Fire & Water #189 – Aquaman and Firestorm in the JLA

Shag and Rob talk about Aquaman and Firestorm's long histories as members of the JLA, with specific looks at JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #s 94 (Aquaman) and #s 183-185 (Firestorm)!

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34 responses to “Fire & Water #189 – Aquaman and Firestorm in the JLA

  1. Green Arrow had a Tijuana Bible??

    I have to disagree with Shag’s dislike of the Beast Men arc. I must admit that my contention is rooted in the fact that JLA 223 was my very first Justice League comic. And what a comic it was! For one thing, it totally humanized a team of heroes that I only really knew from random other comic appearances and the Super Friends cartoon. Flash was sidelined with his arm in a sling! Hawkman was dying from human/scorpion toxin! The Hawks were having marriage problems! It was a huge leap in understanding how deep these characters could run.

    And Rob was right, it was a horror movie. It was Dr Moreau’s lab mixed with gladitorial games run by the elite. Also, Aquaman had a great moment where he had to shut down the mind of a giant whale/human hybrid. It’s all he did. Also, he did a double-take when Superman was visibly frustrated.

    One note on this arc. My pediatrician had the first issue in his waiting room, so I was able to read that around the time of its publication. But the second issue eluded me for twenty years!

    1. Yeah I really liked how different a tone the Beast-Men story was. As I said on the show I wouldn’t have wanted a steady diet of that level of violence, but it was cool seeing the JLA facing off with a group of baddies way nastier than what they’re used to.

  2. JLA #217-223 were among the first comics I ever bought and although I’ve not read the arc where our heroes are transformed into animals I never forgot it. These issues were a good transition for a kid who only knew Super Friends up until that point. I think this was around the time when Superman became a big lizard-like alien to go undercover (Superman #366) and I loved that story too at the time.

    I really liked the “spotlight” nature of the episode and would suggest you guys do one on the various “sidekicks” to Arthur & Ronnie/Prof. if you’ve not already done so. I only suggest this as I just finished reading the intro of the new Aqualad in Teen TItans and would love to hear your thoughts on this mash-up between the Young Justice & Geoff Johns pre-new 52 versions. I’d also like to hear any stories/arcs you’d recommend for the various Aqualads and lasses.

    Finally, any comments on the new JLA trailer? Mamoa really seems to shine.

    Fun episode as usual!

    Was that a brand new logo for Aqualad?

  3. Wow, that was a lot of fun! While I have quite a few Aquaman solo comics, I will admit that the majority of my Firestorm exposure was through his JLA membership. Of course, both of their memberships in the JLA’s animated version, the Super Friends, gave them some SERIOUS shots in the arm. For good or ill, it’s what many “normies” (copyright The Yard Sale Artist) think of when they think of Aquaman. And Firestorm certainly got a boost from appearing on the Super Powers seasons of the show, and getting a figure in the toy line.

    I’ve said it before, but that Beast Men story was SHOCKING. SO violent and bloody! Oh, and I totally HATED Aquaman for disbanding the JLA in that damn annual. And when he left them high and dry (literally) for Mera…well Aquaman was on the s#!t list with me for some time. As for those fill-in issues you enjoyed, pre-JLD, Rob; as much as I love Gerry Conway’s work, maybe it was time to hand the title over to a new writer, or a rotating pool of writers. It’s the same thing that happened to the Flash around the same time. Don’t let Cary Bates run it into the ground, hand that baton!

    Love, love LOVE that JLA/JSA/New Gods crossover, even if it took me 20 years to track parts 2 and 3 down! Oh, and on my second-hand copy of Firestorm’s induction issue, JLA #179, some wise-ass kid decided to draw pupil’s on Firestorm in EVERY PANEL!!!

    Again, great show fellas!


    P.S. Is the Plastic Sub the kind you put baking soda in so it dives and stuff? I loved those in old Cap’n Crunch boxes!

  4. Singing Dick Dillin’s praises should be a national pastime. I would love to see the few pages of the unfinished #184. (Wondering if they ever ran them in Back Issue or Alter Ego or something…)

  5. Great episode, especially because I have read many of these stories.

    For Aquaman, that story where the Atom complains about his superpower ends with a smoking hot green side need alien cooing about how awesome he is. Talk about first world problems!

    I loved the Satin Satan storyline. That opening page of Firestorm flying giddily followed by Batman’s lecture was perfect! Loved it. And that has Zatanna in my fave costume of hers, the Sindella!

    As for the JLA/JSA/New Gods was my introduction to the whole New Gods lineup. I am pretty sure this was the first time I met Darkseid. And having him fly off bored again made sense for the character.

    Great show!

  6. Michel, Roy Thomas ran them in volume 3 of his All-Star Companion series of books. I scanned the page. Sorry for the fuzzy side. The spine was a pain to get around. Amazing that he hand drew in the logos of each team!

    Dillin JLA 184 pencils


    1. That looks really cool. Love how neat yet full of energy that page is. Now that I think of it, I’ve never seen Dillin pencil art before!

      Thanks for the heads up on what volume to check out, Chris. And for the pic, too; doesn’t look fuzzy. Scanning bound books is not fun.

  7. Great show, Rob and Shag.

    Like many, I loved the JLA/JSA/New Gods storyline. And like Chris Franklin, it took me decades to track down parts two and three. The Firestorm/Power Girl flirtation was such a memorable part of those crossovers.

    I interviewed Neal Adams last year and I asked him about Merlyn’s first appearance in JLA #94 which I included in the fourth section:

    I recall noticing that most of the Neal Adams pages in that issue featured Sensei.

    Like you guys speculated, if Firestorm hadn’t joined the JLA he probably would have stayed in obscurity with those other Gerry Conway-created victims of the DC Implosion — (Commander) Steel and Vixen. Which means he’d probably be revived for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. And just as their Steel and Vixen aren’t the original characters, Legends would probably have someone else take Ronnie’s place in the Firestorm matrix.

    Hey, wait a minute…

    Maybe DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is a fixed point in time for Firestorm.

    Then again, if Firestorm joined the JLA and got the second Firestorm series, there would have been no Felicity Smoak. And if Felicity hadn’t been added to Arrow, none of the Olicity fans would be watching the show. And none of the people who watch Arrow to complain about Olicity would have been watching the show. Arrow might have been cancelled before any spinoffs were born. So, maybe we never would have seen a DC’s Legends of Tomorrow in that timeline.

  8. You missed one:
    Firestorm (Rusch) was in the extremely short-lived incarnation of the Justice League during the year after Infinite Crisis, seen in 52 #24. The exception to the rule; he was in that League from the beginning to the end, such as that time period was…

    1. Wow. Great catch, Jeff R. Interesting period too. That team existed only within the pages of “52” and only for a very short time. So you are right, it counts. Though it was never recognized within the JLA book itself.

  9. I especially enjoyed this episode. As a fan who’s general comics knowledge is admittedly well below that of most of the folks who seem to comment on these pages, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was pretty well-versed on Firestorm’s publication history (at least vis-a-vis his appearances in the JLA, but Shag seems to make pretty clear that, outside of his own two series and his run as a back-up in The Flash, there *wasn’t* much else for the first 15 years or so of Firestorm’s existence).

    Shag, I think it was you who commented a bit that Firestorm tended to join Leagues some time after they were established, rather than at the beginning, but did I hear you correctly in citing Extreme Justice as an exception? I suppose a case could be made for Firestorm being there from the beginning, as they were clearly working through Ronnie’s battle with cancer from the first issue, but of course he doesn’t become Firestorm again until the fourth issue, so I’m not sure he can be said to really have joined when the group formed. I’m not even sure I can call it a nitpick, since you were clearly aware of all this while you were talking, but I wanted to clarify if that’s what your intentions were.

    Unrelated to Justice Leagues, but related to the idea of Firestorm as a “joiner,” it might be worth mentioning Firestorm’s tenure on The Power Company, which of course was more-or-less simultaneous with his membership in the JLA post-Obsidian League. It was actually a pretty decent book, which like Extreme Justice, I ended up picking up every issue of precisely because Firestorm was a member for a time (neither book lasted long, but Power Company was much better than Extreme Justice, IMHO).

    1. In the early days between his own titled series, outside of JLA and Flash, Firestorm would only get the occasional DC Comics Presents or Brave and the Bold, but that was about it (even those were mostly written by Conway).

      Good clarification about Extreme Justice. I was just counting him on the team since Ronnie started appearing in the first issue and was clearly destined for the team.

      I really liked Power Company! A shame it didn’t get to run longer.

      Thanks for the comments!

      1. I’m pretty sure I have all of Firestorm’s DC Comics Presents appearances (although without access to my collection as I type this, I can’t recall if that’s two or three issues), but if he was in Brave and the Bold, that’s a gap in my collection I need to rectify.

        1. Using Mike’s Amazing World, I found that there WAS an issue of Brave and the Bold with Firestorm. I’ve now sought it out on eBay, and it should be on its way to me now! Thanks for the heads-up!

  10. Fun show, thanks for making me miss the Satellite Era even more; happily, my Bronze Age Omnibus is on the way.

    Ronnie being an underwear model – do you think that was a play on him being a jock?

    What are those fantastic Sixties-style songs you
    Played, I looked up the Bad Mamma Jammas on Facebook as advised, but got bored scrolling as I tried to find superhero stuff…

    There was no longer reason to deny JLA membership to Mera, she didn’t duplicate Aquaman’s powers. Gits.

    Love the Plastic and Water Podcast sting!

  11. My reading of JLofA after the first few years is pretty spotty, but I used to own #142 and appreciated the (somewhat jaundiced) spotlight on less used Leaguers (though I hated The Atom’s characterization in that series.) Has anybody done a deeper dive on the deserving Apokolips Now arc? I certainly appreciated the encapsulation of the post-Kirby/pre-Super Powers New Gods, a personal blind spot. I very much doubt this arc will inspire anything in the Justice League movie, which appears to be taking its cues from Tom Taylor on Injustice and Earth-2. Glad to have Perez, even briefly, but I do wish Starlin had done more than covers in that same time period. As Bizarro Rob, I find most of the original volume of Justice League of America to be a boring slog, but we can agree that Gerry Conway’s run was a highlight and the beast men arc was a refreshing diversion into mild horror.

    Ah, War of the Worlds: 1984! My podcast debut and a watershed moment for my retroactively ruining comics people had loved since childhood. There is no god and justice is a fairy tale for grown-ups!

    I don’t blame Rob for forgetting The Obsidian Age. It’s more surprising that anybody wishes to recall anything from Joe Kelly’s run, or really anything post-Waid besides maybe “Crisis of Conscience.”

    Picture reading a Justice League series where the team consists of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquamam, The Flash, Plastic Man and Metamorpho. I don’t want to read that, but it’s a picture.

  12. After 9 months of listening to the entire F&W Podcast back catalog I can finally say I am all caught up! What a ride it’s been. I want to thank Rob and Shag for creating this amazing show, and all the guest-stars and members of the F&W Podcast Network Family who have created this community. I’m so glad I discovered this amazing group of comics enthusiasts, and I look forward to now participating in the episode discussions as they happen.

    I’m always mystified thinking about old DC, how the various editorial staffs didn’t like their respective characters to be in team books. I. An understand feeling a sense of owenership of a character (like John Byrne with Dr. Doom), but having all your top heroes in a team book seems like a no-brainer. It’s interesting to think of how much office politics goes into shaping the stories.

    On the other hand, it’s refreshing to think about a time when Batman or Wolverine weren’t in 10 books a month. That there was actually some effort into making each appearance make sense in the context of each other. I guess it’s just easier not to worry about those things, even though it only dilutes the idea of shared continuity.

  13. I listened to this one because I have most of the books you talked about! That music was something else! I can imagine the conversation in the DC Offices: “The musician’s union charges how much??!! It costs what for a recording studio?? We don’t have that in the budget! Carmine! Who are those guys that played your lodge party? Yeah, Herb Philbrick and the Naugahides. Can we hire them to write a song about the Justice League? Nelson! Go over to Jersey and find a recording studio that needs business! We’re not losing money on this deal!”

  14. I don’t have anything to add to the conversation but I did want to say how much I enjoyed this episode. Hearing you guys geek out over your favorite characters and their roles in the various Justice Leagues was a lot of fun and the joy came through loud and clear.

    Moving on to the next one!

  15. It grieves me to learn that the women in my heroes lives are kissing them with so little passion that a lusty embrace from an imposter is enough to uncover the ruse. The panel following Lois planting a wet one on Superman is followed by Superman saying “Lois, you never…” I can only imagine he and the rest of the guys were about to burst into the chorus of You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling. “You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips…”

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