Power of Fishnets 17: Boys Act Weird Around Zatanna

This time, Ryan reviews Zatanna’s team-up with the world’s greatest heroes in Justice League of America #87, and holy $#@% this is a wild story! King Batman! The Avengers Champions of Angor! And all the guys want to touch Zatanna! It’s insane! BONUS: Ryan’s review of Green Arrow and Black Canary backup stories from World’s Finest #245 originally covered on Flowers & Fishnets episode 11.

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Music: “King of Anything” by Sara Bareilles.

Thanks for listening! Evah a ecin yad!

15 responses to “Power of Fishnets 17: Boys Act Weird Around Zatanna

  1. I’ve heard of this Justice League story for years, but I had no idea how… strange it was. I honestly didn’t even know Zatanna appeared in it. I think someone needs to ask Mike Friedrich about Zatanna. I’ve interviewed him for Back Issue, and he’s a super nice guy, and very responsive. It wouldn’t surprise me that he WANTED Zatanna in the League. He’s obviously VERY fond of her.

    But yeah, there are some WEIRD Justice League stories. Fox wrote some, O’Neil wrote some, but this may be the strangest one I’ve heard of. Although the retconning of Black Canary into her own daughter (which we covered Ryan) is almost just as nuts.

    Fun episode! Can’t wait to get deeper into the World’s Finest run of Dinah and Ollie. This is definitely where I came to know the characters.

    Chris

  2. These stories can really be boiled down to one panel each:

    In the case of JLA #87, that final shot of the JLA getting handsy with Zee. GL’s reach across her mid-section is especially disturbing.

    As for the BC solo story, I remember *distinctly* that panel of a topless Dinah and it made quite an impression on my (then) young mind. Was the CCA flunkie assigned to this story looking out the window when going over this page? I assume having to look at thousands of pages of Richie Rich comics would dull the senses, so sometimes stuff slipped by. And thank Rao for that.

    As mean as it might sound, I really can’t wait to hear what this show will be like once Roy Thomas Daly arrives. I picture lots of slurred words and 10,000-foot level story recaps owing to lack of sleep: “So, Dinah Shore kicks a guy, and then [long pause] Green Lantern makes chili and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…”

    F*ck Steve Bannon!

  3. Great show as always, Ryan.

    That JLA-Zatanna story was weird. I knew of it for the Avengers/Squadron Supreme connection (Marvel did a linking story the same month, I believe), and of course for the Champions of Angor’s later prominence in the Bwa-ha-ha era.

    It’s bizarre that they didn’t add Zatanna to the League earlier. I guess maybe the earlier writer Denny O’Neil thought her magic was too powerful. O’Neil really seems to be uncomfortable with super powers. He depowered Wonder Woman, and weakened Superman and Green Lantern too. Yes, Black Canary was given a super-power when she joined the League in O’Neil’s time, but even the Canary Cry’s first appearance Dinah stops using it and goes back to judo. A few issues later the Cry is phased out for years. It’s easy enough to imagine a judo-master Dinah pulling her own weight in the League. I can’t imagine they’d ever make Zatanna powerless though.

    I also enjoyed the rerun of the World’s Finest appearances too. I wonder who we were supposed to side with in the Green Arrow/Black Canary arguments (or in the Wildcat/Power Girl arguments in Conway’s All-Star Comics issues). Looking back on it, Green Arrow is a sexist, boorish jackass in this issue and Black Canary is right to call him on it. But I think at the time Ollie’s chauvinistic attitudes could still be considered normal. I know in later issues Dinah apologizes for going a little too far in snapping at Ollie though.

    Part of it feels like course-correction for the submissiveness we saw from Dinah in previous depictions. I know many people love that “Oliver, I can’t be sure, and I don’t know why … but I think I love you.” from Action Comics #428, but she seemed too passive to me. Also, Conway restores the Drake part of Dinah’s name that seemed to come and go at this time. And Conway gives her a new career beyond the flower shop.

    Not everything Conway does holds up to scrutiny 40 years later, but I think he was at least attempting to increase the power and dignity of Black Canary.

    I’m really looking forward to your future installments.

    Oh, and surely Rob and Shag should be give the Zany Haney treatment to the lead Superman/Batman story of World’s Finest Comics #246-7. Superman’s hunchback twin-brother brings the zany, and then when he declares himself president? Well, I suspect there could be some fun discussion around a phony populist president who seeks to rule as a king.

  4. Splendid show as ever, but what a stupid story. I’d never read the first appearance of the Champions of Angorr, and assumed they were the main event. But no, it was Batman with a Bat-Crown and a Bat-Sceptre. Awesome.

    That panel of ‘Zatanna, the bearer of peace’ is utterly bizarre and setting up the story’s final panel is no excuse. Wasn’t Julie Schwartz an extremely hands-on editor who insisted on tight plots? Maybe this was a DC version of Assistant Editor’s Month. Then again, that would’ve left ENB in charge and he’s never have signed off on this one.

    Could it be that Schwartz wouldn’t let Zee join the team back then because it was subtitled ‘The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes’ and she didn’t have a regular strip?

    1. Well, by this point the Atom and Hawkman didn’t appear regularly outside Justice League of America, but maybe that doesn’t matter because they did when they were elected. Either way that shouldn’t have mattered because by this point Black Canary had already joined the team without a regular feature of her own.

  5. This is one of the most messed up stories I’ve read. Michael Bailey and I read it for an episode of the JLI Podcast because Blue Jay, Silver Sorceress, and Wandjina come back in the JLI.

    Rob’s right, that creepy hug at the end says it all. So disturbing!!

    As Allen Wright indicated above, this was a secret crossover between Marvel & DC. The same month the JLA featured pseudo-Avengers, the Avengers also featured a pseudo-JLA (Squadron Sinister). It was apparently coordinated by either the writer or editors. Avengers #85.
    http://www.dcindexes.com/features/newsstand.php?type=calendar&month=12&year=1970

    Here are some speculation that may have lead to this crazy issue:
    1) Often an editor would commission a cover and ask a writer to then write a story about it. That might have been Friedrich’s charge. If so, that would explain why King Batman it’s so quickly wedged in and then ignored.
    2) Friedrich spent so much time building to the pseudo-Avengers, but then only gave them a few pages. Maybe he tried to slip it past his editors by just doing a few pages. Or he was too busy explaining the King Batman nonsense, he couldn’t get to the pseudo-Avengers quick enough.
    3) Friedrich had a serious no-drah for Zatanna.

  6. Wonderful show, good sir. “Superman is vulnerable to magic” indeed…

    I suspect the “deal with Batman” and his very brief stint as a “mad king” in this issue was due to the fact that the amazing cover was created by Neal Adams first, and then the story was created second. This was a common occurrence during the Silver Age and the trend did not start to fade until the early Bronze Age (for the most part). There are many instances where the inside story would not live up to the brilliant concept hyped on the cover, and this one is apparently no exception…

    As I relook at the panel of Black Canary stripping off her strapless and *sleeveless* bustier top, I could not help but notice her wrists, which seem to be slipped through holes that are actually not supposed to be there. I wonder why I had never noticed that before…

    (Yes, that was a rhetorical question…)

    And to be further pedantic, my understanding is that Zatanna’s backward spells should be pronounced reverse-phonetically. in other words, the hypothetical spell for Superman would say “ood eem”, and your signoff “vəh a sign yaid”, correct?

    1. Xum-
      Not only did she have wrist holes on her sleeveless bustier, she also had inconsistent hair length! Sometimes it was just past the tops of her shoulders. Sometimes it was it cascaded down to clavicle level. Once it even reaches to her solar plexus! How does she ever stuff it under her wig?

  7. The beginning of the end for Batman. The weird king stuff just heralds his departure from the JLA to join create the Outsiders, a team he could bully and lord over.

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