Justice League of America #103 (December, 1972)

I may be misremembering, but I have a vague recollection of my fifteen-year-old self looking at this one at the spinner rack back in October, 1972 and thinking, “The Justice League standing around a grave site?  Again?”  After all, it had only been three issues since artist Nick Cardy had built his cover for JLA #100 around a similar idea.  On the other hand, it was October — the spooky season — and what could be spookier than an open grave?  Especially when said grave was being ominously loomed over by… hey, is that the Phantom Stranger?  In an issue of Justice League of America?  Forget about repetitive cover concepts; I couldn’t wait to buy this one and take it home. 

Once I’d done so, and had turned to the comic’s first page, I confirmed that yes, that had indeed been the Stranger on the cover… because here he was again, directly addressing the reader at the beginning of the story, just the way he always did in his own series (which, for anyone who doesn’t already know, had been written for the past year by Len Wein, the same author who’d taken over the scripting duties for JLA with the aforementioned issue #100):

This first page also clued me in that this was going to be another in what comics fans would come to call the “Rutland stories” — comic-book tales which used the real-life Halloween Parade held every year in the small town of Rutland, Vermont as a backdrop.  In the scene above, “Tom” is Tom Fagan — an organizer of the parade who, as a longtime comics fan himself, had made costumed superheroes a prominent feature of the local festivities.  (Your humble blogger is less certain of the identity of “Marty”, but one likely candidate is Martin Griem, a friend of Fagan’s who attended the parade and who years later wrote a “Rutland story” of his own, published in Thunderbunny #5 [Feb., 1986].)

What I may or may not have realized at this point is that JLA #103 was one of three Rutland-set comic books arriving on stands that month — the others being Marvel’s Amazing Adventures #16 and Thor #207.  Both the JLA and Thor issues came out on the same day (Oct. 10th), while AA #16 was released a week later — but though I bought all three, I’m not sure in which sequence I ultimately read them. (Incidentally, those of you out there who generally skip my non-DC blog entries — and I’m pretty sure there are at least a couple such folks — should be advised that this post will be making multiple references to my recent write-ups on those two Marvel books.  And while you shouldn’t have to have read those posts to make sense of this one, it’s only fair to say that having done so may enhance your enjoyment of the following.  That’s often the way it is with crossovers, of course; and as will soon be established, this comic book most definitely is one-third of a crossover.)

Joining Len Wein on creative duties for this story were, naturally, penciller Dick Dillin (whose lengthy term on the title, begun in 1968, would ultimately span twelve years), as well as inker Dick Giordano (whose first full issue this was, his having previously embellished a handful of pages in #102).

A couple of notes here:

Batman is able to vouch for the Phantom Stranger thanks to a couple of previous Brave and the Bold team-ups between the two; the first in issue #89 (Apr.-May, 1970), the second in #98 (Oct.-Nov., 1971).

Hawkman’s “Quiet, archer” remark to Green Arrow, as innocuous as it might seem in this context, is actually the beginning of what Wein would quickly establish as an ongoing personality conflict between the two heroes.  Yes, one might wonder why it had never surfaced before now — but on the other hand, who ever said we readers had been privy to every personal interaction these guys had had over the years?  In any event, this continuing bit would help serve notice to longtime JLA fans that however much Wein’s plotting for the three-issue Justice League-Justice Society-Seven Soldiers of Victory extravaganza that had launched his run might have evoked the aesthetic of the series’ original writer, Gardner Fox, the new guy intended to continue with the more “Marvel-like” approach to characterization that had been brought to the table by Fox’s immediate successor, Denny O’Neil, and continued by Wein’s immediate predecessor, Mike Friedrich.

Faust?!  But he’s still in prison!” protests Superman.  “I put him there myself!”  (Presumably, right after he and Green Lantern had foiled the evil sorcerer’s latest scheme in World’s Finest #201 [Mar., 1971].)  But the Stranger replies that Faust’s prison cell now holds only an “ethereal illusion“, the real Felix having busted himself out some unknown amount of time ago.

His message delivered, PS turns to take his leave.  Not so fast, says GL, who drops a green energy cone over him.  Batman then tells his colleague that he’s likely to be surprised when he raises that cone; and, sure enough, when the Lantern does so, the Stranger has vanished — despite their all being in a highly secure satellite orbiting 2,300 miles above the Earth…

Those of you who have read the two preceding installments of this blog will recognize the four characters whose misadventures in and around Rutland this particular Halloween are at the heart of this “stealth” (i.e., unofficial and unauthorized) crossover between one DC title and two Marvel ones.  But, for those coming in late… in the last panel shown above, we have, left to right: Len Wein (the writer of the very story we’re reading); his then-wife, the once and future Glynis Oliver (colorist of Amazing Adventures #16 and Thor #207); Steve Englehart (writer of AA #16); and Gerry Conway (writer of Thor #207).  For what it’s worth, they’re all wearing the same clothes here that they do in the Marvel stories (save that for whatever reason, in the Marvel Universe Steve’s shirt has no sleeves).

Also worth noting: while the Marvel tales have the other three travelers refer to Gerry’s having attended the Rutland Halloween celebrations previously, they quite understandably don’t mention the specifics of that earlier visit, which Mr. Conway made in the company of his supposed fellow Hudson University students Alan Weiss, Bernie Wrightson, and Dick Grayson — and which was chronicled by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams in Batman #237.

And now, we return to the Justice League of America, who are shown scouring the seemingly peaceful town of Rutland and its environs, looking for “things unworldly… and inhuman…” and coming up short…

A common take on the 1972 Rutland crossover is that the four real-life figures at its center — Len, Glynis, Steve, and Gerry — can actually be tracked from one comic to another, and that their scenes can be read as one straight sequence across the three books (although most commentators are vague about the details*).  Your humble blogger, on the other hand, thinks that the stories read better (or at least more logically) if the adventures of the visitors from New York that appear in each of the crossover’s constituent parts are taken as three different versions of the same events — a sort of Rutland Rashomon, if you will.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that Wein, Englehart, and Conway didn’t attempt to tie their narratives together in a tight sequential fashion — only that if they did so, they didn’t coordinate their efforts closely enough to be successful… so that in the end, “the connection between the stories involved is really more thematic than structural” (to once again quote from Conway’s introduction to the Marvel Masterworks volume reprinting the Thor story).

The scene shown above, where Steve’s crappy Mustang finally arrives in Rutland, and the group is greeted by Tom Fagan, provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate my thesis.  Just compare those two panels with the following three from Thor #207 (script by Conway; art by John Buscema, Vince Colletta, and Marie Severin), which depict the same events:

I’m sorry, y’all, but even allowing for the necessary exchange of Tom’s Batman costume for his Nighthawk one (or vice versa), these two scenes don’t line up in a logical sequence.  Really, doesn’t it make more sense to take them as representing Mr. Wein’s and Mr. Conway’s two differing accounts of the same events?  (“The way I remember it, Len, Tom came to the door dressed as Nighthawk, and he was acting really weird.”  “No, Ger, he was already outside, and he was fine.  Plus, he was wearing his Batman suit.”)

The “Julie” mentioned by Len is of course Julius Schwartz, editor of Justice League of America. — and yes, I suspect that the Earth-Prime Schwartz would indeed have been incredulous if his new writer on that title had told him he’d run into the real JLA in Rutland, VT.  But, to be honest, what I’d truly like to know is how Schwartz reacted when he found out about Wein’s dragging one of his books into an unsanctioned crossover with Marvel Comics.  I mean, I’m sure he was unhappy, but just how unhappy?

With a demonic invasion supposedly imminent, should the Justice Leaguers really be taking the time to participate in a parade?  Probably not; but, hey, the Avengers had done basically the same thing back in the first “Rutland story”, so you can hardly blame Wein for having the nearest DC counterparts to that Marvel team take advantage of this perfect opportunity to show “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” how it’s done.

Besides, who wants to begrudge Batman enjoying himself as much as he’s obviously doing?  Look at him standing there on the float, all smiles… oh, wait, I think Brooding Brucie is about to make a comeback…

For whatever reason, DC seemed more comfortable in clearly depicting the costumes of the other guys’ heroes (in contrast to the Marvel Rutland stories, which either eschewed showing DC character costumes at all, showed them in very long shots and/or partially obscured, or significantly changed the details).  They apparently drew the line at using the Marvel heroes’ actual names, however, and so here we have “Commando America”, while later scenes will feature “Web-Slinger” and “Norse Thundergod”.

Another thing to note here is the oddity of anyone showing up for Halloween dressed as Adam Strange, seeing as how all that guy’s adventures took place on the distant planet of Rann, and would presumably be unknown outside the superhero community.  But, hey, maybe the Earth-One Adam wrote a bestseller about his exploits (just as the Black Label version would almost five decades later), and we just never heard about it.

But to return to our narrative… as the Flash races away from “Adam”, he deduces that “Faust’s demons have to inhabit the bodies of others to survive in our world! — And their magic can make these costumed host-bodies as powerful as the heroes they portray.”  Which, naturally, means that the blasts from “Adam Strange”‘s toy ray-gun might actually kill our Scarlet Speedster, should they connect…

If you’ve read the two previous installments of this blog, then you’re likely unsurprised to discover that “Supergirl” is none other than a demon-possessed Glynis Wein (even if there was never any sign of a blonde wig when Glynis was presenting as “Powergirl” [no, not that one] in the Marvel tales… and also despite the fact that it was Loki who ensorcelled her in those yarns [or at least in Thor #207], and not Felix Faust).

Batman is able to sever some of the “Web-Slinger”‘s lines with a Batarang, but his foe quickly, um, slings some more webs his way.  Luckily, Green Lantern shows up at that moment to intercede, scooping up the webbing with a giant green energy hand.  “Green Lantern!?” exclaims the faux spider-themed hero.  “Then my task is twice as vital…

In JLA #103, we don’t see the actual moment when the guys realize Glynis has gone missing (though we can assume it must have been right around the same time they woke up from the spell of entrancement Faust placed on all the parade spectators back on page 10),  In contrast, both AA #16 and Thor #207 did depict that event.. though in incompatible versions.

Is this the first appearance of the original Captain Marvel, aka “The Big Red Cheese”, in a DC comic book?  Well, not quite, as our proto-cosplayer appeared earlier in the story (see page 9), albeit in a long shot… plus, there was the following full-page house ad, which I and other readers of this comic in its original printing had found ensconced between pages 12 and 13 of our story:

Watch out, Superman!” indeed.  It’s striking that not only this house ad played up the idea that “The World’s Mightiest Mortal!” could be a rival to DC’s flagship hero, but so did Supes’ internal monologue in Wein’s script (“Better show him who’s number one — before he gets too big for his britches!”).  And it’s also ironic, obviously, considering that it was DC’s lawsuit against Captain Marvel’s publisher, Fawcett, for their alleged infringement of DC’s copyright on the Man of Steel, that had driven Cap off the stands in the first place back in the 1950s.

Speaking of britches — I’d guess that the story’s uncredited colorist didn’t realize that the guy wearing a winged colander for a hat was supposed to be costumed as the Earth-Two Flash, Jay Garrick (who, as you may recall, is a comic-book character on Earth-One), rather than the Justice League’s Barry Allen, and that’s why “Jay”‘s pants are red, instead of their proper blue.

As of October, 1972, I had yet to read a single vintage Captain Marvel story, and my knowledge of the character was very limited.  I believe that I had a vague understanding that young Billy Batson said the magic word “Shazam” to become the hero (and even if I hadn’t known that before reading this comic, that house ad for Shazam #1 should have clued me in); but even so, I’m pretty sure that I failed to connect that concept with the faux Cap’s utterance in this scene of “an enchantment that was old when the earth was young” to call down a magic lighting bolt that lays out the Last Son of Krypton.

As in the other two parts of this crossover, when Glynis finally surfaces, she’s unable to tell the guys much about where she’s been — though, naturally, things play out differently in this account than in the alternate versions.  As noted earlier, we’re shown in Thor #207 that she, along with Tom Fagan and a number of others, have been enspelled by Loki; in Amazing Adventures #16, on the other hand, all we’re given to go on is Glynis’ vague comment that she thinks she “had a good time”.

In the climax of Amazing Adventures #16, the Juggernaut attempts to steal Steve’s car, but is stymied when the bucket o’ bolts fails to start.  In contrast, in the epilogue of Thor #207, someone is successful in boosting the vehicle, though we’re never told or shown who.  That’s led a lot of fans to assume that Felix Faust must be the mystery Mustang thief of the Thor story — and although that doesn’t really square with my own “three independent versions of the same narrative” theory of this crossover, I gotta admit, I don’t have a better candidate.

As a big fan of the Phantom Stranger, my fifteen-year-old self was delighted to see him inducted into the Justice League of America; and while I may have been slightly annoyed by the ambiguity that his premature departure conferred on his official membership status (i.e., does it really count if he didn’t formally accept?), as far as I was concerned, the guy was in.

Of course, Len Wein was just getting started with expanding the JLA’s roster; within another three issues, he’d bring in two more brand new Justice Leaguers, both of whom would be appearing with considerably more regularity than the Phantom Stranger ever would.  Naturally, we’ll have to defer further discussion of those new members to future posts (although I’m happy to confirm that neither of them are the character promised in this story’s closing “Next issue” blurb, the Shaggy Man**).


And now, a few last words about the 1972 Rutland Halloween crossover, and the “Rutland stories” in general…

While there would continue to be comic-book stories set in Rutland for years to come, I think it’s fair to say that the phenomenon (if that’s the right word) peaked with the three examples released by DC and Marvel in October, 1972.  To be clear, when I say “peaked”, I’m not referring to creative or artistic achievement; if that’s the criterion, then I think the award pretty clearly goes to Batman #237’s “Night of the Reaper”, by Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, and Dick Giordano.  No, rather, I’m talking about peaking in terms of metatextuality, in-jokes, self-referentiality, and (let’s be honest) self-indulgence — these being the areas that I believe the Rutland stories were about more than they were about anything else; certainly to the creative personnel who produced them, as well as to many of us who read them.

I understand that, to this day, the whole idea of the Rutland stories remains too self-indulgent and insular for some comics fans to be able to enjoy the results, and I get that; we all have our own natural level of tolerance for these kinds of shenanigans, and that’s fine.  As far as your humble blogger is concerned, however, these comics are and always have been a lot of fun.  No, I wouldn’t want to read a Rutland-type story every single month, but once (or twice, or thrice) a year, for Halloween?  It was then, and still is now, more treat than trick.

These stories — the three from 1972, in particular — also provide a special window into the outlook of the new generation of comics creators who would soon come to dominate the industry (and who in some respects were already doing so).  By and large, they saw a wider range of possibilities in storytelling than most of those who’d preceded them; and while they respected the history of their chosen art form, they had less regard for convention or authority than previous generations.  Finally, they weren’t particularly concerned about who amongst their peer group was currently working for DC or for Marvel, realizing (correctly) that those particular professional associations could, and probably would, change over time.  And in any case, such considerations shouldn’t keep a group of friends from getting together and having a good time by putting together a “stealth crossover”.

That less regimented, more anarchic attitude towards comic-book making would lead to its own share of problems in the years to come, of course.  But it would also result in the production of many, if not most, of the comics that would keep me engaged as a reader through my adolescence and into my early adulthood… the same comics that are the ones most likely to keep me engaged in writing posts for this blog, once or twice a week, for however long the enterprise may continue.

 

*Most, but not all.  For an especially thorough attempt at a “reading order” for the whole crossover, check out the show notes for the October 30, 2020 episode of “Comic Books and Cold Ones”, from podcasters KMac and Yek.

**Is it merely a coincidence that the title of the JLA story that follows the Rutland Halloween crossover plays off the very same James Whitcomb Riley poem that the title of the Amazing Adventures third of the crossover itself does?  Who knows?

30 comments

  1. Pingback: Justice League of America #103 (December, 1972) — Attack of the 50 Year Old Comic Books – jetsetterweb
  2. DontheArtistformerlyknownasfrodo628 · October 22

    Nicely done, Alan. And yep, as I suspected, I do remember reading this Rutland story as opposed to the other two and the memory of that reading, fifty years ago, is probably what makes it my favorite of the three.

    I’m assuming Dillin and Giordano did the caricatures of our writer friends themselves as opposed to calling in Marie Severin or someone else? Regardless, the continuity between the different iterations of the “fab four” is pretty good, so I’m assuming a character design sheet made it’s way between the Marvel and DC offices. I like the joke that Steve has a crappy car, but that’s a terrible way to treat an American classic, folks. Can you imagine what Juggernaut alone did to the suspension? Dude must weigh a ton…

    As far as the other continuity issues between the three stories go, I don’t think they would have bothered me then and they certainly don’t bother me now. I think the creators probably realized that there was no way to make all the pieces fit perfectly from one story to the next and didn’t try terribly hard to make them do so.

    Here’s a question: in the original Captain Marvel universe, which fifty years ago, we were about to see fold into the larger DCU, was the “Shazam” magic word commonly known? Enough so that either Faust or some bozo dressed up as Marvel would know it? And are we really supposed to believe Faust’s spell is strong enough to make the word work and for the blast to be strong enough to take Supes out? That was some spell…

    Finally, all of a sudden on pg 13 and at the top of pg 14, Hawkman refers to our mysterious guest star as “Phantom Stranger.” And then Batman and Superman do it again around pg 23. How did they know his name? Batman didn’t introduce him or call him by name, in fact, hardly anyone ever calls him Phantom Stranger, even in his own book! I know it just comic books, but that stuck out to me.

    Oh, I loved the OG Flash helmet made out of a colander. Classic.

    As sort of an aside to this post, I just happened to see the Black Adam movie last night and it was odd seeing the cinematic Hawkman last night and then his comic book counterpart so unexpectedly this morning. Ditto with the Shazam references. Nothing major to comment on. It was just an odd sense of deja vu.

    Happy Halloween, everyone. May the Great Pumpkin bless you all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alan Stewart · October 22

      “Here’s a question: in the original Captain Marvel universe, which fifty years ago, we were about to see fold into the larger DCU, was the “Shazam” magic word commonly known?” That’s a good question, especially considering that Cap and co. were on Earth-S back in the pre-Crisis days. Maybe their adventures appeared in comic books on Earth-One, the same way that the Earth-Two JSA’s did?

      Liked by 2 people

    • Cornelius Featherjaw · October 22

      At the very least, Sivana and Mr. Mind knew how Billy became Captain Marvel. I don’t know if the magic word was general knowledge though.

      Like

  3. frasersherman · October 22

    I like Batman’s “I know this … man.” When the Stranger appears.
    This was the only part of the crossover I caught. I’d just started reading Marvel again when it put out a Doc Savage book, then extended to the Avengers but no further at the time. So it’s interesting to read your coverage on all three.
    This story didn’t entirely work for me. It’s well done but it felt more like a Phantom Stranger story — doomed guest cast, the Stranger intervenes to save them — than JLA. Possibly the odd storytelling rhythms induced by the crossover mattered too.
    On Captain Marvel vs. Superman: when Otto Binder wrote the Big Red Cheese riff Zha-Vam (lightning of Zeus, strength of Hercules, invulnerability of Achilles, etc.) in the late 1960s, there’s one point where Superman has to save the world by conceding Zha-Vam is more powerful than he could ever be. Given Binder’s long association with Captain Marvel, I can’t help thinking that’s a meta-commentary. I blogged about the Zha-Vam three parter here: https://atomicjunkshop.com/say-his-name-and-even-superman-shakes/

    Liked by 1 person

  4. frednotfaith2 · October 22

    Another great write-up to conclude this sly crossover trilogy. Did do some research on Tom Fagan and found that he was born in 1931 and died in 2008 and had begun the Halloween parades in 1960, just a couple of years after DC had gotten the Silver Age up and running but about a year before Lee & Kirby unleased Fantastic Four #1, launching Marvel’s rebirth as a player in the field.
    Back to the mag, rather fun to see the JLA take on ersatz versions of Cap, Spidey & Thor. Almost surprised DC management allowed it to happen with the fairly accurate costumes, but then they had already allowed Neil Adams to do it in the Batman story of the year before.
    Also fun is comparing the versions of Len, Glyn, Steve & Gerry as depicted by Marie Serverin and as by Dicks Dillin & Giordiano in this issue. Len, with his very curly hair and van dyke beard & mustache comes out as the most easily distinct but Steve also appears very much the same in both versions, even with the variation in his shirt. Gerry & Glynnis don’t look quite as much the same under the opposite art teams but close enough. I noticed Tom Fagan looks much older as depicted in the Marvel stories than in the DC ones — he would’ve only been in his early 40s in the early 1970s, and at DC that’s what he looked like, with dark hair, but for whatever reason he looked to be more in his late 50s, with entirely silver hair, at Marvel; I have no idea if Fagan’s hair was already gray or peppery by 1972 when he would have been 41. The woes of Steve’s poor old car in this and A.A. #16 were also wryly amusing. Two super baddies tried to steal it twice in one night but neither got far at all and we’re left to wonder if the frantic four made it back to the Big Apple in that jalopy. Even despite their exploits in all three mags didn’t exactly match up, still a fun romp and a nice sort of tribute to fandom as it was in the era, when a middle-aged fan, old enough to have gotten into comicbook superheroes from the very start, could start an unofficial celebration of them and fans and creators could mingle dressed in costumes of characters, world-famous or relatively obscure, from DC and Marvel and other firms, just to have a good time.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Cornelius Featherjaw · October 22

    What ever happened to the old witch who was prophesying the Justice League’s deaths at the beginning, anyway? Was that Felix Faust in drag?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alan Stewart · October 22

      Good question!

      Like

    • frasersherman · October 24

      Maybe she’s just the old witch of Rutland, as she appears to be. It makes a certain amount of sense that the DCU (or the MU) would have people like that around.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Brian Morrison · October 23

    I really enjoyed this one back in 1972. It was the only one in the trilogy that I bought back in the day, so it came as a total surprise to me to find out last Saturday that it was part of something bigger.

    When the December DC’s arrived in my local spinner racks I couldn’t find a copy of it so thought I was going t miss out on it. I finally found and bought it in as branch of R S McCall (a Scottish newsagent chain) in Inverness just before Christmas. My brother had started Agricultural college in the preceding October and first first few months were spent on placement on a farm just north of Inverness. My mum was going up to bring him home for the holiday season and I knew that she would be stopping in Inverness for shopping and that that would give me the opportunity to search out shops that stocked comics and try to find ones that I had missed nearer to home. I remember the elation when I found it and gazed on the cover for the first time.

    Like you Alan, I saw the parallels with the cover of JLA 100 but that didn’t worry me at all, I was just happy to have found it. When I opened the covers I was delighted with the art, I felt that Giordano’s inking complemented Dillon’s pencils much better than Joe Giella’s, giving the characters a more three dimensional feeling.

    I’m fairly certain I worked out who Len and Glynis were at the time but less sure if I knew who Gerry and Steve were. I don’t think by this time Gerry had written anything for DC that I had read but I knew and liked Steve Engelhart’s output in The Avengers but I’m not sure that I made the connection.

    I had no idea who the original Captain Marvel was – and no way of finding out in rural Scotland in 1972, but my curiosity and appetite were well peaked as I anticipated the coming of Shazam in a couple of months. Looking at your header bar Alan, I can see we are in for a number of treats in the coming months!

    Liked by 2 people

    • frasersherman · October 24

      I’m like you — I knew Len Wein’s work and I could figure out Glynis was his wife but I assumed Gerry and Steve were just Some Dudes.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. klt83us · October 24

    One of my favorite Justice League of America stories from the original run. The birth of the Hawkman-Green Arrow feud, a Batman-Phantom Stranger reunion and the inclusion of the writer, his wife and future JLA writers into the story. Coincidentally, Steve Englehart would get the most use of the Phantom Stranger as a JLA member. But that’s a few years down the road.

    Liked by 2 people

    • frasersherman · October 24

      Wein later said that the Phantom Stranger in this story unambiguously rejected JLA membership so everyone who treated him as a member got it wrong. But in JLA 110 by Wein, the Stranger says he’s a JLA member so Wein clearly got it wrong. In fairness, it can’t be that easy to remember a story you wrote 40 years earlier or what was going on in your head.

      Like

      • Alan Stewart · October 24

        I found this panel from near the end of the lead story in JLA #110… it seems like the Stranger’s appearance there was actually a bit more nuanced:

        So maybe Mr. Wein remembered pretty well after all.

        Like

        • frasersherman · October 24

          Checked the story myself and you’re right. Contrary to my memory the Stranger says nothing about being a JLA member.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. klt83us · October 24

    I am struggling to drop the image in here but in Justice League 146, there’s an exchange between Green Arrow and the Phantom Stranger:

    “Did you say something Stranger?”

    “I am a member of the Justice League, am I not?”

    If you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend JLA 145-146, arguably the peak of Steve Englehart’s run.

    Liked by 1 person

    • frasersherman · October 24

      You are right, and that’s the scene I misremembered in JLA 110. Wein’s point was that his stories never showed the Stranger accepting membership so Englehart (and anyone else who saw him as a member) was wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Alan Stewart · October 24

      Steve Englehart’s run on JLA is probably my favorite, or at least a close second to Grant Morrison’s.

      As best as I can determine, the only way to include an image in a comment is by providing a URL; there doesn’t seem to be any provision for uploading a file.

      Like

        • Brian Morrison · October 25

          Changing the subject totally, I read JLA #146 45 years ago but didn’t remember that the league had a rule stating that members had to have different powers. Does anyone know if it had been previously or subsequently mentioned or referred to? It was something that I was very familiar with from the Legion of Super-Heroes (an organisation in the future that Superman had been a member of in his past!) but wasn’t aware of it for the JLA.

          Like

          • frasersherman · October 25

            Neither group had that rule in the Silver Age. The JLA didn’t admit Hawkgirl in JLA 31 because they only admit one member at a time, not because they ban duplication. And the Legion was perfectly happy to have both Lightning Lad and LIghtning Lass as members before she got the reboot into Light Lass. I think the JLA rule was made up in the early 1970s.

            Liked by 1 person

          • klt83us · October 25

            I read every JLA story from Brave and the Bold issues to (sigh) Gerry Conway’s Justice League Detroit storyline. That duplication of powers thing was news to me, too.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Mike Smith · October 24

    I did remembered the Lois Lane version of the Monkey’s Paw story in the reprint in the 1970 Lois Lane Giant issue, and they did have a unauthorized appearance of the Big Red Cheese in the Splash Panel.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lar Gand · October 25

    When I read this issue back in the day, I had no idea that Rutland was a real place (sorry Vermonters but it sounds like a made up name), much less a recurring locale at both DC and Marvel. Over the years, I caught on, but I’ve learned a great deal more from this illuminating analysis.

    As far as the story, this may be my favorite Len Wein JLA tale. Like most of his run, it’s a simple one & done, but filled with fun moments:
    — loved the Phantom Stranger casually breaching the JLA’s orbiting HQ
    — surprised and delighted at the authenticity of the Marvel “guest stars”, particularly Thor’s hammer busting through GL’s ring construct
    — unfamiliar at the time with Captain Marvel, I was both perplexed and fascinated by the “enchantment that was old when the world was young” and the magic lightning attack (a tactic Mark Waid later employed in Kingdom Come)

    The cover is probably my favorite Nick Candy JLA cover. Love the eerie, non-corporeal feel of the Stranger in the background. And while the graveyard subject matter repeats JLA 100, the composition more closely mirrors the previous issue, with an array of heroes reacting to a central figure making a dire pronouncement.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Stu Fischer · October 26

    I’m almost positive that I did not read this comic in 1972 and that I read it for the first time now. Very enjoyable. I did know who the original Captain Marvel was at this time from Jim Streanko’s History of Comics (which I lost in the Agnes flood grrrrr). However, I WAS surprised when I first found out that the “magic word” for Billy Batson to become Captain Marvel was Shazam because, up to that point, I thought that THIS was the origin and character of Shazam (or in this case, “Shazzam”). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jytJNTtToHI

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Stu Fischer · October 26

    It would have been very funny if someone would have stopped “Len Wein” in Rutland and congratulated him on his Cain the Caretaker costume.

    Liked by 1 person

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