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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Justice League of America #217 - Aug. 1983

Comics Weekend "All the Elements of Disaster" by Paul Kupperberg, Chuck Patton, and Romeo Tanghal.

Since we talked JLA with Chuck Patton on Monday, I wanted to spend this Comics Weekend talking about some of my favorite issues of Justice League of America that he drew, which just happen to be the first two he ever drew.
This particular issue of Justice League opens up in my favorite possible way...with Aquaman!

He, Vulko, and the rest of Atlantis are rocked by violent sea quakes. Aquaman goes to investigate where they originate from, but he surprised when a giant beam of energy shoots out of the fissure, and into the sky!

As Aquaman sends out a JLA Distress Signal, we follow the beam of energy all the way to Metropolis, where it strikes a homeless woman and turns her into some sort of malevolent Earth Elemental! She--it--then blasts its way skyward.

The same thing happens on a yacht out at sea, where movie producer Marty Lasko is turned into a Sea Elemental, and then again in Midway City, when a construction worker is turned into an Air Elemental.

Up at the satellite, Aquaman informs his fellow JLAers what has happened:
...the JLA's monitors pick up giant water, air, and earth vortexes shooting into the sky at the very spots these elementals were created. Zatanna sense great magical powers at work.

There's a nice moment here, where Superman begins to head for Metropolis, but Zatanna stops him, reasoning he is more needed in Los Angeles. Elongated Man savors the chance to head there, instead.

Hawkman and Red Tornado head for Midway City where they take on--and prove no match for--the Air Elemental.

The same thing happens in Metropolis, where Firestorm, Zatanna, and Elongated Man take on the Earth Elemental, while Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman head to the Pacific Ocean to fight the Sea Elemental. All three battles end in defeat for our heroes.

Chuck Patton's work is top-notch, bringing a clean, dynamic look to our heroes:
Later, all the JLAers regroup back at the satellite, and Aquaman figures something troubling out:
The JLAers head there, and Aquaman leads them to the ruins of the original Atlantis, which sank thousands of years ago.

While fighting off some mutated sea creatures, they are attacked by an ancient wizard named Daanuth, who has been in a sort of suspended animation, waiting for the right mystical moment to resurrect his home, the original Atlantis.

While Daanuth's sea monsters attack some of the JLA, Superman, Firestorm, and Red Tornado see the three elementals up in the sky. Superman has figured out that Daanuth is using stellar energy to work their magic, and he has Firestorm create a giant prism, which dilutes and refracts the energy they need.

As Atlantis begins to crumble, Daanuth suddenly finds his powers ebbing! Superman's plan has worked!

Just as Aquaman is about paste Daanuth one, a stone column collapses on him, freeing himself from the Sea King's grasp.

They all make it out of the fissure, with the three elementals turned back to normal. The heroes celebrate their victory aboard one of Aquaman's finny friends, a giant whale:
After Gerry Conway's abrupt (but very temporary) departure in #216, the JLA was treated to a couple of fill-in issues, this first one being by our pal Paul Kupperberg.

Normally fill-in issues are a thing to dread, but I found this issue (and the next, by Cary Burkett) to be two of my all-time favorite JLA stores. Fun, fast-paced, and they tell an entire story in just 23 pages.

The villain, Garn Daanuth, was created by Paul and Jan Duursema, and used in his book, Arion, Lord of Atlantis. Arion isn't mentioned anywhere in this story, which I thought was a nice touch--if you were a regular Arion reader (which I was not at the time--I've since apologized to Paul about that) you got it instantly, and saw that the two universes were tied together. If not, it works fine all on its own.

Back in 2007, I had the good fortune to interview Paul for the Aquaman Shrine, and I asked him about writing this issue:

AMS: You wrote one of my favorite issues of JLA, #217, "All the Elements of Disaster!", which features Aquaman pretty prominently. Was this on purpose or just the natural effect of the story you wanted to write?

PK: Oh, that was another of my Atlantis stories. Between Arion and Power Girl, I got into this Atlantean rut and probably overused that stuff. But since I was doing an Arion-villain-brought-forward-in-time story, Atlantis was the natural location and Aquaman was the logical focal character.

Tomorrow we'll look at the very next issue of Justice League, which also features Aquaman in a significant role!


Randy said...

This has always been one of my favorite JLA stories too. And for the same reason as you, Rob, because it featured Aquaman so prominently. I also liked how Kupperberg paired Aquaman up with his fellow Superfriends Superman and Wonder Woman when the time came to split up into groups. And Patton's art was definitely top notch as well.

Russell said...

Add my voice to the group of people who think that this was an awesome issue. Everything worked: members, groups, art, dialogue, and conclusion, capped with a great George Perez cover. Wonderful stuff...which only made the Detroit JLA a few issues later that much worse in comparison IMHO.

The Irredeemable Shag said...

I was a big follower of the original Arion run. In fact, I was reading Arion, but not JLA at the time.

So when I eventually got around to reading the older JLA issues, it was a really special treat seeing Garn here.

Good stuff. Great review!

The Irredeemable Shag

Doug said...

Great, great, great issue. One of my all-time faves.

Like JLA 192 & 193, I still have my original well-read copies, but I also have a newer copy for "collection" sake.

I can still read the nappy one from my childhood, but the "nice" one will one day find its way yo my kids or god-children. Let them mangle it through hours of enjoyment.