DigestCast #5 – Justice League of America

It’s the fifth episode of DIGESTCAST, and Shag and Rob take a look at BEST OF DC BLUE RIBBON DIGEST #31: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, the all-membership issue! See how Black Canary, Elongated Man, Red Tornado, and Zatanna joined the team!

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20 responses to “DigestCast #5 – Justice League of America

  1. FYI: In circus terms, I believe the paper-covered hoop was referred to as a “balloon”…

    Also, Hawkgirl first insisted that she be called “Hawkwoman” (because “the connotations of the word ‘girl’ on Earth do not please [her]”) in World’s Finest v1 issue 272.

    1. You sure about it being called a balloon, I was fairly sure in this case name wise they just went with the KISS principle and called it a paper hoop. Could be wrong.

    2. Another fun show, and wow, what a nice digest: great theme, and a nice selection of stories. And looking over the art samples, I have to say it was nice to be reminded of what a fantastic team Dillon and Giordano made.
      By the way, as far as Firestorm is concerned, I think that besides the fact that his first JLA outing was a 2-parter, he might have been left out because he had only joined the team less than 2 years before this digest was published – the editors may have thought that it wasn’t far back enough in the JLA’s history.

  2. I don’t know where I heard it but heard the same story Shag mentioned, E-Man was created because they didn’t know they could use Plastic Man.

    1. Great discussion of one of my favorite digests (which I still own!). I really enjoyed Ralph’s introduction on the Flash TV series this wee. They even included a “Plastic Man” mention plus the classic Dibny nose twitch.

      I’d love to hear you guys talk the Elongated Man miniseries by Mike Parobeck sometime. Lots of fun in that!

      1. I was so confused by this. When Barry called Ralph Plastic Man. I assumed they where making the character into some strange amalgamation of Elongated Man and Plastic Man. Is that the case, or is he actually intended to be Elongated Man, with a slightly shadier past?

    2. Hey, Paul! I mentioned it in passing on the latest episode of PLASTICAST, but it’s a story that’s been floating around for a while. Unfortunately, it also might be too good to be true.

      Supposedly, then-DC editor Julius Schwartz wanted a character like Plastic Man, not knowing or remembering that DC had acquired the character (along with the rest of Quality Comics’ stable) back in 1956. This led to John Broome’s and Carmine Infantino’s Elongated Man making his debut in Flash #112 in 1960. (The same legend says The Atom was created the same way, as a substitute for Doll Man.)

      Sadly, all that might be apocryphal. Brian Cronin wrote about it for his Comic Book Legends Revealed column, and concluded that while it’s possible Schwartz may or may not have known DC owned the rights to Plas, it probably didn’t have any real effect on the creation of Elongated Man one way or the other. And fellow Fire & Water network host Xum Yukinori pointed out a quote from The Life and Art of Murphy Anderson (TwoMorrows, 2003) that may be the origin of the legend. In the interview Anderson says:

      “I used to razz Julie over two characters that they came up with at DC. Not knowing that DC owned these old Quality characters — and Julie’ll deny it, I guess, and say that they wanted to do something different — but they came up with the Elongated Man instead of Plastic Man, and they came up with the Atom instead of Doll Man. They could have resurrected either of these two characters back then right out of there own stable.”

      So there you go — a solid, “Who really knows?” Either way, it’s a great story.

      Here’s a link to that Comic Book Legends Revealed column: https://www.cbr.com/comic-book-legends-revealed-507/amp/

      Thanks for the great episode of DIGESTCAST, guys! And thanks for listening, everyone!

  3. Great digest. I am a sucker for these JLA issues where someone joins of quits.

    But I am especially a fan of the Zatanna issue. This is one of my all time favorite issues, for some reason fascinating me as a kid. That’s why this is the Zatanna costume I like best! And it is why I am such a fan of the Warlock of Ys (remember that from the Who’s Who discussion?). And Superman’s cover scream about her destroying the votes is classic!

    And I think this is the perfect segue to Siskoid finally covering the romance of Kathy Sutton and Red Tornado on The Lonely Hearts!!

  4. This is one of my personal favorites, because it again hits that DC history button with me. This was the first time I saw an “old” JLA story, or a Silver Age one. Interesting how different Dillin’s artwork is from the first story to the rest. You can see him go from the DC Silver Age house style of guys like Infantino, Swan, Kane and Anderson to a more illustrative, Neal Adams-like approach in just a matter of pages.

    One thing about that first story from JLA #75; it was the first unofficial DC/Marvel crossover. Notice odd things like the evil green Atom trying to grow into a GIANT Man, and evil green Batman throwing a trash can like a shield, etc? This was Denny O’Neil’s VERY subtle, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it approach to making the evil analogs also analogs of…the Avengers!

    Over in Avengers around this time, Roy Thomas took that ball and scored a touchdown with…the Squadron Supreme (or the Squadron Sinister at that time, I think). DC and Marvel would later do this again and we’d get the Heroes of Angor in JLA while the Squadron reappeared in Avengers.

    I actually had the original Zatanna induction issue, so this was one of the few digest reprint stories I doubled-up on, outside of the “Year’s Best” issues. I always thought the Warlock of YS would have been a great way to explain away Hal becoming Parallax, before Geoff Johns sorted that all out in Rebirth.

    Great show guys! I love the Digest Casts!

    Chris

  5. I’m also a fan of new member/recruitment drive stories. Though, I’m more familiar with the recruitment drives in Morrison’s JLA, which brought characters like Steel and Oracle on to the team.

    It’s a shame that DC has stopped bringing new member into the League, since the New 52 began. I know they held one recruitment drive, but I don’t think any of the new members remained on the team for more than a couple of issues. I guess one could count Mera as a new member of the current League, but I suspect she’ll leave once Arthur returns. It would be nice, if they both stayed on together. They could become the Hawkman and Hawkwoman of the Rebirth era.

    By they way, Shag was correct regarding my comment from Episode 4.5. I was referring to the Heroes Return period in Avengers.

  6. Naturally, I’d read JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #75 where Black Canary joins the team years ago in some reprint fashion or another, Archive collection or digital. I finally got a floppy copy of the issue last year in Dublin, Ireland of all places while vacationing before Christmas. It might be the oldest single comic book issue I have in my collection.

    As for the Zatanna story, yes, it’s really weird. It helps to read it after GREEN LANTERN #42, the fourth part of Zatanna’s search for her father, which Nicholas Prom and I covered on POWER OF FISHNETS episode 7. That story sets up the Warlock of Ys and his connection to Zatanna and Hal. I’m not saying it fixes the problems of JLA #161, but it makes sense of some of it.

    And tell Dr. Anj not to worry. When I cover this story eventually on POF, he will be my guest host.

  7. Due to my personal preferences I like Gil Kane’s homage better than Neal Adams’ original cover so much that I can even overlook Red Tornado. The central grouping of Hawkman/Atom/Green Arrow works a lot better though, and of course I’m sorry Kane traded out J’Onn for Katar. They’re both nifty, though.

    Does anyone else find it odd that the Hereby Elects trade reaches all the way back to Green Arrow but skips Atom, Hawkman, and once again, Firestorm?

    I forgot that Carmine Infantino had died.

    I scoffed at the inability of folks to find attribution to the story of how Elongated Man was only created because Julie Schwartz didn’t know DC owned Plastic Man, went directly to my bookshelf… and came up empty-handed. Huh. On the other hand, I seem to recall nobody wanted to use the name “Doll Man” in the 1960s, and simply appropriated his power set for a revival of the more period-appropriate Atom.

    As best as I can tell as a non-fan of sports or circuses, they’re called alternately runthrough/breakaway banner.

    As rendered in her induction story (and nowhere else) I get why Anj digs the Sindella version of Zee’s costume.

    I usually roll my eyes at dismissals of the Detroit era League, but admit that changing over an entire line-up all at once robs the team of its elevated status as a place of rare induction filled with pomp. It also signals instability unbecoming of its grandeur. The ’90s were worse though, as both the League and Avengers opened their doors to every mook that got dumped on their porch. When everybody’s a Leaguer, it isn’t special for anybody. Apologies to Shag, but the JLI era was especially guilty of demystifying the team, which is why I think that was a great book but a lousy incarnation of the team. They could have recovered from the Detroit turmoil, but JLI permanently downgraded the League’s credibility.

  8. Rob and Shagg,
    Fun episode! I love that JLA digest. I think maybe they left Firestorm out because they were planning on doing a digest for him specifically. Keep in mind how hard that original Firestorm series was to track down. And, at that time, people loved Martin Stein and Peter–err–Ronnie Raymond.

    I hope that you guys will eventually covet the Marvel Power Pack digests. Those minis were a lot of fun.

    Nice job!

    Sean

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