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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

1st Anniversary Week, Part 3: JLA #200 - 1982

sgMore than any other single image, this is what pops into my head when I think of Aquaman--this wonderfully cheery group shot of the original Justice League, from page three of Justice League of America #200, the single greatest piece of literature ever produced by Western Civilization.

The art is by George Perez and Brett Breeding; the wonderfully timeless, Arthurian-Legends-ish text("Lo, these many years gone...") is by Gerry Conway.

I bought this comic off the stands in December 1981, and it instantly lodged its way into my brain and has never left. The first three pages of the seventy-two(!) page comic re-tells the JLA's origin, and ends with this image before kicking into the main story, which involves the original seven members being mind-controlled and fighting all the newer members.

There was something about this shot that just captivated me--as a kid, I always much more a DC kid than a Marvel one; mostly because the Marvel heroes were so tortured and the world they inhabited seemed so rough. In contrast, most DC heroes were happy, upbeat people, and enjoyed palling around with each other. I mean, who wouldn't want to hang out at the JLA satellite?

My childhood love of both the JLA and of Aquaman are of course intertwined; Aquaman has the JLA to thank for keeping him visible during his down times between solo features. So its impossible for me to separate the two--and this image, to me, is the perfect distillation of both.

(By the way, I still have the original copy of JLA #200 I bought twenty-six years ago--its beat to hell, but still together!)


Anonymous said...

Nice shot, Rob. However, I would have to disagree with you about the overall quality of JLA # 200. First, there was no appearance of Hawkwoman, and no explanation, which was bad enough, but if I remember correctly, Aquaman was going to get beaten by Red Tornado until the Phantom Stranger stepped in!!! How lame is that? I have to say that I never liked Gerry Conway's take on Aquaman; he never seemed to "get" the character in the same way he knew Superman and Batman. (sigh)George Perez, on the other hand, seemed to do a great job on him.

Anonymous said...

Gotta agree with Russell, here. I too was a bit dissappointed that Aquaman was the only original Leaguer in JLA #200 that needed an assist defeating a later addition to the team.

Oh, years later I realized that the Phantom Stranger's inclusion in the Aquaman / Red Tornado battle was a way for Aparo to draw two characters to whom he was linked. But it still kind of bugs me!

Luke said...

I have never read JLoA #200, so I cannot comment on it's quality. Now, of course, I must seek it out.

I like seeing WW front and center in that picture. It's a nice change of pace. Plus, Diana's boots are awesome. I also like how the only member who doesn't appear to be smiling is Martian Manhunter... how perfect is that?

Anonymous said...

I'm with you Rob! JLA #200 eluded me for close to 10 years. The Daily Planet page on the back of a concurrent World's Finest told me it was coming soon, but I never found it on the newstand in my town. I finally found it at a small comic show in Lexington, KY a decade later. It was worth the wait.

DC REALLY knew how to do anniversary issues back then, didn't they?

And Conway did occasionally handle Arthur REALLY well. Remember the last few panels of that issue where T.O. Morrow is controlling Red Tornado? In the shadows, a wet, gloved hand pulls itself onto Morrow's patio, watching him and Reddy inside. IN the next panel we see it's Aquaman, and thanks to Perez's expert body posturing, we can tell Arthur is ticked!!!


rob! said...

to all you naysayers:

--i believe the excuse was Hawkwoman was missing deep in space during a storyline in the Hawkman feature. i didnt say it was a good excuse.

--yeah, Aquaman gets help when he didnt really need it, but, as mentioned we get to see Aparo draw the Phantom Stranger again, and later on in the book Aquaman gets to be a total bad-ass by grabbing one of the bad guys and crushing him into little bits!

plus, as Chris points out, Aquaman got a lot of good and/or big moments from Conway, so i can forgive him this

...but all that will explained in more detail in my new blog, The Greatest Cover Book Ever:


Anonymous said...

I realize now that by agreeing with Russell I am actually slamming the entire issue which I really didn't intend to do. I too remember picking up JLA #200 when it was originally released. I dug the wrap around cover and all the different artists that participated in the story. I even dug the nice straightforward plot that harkened back to the League's origin.

I just didn't like the Aquaman sequence. Yes, it had beautiful art by Aparo but Aquaman needed help in defeating his latter-day Leaguer. Why only Aquaman? As I said earlier, I understand the desire to have Aparo pencil The Phantom Stranger but couldn't his participation have been a little more subtle? After all, Carmine Infantino drew the Flash / Elongated Man encounter but Barry didn't need Adam Strange's help in taking out Ralph. I bet some old time Adam Strange fans would have liked to see Infantino draw him again. But no, only Aquaman needed help.

Now as for that great arc where we (and Firestorm) learn Red Tornado's true origin - wow! The sequence that opens the issue following earth 2 chris's description is absolutely fantastic with a double page spread featuring a series of tall thin panels showing Arthur bursting thru the windows of Morrow's headquarters.

Now THAT was Aquaman. Sure, he gets blasted by Morrow and needs to sit the rest of the fight. But the idea that Arthur was the first Leaguer to recover from Red Tornado's attack was pretty cool!

Plaidstallions said...

Ah but Chris, the next issue has T.O. Morrow swatting Arthur away as if he were a fly. I just read that issue, it was such a let down from the cliffhanger.

Never read 200, probably should.

chunky B said...

I love the lineup, Wonder Woman geting the limelight and all.

Never read that issue, but as always I'm going to have to go find a copy and give it a read, Rob you always have a way of making every issue sound great!

Anonymous said...


Great story.

(Maybe over at HEY, KIDS! you can do a "my favorite ish ever!" thread?)

As far as -

>(By the way, I still have the original copy of JLA #200 I bought twenty-six years ago--its beat to hell, but still together!)<

- slabbing be damned. The kind of comics you've just described are REALLY "the most valuable in the world."


Anonymous said...

I'd forgotten about the next chapter of the Reddy/Morrow story. I just finally found part 2 just a few years back! Blast spotty newstand distribution!

Arthur did get slapped around in that one, but hey, everyone got their butts handed to them in that storyline!


Anonymous said...

I didn't start with #200, but the JLA is equally ingrained in my childhood as well. The aforementioned ^ arc featuring Reddy's origin was my first - JLA #192. Now I'd bought comics before that, but nothing before or since has smacked me in the head as much as that issue. I had my fifty cents allowance burning a hole through my hand, and that fabulous cover with all those heroes I already knew and a few I didn't beckoned to me.
It had to be mine and it was.
I still have the original copy of that issue AND the following issue - which featured a 16-page preview (those were the days!) of the All-Star Squadron. I say featured because at the time, it was in my way, so I removed it from my copy.

rob! said...

JLA #s 192-193 are some of the best superhero comics, ever. tight plot, great characterization, and a surprise or two.

heck, that whole Conway/Perez or Buckler run (JLA #s 189-197, 200) are all bona-fide classics to me.

Anonymous said...

I feel the JLA/JSA/SSOV crossover was the last great JLA/JSA story (of the classic era, anyway). Conway (with Dillin, Perez and Buckler) did some of my favorite JLA tales. I know a lot of diehard older fans didn't like his additon of his own creation Firestorm, but I felt the character gave us someone to relate to, that wasn't a huge dweeb like Snapper Carr was.

Hard to believe Conway also gave us...Vibe.


Diabolu Frank said...

They all should've been smiling. J'Onn didn't stop grinning until the late 60's, and didn't go full-on frowny until the 70's. Batman has been gloomy longer.

I was a Marvel kid, because I related to the hard-knock life. As I got older though, I switched camps. See, Marvel's characters aren't mature, just angsty. DC characters have dealt with all the same traumas, but have moved past them. That's what grown-ups do, especially heroic ones.

Fun issue, and I love artist retrospectives like that. I got my copy in my 20's though, so the experience wasn't quite so magical. I look forward to doing this one as well, but I figure that's a good ways off at my current pace.

Anonymous said...

Ha, show me a DC character that has actually 'dealt' with their issues. They may have done so better than Marvel's, but that's not saying much. I hear that Batman isn't quite the crazyed loner he used to be now, and that's good...but take Aquaman for example. Before he died, he was still a mess.

Diabolu Frank said...

Y'know, I was going to list Aquaman as a clear exception to my statement, but I just didn't want to go there. That's okay though-- after Dan DiDio lets me write "Adventure Comics Weekly," all next year, I'll have totally wrapped up all those loose threads of avoidance and immaturity. You might think it a pipe dream, but I strongly suspect if you followed "Countdown" for any length of time, it might just sound plausible. Plus hey, it's nice to give Giff a second run with the character, if only on breakdowns. He really loves what I've done with Ocean Master...