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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Justice League of America #122 - Sept. 1975

Comics Weekend "The Great Identity Crisis!" by Martin Pasko, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin.

Even though I already covered this issue of Justice League of America on my late JLA Satellite blog, I thought it would be fun to revisit this particular story, for several reasons: 1)Its a very Aquaman-centric issue (as the cover suggests), and 2)It was written by Martin Pasko, who's been the subject of a lot of good-natured ribbing during the Shrine's World's Greatest Superheroes posts, for his almost comical under-use of the Sea King.

So to remind everyone that Mr. Pasko has done right by the Sea King, let's check out what happens in "The Great Identity Crisis!":
Members of the JLA stop a giant ice creature from a destructive rampage, and decide to keep it imprisoned at Superman's Fortress of Solitude until it can determined what to do with it.

Other than who or what this creature is, there's another unanswered question: who called the JLA to deal with it? Each member thinks it was one of the others, but none of them take credit.

In any case, after the creature is caged, the JLAers head off into Superman's computer room to do some research on it. Once it is left alone, we see the creature transform into a familiar figure, long-time foe of the JLA: Doctor Light!

Dr. Light pulls out a hunk of rock labeled "Amnesium" (gee, wonder what it does?) and holds it in front of yet another high-tech gadget Light has invented. He aims the gun's beam at the JLAers in the next room, and:
...oh no, Aquaman dead? It can't be true!

Later, we follow the JLAers as they resume their civilian identities: except that they're all scrambled! Oliver Queen shows up Prof. Ray Palmer's lab, falling victim to a trap set by Light that the Atom could have escaped from, but looks like will prove fatal to Green Arrow!

The same thing happens to Bruce Wayne (who thinks he's Oliver Queen), and Hal Jordan (thinking he's Barry Allen). In another city, Ray Palmer (thinking he's Hal Jordan) meets with an undercover Arthur Curry, who is rocking the Ron Burgundy look:
This is where Dr. Light (inevitably) went wrong! While Aquaman doesn't use a civilian identity, he does have one, which he used to rescue Ray Palmer. Palmer then in turn, as the Atom, went to get Barry Allen and let him know what's been happening.

Arthur Curry then rescued Oliver Queen, while The Flash did the same for Hal Jordan. Then they all went and found Bruce Wayne, making it back to the Fortress!

But Dr. Light isn't completely out of tricks: he uses his powers to create multiple decoys of himself, one of whom opens a cage in the Fortress' zoo, freeing some of the alien creatures contained within!

As Batman, Flash, and Green Lantern deal with the creatures, Aquaman, the Atom, and Green Arrow go after the Doctors Light, who have split up. Aquaman finds that Superman has fallen victim to one of the Light's traps:
...The End!

I remember discovering this issue as a kid, and of course I was thrilled: not only did Aquaman get a lot to do, but he ends up being the guy who figures almost everything in the story! The JLA would have been d-e-a-d without him, and Pasko cleverly made the whole plot revolve around a detail that was specific to Aquaman: his general lack of a secret identity.

As I said at the time on my JLA blog, this is one of my all-time favorite Justice League stories, and to me its a great template for any writer who thinks its hard integrating Aquaman into the JLA's generally land-based adventures.

So while The World's Greatest Superheroes newspaper strip might not be one of Aquaman's greatest moments, it wasn't like Martin Pasko had anything against him!


Joe Slab said...

Classic & awesome!!

Russell said...

Best mid-70s issue of the JLA EVER. :-)
Thanks for posting this, Rob...it made my day.

Wings1295 said...

Damn, Rob! You may have messed up my day of getting things done! Now I want to go and dig out my old comics and enjoy some old fashioned JLA goodness!

JD said...

Lovely art, reminds me of Mike Grell during this same time period, never heard of this Dillin guy before, I'll have to look up more of his work.

Also the "Aquaman's dead and it's our fault" blurb must REALLY be an inside joke\reference to DC editorial, LOL!

Anthony said...

Nice story! Though most of the members already knew each others' identities by this point, I'd imagine (Hal and Barry, Bruce and Clark, possibly Arthur knowing about Clark per the two knowing each other since they were teens...).

Dick Dillin drew the JLA during the 70s, but after his premature death in the early 80s was replaced by George Perez.

"Amnesium" was a metal that appeared in some Silver Age Superboy/Superman stories, usually used to induce memory loss (ironically, to *protect* Clark's secret identity in a few stories).

Finally, I noticed that line about the "JLA's identity crisis." Wonder if they were thinking of this issue when that awful "Identity Crisis" story came out in the mid-2000s...

Siskoid said...

This is the only good story called Identity Crisis featuring Dr. Light.

Randy said...

It's easy when the villain in question is stupid.