BHOC: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #116

Once again, I had missed an issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, another one I had seen in the house ads but never ran across. But I was there for the subsequent issue, #116. Bought it at the 7-11, of course, and the fact that the series continued to be n the 100-Page Spectacular format was a huge plus–one that would soon fade away, as this was the final 100-Page issue in the series.

The opening story introduced a character who was clearly intended as a one-shot, but who came back a number of times over the years, the Golden Eagle. It also followed up on the matter of Hawkman’s resignation from the League several issues earlier–a story I was familiar with.

The story opens with a bored Green Arrow, stuck on monitor duty aboard the JLA satellite, spending his time reading the League’s fan male. A letter from a kid named Charlie Parker gets his attention–Parker says that he dresses up as (or “cosplays”) as the now-departed Leaguer Hawkman. Touched by the boy’s letter, Green Arrow beams down to Midway City intending to meet Charlie, but he runs across criminals instead. But before he can take action against them, they’re apprehended by somebody who, from a distance, appears to be Hawkman.

But Green Arrow has a different idea in mind–one that he’s able to prove when the winged figure is attacked by a flying ball of water that threatens to drown him in mid-air. GA comes to his rescue, having called in the rest of the League, and confirms that this flying hero is actually Charlie Parker, the kid he was coming to visit.

There’s a bit of a disconnect inherent in artist Dick Dillin’s depiction of Charlie. The text continually describes him as a kid, but he looks like a full-grown adult. This is most apparent when Charlie describes his origin: he was playing in his homemade Hawkman costume (which looks especially weird on a person his seeming age) when a mysterious ray made his homemade Wings into the real deal. Inspired by his hero Hawkman, he’s adopted the name Golden Eagle, and has been learning how to fight crime.

The League works out that the watery attack came from the Matter Master, one of Hawkman’s oldest foes. At that moment, the Master’s Mentachem wand appears, transforming the Leaguers into animal hybrids and pitting them against each animal’s natural predator.

One by one, the Leaguers overcome their adversaries and are transformed back to normal. But Golden Eagle is missing–he’s been spirited away by the Mentachem want to the Matter master’s lair, where the criminal is in a state of suspended animation.

Awakening, the Matter Master realizes that his subconscious mind, disappointed that his enemy Hawkman was beyond his reach, had found the next closest thing in Charlie and made his pretend powers real. Matter Master attempts to rectify his mistake by killing Golden Eagle, but the League arrives in time to shut him down. Charlie loses his powers at the end, but his spirits are buoyed by the surprise reappearance of Hawkman! Why is he here? How? Those answers would have to wait for the next issue–an issue that I again missed.

Then came the reprints. First up was a beautiful Murphy Anderson story teaming up Starman and the Black Canary against Starman’s old enemy the Mist. This was a ‘60s tale, so I enjoyed it a hell of a lot more than the previous ‘40s Starman stories I had read previously. In the story, Starman gives Black Canary a miniature version of his own Cosmic Rod, the forerunner of characters such as Star-Spangled Kid and Courtney Whitmore in years to come.

Next, a fun and insane early JLA story in which the team contends with stonelike aliens from another dimension who are untouchable in our world. They’re not bad guys, they’re trying to save both their world and ours as the two come into dimensional alignment. But to do so, they’re destroying buildings and cities on Earth that would intersect with their own. The JLA, in particular Green Lantern, solve the problem to everyone’s satisfaction. Mike Sekowsky’s artwork seemed especially stylized and crazily distorted to me–but I liked the effect.

The issue wrapped up with another JUST A STORY reprint by Howard Purcell. Lik the earlier one, it featured no super-heroics, but was rather a B-movie in comic book form–very much along the lines of an Eisner story. This particular story introduced a nameless character who was popular enough to be brought back in later installments, and who became known as Johnny Peril.

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