BHOC: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #151

At around this time, the main delivery brought me the next issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA in my subscription. This was the first issue scripted by new regular writer Gerry Conway. Conway would go on to write the series steadily for around 60 issue over the next five years, providing the title with some stability. To be honest, though, I found his work on JLA to often be a little bit underwhelming, especially coming on the heels of Steve Englehart’s prior run. It was always solid and enjoyable, but only occasionally did it rise above that level.

One positive thing was that the book was still oversized, a condition it would maintain for a number of months still. This allowed Conway to feature more of the League in his stories and have the space to give them all something to do. Here, the roll call lists 13 heroes, a pretty unmanageable number–but the added page count makes it manageable. The story opens with Wonder Woman, Black Canary and Hawkgirl on monitor duty in the JLA satellite while the male members of the team are holding the Atom’s bachelor party–Conway picked up the thread of the Atom’s impending marriage from his recent SUPER-TEAM FAMILY storyline. But a mysterious energy sprite causes one of the consoles to blow up around Wonder Woman. She’s fine, but her eyes are now glowing and she makes excuses to swiftly depart.

Meanwhile, there’s a show of brotherly camaraderie on display at the Atom’s bachelor party–all except for Green Arrow, who says that he’s got no use for marriage. But the festivities are interrupted by the arrival of Black Canary and Hawkgirl, who beam down from the satellite to tell the others about the explosion and Diana’s weird behavior. However, Green Arrow acts like an ass, not listening to a word they’re saying, and the two female heroes swiftly depart, determined to handle the potential crisis themselves, without needing the help of any man.

Meanwhile, Wonder Woman has felt compelled to fly her invisible jet to a small volcanic island, where she regains her senses but finds herself accosted by a gigantic robot that seeks to take her prisoner. Diana gives a good accounting of herself, despite the fact that her efforts are several times plagued by bad luck. Ultimately, she defeats and destroys the robot, but misfortune causes her to be rendered unconscious, and helpless before a shadowy figure. Elsewhere, Black Canary is on Wonder Woman’s trail, having followed her path as far as Hawaii. Dinah correctly reckons that Wonder Woman flew off in her invisible jet, and in order to try to track her whereabouts, she heads for the headquarters of the Pacific Fleet.

Meanwhile, recovering her senses, Wonder Woman finds herself the prisoner of Amos Fortune, the League’s old enemy. Having deduced than many of the League’s members must have come to possess their extraordinary abilities through sheer luck, Fortune intends to create his own Justice League. Using Wonder Woman’s magic form as a mystic prism (since she was a clay being magically given life) , Fortune splits a beam from his Wheel of Misfortune into seven shafts of light, each one springing forward to cause an accident to befall a particular person around the world–an accident that will endow them with powers equal to that of the League while they are in contact with a particular mystic talisman.

As the night goes on, different members of the League experience painful disruptions of their super-powers. This includes Black Canary, who has confirmed that the Pacific Fleet did record a radar blip from Wonder Woman’s robot plane, thus giving her a vector to investigate along. (How they did this when the plane is meant to be, well, invisible is a very good question.) The cause of this malady is Amos Fortune’s new super-beings, who are compelled to assemble at his secret island headquarters. Each one possesses a power based on one of the Leaguers, but in their case, it’s the ability to give that power to other people. Satisfied nonetheless, Fortune mesmerizes them all with his Wheel of Misfortune and sends them out to destroy the Justice League.

In a series of skirmishes, Fortune’s creations proceed to kick the ell out of the League members, who are doubly handicapped: not only are they facing powers as great as their own, but whenever one of Fortune’s guys gives powers to another, they’re really siphoning it off from the associated Justice Leaguer, leaving the JLAer stricken with pain. Black Canary by this point has made it to Fortune’s island, but she herself is stricken when her powers are used against her fellow Leaguers, and she falls to the ground unconscious. Things are looking bad.

But Wonder Woman has been waiting hours for her opportunity, and now it has arrived. Using her tiara like a mirror, she’s able to reflect the rays of the rising sun into Amos Fortune’s eyes in such a way that she’s able to give him a hypnotic command. Suddenly, Fortune’s faux League begins to wind up on the receiving end of bad luck themselves, giving the true heroes the chance to recover and win out. Wonder Woman has caused Fortune to spin his Wheel of Misfortune in the other direction, cursing his creations and giving the League the victory. She shows up on the very truncated final page to explain this and with Black Canary and the beaten Amos Fortune in tow. And even Green Arrow is apologetic about is behavior earlier. With that, the issue comes to a hasty close.

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