in my opinion, with a name-change, Marvel’s Peregrine and Hauptmann Deutschland are contenders as European Avengers. Neither Captain Spain or Captain Italy have anything much to recommend them, however. As for DC, unfortunately, Olympian duplicates Wonder Woman’s shtick (and any iteration of Hercules) while Crimson Fox is trumped, really, by Vixen. Fleur de Lys has a simple, heroic look however and is a blank slate. So, vive la France, it seems! I could also see an all-ages, fish out of water miniseries for Norwegian naif Icemaiden.

In the future, with the aforementioned Captain Britain anniversary, we may well look at the histories of Justice League Europe and Marvel’s Euroforce.

Coming soon, Harley and Ivy.

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