Fire & Water #245 – Justice League of America #s 132-134

Rob and special guest Dr. Anj discuss three classic issues of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA guest-starring Supergirl!

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15 responses to “Fire & Water #245 – Justice League of America #s 132-134

  1. Did you guys read an online or TPB version of these stories? Because in the version I read, those replacement JLAers aren’t robots, they’re real live aliens pretending to be the members. In fact, on two of the pages you shared in the galleries or this review, they admit as much! The guy in charge of kidnapping Superman had a theatrical background because the aliens had to pretend to be JLAers!

    Which is one of the reasons I never liked this story-line much. Over in Superman’s book, he would have picked up on these actresses not being his friends immediately. Here, he doesn’t even do a quick scan of them or anything? And they don’t ask him to call the others on HIS JLA communicator?

    Also, the less said about the Solar-Queen Bee story the better. It confused me as a kid, and it still confuses me today whenever I re-read it. Your synopsis, Rob, was probably the closest I’ve ever gotten to sort of understanding what happened. Like the book Freakonomics, Sonar planned for one thing but got something else. Could have been WAAAAY more clear.

    Also, per the end of #133 I hoped that the real JLA would show up on that planet and fight Despero, instead of some match-up in space that we get instead. It wasn’t what I was hoping for (and also, no Aquaman).

    The stories just don’t flow, let alone flow logically. So although I *did* enjoy seeing Supergirl here, I wasn’t a big fan of these stories.

    By the way, that story for Joker #10 WAS written AND illustrated. It was finally printed in the recent collection of all those Joker issues. Of course, it was only the first part of a multi-part story that was NOT completed, but you can atleast read the first part of it….

    One last thing, Steve Englehart when he took over writing the JLA a few years after this referenced #132 as one of the times the JLAers was still treating Wonder Woman as if she wasn’t in full control of her powers. He calls back to that great splash page, where GL is telling her to watch out when obviously she could see the horde of attacking bees herself. I liked that Steve pulled this scene out as “proof” that the JLAers were still semi-chauvinistic. Batman’s “and the girls” comment also bares that out.

    1. I may have got this confused on my end. They definitely show a schematic of them being robotic but that might have been just a showcase of their imitating technology.

  2. I hadn’t read these issues before, so that was a fun diversion. I agree that Supergirl would have been great as a full-time Leaguer. Such a shame.

    Great to hear Rob and Anj together! Great show, guys!

  3. I’m always down for any discussion of the original Justice League of America. It’s my favorite comic book series of all time. Just like Rob, my first foray into the back issue bins at my first comic book shop was to buy A back issue of Justice League. I bought issue 117 if you’re curious. In fact Rob’s story says morE about those bins then I think he knew. Like, those bins must have been pretty well packed, making it difficult to see more than the top of the book while looking through them. Why did I come to this conclusion?
    Rob says he established it was a two part story due to Supergirl’s face being shown along the top, and not because the covers showed the JLA battling Despero! Conclusion: Rob could only see the top of the books while flipping through the bins!
    Or… I’m just overthinking things.

  4. Fun discussion guys! I have all three of these issues. Most of my JLA back issue collection is a bit spotty, but I must have come across these all in one go or something. It’s a shame Supergirl never joined the JLA, and that Dick Dillin never got another chance to draw her. I’m certainly with you guys on singing Mr. Dillin’s praises. I’m glad you pointed out how he knew how to draw lovely, but not cheesecake-y ladies. Maybe Rob could launch a podcast on Mr. Dillin? Pod…something. Hmmm.

    I will say that I am hot and cold on Ernie Chua/Chan’s cover output for DC in this period. After Neal Adams and Nick Cardy had left for green pastures, Chua seemed to step in as THE cover guy for a while, and while some look pretty nicel like the first two, others seemed rush and phoned in (like the third, in my opinion). LOTS of white backgrounds too, like that first cover. I know Mr. Chan is a fantastic artist, but I feel he was really being stretched to thin. One look at the cover of JLA #121 and it’s wonky anatomy will tell you the man was in hurry on this one.
    JLA 121

    But great discussion! Always nice to hear Dr. Anj talk on his favorite comic subject!

    Chris

    1. Yeah, I like the idea of a Dick Dillin podcast, but I can see why you’re hesitant about writing out the potential name: Pod-Dick just sounds kind of wrong… 😛

      1. Oh yeah, that one’s nice. Chan’s a fantastic artist, and that one shows it. The background is still pretty much non-existent, but I don’t mind that if it makes the image easy to read. The color fills in the blankness as well.

        Chris

  5. Fun show! Thanks for the rundown of these issues. JLA #133 was one of the earliest issues of that title I ever had – and although the cover is forever etched in my memory, I recall little else about it (except being amused by the fact that one of the aliens refers to Superman as a “handsome beast” or something similar).
    I always thought Supergirl was a natural fit with the JLA and should have been made an official member; as far as I know, there was no formal rule about ‘duplicate’ powers or whatnot like with the Legion. And Hawkwoman later joined the team, so why not Kara?

    1. Thing is, when Hawkman joined in #31, they never mentioned a duplication of powers rule, Atom muttered something about only being able to admit one new member at a time… I mean, fine, so let Shayera in the next day. When Hawkgirl’s membership came up again in #146, they did mention a Legion-like duplication rule. Good on Carter for arguing it away!

  6. I’m glad that I’m not the only person who was confused by these stories. When the “other” aliens showed up, I was like “Wait a minute. Who are these people?” I originally thought they were the same aliens from the previous issue.

    Normally, I hate the way today’s comics drag on, but I think these stories could have a used a few more issues to breathe.

    As for Supergirl’s ill-temper, Conway was bad about having heroes fly off the handle. Remember when Superman almost took Spider-Man’s head off in the first SM/SM treasury.

    The previously-unreleased Joker #10 was printed in the Joker Bronze Age Omnibus. Unfortunately, it was the first part of a multipart story and ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger. Since Marty Pasko and Irv Novick are no longer with us, I guess we’ll never know how the story would have ended.

  7. I always thought Kara would have been great in the JLA. And it’s always great to hear from the good doctor. I wish he had a dedicated show on the Maid of Might.

  8. Brilliant episode, boys, but however could you resist talking about the first part of the Sonar/Queen Bee/Zoo Crew storyline?

    So, on to the second part, the first one you’re discussing, and yes, that Supergirl head is, as Anj reckoned, by Kurt Schaffenberger, it was used above the title of Superman Family #177 which, funnily enough, featured one of those space suitors Anj mentioned. Look it up, there’s more than a head… Schaffenberger was so very good.

    Random thoughts: Shouldn’t Diana have had to to touch the bees with her magic lasso to control them? They only fly through it.

    Rob, you mentioned that Despero, when he shows up in the following issue, hadn’t appeared for a very long time.. a footnote here hints that, likewise, Sonar hadn’t been around in many a year. Boy, I love that guy. It’s the uniform.

    Ollie had a sound absorption arrow? Of course he did.

    I love Batman thinking the phrase ‘sleepy bye’.

    Why is Menagerie Man not in this?

    The colours as Canary bats away the bees are brilliant, and Dick draws the heck out of it.

    On to JLA #133, I had more of a problem with Supergirl’s mood than did you guys, she sounded more like Power Girl than cool Kara… Peege had debuted only a few months previously, courtesy of Conway, perhaps he was trying to emphasise that they really were multiversal twins.

    How ironic that Despero recognises something is wrong because robot Wonder Woman acts haughty and violently – that’s the standard characterisation today.

    Then again, in the last part of the story, Diana says ‘Foolish mortal!’, which is very off.

    I love the panel in which the real Diana downs Despero by apparently shuffling along the floor at super-speed – what IS she actually doing?

    There’s a very unnecessary Editor’s Note – I somehow think we could have worked out ‘gift-grelk in the mouth’.

    It’s a hoot seeing Despero constantly on the back foot – yes, he had power, but he was blooming useless! What was that about him wanting to conquer earth probably due to his childhood?

    It is great that Supergirl figures things out, I love Kara’s confidence… the Bronze Age really was her peak. I agree with you lads that she should have become a JLA member; as Edo says, the minute Hawkwoman was allowed into the JLA, they should have brought in Kara too.

    Letter writer Elizabeth M Smith, whom Rob mentioned, later wrote some back-up stories for the Superman books, with a Private Life of Clark Kent one drawn by Dick Dillin and inked by Rob’s old instructor – what was that art school again? – Tex Blaisdell.

    I bought these at the time and reread them in the Omnibus Rob recommended, it’s heartbreaking that DC has cancelled the third volume.

  9. Well done, gentlemen on an excellent episode! I always like to hear Dr.Anj talk about Supergirl, and Rob talk about Justice League! And these issues didn’t disappoint. Two great tastes that taste great together!
    I’m with everyone above in championing that Supergirl should have been in the JLA. I think it would have just created a better balance of male and female characters, though I guess Batman would have thought otherwise…… sheesh.
    And I enjoy all these old Bronze Age stories. To me, my favourite stories are the ones that are slightly confusing but the comic just nudges you along saying, “Just go with it. It may or may not make sense, but that’s not important right now.”
    You guys did a awesome job of showcasing some fine JLA stories! Keep up the great work!

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