Fire & Water #233 – Justice League of America #s 195-197

Shag and Rob take a Transmatter Cube back to 1981 to discuss JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #s 195-197, the three-part JLA/JSA team-up by Gerry Conway, George Perez, John Beatty, Romeo Tanghal, and others featuring our heroes squaring off against The Secret Society of Super-Villains!

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Opening theme by Michael Kohler. Closing theme by The Bad Mamma Jammas.

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22 responses to “Fire & Water #233 – Justice League of America #s 195-197

  1. I’m glad Pérez included Snapper in the pin-up. Respect!
    All kidding aside the art on these issues is phenomenal.

  2. The Signalman’s escape scene may have been influenced by a 1950s EC Comics crime story (from Shock SuspenStories, if I recall correctly) drawn by the legendary Wallace Wood. In that story, “Fall Guy,” a guy steals a lot of money and then places it in a safe deposit box under the assumed name “Brad Gilbert.” He serves his sentence knowing that he still has the money hidden away, but when he and his girlfriend go to retrieve the money after he gets out of prison, he forgets the name. When his girlfriend harangues him about his screw-up, he lashes out and kills her, then flees to the rooftop of a building with a vertical neon sign reading “Bar and Grill – Beer on Tap.” Cornered by police, he jumps, in the process knocking out several of the letters of the sign…so that the remaining letters spell out “Brad Gilbert.”

  3. These issues are reprinted in Crisis on Multiple Earths Volume 6, along with the following year’s Crisis on Earth-Prime. These issues were my first exposure to the concept of multiple Earths, and I had no problem figuring them out.

  4. The page flip is required for the “It was us” page in the CME collection and the even page number on it suggests the original issue is the same way.
    In 1983, the Earth-2 villains from this story get sent to 1942 on their Earth by the ’83 Ape Humanite, to serve the ’42 She Humanite, along with Infinity, Inc. when they and Amazing-Man first appear.

  5. A couple years ago, my LCS in Illinois (Graham Cracker Comics) had gift cards with comic covers on one side. For Christmas I received a card with the cover to Justice League of America #195. I thought it was such an amazing cover that I sought out this very story and read it joyously. After I used up all the money on that card, I asked the store clerk if I could keep the useless gift card. I kept it in my wallet for two years, basically as an art piece next to my credit card.

  6. Great show guys! I love you guys talking about classic JLA comics, and this is certainly the JLA at high tide. This IS my favorite JLA/JSA crossover…even though I had to wait YEARS before reading part 3! I somehow missed the issue due to the dreaded spin of the newsstand wheel of fate. It was one of the first books I sought out in the back issue bins during my first comic shop visit years later.

    So much greatness in here. The scope of the story, the mix of villains and heroes. I would argue Cheetah is/was the most famous of these rogues, especially given her role on Challenge of the Super Friends, and of course her upcoming portrayal in WW 84. There is definitely a feeling of a Crisis prequel due to Perez drawing the Earth-Two Superman (who he basically defined for all time) and the Psycho Pirate. This is where Ultra-Humanite gets his white ape body, which has basically stuck, and even made it into Justice League/JLU, of course.

    That pin-up…oh good Lord. How I love it. I actually pinned it up in my room! Yes, I put that one, and the Flash image from the same month on my wall! Even if Sandman and Starman get left out, it’s such a perfect image of both teams. It’s how I still think of them in a lot of ways.

    And yes, I really dug how Perez inverted Hourman’s hood: black on the outside, yellow on the inside. I never understood heavy black shadows on yellow anyway. Perez drew Hourman again in Shag’s favorite comic, All-Star Annual #3, where we learn about the whole Ian Karkull deal. I think this comic has a lot to do with why folks like James Robinson gave Hourman such a meaty role in both The Golden Age and Starman.

    Great show guys! Thanks for covering some of my favorite comics!


  7. Probably the most influential three issues of comics for my life- my favorite JLA/JSA team up-
    If I let my self go on I could for pages-
    My favorite pice of art ever of any kind is that two page spread of both teams- heck the type of comic covers I enjoy are represented here- just pure joy!

  8. Sooo much floating around in my head right now.
    I love that you two discussed these 3 issues. These, along with the preview in 193, really cemented my love for all things Earth2.
    The art is magnificent. Hours and hours of state material.
    Hawkman’s metallic helmet & Hourman’s costume from these issues are still what I have pictured in my head when I talk about the two heroes.
    I loved the look of Brainwave. A couple years later, Back when I thought everything in comic books could be connected, I thought that the red haired girl was Merry(after Infinity Inc 11), but when no retcon came, I just ended up thinking he had a thing for red heads.
    The Florencio Man did work himself into being a top shelf villain after JLA 167-168.
    I will always like Johnny Thunder. I would be interested in your two viewpoints after you both read the “Stealing Thunder” storyline in the JSA book.
    I bought several action figures, just to pull out the Ultra Humanite build a figure piece so I could build him and set him on my shelf along with my Earth 2 Superman.

    It’s hard to type on my iPhone as I’m walking my dog so I’ll stop. Love it. Good job.

  9. This is possibly my favorite crossover! Rag Doll stood out for me; maybe the creepy doll imagery… Time go find these on DC Universe.

  10. First, I have to stress how much I agree with Rob about his ‘greatest’ era for JLA: we basically overlap, as for me the personal golden age for JLA started with issue #171 – also a JLA/JSA crossover! I had picked up JLA off the stands intermittently before that, but it became a must-buy after that until about another JLA/JSA crossover, when the story also crossed over with All Star Squadron.
    And yes, JLA #200 is truly one of the awesomest single comic books ever published.
    This crossover was right in the thick of that great JLA run for me. I can’t really add anything to what has been said, both in your conversation and by other commenters: the story is fun and engaging, the art is stunning and it’s just generally three issues of unadulterated, late Bronze Age goodness.

  11. Aloha Rob and Shag
    Thank you for the great show on some of my most favorite reads from my comic collecting years. I bought issues 195 and 197 off a spin rack in 1981 but never found a copy of 196. Regardless I read these comics over and over again and just kind of filled in the blanks for the missing middle issue. Keep up the good work guys!

  12. Thanks for covering one of my favorite and most fondly remembered sets of comic book issues ever! This was my introduction to the JSA, Earth-2, and all that came with it, and man…I was hooked! After this story, I sought out everything I could about these characters, becoming a huge All-Star Squadron fan along the way. I bought these digitally a little while back, too, and I’m glad that you guys found them to hold up as well as I did. Fan the flame, and ride the wave…all the way to Earth-2!

  13. I haven’t read these issues in at least a decade, but, listening to your recaps and discussion, it all came flooding back. I picked up 195 and 197 new and didn’t get 196 until years later. It didn’t matter though, I still loved it. The art alone was fantastic and being a JSA crossover made the story a favorite.
    You’re right, Shag. I really do need to dig these issues out of the long box and give them another read.

  14. Oh, yeah, peak JLA! I can remember my excitement at seeing that double-page Perez pinup that summer! Wow!
    Someone, probably Rob, made a comment about Conway’s stories improving when Perez became regular penciller. Maybe, but I think, based on nothing but my own perceptions, that Gerry’s JLA stories had an increase in quality when Len Wein became editor. Wein got a lot of guest artists to draw covers, and perhaps he encouraged Gerry to take a slightly different approach. Whatever it was, it worked.

  15. The 197 cover was inked by Mike deCarlo, and he added some nifty touches, with a Kirby-ish Johnny Thunder, and some Aparo influence on Batman.

    These characters have been all over since then, but this was only the second appearance of Monocle and Psycho-Pirate, and the third for Rag Doll.

  16. Impressive pod cast. Most Impressive. Hmm this is good Perez art work, but he got better. May have been right after Logan’s run comic. Was cool seeing these characters used well. Though they were used well in Idinity Crisis. Yep Killer Frost has become a fan fav. With JLU. The video game. As well as the Flash show. So she has become a big name. Oh did I mention I have a U-tube channel? Liz Anne Oswalt. Any way was great to see the Huntress again. Helena Wayne is my fav version of the character. And was cool to see Robin of Earth 2. And yeah Jay was great. Though when I read his dialogue now I hear John Wesley Ships voice now.

  17. A fun episode as always, but I did find myself laughing at one point in particular. You mention the tactical oddity of sidelining Firestorm during the climactic battle, describing his powers as “wish fulfillment,” and explaining how this makes him more power than (insert list of hero names here)… and then you include Johnny Thunder.

    Johnny Thunder. Who’s only “power” is that he has a genie.

    A genie that *explicitly fulfills wishes.*

    Now, of course, Johnny’s power was never fully exploited, because he’s an idiot.

    But even so….

  18. Damn you all are so enjoyable.
    I only recently discovered your podcast network to pass the time on my Southern California commutes.
    I am overjoyed to find a group of like-minded creative types who share an affection for this wonderful time in DC Comics history, especially for the Justice League!
    Satellite era, Super Friends, Kenner Super Powers, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Who’s Who, JLI and (later) the JLU cartoon!
    Your network painstakingly analyzes it all with loving, nostalgic affection!

    This episode covers JLA 196 & 197 which were the first JLA books that I ever purchased!
    I am a HUGE George Perez fan! This man did no wrong (except maybe Jericho . . .ugh).
    I agree that in these issues, Perez made second and third string losers look interesting and formidable. He made disparate, sometimes antiquated designs (Monocle’s tuxedo, Floronic Man’s ivy speedo, Killer Frost’s prom dress, and white Spartacus gorilla) feel like they could believably exist in the same universe.
    He continued that to perfection in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

    Anyway, you all are great! I am now hooked on your network. I will spread this enjoyment to my friends and family like a debilitating plague.

    1. Rudy, I got hooked listening to the Secret Origins podcast. This network has a lot of fun podcasts, and a very positive community of commenters!

  19. Easily one of the best JLofA arcs, and Debbie Domaine! Has any character with less cultural impact had more awesome JLGLPBHN style guide images produced? How weird will it be when they’re all over the place next year?

  20. I know I’m a couple of months behind, but such is life. I decided to pause on trying to listen all the way from the beginning to get caught up in real time – then I can go back and pick off episodes. No matter what era, though, I’m having a blast listening.

    These 3 issues came out just before I started picking up JLA with #204 (then I missed #205 before getting on a run with #206), and this is actually my first time reading the story as a whole. So much fun! It’s amazing how the villains were basically the stars, though we did get some super-hero action. I am right with you on how amazing the Hourman/Psycho-Pirate sequence is. Hourman was always one of my favorites and Perez makes him look even cooler than usual. Well, Perez makes everyone look really cool.

    Wish I’d picked these up back in the day. Don’t know how I could have seen the cover of #195 in particular and never picked it up, so maybe I didn’t see it or was just too focused on buying Legion of Super-Heroes.

    Oh, and I’m looking forward to eventually catching up to your other episodes on the Conway JLA.

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