Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Justice League of America #77

Justice League of America #77 (On Sale: October 28, 1969) has a cover by Murphy Anderson and the first appearance of the JLA headshot line up along the left edge. This would of course become a familiar addition to the JLA covers for some time to come.

"Snapper Carr -- Super-Traitor" is by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin and Joe Giella. While walking down the street one evening, Snapper Carr is assaulted by a group of men, who seem upset that he is friends with the JLA. Snapper is rescued by John Dough, the most normal man in America. Meanwhile, back in JLA headquarters, Green Arrow is trying to help Black Canary tame her Canary Cry, but the destructive waves seem to go in the opposite direction Canary is trying to send them.

When Batman and the Atom go to investigate an alarm set off by one of the JLA, they find Snapper, who along with John Dough attacks them using laughing gas. As they subdue both heroes, John Dough reminds Snapper that he is working for the greater good of average Americans. Does this line of idiotic thought remind anyone of a certain Presidential campaign from last year?

When Batman awakens he finds himself with John Dough, tied up and wearing an oxygen mask. Dough explains that Batman will watch on a monitor the destruction of the JLA and that as soon as Dough leaves, the chamber he is in will be filled with poisonous gas, which is the reason for the mask. Meanwhile, the Atom is back at JLA headquarters and explains what happened and that he woke up alone. Superman points to a newspaper which discusses John Dough's popularity as "Mr. Average" and how he is gaining followers all over the country. Though the JLA are not average people, Flash says that they use their extraordinary powers toward the cause of justice for all, while Atom says that he doesn't blame average people for distrusting super-heroes. Green Arrow says that's "Baloney" and that the human race has progressed enough to accept people who are different. Batman shows up to say that Arrow will have chance to prove that as they have all been invited to a John Dough rally that night.

Batman goes on to explain that he had a talk with Dough and that Snapper just got "carried away" with things. Batman has passes fro all of the JLA except Black Canary who he doesn't seem to know. Of course the real Batman is watching this all happen from his gas-filled chamber. That night as the crowd fills the stadium for a debate between the JLA and John Dough we see Dough aims a large machine which he says will stimulate the crowd's parasympathetic nervous systems, making them jumpy and ready to believe anything.

Snapper speaks first for Dough, saying how super-heroes are harmful and that we have become too dependent on them and that we have forgotten how to fight our own battles. In the crows a group of men attack Black Canary because she is much better looking than most and therefore, not normal. As the JLA jump to her rescue they are one by one beset by problems: The Flash is woozy and can't control his speed, Green Lantern can't concentrate and control his will, Superman feels slow and stupid, Green Arrow can't remember which arrow does what.

The JLA all leave and a special Senate subcommittee is called to investigate John Dough's charge that the JLA caused a riot at the stadium. Batman escapes John Dough's chamber in time to unmask the Batman testifying at the Senate as John Dough. Dough uses fire grenades to mask his escape while the JLA saves the Senate. They capture Snapper Carr and ask him why he helped sabotage them with the tickets to the debate that contained tiny transmitters while interfered with their nervous systems? Snapper says that he was tired of being the JLA mascot and that no one liked him for himself. Also, he says that he believed Dough, that the JLA are too different from the rest of the world. Green Arrow tries to straighten him out on that line of thinking.

Batman says he knows where to find John Dough and who he really is, that he is hiding in their headquarters. They confront Dough and Canary is able to use her Canary Cry to take Dough down. Batman unmasks Dough as the Joker. This story was reprinted in Justice League of America Archives Vol. 9 HC, JLA: The Greatest Stories Ever Told TPB and Showcase Presents: Justice League of America Vol. 4 TPB.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.