Friday, December 11, 2009

Justice League of America #78

Justice League of America #78 (On Sale: December 11, 1969) has a more than slightly misleading, though nicely-drawn cover by Gil Kane.

We begin with "The Coming of the Doomsters" by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin and Joe Giella. In Star City Green Arrow assists a night watchman at a factory on the docks shooting it out with a group of armed thugs, using a Flare Arrow to throw some light on the situation. When the arrow hits the water it erupts in flames and Arrow signals for some JLA assistance. Answering the call is Green Lantern and Superman who make quick work of the flames now threatening the city. Once the fire is out they disburse, not hearing the plea of the watchman to talk about something that the watchman says may hold the key to the future of the entire human race.

Green Lantern and Superman take Green Arrow to, well, to New York (not called by name of course) to the top of the building which houses DC Comics (also not called by name of course) to show him the Thanagarian relativity beam system (think Star Trek-like transporter device) which the JLA has installed there. Superman explains that since their headquarters was compromised by the Joker in Justice League of America #777, they have built a new headquarters and Green Arrow in now standing in the doorway. The transporter energizes and Green Arrow is teleported to the new JLA satellite headquarters 23,300 miles above New York in a geosynchronous orbit, where the rest of the team is waiting for him.

The JLA are to appear at a charity event that night and down earthside the watchman is making his way toward it when he is the victim of a drive-by shooting. He avoids the gunfire though and returns his own, blowing out a car tire and sending the car into a pole. When the thugs extract themselves from the wrecked car, the watchman is gone, but they now think they know where he is going and their conversation makes it clear that they are not from Earth.

Meanwhile, at the charity event the JLA are introducing the crowd to Black Canary when the watchman arrives, followed closely by the two goons from the car. Canary attacks using her judo and Green Lantern protects her from the goons' alien weapons. As the thugs go down Superman jumps on their bodies shielding everyone from the self-destruct blast of the thugs, now revealed as androids of some sort. The watchman grabs the alien weapons and he and the JLA retire to a more private facility, their orbiting headquarters.

The watchman explains how he was hired on by the new factory in town and was assaulted by the amount of pollution the thing put out. When he asked workers what they were producing, no one seemed to know. The watchman soon realized that the product the factory was making was pollution and he stole some papers proving it. Some "men" from the factory chased him and that is where Green Arrow found him. The watchman introduces himself as Greg Sanders, who used to go by the name of the Vigilante, but gave up that life years ago. Now of course, since the Vigilante from the Golden Age was from Earth 2, this is actually the first appearance of this character. So, not only has Denny O'Neil given us the new JLA headquarters this issue, he has introduced a new DC character as well.

The stolen paperwork includes a star map and Superman and Green Lantern head off to explore that end of the story. The rest of the JLA head off to the factory, except for Green Arrow who wants to have a "conversation" with the Star City City Manager, where it seems the City Manager knows the factory only makes pollution and doesn't care as it provides jobs and taxes and that is all that matters. He has Green Arrow thrown in jail Personal aside here: as the husband of an ex-City Manager, the person you might find with that sort of attitude would be a Mayor, i.e., a politician, not a City Manager, who is governed by a whole set of ethics that politicians know nothing of.

Meanwhile the rest of the JLA have made a quick stop at a western goods store and purchased the makings of a new Vigilante costume. Along with that and the alien guns, the Vigilante is back in business. While at the same time on the alien world pointing at by the stolen paperwork Green Lantern and Superman find a desolate destroyed ash-can of a planet where once a vibrant civilization existed.

At the factory the JLA and the Vigilante are confronted and eventually overwhelmed by the alien automatons. As we leave for the month they are being lowered into vats of bubbling, noxious death! This tale has been reprinted in Justice League of America Archives Vol. 9 HC and Showcase Presents:Justice League of America Vol. 4 TPB.

The back-up story is "The Man Who Hated Science!" by Jack Miller and John Giunta and reprinted from Mystery In Space #6.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

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