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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Justice League of America Annual #2 - 1984

"The End of the Justice League!" by Gerry Conway, Chuck Patton, and Dave Hunt.

The biggest change to ever happen to the Justice League of America! New faces, new motivations, new leaders!

Following what transpired in the Earth/Mars war in JLA #s 228-230, the members of the League who were present take a space shuttle to go back and see what--if anything--is left of their beloved satellite headquarters.

The various members of the team fan out and start assessing the damage. Black Canary wonders if it can be rebuilt, and Firestorm jokes, "rebuild what?"

But Aquaman isn't in such a goofy mood. He takes one look at what has happened, and mutters to himself that this is the end of the Justice League
(click to JLAify!)

Hawkgirl wonders if she heard Aquaman right. Hawkman, worriedly, says that she did.

After they return to Earth, Green Arrow suggests they start rebuilding immediately. Aquaman walks away, suggesting that even if it could be rebuilt, the team itself may not be able to be repaired. He says for everyone to meet him at the U.N. in one week.

He heads home, happy to finally see his wife, Mera. Unfortunately, she has left, leaving him a message saying that clearly his duty to the League is the most important thing in his life. She suggests he not try to find her...

One week later, at the U.N., Aquaman calls for a special audience, and makes a startling announcement
...in just five pages, the JLA we all knew is gone.

The announcement is heard all over the world, like by an older man who seems to have massive wealth, and by fashion model Mari McCabe, who abruptly quits her job upon hearing what has happened.

At a high-rise apartment in New York, the JLA--such as it is--is deciding what to do next. They are met by a mysterious stranger, who seems to have fantastic powers!

She is revealed to be the super-heroine The Vixen, who says she is there to join up. Another new hero makes his introductions, as well, a man named Steel:
Steel comes with a new HQ, in Detroit. Its a fully-functioning base, complete with living quarters, a pool, training rooms, etc.

They are met an armed guard, who attacks them for breaking into this place. Steel busts the guy's head, and we learn that inside the suit is Dale Gunn, an old friend of Steel's grandfather, and sort of a surrogate father to the young man. Both Zatanna and Vixen like what they see.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to a young man, a street kid/graffiti artist named Paco, who goes by the name "Vibe." When he runs afoul of some gang members, he displays amazing powers that can be directed at people and shake them uncontrollably.

This little show is seen by Steel and Vixen, and Steel tries to talk Aquaman into letting the kid join. Aquaman says no, pissing off Steel in the process, but he reconsiders when Vibe walks up to their front door and Aquaman gets a first-hand lesson in what this kid can do.

The kid is full of himself, that's for sure:
On the way to meet Vibe's family, he and Steel meet another seemingly super-powered person, a young street thief that the people in the neighborhood call "Gypsy."

While Steel meets Vibe's family (and is immediately smitten by his sister, Rosita), Zatanna introduces herself to Dale Gunn, in about a forward a manner as possible:
While these two flirt, Gypsy breaks in to the HQ, setting off the security alarms!

The JLA all run to the sound, with Martian Manhunter using his shape-shifting powers to nab Gypsy. When they ask who she is, she gives them a long, implausible story. When pressed for the truth, she disappears.

Aquaman is worried none of this is going like he planned, but his doubts are interrupted by a neighborhood welcoming committee, who are throwing a block party to welcome their new neighbors:
Of course, to be continued!

Well, what to say? This turn of events absolutely floored me when I read it, way back in 1984. While I was *thrilled* that Aquaman was taking such a large role in the JLA, I was very unsure of these new characters.

And while I was happy to see action-hogs Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern depart, it was the removal of my other favorites, like Green Arrow and the Hawks that made me scratch my head.

I was even more confused by this passage in the annual's text page by editor Alan Gold:
...in retrospect, of course Gold was just trying to make sure comic fans didn't storm the DC offices like the mob in Frankenstein, but it left me confused. Were "The Big Ones" gone from the book, or not? And if not, what chance did these new characters have? Questions, questions!

Okay--those of you who regularly followed my JLA Satellite blog know this this post is pretty much the same one from that blog, when I got this point in the JLA's publishing history.

I'm posting it here now for a couple of different reasons: 1)Aquaman's role in the JLA was a hugely important part of the character's history, so I've always felt that it should be covered at some length here on the Shrine; 2)I feel I'm a better writer/synopser(?) than I was back when I started the JLA blog, so I'd like to take a second shot at some of the more Aquaman-centric issues of Justice League of America, and this post will be the first of those efforts.

Finally, and most excitingly, is I wanted something to tie in to tomorrow's post, where we'll have a brand-new interview with JLA artist Chuck Patton, who was half of the creative team on the book when Aquaman took center stage!

So be here tomorrow when we'll talk to Chuck!


Russell said...

Ooh, Chuck Patton! He drew a mean-looking JLA in his day! His issues before the revamp are some of my favorites. I'm in!!

Siskoid said...

Yes I'm a fan too. Excellent draftsman.

As for the issue, it was part of the Aquaman Rocks! event that drew the attention of FOAM all those years ago, and one of the reasons I loved Aquaman from early on.

Destroying the JLA. BADASS!

Word Verification: Cometo