Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Justice League of America Adds More Members

After their last membership drive, the Justice League sat with the same amount a members for a white....but, boy, did things change!

This next batch of Leaguers were made up of characters that had a history with the JLA...and mostly had not been featured in strips of their own, unlike Green Arrow, Atom and Hawkman.  Here's the facts behind the reprint collection cover by Jerry Ordway!

Blonde Bombshell

Black Canary (Dinah Drake Lance) had been using her martial arts abilities with the JLA as a member of the Justice Society of America since the beginning of the Crises between Earths (starting with their team-ups in Justice League of America #21 of August, 1963) and continuing through Justice League of America #22, #29-30, #46-47, #64-65, and her last with Justice League of America #73-74 (August/September, 1969), when with the death of her husband, Larry, Dinah left Earth-2 for Earth-1.

In Justice League of America #75 (November, 1969, by Denny O'Neil and Dick Dillin), Black Canary joined the JLA, and demonstrated a new self-generated power (originally attributed to the energy from Aquarius that Dinah received in battle), which eventually developed into Dinah's sonic scream.  Dinah also felt closer to Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), and joined Ollie and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) as they were traveling the country for a time (appearing in Green Lantern #78 #79, #81-84, #86-87, getting a foe in the Harpy), even had time for a pair of solo adventures entitled "The Canary and the Cat" in Adventure Comics #418-419 (April, May, 1972, written by Denny O'Neil, and art by Alex Toth; these two stories also ended up in the Black Canary Archives).  Black Canary also regularly teamed-up with Batman in Brave and the Bold (#91, #100, #107, #141 and #166).

Mostly, Dinah worked with Green Arrow, sharing a feature with him in Action Comics (on and off from #421 to #458), fighting the Joker in Joker #4 (November-December, 1975), facing the Calculator in Detective Comics #464 (October, 1976) and #468 (March-April, 1977), participating in a villains vs. heroes baseball game in DC Super-Stars #10 (October, 1976), fighting the Secret Society of Super-Villains in Secret Society of Super-Villains #6 (March-April, 1977), working with Green Lantern and Green Arrow on and off from Green Lantern #93-122 and getting a regular feature (sometimes on her own, some with Green Arrow, and a foe of her own for a bit, with Count Vertigo, though Green Arrow claimed him later) in World's Finest Comics, running from World's Finest Comics #244 to well as being in the Justice League (and participating in many cases, battling the Injustice Society of the World, and foes like the Mist, whom a Black Canary and Starman faced before).

It was during the course of one of the last JLA/JSA team-ups, wherein Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt attacked the JLA, and the JSA members were recruited to save them.  During the course of Justice League of America #219-220 (October/November 1983, by Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway and Chuck Patton), the readers (and Black Canary) discovered that the original Black Canary (Dinah Drake Lance) died after leaving Earth-2, and Superman took her to the Thunderbolt dimension, where here daughter was being kept safe (due to a spell by the JSA foe, the Wizard, cast on the child, young Dinah Laurel Lance) which gave her a wild uncontrollable sonic power.  The Thunderbolt gave Dinah Laurel Lance her mother's memories, and Superman brought her to Earth-1 (where Dinah Laurel thought she was the original Black Canary; thus making Justice League of America #75 Dinah Laurel Lance's first appearance, and making stories like DC Special Series #10 of April, 1978, a daughter remembering her mother's origin...).

With this new history, Dinah still continued her relationship with Ollie (finally joining his back-up feature in Detective Comics starting with #549), but decided she needed a new costume to reflect her own identity (which she took with Detective Comics #554 in September, 1985, but first appeared in Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 in August, 1985).

This new history (and costume) lasted for a little while, and Dinah (who had left the JLA for a  time) rejoined the new Justice League after the Legends mini-series along with heroes like Dr. Fate, Guy Gardner, Mr. Miracle and Blue Beetle (and ended up getting a new origin...but that's a story for later!). 

Ductile Detective

The next hero to join the JLA was quite a was the Elongated Man!  Ralph Dibny first appeared in Flash #112 (May, 1960 by John Broome and Carmine Infantino) as a new hero who was there to upstage the Flash (but the Elongated Man also was a suspect...Flash and Ralph battled, Ralph told him of how he had been fascinated by Indian Rubber Men as a boy, and learned they all drank the soft drink of Gingold, and took an extract of that rare drink to allow himself to stretch).

Ralph's next few appearances are in the Flash title, using his abilities to make himself a small fortune on the circus circuit, meeting and marrying Sue Dearbon, and fighting with Flash foes like Captain Boomerang, Weather Wizard, Captain Cold and the Pied Piper (as well as meeting Kid Flash)...all of which proved popular enough to get Ralph the back-up in Detective Comics (starting with the same issue Batman got his new look of a yellow oval....#327 in May, 1964, and Ralph tossed his mask, getting a new look of his own).

For years, Ralph and Sue Dibny traveled the country (being rich he didn't have to worry about funding, and Ralph loved the spotlight, so he dumped the mask and identified himself as Ralph Dibny the world's famous Elongated Man), finding mysteries for Ralph to sniff out, and crooks to catch, occasionally working with Batman, Robin, Atom, Green Lantern, Flash, new character Zatanna and later her father Zatara, Commissioner Gordon, and fighting foes like Mirror Master, Chronos and the Riddler (though, never really getting a costumed foe of his own) through Detective Comics #383 (January, 1969).  Ralph even helped the JLA on a case (more on that later...), and changed from his purple costume, to a short lived yellow one, to the one in red most associated with the character.

Ralph got revived in Flash (#206, in May, 1971, and returned with back-ups in Flash #208 and #210) before going to work as a guest of the JLA in a team-up with the JSA to find the Seven Soldiers of Victory (in Justice League of America #100-102, in 1972).  His performance must have impressed the JLA, as he became a member soon after (and after two Detective Comics back-ups in #426 and #430) , with Justice League of America #105 (April-May, 1973) facing off against villain T.O. Morrow...but Ralph didn't get to enjoy his newbie status for long, as the Red Tornado joined just the issue after (more on that further on down).

Ralph regularly worked with the JLA, attending JLA/JSA team-ups with both the Freedom Fighters and Sandy the Golden Boy, fighting Eclipso and the premiere of the Injustice Gang, helping Wonder Woman with her trials to rejoin the JLA, working with Adam Strange on Rann (and attending his wedding to Alanna), and he even had a few back-ups in issues of Detective Comics (like #436, #444, #449, #453, #456, #457, #462, and a few battles with the Calculator in #465, #466 and #468, and two last deductions in Detective Comics #488 and #500).  All the while, Ralph continued to work with the JLA, occasionally met with Flash and his wife, and above all else, loved Sue!  Elongated Man even made a few team-ups with Superman in DC Comics Presents (#21, #58 and #93) and one with Batman in Brave & the Bold #177.

Ralph even stuck with the JLA when Aquaman reorganized the team after the Martian invasion, and relocated the group to Detroit; and Sue got a bigger part in the team at that time as well.  Elongated Man served in the JLA during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, but couldn't make it when Darkseid threatened Earth's Legends (in the Legends mini-series), so he, his new purple costume and Sue left.  Still, Ralph came back with the next, bigger Invasion! and joined Justice League Europe, and continued on and off with the Justice League for a long time and even got his own 4 issue mini-series at this time (but more on all that much later....).

Crimson Cyclone

Red Tornado joined the JLA with Justice League of America #106 (July-August, 1973, by Len Wein and Dick Dillin), and it was about time.  Reddy premiered in Justice League of America #64 (August, 1968 by Gardner Fox and Dick Dillin) as a villain (a robot with wind manipulation powers created by T.O. Morrow to infiltrate the Justice Society of America on Earth-2 (and confuse the JSAers by recalling the earlier World War II Red Tornado), but Reddy ended up being a good guy at the end, and joined the JSA.

Reddy didn't have much to do with the JSA, as they were only appearing annually with the JLA/JSA team-ups, but he was a trooper and showed up for them all (except when the two Robins met), and even heralded the coming of Aquarius (and the badness that led to for Black Canary) and helped Hawkgirl and the JLA turn Hawkman back from being salt!  It was that last team-up with the JLA and JSA that changed Reddy's life, while finding the Seven Soldiers of Victory in the past, the Red Tornado was struck down, ending up on Earth-1 (and being found by T.O. Morrow, who changed Reddy again, giving him a human identity, which with his android "imagination" he called John Smith!).  Reddy tried to find a job, perplexing poor Kathy Sutton (who would become Reddy's girlfriend), and Reddy joined the JLA (helping defeat T.O. Morrow, who disappeared for a time...).

Red Tornado even got a snazzy new outfit in a Christmas tale in Justice League of America #110 (March-April, 1974), though he didn't have long to show it off, being thought to be killed again after Wonder Woman rejoined the JLA after her twelve trials.  Even death couldn't keep Reddy down, as he returned after the JLA faced Count Crystal and the Construct (confounding the Phantom Stranger, a mystical mystery who was invited to join the JLA just before Elongated Man and Reddy, but didn't give and answer) and inducted Hawkgirl as well!  Soon after returning, Reddy helped the JLA face Major Macabre and met a poor orphan girl named Traya in Justice League of America #152 (March, 1978), whom he and Kathy eventually adopted.

Reddy then continued to make friends with his fellow JLAers, working with Elongated Man, Robin and Batgirl in Batman Family #20 (October-November, 1978),  Superman (fighting Green Lantern foes the Weaponers of Qward) in DC Comics Presents #7 (March, 1979), Batman (battling out of control robots in Brave and the Bold #153 of August, 1979), and Hawkman, Hawkgirl and Adam Strange in World's Finest Comics #262 and #264 (in 1980), before getting his first solo feature in Detective Comics #493 (August, 1980), and then a run of solo stories in World's Finest Comics #265-#270 and #272 (in 1980 and 1981), where Reddy faced a mutated version of his creator, T.O.Morrow and a foe of his own, the Robot Killer!

All these highs were setting Reddy up for some lows....starting with another battle with T.O. Morrow (and learning the true origin of Red Tornado), wherein it was learned Adam Strange foe Tornado Tyrant (whom had become the Tornado Champion in Justice League of America #17 in February, 1963), was a part of Reddy's make-up all along, though only new JLAer Firestorm realized this!  Reddy soldiered on with the JLA (even when Phantom Stranger had to help Aquaman beat Justice League of America #200), but when Aquaman called for only committed Leaguers after the Earth-Mars War, Reddy opted out for his own life.

Red Tornado ended up with his first mini-series, fighting the Construct and T.O. Morrow (Red Tornado #1-4 in July to October, 1985 by Kurt Busiek and Carmine Infantino), and Reddy learned a little more of his true nature.  During the height of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Red Tornado's robotic body was destroyed, but he lived on as an elemental force of nature (as seen in Justice League of America Annual #3 in 1985).

That elemental force popped up in Captain Atom and Firestorm titles for a time, eventually accepting humanity for all it's faults, and Red Tornado became a member of the mystical super-group, Primal Force, and then later, a mentor for young heroes in Young Justice (and more of all of that, as well as Reddy's second mini-series, in later articles)!

Lady Bird

Hawkgirl (Shayera Hol) came to Earth in Brave & the Bold #34 (February-March, 1961 by Gardner Fox and Joe Kubert) along with Hawkman as married police officers from the planet Thanagar, looking for fugitive shape-changer Byth, and stayed to learn Earth crime fighting techniques while using her flight, resistance to outer space, technological advances and ancient weapons to fight the new menaces they encountered!

Hawkgirl was there to battle the Shadow-Thief, Matter Master, Chac, I. Q., Lionmane and more, and was even there when Carter joined the JLA in Justice League of America #31 (November, 1964) but wasn't there at Aquaman's wedding in Aquaman #18 (November-December, 1964, seems air and water don't mix!).

Shayera continued on, helping out Hawkman for all 27 of his issues (and even helping the JLA in Justice League of America #41, #43, #52, #53, with Batgirl in #60, #65, #72, #80, with Mera in #88, with Supergirl in #98,  attending Adam Strange's wedding in #121,  working with the JSA and Squadron of Justice in #135-137, #143 and working with Captain Comet and her first cover without her husband in Secret Society of Super-Villains #7 and fighting Martian Manhunter in Adventure Comics #451 (probably both upset they never got to solo star with Batman in Brave and the Bold)...

...all before helping on a case where Superman and Phantom Stranger died facing Count Crystal (in Justice League of America #145 in August, 1977), and joining the JLA with the return of the Red Tornado (and battling the Construct) in Justice League of America #146 (September, 1977).

Soon after this, Hawkman and Hawkgirl went back to Thanagar and got involved in the Rann-Thanagar War in Showcase #101-103 (June thru August, 1978), working with Adam Strange and Alanna against Kanjar Ro and Hyathis...and finding themselves exiled from Thanagar!

The high-flying duo returned to Earth just in time for Atom's wedding, a solo adventure with Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman #249, and to help when Zatanna and Firestorm joined the League, but the split from their people bothered Shayera more than Carter, so much so, that during their run in World's Finest Comics (most issues from #256 to #282), Hawkgirl left Hawkman (after a team-up with Superman without Hawkman in DC Comics Presents #37 and another run in with Hyathis, stranding Thanagarians in hyperspace), where the newly named Hawkwoman, as of World's Finest Comics #272 in October, 1981 by Bob Rozakis and Alex Saviuk, went to free her people, leading to World's Finest Comics #278 in April, 1982, wherein Superman and Batman helped the Hawks free the Thanagarians from Hyathis!

The Hawk pretty much stuck together after this, mostly working with the JLA, at least until the days of the Earth-Mars War, wherein the perceived lack of commitment by members made Aquaman bar those who wouldn't make the League their whole life leave the group...which actually worked well for the Hawks, who had to deal with the Thanagarians preparing to attack Earth (though their attack would be a quieter infiltration, as detailed in the Shadow War of Hawkman 4-issue mini-series).

This led to a Hawkman Special in 1986 (during the Crisis On Infinite Earths), and a regular series for the Thanagarian Hawkman that lasted for 17 issues from August, 1986 to December, 1987, wherein Hawkwoman teamed up a bit with the Gentleman Ghost, and the Hawks also fought the Manhunters in Millennium, with the JLI as members there in Justice League International #19-#22...

...and one last team-up with Atom in Power of the Atom #4 and the last two issues of Invasion! before bowing out of DC Continuity in Justice League International #24...

...unintentionally, to be replaced by the Hawkworld version of Hawkman and Hawkwoman, of which there is plenty to say on...later! 

Mistress of Magic

Zatanna's history is a magical thing, starting with Hawkman #4 (November, 1964 by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson).  The daughter of Zatara (the backwards speaking magician who premiered in Action Comics #1 along with some superguy from Krypton), young Zatanna Zatara had mistakenly split herself in two trying to find her dad using a backwards magic spell...and ran into the Hawks instead!

This was the start of Zatanna's Quest, which led her across the DC Universe, from Detective Comics #336, to Atom #19, Green Lantern #42 and to the Elongated Man feature in Detective Comics #355, before uniting with Batman, Atom, Green Lantern and special guest, Elongated Man, to battle Allura and finally free her father in Justice League of America #51 (February, 1967, with all of this gathered in the JLA: Zatanna's Search TPB, which also included her origin which was done later from DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #5, November-December, 1980).

Zatanna took it easy for a while, appearing in Flash #198 (June, 1970), Justice League of America #87 (February, 1971) and World's Finest Comics #207 and #208 before getting her own back up series in Adventure Comics, that ran in Adventure Comics #413-415 (reprinted in DC Super Stars #11, and she picked up an agent, Jeff Sloane), #419 and #421, coming back for a JLA/JSA adventure to find the Seven Soldiers of Victory in Justice League of America #100-102, moving to back up Supergirl as a back-up feature in Supergirl #1-4 (1970s), Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #132 (July, 1973), teaming up with Supergirl in Supergirl #7 (October, 1973), taking over Black Canary's identity, confusing Green Arrow in Action Comics #434 (April, 1974), and being a background player at a telethon in Justice League of America #114 (November-December, 1974), before finally joining the JLA in Justice League of America #161 (December, 1978), sporting a new costume based on one worn by her mother, Sindella.

Zatanna kept that costume for a while (at least long enough to have a few adventures with the JLA (including inducting Firestorm), and to have separate adventures with Superman (in DC Comics Presents #18 in February, 1980) and Batman (in Brave and the Bold #169, in December, 1980) before she decided to have a new costume made, one that would reflect her own personality, not her father's or mother's.

This was also a break out time for Zatanna, appearing with the JLA in the New Teen Titans, and getting a short lived run in World's Finest Comics (#274-#278, in 1981 and 1982), though she was at a reduced power level starting with Justice League of America #191 (June, 1981) due to over use of her magic abilities; she could now only affect "elemental magic" (isn't pretty much everything made of elements....yes, the restriction pretty much disappeared without notice).

Zatanna was pretty committed to the JLA, though she still worked with other members, like Wonder Woman, Firestorm and Superman in their own titles (with other members of the JLA), even becoming a regular leader of the team with Justice League of America #206 (September, 1982).

Zatanna soldiered on, being a mainstay of the JLA, even branching out and working with new mystic/science based Blue Devil before the failure of the League with the Earth-Mars War, and Aquaman disbanding the team in Justice League of America Annual #2 (1984), except for those who would fully devote themselves to the team (which Elongated Man and Zatanna did!).

Zatanna was particularly attracted to Steel's mentor, Dale Gunn, and had become good friends with new member, Vixen.

Zatanna stuck it out for most of the team's move to the Motor City, but after the death of her father, Zatara, during the Crisis on Infinite Earths (chronicled in Swamp Thing #49 and #50 of June/July, 1986), and dealing with her mother's legacy in the Zatanna Special #1 (1987), she worked with the Spectre for a bit (himself dealing with a power down that happened during the Crisis on Infinite Earths)...

...which was how Zatanna was involved in big crossovers like Millennium and Invasion!, then on her own (though working with the magic community) in War of the Gods.  Zatanna continued on, working with John Constantine, and even getting a newer look (and ditching the backwords spells) with a 1993 mini-series (which continued on for a meeting with the Spectre, but not much after, as she went back to the classic tuxedoed look and backwords magic), which is how she continued on, returning to help the JLA with Day of Judgment and Identity Crisis (and some secrets in her past) and working with Batman and Catwoman before getting her own series for 16 issues in 2010 and 2011 (but more on all this later)!

New JLAers to come include...Firestorm, Vixen, Gypsy, Steel, Vibe, Blue Beetle, Doctor Fate and more!


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the really interesting article. I saw this TPB recently and was wondering what the stories were. These are right in my favorite period of the JLA