Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Giant Justice League Of America The First

Today a double treat for fans, covering the 80 Page Giant #16, which was the first of DC's new version of 80 page giants, as it was also numbered as Justice League of America #39 (November, 1965), this under a cover by Mike Sekowsky, Murphy Anderson and Bernard Sachs.

The G16 referenced above reflected that there had been 15 previous volumes in the 80 Page Giant series, covering heroes from Superman, Batman, Flash, Sgt. Rock and even Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen!

But, let's look at this issue, and the Justice League stories contained within....

Brave and the Bold 28

The first issue reprinted here is Brave and the Bold #28 (February-March, 1960) where readers first met the Justice League of America as they faced "Starro The Conqueror" as presented by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs.

This is the first time readers met the JLA and its charter members, including Green Lantern, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Martian Manhunter, with Superman and Batman (but not as active), as they faced the menace of Starro, a giant attacking telepathic starfish. 

No origin for the team was given (that would come later), but the team had gotten help from a young lad, Snapper Carr of Happy Harbor, to defeat the alien menace as it was slowly taking over the minds of all it encountered....which was enough to get the hipster an honorary membership in the team, and Snapper continued with the team, recording their missions.

Starro ended up as a trophy in the JLA cave headquarters in Happy Harbor, and the issue also had cameos by Wonder Woman's Steve Trevor and Martian Manhunter's Captain Harding, as well as introducing Snapper's dad, John, his mom, and his sister Janet (though readers would have to wait years to find out Snapper's first name is Lucas).

Brave and the Bold 30

The next reprinted story is "The Case Of The Stolen Super-Powers" from Brave and the Bold #30 (June-July, 1960) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs (the 29th issue of B&B also had a JLA story, which would be reprinted later), this one important for the introduction of Professor Ivo and Amazo (though, sadly, 5 of the original pages of this issue -3 to 5, 13 and 22 - were not included in this reprint).

The team was faced with double trouble, losing their powers and facing an android that possesses their powers, that of Amazo!  Professor Ivo had created Amazo, to have a place to put the powers he would syphon from these five JLAers (leaving Superman and Batman for later), as well as using the JLA to collect old animals and people for him to use in his own experiment, to create an immortality elixir for himself!  While Green Lantern stops Amazo from getting his power (using Amazo's Power Ring), and his own power to defeat the scientist, then restore the rest of the JLA's power (and return home the animals and people kidnapped), Ivo had already taken his elixir, which will allow the scientist to serve all 500 years of prison he is sentenced to!

An important note, Flash villain, the Mirror Master, made a cameo in this issue, making him the first of the JLAers individual villains to appear in a Justice League story.

Justice League of America 5

Last but not least of the reprints of this issue was the time "When Gravity Went Wild" from Justice League of America #5 (June-July, 1961) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs, where the team faced the dreaded Doctor Destiny in his introduction, which is the first mission of Green Arrow with the team after his induction to the team in the previous issue (with page 10, 14 and 15 not making the cut).

Green Arrow finds himself on trial by Superman, Batman and Snapper, as he was stopping the rest of the JLA from capturing their escaped individual enemies - Monty Moran the Getaway Mastermind, foe of Martian Manhunter; Captain Cold, Flash Rogue; Professor Menace, enemy of Wonder Woman; Roy Pinto the Electric Man, who had previous faced Aquaman; the Puppet Master, Green Lantern's villain and Clock King, Green Arrow's nemesis (mistakenly referred to as King Clock).  Turns out, Green Arrow's errors were planned, as he thought one of the other JLAers was an imposter, and he was right....Green Lantern had been impersonated by Doctor Destiny (whom the evil scientist was holding captive), who did this as part of a plan to eliminate the JLA by negating gravity on them...and sending them into space, though they did get saved, and Destiny was halted, as Green Lantern took advantage of the Doctor's shift in focus with the new captives, and GL escaped, saving the day.


A few other things in this issue: Covers of two issues of All-Star Comics featuring the Justice Society (one including Solomon Grundy), as well as an index of all of the Justice League's tales up to this point (including an error, with the contents of issue #40 being listed as those for #39)....priceless for kids of this era, who didn't have the internet to get history of these comics they read!

Better still, after seeing their origin in the More Secret Origins issue of the original 80 Page Giant series (#8), the giant series was now in good hands, working under the individual titles of the heroes, continuing in Justice League of America, as well as elsewhere, like World's Finest Comics, Superman, Batman and Flash, and more!

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