Top o’ the day to ye. ‘Tis a wonderful time to be alive! Daylight savings has come and gone, and spring is on its way. We probably have about another month of winter up here in the mountains, but the mornings are getting farer and the days longer. I write this article on the afternoon of St. Patrick’s Day, and I may be a wee bit in mah cups (actually, I’m just getting over a horrible flu and I’m all jacked up on Nyquil). All of this worthless witty wordage aside, let’s focus on what we all came here to do this month: look at another 200th issue anniversary celebration. Peer closely, seeker of good comics, through the head of the freshly drawn green ale you’re about to imbibe in. Watch as the emerald and white foam clears and be treated to this early front/back cover spread for Justice League of America #200:
Complete Arc: “A League Divided”
Year Released: 1981
Creative Team: Gerry Conway (writer), Jim Aparo, Brian Bolland, Pat Broderick, Dick Giordano, Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane, Joe Kubert, and George Pérez (artists)
Heroes: Adam Strange, Aquaman, The Atom, Batman, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Firestorm, The Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, Phantom Stranger, Red Tornado, Snapper Carr, Superman, Wonder Woman, Zatanna
Villains: Appellaxians (Crystal Creature, Fire-Lord, Glass-Man, Golden Roc, Mercury Monster, Stone-God, Wood-King)
Notable Quotable: In Narration: “They have no battle cry…nor do they need one! They are 15 of the greatest heroes this weary world has ever seen…and their strength lies not in simple slogans, but in their very identity: for they are the Justice League.”
Issue 200 of the Justice League opens up as all anniversary books should, with a retelling of their origin. We are treated to a quick recap of how the original seven Justice League members (Aquaman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Superman, and Wonder Woman) banded together to stop the Appellaxans from waging a war on Earth to see who was the true leader of the alien race. Each of the Appellaxan’s was defeated, trapped inside of one of the seven meteorites that bore them to Earth, and hidden across the planet. Time flashes forward to the present (1981) and we are reminded that Monitor duty, no matter the team, is a mind-numbingly boring chore. Just ask Firestorm. He’s bored to death right up until a befuddled Martian Manhunter bursts through the hull of the Justice League satellite searching for the Appellaxan meteorite stashed aboard that seems to beckon to him. J’onn J’onzz seems not to know who Firestorm is or why the League’s HQ is now located 22,300 miles above the Earth in geosynchronous orbit, but he will do anything to complete his quest. After an incredible battle, Firestorm is defeated, and J’onzz fleas with his prize in tow. Once Firestorm recovers consciousness, he quickly sends out a priority alert to everyone on the team. The Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Red Tornado, Snapper Carr, and Zatanna answer the summons. with not a single member of the original team in site. One quick explanation from Firestorm and in light of the absence of the founding fighters, the assembled group quickly guesses that their comrades are off recovering the other six Appellaxan meteorites for some nefarious purpose. Can the newest members of the League face off against their more seasoned counterparts to stop them before they bring all of the Appellaxan’s together again? Have the seven original members turned to evil? Will this be the end of the Justice League of America? Read this breathtaking book to find out!
Writer: Gerry Conway (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Fury of Firestorm) is an iconic writer who worked on the Justice League of America for 8 years and co-created the Punisher and Firestorm. His work on this book (other than the occasional, moan-inducing corniness) creates a perfect Justice League story. It not only celebrates where the team began, but it incorporates everything that made the team great up to that point. Within this 74 page tome you will witness the Phantom Stranger doing what he does best, observe as Adam Strange makes an odd appearance, watch the League split up into teams to take out separate foes, see blistering action, and giggle as the heroes come up with ingenious, half-baked solutions. So much fun in so little space!
Artists: There are WAY too many artists in this book to give individual mini bio’s for, but just look at this list of names! Jim Aparo (The Brave and the Bold, The Spectre), Brian Bolland (Judge Dredd, Batman: The Killing Joke), Pat Broderick (The Fury of Firestorm, Green Lantern), Dick Giordano(The Witching Hour, All-Star Westerm), Carmine Infantino (Flash, Mystery in Space), Gil Kane (Tales to Astonish, Green Lantern), Joe Kubert (Hawkman, Sgt. Rock), and George Pérez (Avengers, Crisis on Infinite Earths). All of these are heavy hitters and deliver outstanding work on this book, as though they knew they were working on something super special, and they were. Every page is SOAKED with action and grace. Gorgeous lines that move from artist to artist without their style changes interrupting the story flow.
Perfect. I think I said that earlier, but it’s as apt a word as any. Sure, Snapper Carr is super annoying with all the finger snapping that he does, but that’s part of the historical charm of the character, and they were smart to keep it at a minimum. This comic hits on all fronts: Gorgeous art, respectful storytelling that remembers its roots, and just the right amount of cornball. If you haven’t read it, Justice League of America #200 is a 200th issue anniversary issue done right! Check it out!!!
Well, time to dive head first into some Nyquil and continue to celebrate this beautiful Saint Patrick’s Day! Remember, don’t drink and drive!!! Next time…I’m thinking of looking at some REALLY cool 70’s Marvel horror for a few columns. Can you dig it!!!???!!!
Chris Swartzlander is the author of the Tripping Over Reality Sci-Fi series.