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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tales from the 50 Cent Bin! - Justice League of America #164-165

This installment of Tales from the 50 Cent Bin has been brought to you by the late, great Jim Kelly:

“Man, you come right out of a comic book!”

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to a little thing I call Justice League Month. As the title suggests, this month is going to be dedicated to one of my favorite superhero teams. I’ve got a few stories I want to go through this month and all five of them are from each decade. Today’s two-parter is Justice League of America #164-165 from the late 1970’s. Now, I have a little history with the second issue. My uncle used to have comic books in his youth. I remember someone (maybe my mom) saying he lost them one day which definitely sucks. Luckily, I was able to find a couple of stragglers around my grandmother’s house. One was JLA #165 (which still holds up physically) and another is a remnant of a Man-Bat issue (didn’t hold up so well). When I decided to do this month, I searched for and found #164 at The Great Escape.

I don’t know too much about the creative team behind the book. I’ve heard of Gerry Conway’s name since he’s known for being the writer of this book at the time. The actual team featured is what some dub as “The Satellite League”. This version was comprised of the popular heroes like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Flash. It’s also has lesser known heroes like Red Tornado, the Elongated Man, and Zatanna. It’s really not a bad make-up for the team. Well, enough with the preamble! On to the issue!!!

Justice League of America #164 and #165
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Dick Dillon
Inker: Frank McLaughlin

Issue #164
The story starts out with Red Tornado narrating the events of some of this issue. The JLA meet up and try to piece together on how they are going to beat this Star City villain called Anton Allegro. He has a music box (looks like the prototype to a keytar) that runs on magic and he uses it to do terrible things like play “Disco Duck.” He also used it to beat the crap out of Green Arrow who’s currently recuperating in the JLA Satellite. Zatanna, who’s also going through some things regarding her mother, believes that the music box can help her find her mother. So, Zatanna, GL Hal Jordan, Flash, Black Canary, and Wonder Woman set off to Star City to find Allegro.In Star City, Allegro uses his box in order to try to take over the city. The small of group of Leaguers find his apartment and are able to protect themselves from Allegro’s musical sounds. Zatanna finds the book that Allegro used to power his magic box and the group go to find him. 

Hmm... I guess Wonder Woman saw a glimpse of the Amazing Spider-Man TV show as well.

When they find him, a small fight breaks out and the League is able to stop “Mr. Keytar.” The group teleports back to the Satellite with the box. The rest of the League and Zatara (Zatanna’s father) have found that the place where her mother may be is in Turkey. Zatara exposits on how he met Zatanna’s mother and how she disappeared six months after Zatanna’s birth. With this knowledge, the whole League (minus Ollie and Re Tornado), teleport down to Turkey and RT ends his replay.

I gotta laugh at the middle panel. The women have funny looks on their faces and the Reverse Flash has apparently joined the team.

We catch up with the League in Turkey. Zatanna and Zatara use the box and their magic to break an invisible barrier. They’re shocked to find a city in the barrier. They start to check it out but are attacked by some boy with powers. They capture him and try to question him, but the boy (who starts to look like a woman!?!?!) teleports out of there. The League then get surrounded soldiers. Then Highlord, the leader of the city, shows up with Zatanna’s mother in shackles.

Woah! Dude turned into a chick for a panel!

Issue #165
The issue starts off with the League fighting Highlord’s forces. Superman’s immediately taken out (… Magic sucks sometimes) and the League is subdued by the soldiers. Flash lives up to his name as “The Fastest Man Alive” by trying to help out his friends. Unfortunately, he gets knocked out. One by one, all of the Leaguers are knocked out by Highlord. On the Satellite, Red Tornado awakens Green Arrow in order to tell him that they need to go down to Turkey. After his recording last issue, RT did some research and found a documentary on the birth of magic. The documentary mentions weird sightings in Turkey, so that peaks RT’s interest and the two head out.

Now this was cool.

In the secret city, The JLA finds themselves locked up in some sort of magical prison. Flash tries to escape, but gets knocked out. Elsewhere, Zatanna, Zatara, and Sindella are locked up in a tower. Sindella is stuck in some sort of trance, but Zatanna is able to free her from it. At around this time, RT and Ollie make it to the city and run into the warlike natives. RT gets himself captured in order to find the rest of the League. With some quick thinking from Wonder Woman, they are able to free themselves from the magical prison and another fight ensues.

At the tower, Sindella tells her husband and daughter that she is powering this city. She decides to use what’s left of her power to power down the city. When that happens, the soldiers that the League is fighting crumble away into nothing. It turns out that the actual inhabitants didn’t want to be near the League because they would be automatically attracted to them… yeah, that’s weird, but it could work well for a single guy. We also find out that Sindella’s act took her own life and the issue ends with Zatanna mourning her mother.

……………………………………………………………………………..

These were some decent issues of Justice League of America. They weren’t great, but they aren’t bad either. The story is pretty good, but it has its weird spots. I wonder whatever happened to Highlord because we don’t see at all after the opening fight in the second issue. I do like that it centered on Zatanna. She’s a character I really don’t know much about, so it’s nice that these two issues give some backstory on her heritage. I also liked that there was a pretty downbeat ending. The rest of the team was pretty much in character but some don’t get too much to do. The dialogue is a little expository at times, but it is pretty good.

The artwork is decent. There’s nothing too special about it. It does have its weird spots though. Some of the characters look inconsistent at times. One example would be that boy/man/woman the League was trying to question. Also, the colors look a little weird but that could the fact that these are old comics. Overall, there are two pretty decent issues of the book. There’s not much to say after that. When I move into the more modern comics, I should have more to say. Until then, Peace, God Bless, and don’t mess with magic!

NEXT TIME: GRANT MORRISON... YES, I'M SKIPPING THE 80'S!!!

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