This was another Treasury Edition that I loved. I can recall intending to duplicate Dick Giordano’s cover as an art entry in a Block party art contest that summer–it would also be used as the basis for a key frame in the opening credits to CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER-FRIENDS. More interesting to me, the back cover matched the composition, but with the heroes of the earlier Justice Society. A purchase from my regular 7-11 haunt.
The size of these Treasury Editions had shrunk a little bit, allowing room for only two full-length stories plus some additional filler. But that meant that I still got two vintage Gardner Fox/Mike Sekowsky JLA stories for my buck. Sekowsky’s artwork, as has been reported many times previously, was idiosyncratic and weird, stylized in a manner all his own. But I had read enough early JLA tales so that I was used to it–in fact, its how I expected such stories to look.
In the opening story, recurring JLA and Adam Strange foe Kanjar Ro escapes from incarceration on Rann, and using a newfound ability to separate a person’s aura from his physical self, uses the JLA’s own aura to lure them into hazardous situations, believing themselves to be coming to the aid of their fellow members.
The members suss out the ruse, though, but not before Kanjar Ro has stolen the entire Earth, leaving its own aura-duplicate behind. (And yes, I don’t know how the Earth has an aura to duplicate either.) But when Adam Strange’s Zeta-Beam charge wears off, his own aura is pulled back to the duplicated Earth and he is able to marshal the JLA against Kanjar Ro. I’ll admit that this panel flummoxed me as a kid, as I had no inkling that the Martian Manhunter could stretch his arms like the Elongated Man.
Next came a filler feature utilizing Alex Toth’s model sheets from the Super-Friends cartoon series. The Flash showing up on that show was something of a seminal moment for me as a child, helping to cement him as my favorite character. So it was neat to see that Toth had done an initial design of Jay Garrick, the Flash he was more familiar with from his time working at All-American Comics in the late 1940s.
Then came the second story, which I didn’t love as much. Partly, I think, this had to do with the roll call, which leaned heavily on the core triumvirate of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. I had nothing against these guys, but JLA was a place where I would get to see other more obscure heroes in action–and I often liked those guys better. It also didn’t help that this story was really set up as not so much a team adventure but three separate missions–one featuring Batman and Hawkman, one with the Atom and Wonder Woman, and one with Superman solo. Perfectly fine, but not really what I read JLA for.
The story is a wonderful bit of nonsense in which the League’s old enemy Doctor Destiny dreams himself a Dream-Materioptikon while in his prison cell, then uses it to give the JLA members strange nightmares in which they get odd handicaps such as telescopic vision that doesn’t turn off or the power of flight by flapping one’s arms. Destiny then makes these dreams become reality in some way, but the Leaguers overcome every challenge, figure out he’s the guy behind their problems, and punch him in the snoot.
And here, just for completeness’ sake, is that Dick Giordano-illustrated back cover. Giordano had begun to do covers for DC during this period, and I thought they were a real step up from the abundance of Ernie Chua pieces we had been getting.