I really must not have been buying many comics during this period, spending money instead on baseball cards and Wacky Packages and the like. Because, before you knew it, another folded-in-half subscription copy of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA turned up in my mailbox. And boy, look at the weak reproduction on this cover–Flash’s head is a smudge, Black Canary’s head is falling apart, Green Arrow is just a blob, and all of the fine linework is breaking up. I was used to some shaky reproduction on the interiors–in this period, a lot of the printing was cut-rate. But the covers were typically an exception.
The story inside is another one by Gerry Conway, doing his best to bring some Marvel stylings to the DC line. So there’s a greater emphasis on combat and physical conflict than was typically the case in those days. I’ve also not written much of anything about Dick Dillin, who was the JLA’s mainstay artist throughout the 1970s and who would draw 120 consecutive issues of the series (missing only one) before his untimely death. Dillin visually defined the Justice League for me, and while his figures could often be a bit stiff or awkward, there was a familiarity to the work that I enjoyed. His versions of Superman, Flash, Batman, etc seemed to be the same versions appearing elsewhere, and I valued that consistency. Also, no matter how outlandish the scenario the League found itself in, Dillin approached it with verisimilitude. He made the ridiculous more plausible by not addressing the fact that it was ridiculous in the first place.
The story begins at the United Nations, where the League is providing security due to the threats of the Anarchist, an absurd-looking super-villain who attacks the gathering along with a trio of long-haired henchmen. There’s a crazy battle, in which the Anarchist seems to be able to use pretty much whatever power he needs, and the Leauge retaliates through their trademark teamwork. But in the end, despite a game effort, the League is helpless to prevent the Anarchist from teleporting away with the UN delegates. The JLA has egg on its face.
Elsewhere, Hal Jordan wakes from sleepwalking to find himself compulsively recharging his Power Ring. This is the third time this has happened, and the ring itself can’t give him any answers, as the force that is influencing it is powered by the ring’s own energies. So GL sets off to track this meddler in his mind down. Simultaneously, Clark Kent and Steve Lombard go to see a revival run by faith-healer Simon Ellis. When Ellis instantaneously repairs Lombard’s broken leg, Clark detects a connection with the Anarchist’s power, and contrives an excuse to leave and gather the League.
The JLA tracks down Ellis, joined ont his mission by Green Lantern. But they’re blasted out of the sky, and then GL’s Power Ring begins to obey commands other than his own. It’s clear that Ellis is the Anarchist, and that he’s somehow tapping the energies of the Power Ring for his own purposes. Ellis captures four of the Leaguers as he teleports himself and his followers away. Having deduced the connection between his own power and the Anarchist, GL attempts to drain his ring of power, but this proves impossible to do within the 24-Hour time limit.
Strategising back at the JLA Satellite, Green Lantern again feels a compulsion to recharge his Power Ring. The only way to prevent him from doing so, and thus cutting of the Anarchist’s power, is for Superman to knock him out with a super-blow. This done, the JLA crash Ellis’s Mansion, finding the missing Delegates and their fellow heroes there in the bargain.
During the fray, the Anarchist uses up the last of his stolen Lantern power (not much is made as to how he was able to do this–only a stray balloon from Superman indicating that he’d make sure that Ellis couldn’t do it again in the future) and the would-be dictator and his minions are swiftly mopped up. The issue closes back at JLA headquarters as Green Lantern revives, hears the good news about the League’s victory, and is finally able to speak his oath and recharge his Power Ring.