Friday, July 24, 2009

Justice League of America #74

Justice League of America #74 (On Sale: July 24, 1969) has a cover by Neal Adams.

"Where Death Fears to Tread" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin and Sid Greene continues from the previous issue. Banished living star, Aquarius, got hold of Starman's Cosmic Rod and used it to wipe out of existence all of Earth-Two, except for a sextet of Justice Society members. who along with Black Canary's husband, Larry Lance, are trapped in a mystic sphere of Dr. Fate's creation and the android hero Red Tornado who escaped to Earth-One and is now bringing back the Justice League.

I need to stop here for just a moment to discuss foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is a literary device where the author drops hints or clues early on in a story, the more innocuous and seemingly unimportant the better, only to have those hints come back later on as a key component in solving whatever predicament arises in the story. For foreshadowing to work, there has to be somewhat of a slight-of-hand going on, the reader must take in the information but not realize it has any importance. What Denny O'Neil does next is a bit of foreshadowing, but it is so clumsily handled that anyone reading the story can see it for what it is and it takes away something from a story that is of classic importance. Yeah, this is a classic issue for a couple of reasons, as you will soon see, but what you are going to see first is a really fumbled attempt at foreshadowing.

As the JLA traverse the dimensions between Earth-One and Earth-Two, most of the member are protected by Green Lantern's ring. Right before they complete the journey, Green Lantern makes sure he avoids the negative matter universe, whose entrance just happens to be right there, along the inter-dimensional path the heroes travel. Oy!

Aquarius is growing bored with the JSA heroes and is contemplating finishing them off when the JLA heroes pop up. Needing time to figure out what is going on, Aquarius places a mesmeric command in the air and then disappears. Seeing Aquarius flee, Dr. Fate relaxes his energy bubble and when he does so Aquarius's command to "Destroy the Intruders!" takes hold.

We are then treated to a fairly interesting eight-page fight between the JSA and the JLA. The only really important part of this fight is when Green Arrow hits Black Canary with a "stickum arrow" which covers her in a gloppy mess, adhering her to the ground (OK, since Earth-Two and everyone on it have been destroyed I have no idea to what "ground" she is stuck, but she is.). The important thing to remember is that she is stuck and can't move. OK, there is one other important thing, Green Lantern of Earth-One has used his ring to find Aquarius and bring him to the JLA.

Aquarius fights off Green Lantern's energy beams and sends some of his own back in Lantern's direction. The beams of energy coalesce into a huge multi-hued sphere, but Aquarius's aim is a little off and instead of heading for Green Lantern the sphere is heading for Black Canary. Canary's husband, Larry Lance, senses the danger to his wife and does the only thing he can think of to save her, he jumps in front of the sphere and shields her body with his own...and it kills him!

The energy released by the exploding sphere releases the JSA from the murderous command of Aquarius and it also restores Earth-Two and everyone on it, but it kills Black Canary's husband. A few hours later the combined heroes bury Larry Lance and Aquarius shows up and laughs at the anguish of the heroes.

The heroes attack Aquarius and the Green Lanterns are able to taunt Aquarius into following them in the negative matter universe where their rings protect them, but Aquarius is destroyed.
The threat ended the JLA say their good-byes and prepare to return to Earth-One, but before they leave, Black Canary, saying she can't stand the thought of living in a world full of memories of Larry, asks if she can go with them to Earth-One. Superman picks her up and the first of the Golden Age DC characters moves from Earth-Two to Earth-One. This has been reprinted in Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 2 TPB, Justice League of America Archives Vol. 9 HC and Showcase Presents: Justice League of America Vol. 4 TPB.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

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