BHOC: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #143

Another subscription copy of the giant-sized JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA turned up next. This one featured a rare cover by interior artist Dick Dillin, here inked clunkily by Jack Abel. Dillin’s figures were always just a little bit peculiar, but he was the iron man of JLA, illustrating issue after issue and even handling the entirety of the series when it went to the giant-size format monthly. His work embodies what the Justice League is meant to look like for me.

Inside, Marvel ex-pat Steve Englehart continued his one-year tenure as the League’s scribe, bringing greater characterization and more of an emphasis on Marvel-style continuity to the series. It’s a great run, and a shame that it hasn’t yet been collected in its entirety in collected edition form. This time out, Steve brought his running plotline that had Wonder Woman behaving in a prickly fashion to the other Leaguers to a boil.

The story opens with Superman attempting to have a conversation with Wonder Woman about her recent behavior, a conversation that goes badly as Diana expresses her frustration at the way that her fellow Leaguers have been treating her since she was reinstated, and she storms off, quitting the League. Beaming down to the surface from the team’s satellite HQ, she spots what she believes are a trio of villains on the lam–the Scarecrow, Poison Ivy and an unfamiliar figure in a pirate costume. This is the Privateer, who turns out to be Mark Shaw, the former Manhunter from preceding issues and not a villain at all. He’s decided to continue to hunt criminals without his tainted Manhunter identity (though he makes the poor choice of doing so while adopting an eyepatch, thus cutting his vision in half. Idiot.)

Wonder Woman’s intercession trips the Privateer up, allowing Scarecrow and Poison Ivy to escape. For some reason, the two villains find themselves pulled to return to the satellite they’d used as a base when they had earlier been part of the Injustice Gang. Meanwhile, on the JLA’s satellite, the team is falling apart as Superman tells them what happened with Wonder Woman. Green Arrow and Flash, put on the spot as the cause of Wonder Woman’s irritation, follow suit and also quit, and Black Canary walks out with them. The other Leaguers call it a day and return to their own personal lives, leaving Superman to lament to his good friend Batman that he fears the League is done with–and how strongly he feels about it, what it’s meant to him to have comrades and peers.

Back on Earth, as Wonder Woman and the privateer compare notes, she suddenly flips out, upending the table and sending Mark Shaw tumbling across the room. Wonder Woman takes off, at was with herself, and she soon finds herself under outside mental control–control which causes her to journey to the Injustice gang satellite as well. The cause of this mental coercion is Construct-2, the successor mind to last issue’s Construct. This second Construct doesn’t have the original’s memories, but he knows that the Justice League destroyed him, and so he seeks to neutralize them before they can do the same to this new iteration. Wonder Woman and the Injustice gang will be his pawns in this endeavor.

The Privateer, meanwhile, has gone in search of the Justice League, to let them know what’s happened to Wonder Woman. Along with Batman, he tracks the Amazon to the location of the teleporter to the Injustice Gang’s HQ, but the pair are almost annihilated by automated defenses. Meanwhile, by seeming coincidence, the Mirror Master and Chronos attack the disparate Leaguers, only to be abruptly teleported away in mid-fight by the Construct. (There are a lot of teleporter shenanigans in this story, to say nothing of dueling satellites.)

Speaking of satellites, back at the JLA’s HQ, the main event of the issue takes place, as the mesmerized Wonder Woman transports over and proceeds to beat the hell out of Superman. She gets the drop on him, ultimately encircling him with her magic lasso. She plans to lure teh rest of the League up to the headquarters, and then destroy it, and them. Elsewhere, Hawkman and Hawkgirl battle the Tattooed Man, who also vanished mid-fight. They contact the erst of the League, the team members compare notes–and when Superman’s call comes in to assemble at the satellite, they detect that something is wrong. Recalling that the Injustice Gang had their own satellite HQ, Green Lantern uses his Power Ring to carry the team to it, intending to get the drop on their foes.

Which they do, in spectacular fashion, crashing in and scattering the Injustice Gang like tenpins. And the team is able to escape again with their foes in tow when the Injustice Gang satellite being inhabited by Construct-2 suddenly explodes in an attempt to destroy them all. The villains are all thus freed from its control, and are confused about where they are and what’s going on, and the League has no idea that Construct-2 even existed, much less that it wiped itself out trying to destroy them. But meanwhile, Superman and Wonder Woman have a reconciliation, the Construct’s influence on her gone as well, and she rejoins the team. And the League stands.

And once again, the issue closes out with my favorite feature, a summary of the story that took place in the book 100 issues earlier. In this instance, that meant JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #43, the first appearance of the Royal Flush Gang, headed up by the team’s old enemy Amos Fortune. I dug these glimpses into the stories of yesteryear, and they made me want to hunt down the back issues and read them all (which I was eventually able to do.)

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