BHOC: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #109

Bought this one at the 7-11 during another cigarette run. Picked it up because the Flash was on the cover (and I remembered seeing #107 four months earlier when I bought my first comic.) This was another book that I loved to death. I can remember taking it into Kindergarden class for Show-and-Tell one week, where the teacher surmised, “So it’s an all-action issue!”

I had met a bunch of the individual Justice Leaguers in previous comics, so it wasn’t a stretch to get into this book. In addition, writer Len Wein structured this one like a classic Gardner Fox story, which means that the team broke into smaller groups for different chapters, each adorned with the logos of its participants, helping me to get to know them all.

This was a pretty good era to come in to JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. After a number of years of trying to ride the relevance trend that grew out of the critical success of GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW, incoming writer Len Wein shifted the focus back to classic super hero adventures of teh traditional kind. He was ably assisted by artist Dick Dillin, the Iron Man of JLA who drew the book for over 100 near-consecutive issues until his passing. Here, he was aided by the slick inks of Dick Giordano, DC’s best in this era.

Len had been a fan before breaking into the industry, so he did a lot to close the gap with Marvel story-wise. He gave more emphasis to characterization–this issue opens with Hawkman announcing to the stunned League that he is quitting. His years-long tour of duty on Earth is at an end, and as such he must return to his homeworld of Thanagar.

Before this can entirely be taken on board, two other figures from DC’s past beam onto the JLA’s Satellite Sanctuary: The Red Tornado, the hapless android League member, and Dr. Bruce Gordon, the human half of the villainous Eclipso. It turns out that, in trying to cure himself of transforming into Eclipso whenever in the presence of a eclipse (which, let’s face it, doesn’t seem like a problem that would come up all that often), Gordon instead split off three versions of Eclipso from himself. These doppelgangers are drawing life energy from the Earth itself, so if the JLA doesn’t bring them in and reunite them with Gordon in six hours, the planet has had it.

And so, in typical League fashion, the team splits its forces to search. The Atom and Black Canary are joined mid-mission by Aquaman under the seas, Batman and the Flash engage Eclipso in Death Valley, and Green Arrow, Hawkman and the Elongated Man exchange barbs as they battle through the master of midnight’s traps in a sky fortress.

This turns out to be a temporary victory, however, as, once reunited on the JLA’s satellite, the three Eclipsos merge into a single giant being, Eclipso reasons that a satellite such as this one will be an idea base. But Batman is one step ahead of him, having previously booby-trapped the black diamond from which Eclipso draws his power, and reverting him back into the decent Bruce Gordon.

The wrap-up ends with Hawkman actually leaving the team and departing–an outcome I couldn’t have predicted at the outset. All-in-all, this was a nice, straightforward, colorful adventure filled with almost a dozen heroes. It’s no surprise that I loved it. The fact that the book was also edited by Julie Schwartz was lost on me at the time, but confirms the pattern of my early tastes. Julie did kind of kill the ending a little bit by plastering a blurb indicating that the next issue would be a 100 Page Giant over the finale where Green Arrow’s true depth of feeling for Hawkman was revealed.

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