FW Presents: Find Your Joy – JLA #171-172

In this Patreon-inspired episode, Shag and Rob find their joy discussing one of their favorite classic JLA-JSA team-ups, "Crisis Above Earth-One" from JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #s 171-172, by Gerry Conway, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin!

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21 responses to “FW Presents: Find Your Joy – JLA #171-172

  1. So many memories with these two issues! It was my first JLA/JSA crossover.
    It blew my mind! I was about 7 years old.
    “There’s another Batman!?!
    He has a daughter!?!
    And he’s dead!??”
    I also fully believed that Mr Terrific was a completely new and original hero created specifically for this story so he could be killed off.
    The next time so visited my Uncle Frank, my comic connection and keeper of all comic book knowledge I had a lot of questions. It took him awhile to explain it all, and I still didn’t quite get it all. He also had the issue of Adventure Comics with the Death of Earth-2 Batman. He had purposely not given it to me because he knew I’d be confused and very upset over Batman’s death.

  2. Justice League of America #87 by Mike Friedrich and Dick Dillon was at least partially responsible for Zatanna’s reputation as a flirt with the JLA boys. The issue starts with Superman finding her in the satellite and being charmed by her looks and demeanor, and it ends with Green Lantern, the Atom, and the Flash all ganging up to group-hug her after the day is done. I covered the story way back on POWER OF FISHNETS episode 17. I’m also convinced that that story should have led to Zatanna becoming a full-time member of the League back in the late ’60s if Denny O’Neil had been paying attention, and he never would have had to bring Black Canary over from Earth 2.

  3. Hey gang,

    Great episode (as usual). Where on earth did you dig up a audio clip that fit Mr. Terrific?

    My history with this story is similar to Shag’s. I read part one somewhere (barber shop? convenience store?), but didn’t run across part 2 until years later. Agreed, it was disappointing in terms of the build-up, and the were a couple plot holes, but these are from an adult perspective that part 1 didn’t benefit from at the time.

    Keep ’em coming!

  4. I really enjoyed the discussion you guys had about these classic JLA issues. Although I didn’t read the actual issues until I purchased them as a back issues many years later, I do remember seeing a house ad in a comic I got off the rack at that time featuring the cover to #172 and (I think) the cover to Flash #275, featuring the death of Iris Allen. DC must have been showcasing death that month or something.

    Shag, although the Spirit King didn’t have a Who’s Who entry, you might be remembering his appearance in the surprint of the Mr. Terrific entry by Stephen DeStefano. There is a really great image of the Spirit King in giant form with Mr. Terrific’s head between his fingers.

    Also, I had not heard Shag’s story about his sister surprising him with a comic book gift before, not in detail anyway. What a touching story.

    Finally, re: the “I accuse…” splash page – Who the hell is Superman supposed to be addressing? Everyone is behind him. Haha!

  5. This story came on during my High School hiatus from comics, and thus missed it. Don’t think I caught up to it until around 1984 or so. Conway and Dillin were clicking on all cylinders at this point. There are holes in the plot, but overall I found it a great story. As much as I always loved the annual JLA-JSA-whoever team-ups, but you couldn’t always say that their stories were well done on a critical level.

    This also brought in a long forgotten JSA character in Mr. Terrific, and in that, Mr. T. became a sacrificial lamb to the tale. Given that the JSA-Adventure Comics Series had also recently bumped no less a character than Batman–in an arguably very pedestrian way, I guess it was a bad year for the Golden Age characters. But the JLA two-parter somewhat made up for the Batman story–if we must kill off characters. As much as I love the JSA, I have to say that I never really “got” Mr. Terrific, his motif, his character or really his value. Not his fault – nobody developed him well.

    I suspect Mr. Conway felt the same, and as the “Revivialist” of the JSA series in 1975, I can only assume that he felt that the Earth-2 universe needed to “Move on”, and with Power Girl and the Huntress both on board, and the JSA series itself at its end, it was a good time to move that along. Unfortunately, not until Infinity Inc. would DC agree, but maybe this was a building block for Roy Thomas’ “Generations” saga.

    It was very unfortunate however that it took so long for someone to catch up to the Spirit King. Like, a really long time.

  6. Love these looks back at issue that were important to me as a kid too.

    I had the reverse experience of Shag having bought the second part off the rack and only finding the first part at a con about a decade ago. I thought for sure the indented metal clue would be a huge part of the first part … nope!

    This also made me think that Mr. Terrific and Spirit King were big deals in the DCU. It reminds me very much how I thought The Warlock of Ys was a bad ass because he was in the issue where Zatanna gets inducted. Turns out I was wrong their too.

    As for Spirit King not getting a page in Who’s Who, those spaces were only meant for big deals like Reactron, The Gang, and ManHawks. Also wheeler dealers like The Fisherman, Slipknot, and The Breathtaker. So no room for someone who successfully bumped off a JSAer when those big names have to have their place in the sun.

    Anyways, love all of this. I think this is where my love of Dr. Fate started. I liked that Batman/Huntress scene. And I liked the mystery.

  7. Very touching story about your sister and this issue, Shag. Thank you so much for sharing. It was also my first JLA book and left a profound impact on myself as well.

    This story thread was somewhat picked up in the technically first JSA mini series America vs Justice Society, where Jay commiserated that they never tracked down the murderer.

    Another strange fact, this villain’s real name was Roger Romaine, a name Gerry also used for a foe of Steel a few years earlier named the Gadgeteer, who seemingly perished in battle with the hero. Unsure if there was an intended connection between the two, both from Earth-Two.

  8. What a fun episode, I was wondering if Cory would get to pop up with opinions, as patron/episode suggester.

    I bought this story when it came out and loved the change of pace from the usual massive stakes stuff, but Beak of Ibis, I was thoroughly miffed that the greatest heroes of two worlds just gave up on finding the killer. Why the heck didn’t they immediately take off after Spirit King at the end? A super-speedster possessed by a villain is pretty darn deadly (it’s happened to him again in a recent DC book). I must track down that Spectre issue for the resolution. What with Gerry Conway being a friend of the network, could someone ask if he planned to revisit the story but never got to it?

    An invitation to a team meeting – the JLA really know how to show people a good time.

    Did super-breath reinflate Terry’s body? When Supermsn discovers it Gerry makes a big deal of how the corpse is ‘a lifeless mass of flesh’, due to decompression. When we see him on the JLA mortuary table, though, he looks in decent shape. Trust his corpse to be the world’s most terrific! (Oh, and the new Mr Terrific, the obnoxious one, has been appearing monthly for the last few years in The Terrifics, a sometimes great book). Similarly, Huntress hardly looks ‘horribly burned’ – a bit of ash on her cheek, maybe.

    Shagg and Rob, you were talking about how Terry was never an official JSA member – that IS referenced here as Hawkman says ‘he was never really one of us’.

    I love that the satellite has a fire… well, they do need a way for Santa to get in and leave pressies.

    It jars that Conway keeps referring to Zee as a ‘young sorceress’ – she’d been around since the mid-Sixties and never looked any younger than Wonder Woman or Shayera, and the Sindella outfit made her look hard faced, older. Also, Zatanna isn’t a slapper, she’s just half-Italian. A Romantic!

    Ha, Gerry wrote ‘flicker’! Maybe that’s what gave Ben Oda the brain fart on page 14 of ‘I accuse…’ when Batman refers to ‘the Spirit King’ as ‘the Level King’. Jerry Serpe was also having a bad day, miscolouring Hal as Alan in the penultimate panel. Was Ross Andru asleep at the wheel?

    And should DC correct this kind of thing when they do the third Omnibus next year or do mistakes add to the charm?

  9. This was a great episode, gentlemen and a lovely story about how you got this comic, Shag! I always love hearing when you guys talk about cherished comics from your childhood. It doesn’t matter if they are good or bad or somewhere in-between; to hear the joy in your voices talking about these two issues certainly made my day. I would love to hear more Find Your Joy episodes with submissions by the community.

    I really liked whenever the JLA and the JSA teamed up. I don’t know why, it just felt special. Like, they couldn’t do this all the time, so when it did happen, the respective heroes cherished the moment. Though to be fair, I liked it even more when it was a team up with the heroes of Earth-S and my favourite, Captain Marvel (like in JLA #135).

    I agree with Gord Tolton, I just don’t get JSA Mr. Terrific. I think most of it stems from his costume. While Dr.Fate instantly brings you in with his costume, Mr. Terrific has a weird thing on his chest, or is part of his belt sticking into his chest? And it says Fair Play? It’s almost like my parents decided to make a superhero for me to read. I’m surprised his big thing wasn’t about sharing and caring. I think the idea of him could be used well, but I just can’t get past that costume…….

    Keep up the great work!

  10. Noticed a mistake Shag made. I know it’s almost a fulltime job, but I’ll take this one.

    JSA (1999) was started by James Robinson with Dave Goyer, then Geoff Johns (officially) replaced Robinson with issue 6. Unofficially he was involved earlier.

    Also there’s a JSA 3 parter in 2004 where the JSA finally bring definitive justice to the Spirit King. The Spectre appearance is just a flashback as that is the debut of Michael Holt Mr Terrific.

    Otherwise, great episode Rob!

  11. Great show guys. I loved the story about Shag and his sister. What a nice thing to do, and a wonderful memory to have.

    I didn’t get these issues until years later, but I remember that house ad! I missed parts 2 and 3 of the next year’s JLA/JSA/New Gods crossover for DECADES, so I know the feeling of being on a cliffhanger forever!

    There are several little things I love about this one. One, that Batman is friendly with the Flash. Yes, he’s pumping him for information, but he’s also consulting him as a police scientist, which is something Batman would do. He respects Flash’s private job, and that’s the kind of Batman I like. I didn’t like how Marv Wolfman made Barry feel “inferior” to Batman in that “lost” Crisis tale in the Legends of the DC Universe Special. These guys were teammates for years at this point, so the familiarity is a nice touch.

    Also, Dick Dillin is an underrated artist when it comes to the female characters. His super-women are sexy without an ounce of sleaze. They are beautiful and powerful, and I’m not sure the Huntress ever looked any better, no offense to Joe Staton.

    Oh, and while there was no wrap-up to Terry’s murder in Adventure Comics, there was a mini-prologue. He makes his first appearance in the revised All-Star/JSA/Super Squad strip at the tail end of the JSA story in Adventure #465 (released the month prior to JLA #171) to join the group heading up to the JLA satellite, setting up this story. According to Mike’s Amazing World, his last appearance was JLA #102.


  12. Great show, guys! Shag – I so appreciate you sharing the beautiful story about your sister. I have two incredible older sisters whose love and kindness made me a much better man. Older sisters really are the best.

    I love these issues, with the exception that they don’t show the actual resolution. Poor Jay Gerrick was possessed by the Spirit King for who knows how long! If I were Jay, I would blame every bad decision on that. Picture shows up on the internet of Jay in a compromising position with the Ultra Humanite? “It was the Spirit King, Joan, I swear!”

  13. Impressive podcast. Most impressive. I only know this from the Who’s Who entry of Mr. Terrific. Which made me latter read JSA cause Mike was Mr. Terrific. Sad Arrow kind of poop on him. Cause he was weak on that. Very smart and helped Ms. Smoke, but how an Olympic Athlete can’t fight at all was a bit oy. Though the actor was good in the roll. But, he deserved better. Huh, I would have thought they had beaten the Spirt King in that issue the way the Who’s Who made it sound like they won. Also really? They shield the base so no one can get out. Guard the exits, but no one turns off the power to the teleporter?

    So Bat and Helana. Check every thing out. Ask Barry all the things a speedster can do… but no one thinks to turn off the teleporter? Sigh. Ah the Bat Man and Huntress talking about Bruce’s death. That was cool. Glad he was there for her. I have those issues of JSA. They were cool. And I just heard on the Write on network ware the Huntress crew covered this. Not the ones with Mr. Price. But, these were cool. As are the Outsiders pod cast. Moving on. The mystery was good for what it was. Must be why Conway went on to write Murder She wrote. Well he was on the creative team.

    Any way this was a cool comic. And was cool seeing a JLA and JSA team up. Did I mention I have a U-tube channel? That’s Liz Anne Oswalt on U tube.

  14. That was fun! I wondered why I had never heard of Spirit King before that story. Two things:

    1) Mr. Terrific is still active! He was the leader of his own team The Terrifics and the had their own book that ended recently, I think. Metamorpho, Plastic Man, and Phantom Girl (not the LoSH one but an ancestor) rounded out the team. The book was pretty damn entertaining.

    2) PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do all the JLA/JSA team ups! That was always a fun event to look forward to once they became a yearly thing.

  15. Not the first JLA/JSA team-up I’d ever read, but it was one that made an impression on the young me nonetheless, so I quite enjoyed your conversation, and even learned a few things: mainly that Spirit King was made up just for that story.
    I have to say, though, that I was completely unsatisfied by the way it ended, with the bad guy absconding – in Jay Garrick’s body no less! It’s a bit dismaying to learn that the resolution was left hanging for so long.
    Anyway, like some of the other commenters above, I wouldn’t mind some more coverage of these annual, cross-dimensional Justice meet & greets.

  16. I guess timing is everything, because this was not my first JLA-JSA team-up and it is actually one of my LEAST favorites. For all the comments that each of you made but then excuse, to me they combined into one big hurdle I couldn’t get past. Let’s start with the splash page, where the two shadowy figures don’t look like any of the members in the roll call. And a text box asks us to ponder who the victim might be, but…a quick glance between the cover and the roll call shows only one character NOT on the cover…. not under a sheet, anyway.
    The bit where Mr. Terrific walks away from the Flashes without telling either of them what he is investigating is probably my least favorite moment in too many. What was Mr. Terrific planning on doing? It’s never explained, and as Rob pointed out, kinda dumb to hint at a murderer that you’re on to him.
    I appreciated some of the character bits in the first issue before the murder, but I really REALLY wish Black Canary would have shown up at these more often. And here’s Red Tornado, but he has no “how are things going on Earth 2?” moments AT ALL. BTW, I love how you chastised the editorial comment, Rob, saying Mr. T had not appeared since JLA #37-38. I was saying the same thing to myself just before you said it! Good for you for your great JLA history.
    The worst part of this two-parter for me is the ending, where the murderer gets away with it. Literally! Two Green Lanterns, two Kryptonians, a super-fast android, and none of them could take out a possessed elder speedster? Come on! Then I had hopes that this story would be continued in the next issue, or in Adventure Comics, but neither obviously happened. Who writes a story where the bad guy gets away….for 20 years?!
    Bad, bad, bad.
    Enjoyed the conversation about it, but the story itself is not all that IMO.

  17. Thanks for covering this team-up/murder mystery, gentlemen. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I think this was my intro to Earth-2, and I loved all of it. Unlike many, I even liked Mr. Terrific, once I got to know him in later…er, earlier stories—you know what I mean! His earnestness and sterling intentions made him seem like a more sophisticated version of Rob Lowe’s character from the West Wing. I also liked the Doc Savage angle of him being outstanding at nearly everything. as implausible as that seems to me now. I’ll have to find that JSA Returns series Shagg talked about.

    Regarding Terry, did y’all discuss Spirit King-as-Jay calling him Jerry in the conversation with the Flashes of two Earths? Was that a clue or a typo?

    I’m just slightly younger than Rob — putting me in my early thirties when this came out, and thus far too young to catch all the holes you two and Russell pointed out. I did catch the positives, though. Dillon and McLaughlin’s portrait of Zatanna at the top of page 4 should be a poster, but I don’t think my wife would let me hang it up. To paraphrase Frank Miller, ol’ Hawkboy’d be pushing sixty when this came out. I think it makes total sense he was flustered by a kiss from such a charming young woman. I thought his encouraging comment to her was great, also. I’m also a big fan of that helmet, and I always appreciated that Carter had so many different looks.

    I think y’all covered all the other great points well, except for this: The Spirit King has curly hair and possesses people. Is Jericho the Earth-1 Spirit King? Can we get a ruling from Phylemon? Do either of them ever wear gloves, and if so, in what colors?

    1. Oh, and I appreciated the personal story, too, Shagg. That was very kind of your sister and very thoughtful of her to realize you needed the lift. I know it’s a treasured memory now. I had a more consistently combative relationship with my one sibling growing up, though it’s better now. Even when we didn’t really like each other, he took the time to teach me a lot. Ironically, I was appreciating that just today.

  18. My gosh i love this! Not only was that my first JSA/JLA crossover it was my first DC comics. A friend in the second grade gave me them..they were tattered and coverless and there were more than one snidely whiplash style mustaches drawn throughout. I was utterly enthralled though. My exposure time DC heroes at the time was limited to cartoons and my SuperHero Dictionary. Seeing all these new heroes blew my mind. Up until this point my comic exposure were spider-man and archie, getting this glimpse into TWO comic universes was formative for me. Thanks so much for covering this very pivotal story!

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