BHOC: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #128

Another folded-in-half subscription copy of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA showed up next in my mailbox. This one had a decent cover by Ernie Chua/Ernie Chan, though Wonder Woman has a strange torso, and a few of the background figures are a bit weird.

I hadn’t been paying much attention to the continuing serial over in WONDER WOMAn in which the Amazon princess was completing twelve labors in order to prove her fitness to rejoin the JLA, but clearly she had succeeded, as here she was, back in the fold. Although the splash page implied something very different was about to happen. This was, by the way, my first look at the JLA Membership Certificate, a bit of iconography that had been used consistently dating as far back as Green Arrow’s induction into the League in JLA #4.

The issue begins with Superman threatening to throw Wonder Woman bodily out of the JLA Satellite, an uncharacteristic threat for the Man of Steel. Diana reminds Superman of what they’ve just been through, and then we cut to a flashback as the newly-reinstated Wonder Woman beams onto the JLA headquarters just in time to find her fellow members packing it all up in preparation for disbanding the League. Turns out they’ve all developed a case of cowardice, each member having recently experienced a strong vision of their own deaths while in the midst of an adventure. Only Wonder Woman remains unaffected.

Meanwhile, the Guardians of the Universe are concerned about the imminent arrival of Nekron, the Fear-Parasite, in our dimension. Nekron makes a beeline for Hal Jordan, who enters into combat with the entity. Nekron specifically feads in D-Fear, the fear an entity feels when faced with its own imminent death. But the Green lanters are chosen for their fearlessness, so Nekron is repulsed by Hal, who hammers at him. But in the end, Nekron causes a rockslide to engulf Green Lantern, causing the boulders to become yellow, the one color the Lantern’s Power Ring has no effect on.

Unable to free its unconscious master, the Power Ring instead seeks out his Justice League comrades. They’re still stricken with the D-Fear that Nekron’s arrival has created in them, but Wonder Woman rallies them to the attack. The heroes engage Nekron on teh battlefield, each one grappling with his own desire to turn and run. Wonder Woman gives Batman Green Lantern’s Power Ring to use, but it swiftly runs out of energy, Hal not having completed his oath-recharging before Nekron set upon him.

Nekron is vulnerable to courage, which Wonder Woman has in spades, so he’s weakened by the League’s attack. But he’s still no pushover, and one by one he incapacitates the half-hearted Leaguers, who drag themselves back to Headquarters in the aftermath. And the story returns to its starting point, with Wonder Woman still trying to raise the spirits of her fellow heroes, so that they can locate the missing Green lantern and find some way of contending with Nekron.

But before the League can get its act together, Nekron commandeers a broadcast to announce his next intentions: he’s directing a solar flare towards Hawkman’s home, Midway City, one that only the Winged Wonder can thwart, but only at the sacrifice of his own life. A troubled Hawkman radios his wife Hawkgirl and tells her to pack up and leave Midway City behind–he’s still overcome by D-Fear, and is ready to let teh city burn. To be continued!

This issue also contains a letter from future Marvel Executive Editor Mark Gruenwald, commenting on the second half of the recent JLA/JSA storyline which guest-starred writers Cary Bates and Elloit S! Maggin. Mark expresses disappointment with the story and indicates what he thought the outcome and resolution was going to be–an idea that is frankly worlds better than what was actually done. Shows he had some plotting skills, even in these pre-professional days.

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