Friday, September 11, 2009

Justice League of America #75

Justice League of America #75 (On Sale: September 11, 1969) has a cover by Murphy Anderson.

Inside we have "In Each Man There is a Demon" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin and Joe Giella. The story is told by both Green Arrow and Black Canary and continues the changes started last issue and in Brave and the Bold #85. Green Arrow relates how his finances were ruined through the use of forged documents and while wondering the streets as Oliver Queen he finds a man in need and as Green Arrow saves the day. But as in the Brave and the Bold issue, he is plagued by indecision and wonders if Green Arrow is needed.

Black Canary then relates how after the death of her husband, Larry Lance, she accepted Superman's offer to move to Earth 1, where Superman wanted to immediately make her a member of the Justice League. Hawkman however, argued that given that she was just a judo expert, that that was not enough of a power to allow her in the JLA. Canary becomes upset at the JSA'ers for talking about her like she wasn't in the room and as she speaks up to voice her complaint she emits a sonic shock-wave that knocks the JLA members on their respective behinds!

Meanwhile, Green Arrow goes to see another psychiatrist (he and Batman both saw one in Brave and the Bold #85) for his identity issues, a Dr. Oyal, who has invented a machine called the ID-Actualizer which can dig down into a person's subconscious and reveal who they really wish to be. Ollie tries out the machine but once it is turned on a ghostly green version of Green Arrow emerges from his body, saying that he is "the Real Green Arrow-- the warrior who live within Oliver Queen's body," and attacks the Dr.

Back at JLA headquarters Superman and the Atom have determined that Black Canary is an "instant mutant," that one of Aquarius's spells altered the structure of Black Canary's nervous system giving her the ability to emit ultra-sonic waves. This will eventually become known as her "Canary Cry." Just then the ghostly green Green Arrow burst into the headquarters and as he touches the members of the JLA green ghostly versions of themselves erupt from their bodies, all except Superman, and calling themselves the "evil that lives within you" they begin to rip apart the JLA HQ. Superman tries to stop them, but as they are being of magical power (most likely created by another of Aquarius's spells), he is powerless against them.

The JLA become despondent over the thought of having to fight their evil selves when suddenly a ghostly green Superman appears and dares Superman to face his own evil self. Superman says he is up to the challenge and eventually defeats his evil doppelganger. The others take courage from Superman's action and head off the face their own evil twins. After they leave Superman reveals that his "evil ghost" was actually a Superman robot, that he was not affected by Aquarius's spell, but that he knew he needed to do something to snap the group out of their funk.

One by one the JLA track down their evil twins and defeat them. However, when Green Arrow finds his twin, the story is different. He catches his twin robbing a jewelery store. His twin says that he is not Queen's evil side, he is his true side, "...underneath, you were always Oliver Queen -- much, much more interested in wealth than heroism! Can you deny it?" Queen says he can't and throws down his bow and arrows and walks away, but the owner's of the jewelery store confront him and plead with him to help. "We're poor, plain fold...we don't count for much! Still, we always figured you were different! We figured you...cared! And heaven knows people like us need somebody to care!"

Oliver faces his twin, saying that there is a better part to him and that he cannot let that part die. They face off with arrows and Green Arrow is shot in the leg, while his twin shrinks back into Oliver's body just as the other twins return to their original hosts. The JLA is once again contaminated with evil, just like the rest of mankind. Green Arrow and Black Canary are left still at crossroads, their old lives are over and their new lives are on the horizon. This is the beginning of a couple that has stood the test of time.

Reprinted in Best of DC #31, Justice League of America Archives Vol. 9 HC, Justice League of America Hereby Elects… TPB, Green Arrow/Black Canary:For Better or For Worse TPB and Showcase Presents: Justice League of America Vol. 4 TPB.

One final note: In the letters page is a letter by Alan Brennert, who went on to be one of my favorite writers at DC though he only wrote nine stories. I still remember them to this day. Last year my wife read Brennert's novel Moloka'i in her book club.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.


Jay Amabile said...

this cover is awesome. Black Canary knows how to rock those fishnets...

-Keller said...

Or as Tom Waits puts it, "Fishnet stockings, spike-heeled shoes, striptease, prick tease, car keys blues."

Sharon said...

There's more to this story than meets the eye. Back in 1969, Roy Thomas (the then-Avengers writer)and Denny O'Neil planned a "secret crossover" of the JLA and the Avengers. So Roy created the Squadron Sinister characters: Hyperion, Dr. Prism, etc....clearly modeled on Superman, Green Lantern, etc. Roy's take on the JLA--the Squadron--appeared in Avengers #70 (Nov. 1969).

But O'Neil seems to have gotten cold feet and instead of creating Avenger clones in the corresponding Nov. 1969 JLA issue (JLA #75), he did the crossover in a much more subtle way--so subtle it's basically undetectable! In JLA #75, the JLAers are battling their doppelgangers. But look closely: Batman is fighting another Batman who uses a garbage can cover as a weapon (this is supposed to be a reference to Captain America's shield). Hawkman battles a Hawkman who says he will "repulse" his foe (Iron Man repulsor ray reference). The fake Atom can grow like a veritable "Goliath" (reference to the Avengers' Hank Pym/Goliath). So this "crossover", at least on the JLA side, was a real stretch.