BHOC: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #155

My subscription to JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA was still ticking along, though I wouldn’t renew it again after it too ran its course like my FLASH subscription. So the next comic that I got was my sub copy of this issue. This is one that I hardly recall at all, and I don’t think I’ve looked at this story in forty years. It just wasn’t memorable. I was finding that the case with a bunch of my tried-and-true DC titles as I moved into embracing the Marvel Universe further and further. These stalwart, dependable books began to feel a bit staid and tired, like they were just going through the motions. The change, I think, was that I was getting older and my wants and desires were becoming more acute, and these books weren’t keeping up with them. Fortunately, the new Marvel releases I’d started getting were picking up some of that slack and keeping me a comic book reader. I never turned my back on DC like so many others did (on the recess playgrounds of the era, the notion that Marvel was awesome and DC sucked was prevalent) but my interest did wane quite a bit.

Writer Gerry Conway had recently concluded the “Atom’s Quest” storyline in SUPER_TEAM FAMILY that culminated with Ray Palmer’s longtime paramour Jean Loring finally agreeing to marry him–if they knew then what IDENTITY CRISIS and its aftermath would make of this relationship in the years to come, would they have still gone through with it? In any case, Conway carried that plotline over into his JLA run, and so the planning for the Atom’s’ wedding became a running subplot across several issues.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA was still a double-sized book, so Conway was able to fit a lot of story into its pages, ably abetted by his reliable artist Dick Dillin. Dillin’s work was often unsuitably inked, and he would occasionally pose his characters awkwardly, and his technology, robots and stuff, all felt like they came from an earlier era. But he defined the look of the Justice League of America for me since he drew it so consistently for so long–literally up to the moment of his death a few years from here. The story this time out kicks off with the appearance of a second moon in the sky. The additional gravitational pull of this second moon creates problems all across the Earth that the assorted Leaguers need to help to avert.

The the Justice League’s satellite headquarters, several of the League members work out their next course of action. Not knowing where the new moon originated from, Superman and Green Lantern are nonetheless dispatched to move it away from Earth and out into deep space, where it won’t exert a negative gravitational effect on the Earth. Meanwhile, Red Tornado joins Batman in New Delhi, where the Caped Crusader had been tracking down Ra’s Al Ghul but now diverts to cope with the new League situation. Observing them from the shadows are a pair of aliens who seem connected to the appearance of the second moon and who are dismayed that the League may stand in the way of their machinations. The aliens move to steal materials from a nearby secret nuclear reactor, but batman notices them looting the place and drops to the attack. He’s able to waylay one of the aliens but the other gets away with the materials they were stealing–and the first alien crumbles to nothingness in Batman’s grasp.

Meanwhile, Superman and Green Lantern arrive at the New Moon, which they discover is not lifeless at all. What’s more, its biosphere resembles that of Earth as it must have been generations ago. The two heroes are attacked by alien warriors, but they are able to hold their own against the attackers. It turns out that these are not attackers at all, but defenders, believing that the two heroes are enemies. Once communications are established through Green Lantern’s ring, the aliens reveal that if their planet Regina is shifted from its current orbit, all of their people on it will be annihilated. So the situation can’t remain as it is without dooming the Earth, but it can’t be adjusted without dooming Regina.

The Justice League members are active all across the globe, trying to keep a lid on all of the ill-effects that having a second mon in the sky is causing to the biosphere of the Earth. But they’re fighting a delaying action at best, nobody is making headway on the underlying problem because all of the heroes are too busy dealing with the symptoms.

Back on Regina, Superman and Green Lantern learn that this new second moon has always existed above the Earth, simply in another dimension, where it could somehow still be affected by Earth’s gravity but the Earth wasn’t subjected to Regina’s. This science seems dodgy, but we’re just going to go with it. An accident has shifted Regina into our space-time continuum, however, and the results appear to be catastrophic. But Superman and Green Lantern begin to attempt to reconstruct the dimensional transported that caused Regina to enter Earth’s reality–all the while unaware that Governor Fornag’s agents have been dispatched to Earth to ensure that humanity is wiped out, thereby allowing Regina to remain right where it is (and presumably giving them an entirely new planet to colonize as well.)

Back on Earth, Batman and the Red Tornado have pursued the aliens from Regina to a nuclear submarine that they’re attempting to take over–but the two heroes are as overmatched as the crew is, and they are knocked unconscious. The Reginans intend to collected radioactive materials here, at a key spot at the equator, then detonate them in order to poison the planet and kill off the human race. But Batman isn’t quite as out for the count as he seems and he joins in the procession disguised in a Reginan robe as they return via teleportation to Regina. As the device is readied to be deployed, Batman snatches up the control mechanism and takes off, pursued by the assorted Reginan troops.

Unfortunately, before the Reginans can catch Batman he’s able to link up with Superman and Green lantern–and then it’s game over for the aliens, who cannot cope with the League’s mightiest members. And the truth of Regina is revealed–it didn’t always orbit the Earth in a pocket dimension, it actually came from the distant past, propelled through time by the backfire of a weapon it used to destroy another warlike race on the planet whose remains make up the great asteroid belt beyond Mars. This also gives the League the solution to their crisis, and they shift Regina (off-panel, mind you) to the far future after humanity is gone, where they can have the planet all to themselves. And that’s all she wrote for this adventure.

One thought on “BHOC: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #155

  1. There is no less memorable run of 1970s DC comics than the nine or ten JLA issues following Englehart’s run. I’ve read this story probably a half-dozen times in my life, most recently no longer than a month ago, and I couldn’t tell you anything about it right this second f you waterboarded me.

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