Many an internet wag has derogatory things to say about the “Justice League Detroit.”  Time now, Faithful Spoilerites, not to bury these young heroes, but to praise them.

Yes.  Even Vibe…  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Justice League Of America #236 awaits!

JusticeLeagueOfAmerica236CoverJUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #236
Writer: Gerry Conway
Penciler: Chuck Patton
Inker: Rick Magyar
Colorist: Gene D’Angelo
Letterer: Ben Oda
Editor: Alan Gold
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 75 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $4.00

Previously in Justice League Of America: An invasion by the White Martian forces caught the Earth flat-footed, and none of the Justice League’s biggest guns responded to Aquaman’s emergency alarm.  Assembling as many of his compatriots as possible, Aquaman teams up with a returning Martian Manhunter and four new heroes to rebuff the invasion.  Using his position as JLA founding member, Aquaman calls upon an obscure bit of the team’s charter, and disbands the Justice League, rebuilding a team of only those heroes who will dedicate 100% of their time to Justice League ventures.  After repeated attacks by villains called The Cadre, the new League has set out to confront the villains, only to find that their leader, The Overmaster, is more powerful than any of them presumed…

He also possesses the most infuriating speech pattern this side of Yoda, who at least sense enough had to invert meaningfully, yes…  Still, Overmaster and his goons are no pushovers, regardless of their oh-so-80s costumes and names.  (Shatterfist, Fastball, Black Mass, Crowbar, Nightfall and Shrike, for those keeping score.)  Even with so many new kids on board, the League veterans are wary of Overmaster’s claim that they must fight for the survival of the entire human race.


As a full-on superhuman battle erupts in Overmaster’s lair, the League’s caretaker, Dale Gunn, returns to their Detroit bunker to try to ascertain what has happened to his team (as they were teleported away by O-master last time around.)  He is surprised by yet another young super-being, one who has been lurking around the periphery of the team for several issues.


While Gypsy fills Dale in on the whereabouts of the Justice League, they’re a bit busy with the Cadre.  Fortunately, for all they might lack in experience, the team at least has power and resourcefulness on their side…


The world’s first (and greatest) breakdancing superhero and his cyborg best pal are a big part of this team’s appeal, but unfortunately, their enemies succeed in driving them back.  Aquaman laments that he has failed his team and disgraced the throne of Atlantis, but in their defeat, the League finds that there’s more to the villain’s base than meets the eye.

A lot more…


Interestingly, that panel also illuminates one of the core conflicts of the League, the similarities between the King Of Atlantis and the last son of Mars.  Both alienated from their cultures, both telepathic, both underestimated by their peers, but most importantly, diametrically opposed to one another in their approaches to mentoring the young heroes of the new JLA.  This would come to a head in coming issues, but right now, the two founding Leaguers have another problem, one that would later confound Captain James T. Kirk…


“What does GOD need with a starship?”  Indeed, it’s a compelling question, especially when Elongated Man’s nose for a mystery discovers what lies at the center of Overmaster’s headquarters…


The telepaths scan the dormant creature, and the true nature of things begins to take shape, but before they can investigate further, the Cadre finds them and attacks.  Dispatching the Martian Manhunter to make deeper telepathic contact with the creature, Aquaman leads his new team in a full-frontal attack…


Gerry Conway is a long-time comic scribe, and while I enjoy his work, he does have a tendency to border on the purple prose.  (So do I, actually, and it’s probably his fault.)  But, as the new JLA faces their first real supervillain threat together, his narration reminds us of the League that was, and how it is now gone, replaced by this strange new Justice League.  He even directly addresses the fact that perhaps NOTHING could ever replace that Justice League of America, but that these young heroes and seasoned veterans are willing to try…


It’s actually a really good sequence, perhaps the best of the issue, and as the heroes overcome the villains one by one, Martian Manhunter reaches the alien, only to get bushwhacked by the Overmaster himself.  Timely intervention from Gypsy saves his bacon, and while the most powerful Leaguer holds the Overmaster at bay, he sends Gypsy to telepathically interact with the strange alien through his floating jewel.


Conway’s take on Gypsy is somewhat offensive in hindsight (Gypsy has repeatedly reminded us that her people are notorious thieves, which is really tough to read), but her heroism here saves the day, as activating the jewel causes all the bad folk to be teleported away.  The heroes quickly take their leave, and J’onn and Aquaman reveal what their scans revealed: The sleeping alien was the real power, and Overmaster was nothing more than a fraud.  As they fly away, something strange happens to the mountain…


It’s Patton’s art that steals the show here, and some of the combat sequences are wonderfully blocked out and rendered, and all the characters have well-defined features and great facial expressions.  There are occasional questions of scale in the heights of the heroes, but even that doesn’t distract from a strong art job all around.  Justice League Of America #236 is the point where the new JLA team starts to gel for the first time, and while it’s something of an odd duck, the issue (and the team it portrays) deserve to be assessed with respect, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  Things end poorly for this incarnation of the League, but that doesn’t mean that they are not deserving of respect and their rightful place in JLA history…



The first test of the new League, a strange mystery at the center of a mountain, and some excellent art. It may not be popular, but I know what I like...

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About Author

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.


  1. I miss JLDetroit. It was a bold experiment in working with character development in a team that has always badly needed that.

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