Or – “There Was Another Side To The Story…”

Many comics fans in the 80s were amazed when Marvel published the Squadron Supreme limited series, a story which basically featured the Justice League attempting to rebuild their world after society’s collapse.  Of course, back in February of ’71, when Roy Thomas created the original Squadron, his good friend Mike Freidrich was writing the ACTUAL JLA title, which leads us to the reason why they resembled the League and…

…the REST of the story.  Your Major Spoilers (retro) review awaits!

JusticeLeague87CoverJUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #87
Writer:Mike Friedrich
Penciler: Dick Dillin
Inker: Joe Giella
Colorist: Uncredited
Letterer: Uncredited
Editor: Julius Schwartz
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 15 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $50.00

Previously, in Justice League Of America:  Assembled to combat the menace of the alien Appelaxians, the Justice League Of America had gone through some serious changes by this point in their history.  Moving from a cave in Rhode Island to an orbiting satellite headquarters, the League lost a couple of founders (The Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman), gained new members like Elongated Man, Hawkman, the Atom and Zatanna, and had battled some of the greatest forces of evil ever assembled (and also, the Royal Flush Gang.)  This issue opens with a shocking moment for 1971 (one that would be more shocking these days, though they’d never actually put it on the page) as Hawkman and Batman are quickly and severely beaten down by an alien robot.  Bats tries to trigger Hawkman’s JLA signal device, but only succeeds in getting smacked again, and allowing the alien creature to smugly call the Justice Leaguers backup, believing that he’ll be able to easily defeat them all.  At the same time, Superman is feeling out of sorts and alienated (an echo of Stan Lee’s influence on comic book writing, as the Silver Age Supey would never angst like he does here) and heads up to the Justice League satellite where he encounters…

JusticeLeague871

…Aphrodite combined with Mary Sue, with the face of a Botticelli, apparently.  The weird part of all this is that Zatanna isn’t even a MEMBER of the League at this point in time, having just popped up to their headquarters to visit her super-buddies, all of whom combined forces to help save her father, Zatara, from some sort of mystical frammistat or other.  Making their way to Earth via magic and/or super-speed, the Man of Steel and the Witch of The Weague encounter their teammates, including The Flash and The Atom, in Peru, but find Batman and Hawkman up and about and acting strangely.  The team engages the robot in battle, and are quickly KILLED, leaving only Superman alive…

Wait.  What?

…something something dancing eyes blah blah blah Batman whiny flibbity flibbity dead Flash.  Yep, the entire League is murdered by the robot, under Batman’s command, and even an angry Superman falls before it’s hammering fists!  Thus ends the saga of the Justice League Of America, join us next week for the death of the Legion of Super-Heroes!

Naaah, I’m just jaggin’ you guys…  Well, except for that whole “Death of the Legion” thing, DC really seems to be out to pull that one off, but the Justice League is pulling a big con to find out what’s up with The dadgum Batman.

JusticeLeague872

Superman flies away with the injured bird-men, leaving Flash, Green Lantern and non-member Zatanna to track down the Atom.  They follow him, and discover that Atom was able to easily overcome the robot using his brains.  The world they track him to, however, isn’t quite as well off…

JusticeLeague873

The four heroes quickly attack our Leaguers, and we get a quick thumbnail sketch of their world (corporate city-states in an endless war, that led to the destruction of their world by atomic fire) as well as a clever little touch with the artist rendering the “Literary License” that allows the creators to show us the history of Angor and translate their language into English.  It’s a nice touch in a story that’s just a little bit off throughout the issue.  The two teams immediately leap into action…

…for exactly one two-page spread, before somebody gets hurt.

JusticeLeague874

Zatanna’s show of restraint and her “dancing eyes,” whatever the hell those are, convince the Champions of Angor that the Leaguers mean no harm, and the eight heroes declare peace, thanks mostly to Zatanna.

JusticeLeague875

Her future teammates respond to her heroism by sexually harassing her in spectaccular fashion, while the narrator calls her Jesus, which is an odd ending even for 1971 Mike Freidrich, who would break the fourth wall and write himself into the book a few issues later.  Though this issue focused mostly on Zatanna, it was written as a pseudo-crossover with the Avengers, as Wandjina (Thor), Silver Sorceress (Scarlet Witch), Jack B. Quick (Quicksilver) and Bluejay (Yellowjacket) each have a Marvel counterpart, however tenuous.  This issue’s cover focuses entirely on the first half of the story, where a mad Batman prances around and laughs like his greatest foe, which turns out to be pretty much a Macguffin to get the Justice League off-planet long enough to get attacked out of the blue.  Though Dick Dillin is often an underrated artist, this issue isn’t really noteworthy artistically, and the CoA actually look faintly ridiculous, leaving us with a weird book that’s only memorable as the less-successful half of one of comics’ notorious non-crossovers (and for spurring a “very special episode” of the Bwah-Ha-Ha Justice League 15 years down the line.)  Justice League Of America #87 is puzzling in terms of its focus, its pacing and its art, falling short of memorability and greatness, but fortunately gaining almost a half star because it’s fun to say “Wandjina,” earning 2 out of 5 stars overall.  Sadly, they can’t all be gems, folks…

Rating: ★★★★★

DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!


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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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3 Comments

  1. May 6, 2013 at 2:31 pm — Reply

    Wow. Having read the original that sucks even more as a retro. The “Champions” always left me wondering: Why was she “Silver Sorceress” if she didn’t have anything silver on her? Why was “Jack B. Quick” given the name more fitting of a porn star? How did “Blue Jay” end up back on the “regular earth” again at the start of the Prometheus storyline? And that last panel CREEPS ME THE HELL OUT!!! Ah, the memories of the silver age.

    • May 6, 2013 at 7:55 pm — Reply

      Not to be that guy, but 1971 is by nearly all definitions, early Bronze Age. :) And the Champions of Angar reappeared in the first few issues of the Giffen/DeMatteis JLA, after which they moved to our Earth permanently and were rotating members of the League during it’s “Anyone can join” period.

  2. Ian
    May 6, 2013 at 7:32 pm — Reply

    I guess I just don’t get what was going on with all the narration about Zatanna? Anyway, shouldn’t an Australian aborigine god have black skin?

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