JLI Podcast #5 – Justice League #5 (Sept 1987)

It’s time for the fifth episode of JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL: BWAH-HA-HA PODCAST! The Irredeemable Shag welcomes guest host Chris Franklin to discuss Justice League #5 (Sept 1987)! This month Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire put Doctor Fate against the Gray Man, and Guy Gardner against Batman! It’s the infamous ONE PUNCH issue!! Chris and Shag cover what was on the shelves that same month, recap and discuss the Justice League issue, and finally YOUR listener feedback!

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36 responses to “JLI Podcast #5 – Justice League #5 (Sept 1987)

  1. Part way through, but may I say what a great issue and episode. Love the enthusiasm Chris and Shag showed. Plus really enjoyed the punchuation sound fx.

    Neil Gaiman did touch on the Gray Man indirectly. The Season of Mists arc had Dream becoming the custodian of the key to Hell, a ‘valuable bit of psychic real estate’ as it was described. He is pertitioned by gods and demons, including the Lords of Order and Chaos. The Lord of Order offers Dream a stash of dream-essence from the newly dead, but their offer is basically riduculed by Dream as being a useless thing to collect.

      1. No worries. Gaiman also re-envisaged the Lord of Chaos as a little girl with no strategy to negotiate for Hell. She gave Dream a red balloon. Truly chaotic!

      2. Paul – Thank you! That makes sense why I couldn’t find an appearance of the Gray Man in Sandman. But at least Gaiman found a way to reference it. Our thanks to the Australian Embassy!!

  2. Yay, unsolicited Doom Patrol chat. We at Waiting For Doom don’t like every run, but we often get surprised by how much fun it is to talk about the dodgy stuff.

  3. FYI: Chris is correct that there was a Creeper back-up series pre-Crisis. It ran in THE FLASH v1 #318-323, written by Carl Gafford and illustrated first by Dave Gibbons and later by Chuck Patton. The last page of the the Flash 323 stated that “The Creeper will return — as a DC maxi-series by Keith Giffen”. That may be what Chris was trying to remember. However, I do not believe this planned story was ever published…

    1. Now I remember! I recall the last few panels of the Creeper’s hand rising up after surviving a big explosion or something, and a really odd panel of him looking straight at the reader smiling. Seems like the story took place in a mental institution? Thanks for reigniting the old synapses, Xum!

      Chris

  4. Having fun following along with the podcast. I had read this issue many years ago. A buddy knew my love of Dr. Fate and the Creeper and said I should read it. So I wasn’t in the dark about the goings on here. A couple of comments.

    As said by Paul, the Dark Man was mentioned in the Season of Mists of Sandman. I am not the biggest Sandman fan but Mists is the best arc and worth reading.

    I love the way Fate looks here. Pretty sad we didn’t get more.

    As for the Dark Man, did any one else get a major Wotan vibe from his origin. A mix of science and faith, peeking through the veils of reality. I thought for sure at some point we were going to learn that he was Wotan (or an aspect of him). Never materialized.

    I thought the idea of ‘The Living Daylights’ at the theater wasn’t necessarily a plug for the movie but instead a sort of contrast to the situation. The Gray Man, a dead guy obsessed with gray who sucks the dream energy out of people is the exact opposite of something with living and light in its title.

    Lastly, gotta love the Creeper. That guy rules. Shag is right that Creeper did appear in the World’s Finest book. Ditko wrote and drew those stories and there is definitely a ‘workplace comedy’ feel to those plots. However, Ditko has them more as a 50s office set than something more modern. The Creeper seems like the perfect project for Giffen. His Secret Origins story set up a great new wrinkle for the origin, explaining the insanity. He also did a DCCP Crisis crossover with the Creeper as well. Alas, nothing ever gelled. Maybe I should send my pitch to DC?

    1. Using the great and powerful interwebs, looks like Keith Giffen got another stab at Creeper in a few places: a few issues of Eclipso; a Showcase ’93 story; and a short story in the Wednesday Comics collection. The character really does seem a good fit for Giffen in the 80s!!

      1. I really like the use of the Creeper in the Eclipso Annual Crossover and then into the Eclipso ongoing – probably the best use of the character in my experience.

    2. That’s really deep about “Living Daylights” contrasting with the situation. Whoa. *Mind blown*

      Regarding Wotan, I didn’t draw that connection, but J.M. DeMatteis would go on to do interesting things with Wotan in his Doctor Fate run. So while I don’t think they was a direct link, the ideas both filtered through DeMatteis.

  5. At the top of the episode Shag laments that there was no volume 4 of the Green Lantern of Sector 2814 line of trades because he wanted more of the GLC era where everyone was living together sitcom style on Earth. While the entire run from GREEN LANTERN 201-224 has yet to be reprinted the first six issues were reprinted in TALES OF THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS VOLUME 3, which is available at In Stock Trades..

    More thoughts as the episode continues. Hopefully.

    1. Thanks, Hermione, for correcting me. What I really want are the issues starting with 208 with Kilowog and the Rocket Reds. But thanks for trying to prove me wrong anyway. Know-it-all.

  6. You mention me and poof I respond!
    Well actually….
    Neil Gamian did cover the dream stuff the grey man collected. In the Key to Hell story line, Sesons of the Mist. The Lords of Order attempt to bribe Dream with the dream stuff to get the key. Dream is unimpressed and explains that if he wanted it he would have kept it in the first place.

  7. All right. Time to come to Byrne’s defense, which is something that can be hard to do but every once in a while it has to be done.

    I’ve read ACTION COMICS issues 592 and 593 a bunch of times and while there is the scene where Superman and Barda are being filmed and there is that odd exchange at the end of the issue where Superman says, “It seems we…ah….” I don’t actually think the porno actually happened. At the beginning of issue 593 the director of Sleez’s movie is trying to get Barda and Superman to steam up the room and they seem to be having trouble with following those directions. And they’re fully clothed, which (I’ve heard) makes for a bad porno. It would even make a bad Cinemax movie at three AM when you’re parents are asleep and it’s summer and you’re a teenager and…well, you get the idea.

    I know it’s fun to poke fun at stuff like this but for whatever reason it bugs me when people get all, “BARDA AND SUPERMAN TOTALLY DID IT ON CAMERA! LOLZ!” Unless there was something I am totally forgetting from the comic I just don’t think it happened.

    Now Superman did totally make the Rondor with two backs with Amazing Grace in ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #426.

    1. Well, yeah, it didn’t happen on camera IN the code-approved, newstand comic. But even as a kid (and I bought those issues off the stand), I kind of got the impression they were forced to…at least start the deed if not complete it. I know it’s awful. But hey, Byrne went there, not me. That’s not me jumping on any bandwagon, I honestly read it that way back then. Even though I was only 12. Not sure what that says about me, but that was my honest reaction then, and it’s stuck with me until now. Maybe I should go re-read them…

      Chris

      1. I get why people think it happened and I realized my post was a little snarkier than I intended so my bad on that. It’s just one of my weird buttons.

        Though if Superman and Barda couldn’t do the deed because they were being controlled it would have been nice for Byrne to tell us that. I get the feeling he left it ambiguous on purpose.

        1. No worries Mike. I understand why it touches a nerve with folks. Heck, the whole thing is more disturbing the more you think about it… and it also gets a lot less funny to make cracks about it, if you linger on it, especially since Barda is a married woman. It reads far ickier than Superman and Amazing Grace’s hook-up.

          If this happened now, news outlets would be carrying the story, and there would be a lot of angry folks threatening to beat down DC’s doors and come after Byrne. I’m not sure how much fervor there was over it at the time. I’ve heard of a little since (like apparently Kirby wasn’t happy about it), but didn’t really have a way to know about any of it at the time of publication. I didn’t have my Comic Buyer’s Guide subscription quite yet.

          Chris

          1. Probably where the confusion exists was that Sleez first did a video of Barda dancing in the sewers. This is the video that Darkseid shows Mr. Miracle at the start of the second issue of that storyline, and it is Scott’s reaction that others (including the Cracked website) have taken that he is watching Barda and Superman together, when in fact he is watching Sleez’ video of Barda dancing. I think Sleez was pushing for Superman and Barda to do the porno when Scott came in to break Sleez’ spell on both of them.

  8. This was a different issue, for me. I’m not normally a fan of horror and the supernatural; so, the Grey Man wasn’t exactly something that drew me. However, the character interaction and different components of the story still had me hooked. Obviously, the “one punch” (BAP!) is a big element. That said, I always liked Dr Fate and he is well used, here. This was also the first Creeper appearance that I enjoyed (I saw a couple of Ditko stories, in the 70s, and didn’t care for him).

    In regards to that Creeper episode of the New Adv. of Batman; to me, the character felt more like Freakazoid, crossed with the Joker, than the Creeper. That actually was a plus, for me.

  9. Great episode! The feedback was particularly interesting, except the part where Shag said “Here’s where I disagree with Rob…” So what else is new?

    I think Chris deserved some sort of prize for naming the same Bwa Ha Ha moment as the host, maybe a washer/dryer combo?

    1. I got a month’s supply of Rice-A-Roni, the San Fransisco Treat, and a copy of the home game. Yay.

      Chris

  10. Another great ep. Can’t believe Chris stole the One-Punch from Shag!! Anyway, I had no idea the One-Punch even existed until the infamous Paul Hix showed me his copy. I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was great. I totally agree the expression from Canary coupled with her line “… and I missed it? I’m so depressed” was brilliant. However it wasn’t until you guys mentioned it that I noticed Blue Beetle is wiping his eyes under his goggles. Hilarious!! That comes in a very close second. I also enjoyed the One-Punch sound fx almost as much as Ryan Daly’s using “Animal Man!” on the ep of Secret Origins. Funny stuff guys. Keep it up.

  11. Irish Embassy calling, wondering why after Chris Franklin’s visit to the main embassy, all the embassies were sent this leaflet from HR entitled “Why it is wrong to take leg warmers from Black Canary” – very strange!

    Anyway, great episode Shagg and Chris. The highlight of the course has to be the “one punch” *insert sound effect here*. It is amazing how this has been referenced throughout the ages – the homage cover in JLE 12, Hal Jordan knocking down Batman in Green Lantern Rebirth and Guy crowing “One Punch!”, the aftermath discussion between the Trinity in Brad Meltzer’s Justice League of America Zero issue – probably the most famous punch of all time!

    Interesting discussion about why other team books did not follow the JLI route when it was so popular. The only series where I think that type of team dynamic was shown (with some humour too) was another Keith Giffen team, L.E.G.I.O.N. – while the JLI was a group of friends or workmates hanging together, L.E.G.I.O.N. was a group of workmates with the boss from hell, Vril Dox II.You could also argue that Ostrander’s Suicide Squad had that type of vibe too – just got the first 3 trades and re-reading the series, and forgot how funny the Mystery of the Cream-Pie Thrower was – who couldn’t love see Amanda Waller being hit with a pie!

    Just a small aside of Chris’ talk about Batman – I do believe in Death in the Family storyline, there was some references to Batman being in the JLI – I remember one of the text boxes, which acted as his thought balloon, mentioning that he (Batman) was taking advantage of the fact that he was part of an internationally recognised organisation in the JLI to smooth his way into the Middle East. I remember that vividly because, for all intents and purposes, Batman’s membership of the JLI was barely mentioned in his own books.

    Great episode and looking forward to the first Annual next month.

  12. Great job by Shag and Chris on One Punch. But I have to share a little more thought about how this gag worked back in the day, when I was getting the comic new every month, and how incredibly well it was executed.

    First, the cover. Fantastic artwork by Maguire. The readers have seen Guy trying to muscle into leading the JL since issue #1, and in that first issue, Guy holds his own against practically the entire team for a couple of pages. Batman stops him without throwing a fist. So yes, we HAVE been waiting for this! I seriously wonder who came up with the concept for the cover, because it totally misdirects us readers for how the fight actually happens.

    Second, for the first half of #5, no JL except for Dr Fate! None! The tension builds…

    Third, Guy and Batman face off as usual, and the rest of the team is pretty much staying out of it. The posturing leads up to turning the page and BAP! One punch! But remember, the panel was printed on the top of the following page! No hint! No spoiling! You had to physically turn the page to see it happen! Surprise factor through the roof! The coordination with the printers had to be spot on, or it could have been ruined by the wrong placement of an ad page. Wow!

    Fourth, the contrast of the Beetle’s and Canary’s reactions. If everybody reacted the same, that would have been the end of the gag. But no, it just keeps going! And yes, I LOVE Canary’s lamenting.

    Last, top of the following page. The team just moves on to business! Canary stuck thinking “I missed it! I missed it! …” Batman tries to start the meeting, but here comes Oberon, and in a beautiful example of Maguire’s storytelling, Oberon clearly looks at Guy on the floor, and unconcerned about his condition, just jumps over Guy! In ONE PANEL!

    After last! (what?) Not only is Guy out for this issue, he didn’t appear in #6 at all. So we had a whole extra MONTH to wonder what would finally happen when Guy wakes up. I remember very clearly thinking at the time, “But … Guy’s still back at the HQ! What?” Oh, the humanity!

    Ok, that’s more than enough. Thanks for indulging me.

  13. One Punch! With the current popularity of the Japanese One Punch Man character, I’m surprised I have yet to see anything pairing that character with the very special moment so prominently featured in this issue. Someone should get on that, stat!

    Also, I have no idea why my iTunes reviews display my name as a mess of hyphens and underscores, but hey, “Mysterious Hyphen Man” sounds like as good a moniker as any!

  14. This show is great! It’s been a lot of fun to walk down JLI memory lane. I also love the look at the other books on the market at the time that involved JLI members. It’s funny that Beetle and Booster’s individual books were so laden with melodrama and mediocrity when they became the shining stars of the JLI. I so wanted to love Blue Beetle when it appeared post-Crisis. I loved Paris Cullen’s art, but the book lacked the silliness that the character promised. It made the added mistake of bringing in The Hybrid from the worst era of Wolfman’s Titans. Talk about a crossover that brought down both franchises. Yeesh.

    Booster Gold started with so much promise, but the book really petered out by the end. Booster couldn’t remain fully vapid and money obsessed the entire series, but it would have been fun for Jurgens to extend out that character element a bit longer. It was what separated Booster from other heroes.

    But, even though their books didn’t work, they soared in the JLI. This issue in particular begins to show the promise. Beetle’s “One punch!” line is classic, but it’s his posture and facial expression that clinch it. I can still see the unbridled joy this moment brought him. This was really the moment when the book started to click for me. I understood in this moment that I was supposed to dislike Guy, laugh at Beetle, and be a bit afraid of Bats. I was young, so it was my first time experiencing a comic where the characters were different enough that I wasn’t supposed to like all or trust all of them. It was a nice precursor to what life in the working world would be.

    Keep up the good work. I know how much work a show like this must be, and it is paying off in a really fun listening experience.

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