I finally got to see Wonder Woman this week, and suddenly had the craving for some classic Silver Age Wonder Woman madness.  Did you guys hear the one about the superheroes who got turned into a grove of trees?  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Justice League Of America #9 awaits!

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #9

Writer: Gardner Fox
Penciler: Mike Sekowsky
Inker: Bernard Sachs
Colorist: Uncredited
Letterer: Gaspar Saladino
Editor: Julius Schwartz
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 12 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $1400.00

Previously in Justice League Of America: First appearing in the spring of 1960, the Justice League Of America consists of the greatest heroes of Earth-1 and also Hal Jordan.  Though they’ve been in action for some time as of this issue’s debut, including their shocking first presented adventure against Starro The Conqueror, the members of the Justice League never revealed the details of their meeting and first mission…  until NOW!  Y’know, for 57 years ago in March values of now, anyway…

So, on the one hand, Wonder Woman starts this story in an apron, cleaning the Secret Sanctuary.  This isn’t as big a problem as it might have been, though, as the entire League is pitching in, and Diana is the only one with the sense to protect her costume from dirt and cave residue.  A particular trophy causes Snapper Carr to ask how the JLA ever formed in the first place, leading J’onn J’onzz to start off his portion of a very Rashomon-y origin story.

I have to say, I prefer a “beetle-browed” alien-looking Manhunter, but Sekowsky’s J’onn has never bothered me.  Indeed, it’s Mike’s pencils that make this weirdo story come to life.  Tracing the plague of metaphorical Medusa victims back to its source, J’onn discovers that Earth is being invaded by strangers from a planet called Appellax, with dreams of conquest…

J’onn engages the giant stone man in combat, quickly finding his weakness, and dropping him, simultaneously freeing the people of his city (Denver? It’s never made clear here…) from their stone prisons.  Unfortunately, while tracking the Appellaxians, he fell prey to another of their clever tricks, and is himself transformed…

Elsewhere, more or less simultaneously, Aquaman encounters another Appellaxian would-be world-beater…

Engaging the glass being in battle, Aquaman, too, is able to suss out the creature’s weakness…

…but he, too, is caught unawares by the Appellaxian’s second attack.  On Paradise Island, another Appellaxian attack strikes, but another of DC’s stalwart heroes is there to oppose them.  (This one is the woman we’re all here to see, bee tee dubs.)

The Amazons of Themiscyra are transformed into blobs of liquid Mercury by the attacker, but Wonder Woman spins her lasso at tremendous speed, building up heat and friction in the hopes of dispersing the creature’s liquid form into gas!  But, will it work?

A third Appellaxian is proven unfit for conquering leadership duties, but Wonder Woman too is rooted by the radiations from the woodening (woodifying?) meteor.  The next meteor actually gets noticed before it even enters Earth’s atmosphere, as galactic policeman Green Lantern clocks it going 50 in a 12 parsecs per Kessel zone…

Green Lantern’s power ring is at a disadvantage against the yellow-tinged golden bird-creature (and what the hell is up on Appellax that is has such diverse residents?  That’s both cool and terrifying!), but he uses the laws of physics against it, freezing a convenient waterfall to take it down, before…  You know what’s coming…

By the fourth time somebody starts turning into a redwood, you have to wonder if these heroes shouldn’t be quicker on the draw about these transforming radiations.  I’d chalk it up to Hal being a massive bonehead, but he’s not the last hero to arrive.  That honor, as usual, goes to the hero who is always late, even with his super-speed…

Miraculously in Europe at the right time, The Flash engages the Appellaxian fire-creature (Remember your classical elements, kids: Earth, Air, Fire, Mercury and Birds!) thanks to comic-book science and the force of vacuum…

Five for five for the nascent League, as all the heroes are transformed into wooden tree-puppets, dancing to the tune of the Appellaxian wood-being.  But, even as mind-controlled slabs of wood (a state that’s not out of character for at least one of them), the League has tricks up their sleeves…

Aquaman moves first, scraping his branches against those of Green Lantern, trying to clear the bark away and unleash the most powerful weapon in the universe…

With their most powerful member half-freed, the JLA has a sudden burst of teamwork, wrapping the creature in her magic lasso, which she then spins as a makeshift wood-chipper, crushing the Appellaxian to the splinters that Snapper found in the JLA trophy room.  J’onn breathlessly reports that there is still one more alien to be taken care of, but when the team arrives, they find that the World’s Finest Team is already in mid-battle…

The Caped Crusader and The Man Of Steel, used to working together for years, make short work of their bad guy, and the seven heroes put their mighty heads together about what happens if a threat of this magnitude occurs again…

Thus is born the Justice League Of America!  Gardner Fox’s plotting on this book is astounding, taking several incredibly powerful and versatile characters and challenging them each without punking them out too badly.  (Even the questions of why the heroes didn’t notice the others is explained in a quick bit of dialogue.)  The framing sequence is fun, the final gag panel still cracks me up, and I love the use of classic Silver Agers in their most iconic roles.  In short, Justice League Of America #9 is a perfect example of a key issue from decades past that still holds up, with a clever, well-plotted story, expressive Sekowsky art and a strong ending, with the bonus of answering a question that had been on hold for over two years, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  I only wish it was more than 28 pages long!

I finally got to see Wonder Woman this week, and suddenly had the craving for some classic Silver Age Wonder Woman madness.  Did you guys hear the one about the superheroes who got turned into a grove of trees?  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Justice League Of America #9 awaits! JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #9 Writer: Gardner Fox Penciler: Mike Sekowsky Inker: Bernard Sachs Colorist: Uncredited Letterer: Gaspar Saladino Editor: Julius Schwartz Publisher: DC Comics Cover Price: 12 Cents Current Near-Mint Pricing: $1400.00 Previously in Justice League Of America: First appearing in the spring of 1960, the Justice League…
Clever, crisp, well-written and perfectly wrapped-up. It's the Silver Age in a nutshell, and a fun read to boot...

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #9

Writing
Art
Coloring

Clever, crisp, well-written and perfectly wrapped-up. It's the Silver Age in a nutshell, and a fun read to boot...

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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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