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Justice League of America 19
"The Super-Exiles of Earth!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND May 1963; DC Comics (National Periodical Publications); Julius Schwartz, editor; featuring the JLA as "The Super-Exiles of Earth!" Script by Gardner Fox, pencils by Mike Sekowsky, inks by (I think) Bernard Sachs. The cover, which looks like a Murphy Anderson solo job, depicts the despondent JLA members marching up a ramp into a spaceship, as a jeering crowd holds signs, "Traitors!", "Good Riddance!" and "Get Lost, JLA!" Oddly enough, among the hostile crowd are Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Ray Palmer, Diana Prince and other alter egos of the heroes, as well as a grinning Snapper Carr holding the "Get Lost" sign. (My copy of the issue has an extra adornment added by a previous owner; Green Arrow is going up the ramp with downcast eyes, following Wonder Woman, and a word balloon has been added, "Look at them legs".)

The splash panel shows the JLA members aboard the spaceship gathered around a globe of Earth (with the Atom sitting on top of it), while Green Lantern laments, "This is ALL we'll see of Earth from now on-- since we have been exiled into space forever!" As the story opens, scientist Ray Palmer is looking into his lab microscope and sees a most peculiar form of life swimming in his lab culture; "The Atom! But I'm the Atom!" As the visitor grows to six inch height, Palmer asks, "All right, 'Atom'-- now that we've met face to face, what's next?" What's next is a roundhouse punch that knocks Palmer out. Clark Kent is equally surprised when the elevator he's riding opens to admit Superman. But not just Superman; "I'm really a SUPER-SUPERMAN! And to prove my point, here's my convincer!"-- a chunk of Kryptonite that doesn't bother "Super-Superman" at all, but leaves Clark Kent huddled in pain on the elevator floor. Likewise, test pilot Hal Jordan is confronted by a hostile Green Lantern and ducks under a yellow plane wing, but the new GL's power beam passes right through the yellow to paralyze Hal. "Ha! Ha! I'm a better Green Lantern than you, Hal Jordan! My power ring isn't stopped by YELLOW-- or anything else!" Barry Allen is "overcome with amazement" by the appearance of "Super-Flash", who circles him at super-super-speed to create a vacuum and knock him out. Wonder Woman, riding air currents, encounters Super-Wonder Woman who uses her super-breath to force WW downward into a quicksand bog. John Jones is tapped on the shoulder by a passerby asking for a match-- who reveals himself as the Super-Martian Manhunter and produces his own lit match that fells Jones. (If i remember correctly, this is inconsistent with most of JJ's own stories which indicated that JJ was not vulnerable to fire when in his non-powered John Jones identity.) Green Arrow arrives at an archery exhibition decorated by a dummy figure of himself, but the "dummy" comes to life and beats GA to the draw with a "stun-shaft". Aquaman tries to save a swimmer from the grip of the Maelstrom ("a famous whirlpool located off the northwest coast of Norway", an editor's note informs us) but the hapless swimmer turns out to be Super-Aquaman, who escapes easily while Aquaman himself is helplessly caught in the whirlpool. And as Batman races to answer the Bat-Signal, he sees dangling from a ladder from the Batplane, "What in thunder--? Another Batman!" "I'm such a Batman as you've dreamed of being! Far superior to you!" He proves it by hurtling down from the rope ladder to punch Batman's lights out.

Having defeated the Mark One super-heroes, their evil counterparts go on a major crime spreee. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman pulls herself out of the quicksand bog with her lasso, and sends out an emergency signal to the other JLA'ers who have also "recovered from their defeats". Gathering at the secret sanctuary, the members hear a radio news bulletin warning citizens to be on their guard against the JLA'ers who have all turned "lawless". The members resolve to confront the super-impostors again, as Flash vows, "We'll show them we're no quitters-- even if the odds are stacked against us!" But as they rush out of their headquarters, they encounter a police roadblock and more police aircraft in the sky, and being the law-abding sorts they are, they surrender, "Even though we're innocent-- "You'll have a chance to prove it-- in a court of law!" (Meanwhile, Snapper Carr shows up late and finds the sanctuary deserted; "Man, I'm in a rut! Once more-- I'm a stray cat with a mad at the pad!")

Next is a "Science Says You're Wrong If You Believe That" page (You're wrong if you believe that the sun radiates heat-- it actually radiates "electro-magnetic waves of energy that produce heat when they strike an object and are absorbed"-- a scientific fact that would have been less familiar to 1963 kids who had never seen a microwave oven) and a house ad for METAL MEN #1 (Doc Magnus declares, "Don't blame me for what happens from now on! You asked for the Metal Men in their own book--- and here they are!") Then we move on to the JLA's initial court appearance, where they are represented by "lady lawyer" Jean Loring (aka Atom/Ray Palmer's fiancee). The members have Jean offer an unusual legal gambit; they claim innocence, but they have no way of proving it, so they volunteer to exile themselves into outer space until they find a way to defend themselves. The judge muses, "The suggestion has merit! What jail could possibly hold them-- if they decide to escape!" And so it happens, though Bob Ingersoll might have something to say (maybe he already has) about this somewhat unorthodox proceeding. Superman and the other members build a spaceship to take them "out into space to the rim of the galaxy", and then the cover scene is enacted, with the members marching into the ship as the crowds jeer. The members notice Snapper in the crowd and suppose that he too has turned against them, but actually "I know what they're thinking-- but it isn't so! I'm here to spy for them-- see if I can learn who's behind this nightmare!" Also in the crowd are the evil super-JLA'ers, garbed as their civilian selves, who gloat that they can now commit crimes without any interference. Also gloating is the super-criminal known as Doctor Destiny, who is sitting in a prison cell but has nonetheless managed to put his master plan into effect. He caused the JLA members to dream of "super-versions" of themselves and then used his "Materiopticon" to make the super-JLA'ers real. (He built the Materiopticon in the "prison workshop where I was sent for good behavior". Dang it, if I were a taxpaying citizen of Earth-One, I'd demand that all these "prison workshops" be shut down for good. They certainly don't seem to contribute to rehabilitation.)

On their spaceship "hurtling outward through the solar system", the JLA members muse about what has happened to them and start to realize that they each dreamed about a super-version of themselves before the counterparts actually appeared. Batman produces a mysterious letter that arrived at JLA headquarters just before that, and analysis reveals that it contains dream-inducing chemicals. Now they have an idea what is behind their disgrace, but what can they do about it as space exiles? Then Batman has an idea; "You may not be able to go back to Earth, Aquaman-- because you have no secret identity! But I can go back as my OTHER SELF-- and still stay within the law!" Wonder Woman agrees; "That's right! We were exiled in our SECRET IDENTITIES!" (Again, legal beagle Bob Ingersoll might have something to say about whether the JLA would still be within the letter of the law by simply changing clothes before they defy their exile.) Green Lantern points out that if they return to Earth in their secret identities they will be revealing those identities to each other (at this point the JLA had not done so as a group) but Green Arrow and the rest agree that this is justified by the emergency, and the double-identitied members all enter dressing rooms and emerge in their alter egos, as Aquaman muses, "I've always wondered a little about who my fellow members are in real life! Now- I'll know!"

After the super-civilians exchange introductions, Hal Jordan creates an invisible spaceship to bear them back to Earth, while Aquaman will remain in the exile ship (with a supply of water to keep him "alive and healthy"). Approaching Earth, Clark Kent observes with his telescopic vision that the super-JLA'ers have divided into teams of three to loot different sections ot the U.S, and so they too must split up. John Jones, Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince confront Martian Manhunter, Batman and Wonder Woman. But though Diana captures WW in her lasso and orders her to surrender, the lasso's powers have no effect, and in fact Super-WW is able to paralyze Diana by reversing the lasso's mental control. John Jones tries to use a telepathic command to make Martian Manhunter turn invisible and lose the rest of his super-powers, but though MM does vanish, he proves to have all his other powers as well. Bruce Wayne uses various utility belt weapons against Super-Batman, but the latter's equal weaponry and faster reaction time counters everything, and a judo attack also fails as Bruce is felled by Batman's karate chop. Clark Kent, Barry Allen and Ray Palmer go after Superman, Flash and the Atom, but Superman uses a magic spell to render Clark helpless; "I felled you once with Kryptonite! I'll do it now with your other weakness-- magic! BARANDA KALLAMAZOO ABOO!" Barry's attempt to create a vacuum to disable Super-Flash is useless; "Since when do dreams need air?" And though Ray Palmer tries to seize Super-Atom and keep him from using his size controls, Atom has super-strength even in his small size and bends steel bars to create handcuffs for Ray. Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen do no better when they meet Super-Green Lantern, Green Arrow and Aquaman. (I'm not sure, but this may be the only individual team-up of GL and GA prior to their famous team-up of the post-Silver Age.) Hal wills his power ring to fly from his rival's finger to his own, but Super-GL is still able to paralyze Hal with a mental command to the ring, while all of Oliver's arrows are deflected by Super-GA, and he is knocked out by a swarm of flying fish sent by Super-Aquaman.

The "JLA Mailroom" lettercol includes a letter from big name comics fan Jerry Bails acknowledging the honor that was done him-- and Roy Thomas, then still fan rather than pro-- in a previous issue "Cavern of Deadly Spheres" (which featured a comics fan named Jerry Thomas. Other letters complained, though, about that story being a "fictional" story devised by "Jerry Thomas" and not a "real" adventure of the JLA.

As the super-JLA'ers survey their defeated rivals, they gloat that "our wickedness has increased by leaps and bounds", and prepare to destroy the original heroes once and for all. But Ray Palmer utters a warning: "Wait! If you destroy us-- you'll destroy yourselves! Our dreams gave you life! Only if we remain alive-- will you remain in existence!" The evil JLA'ers decide that they'd better not take any chances, so instead of killing their counterparts they imprison them in a power-ring cube buried deep beneath the earth. (Since there doesnt seem to be any provision for the prisoners to get food, water, or other essential needs, you'd figure the more mortal JLA members would die after a while anyway. I guess the idea was that the members would somehow absorb enough power-ring energy to stay alive though trapped.) Meanwhile, Doctor Destiny schemes in his cell how the super-JLA'ers he created will destroy the JLA and so destroy themselves, freeing him to escape jail and become the unrivaled "world's greatest criminal", unwitting of how the evil JLA'ers have been warned from destroying the real JLA.

The power-beam prison will not yield either to Hal Jordan's weaker will power or to the other members' strength. But then Oliver Queen has an idea; what if Hal expanded his ring so that all of the members could touch it and add their will power to the escape effort? Hal willingly expands his ring to a hoop big enough to surround the whole group,. And it works; the combined group will power is enough to outweigh that of Super-Green Lantern and bring the prison cube to the surface and release the JLA. Musing on past JLA cases in hope of finding some precedent that might help defeat their super-rivals, Wonder Woman recalls a case ("Last Case of the Justice League", #12) in which she was trapped on a planet where her super-powers were useless because she could not control her body movements. But how to produce such an effect in the super-JLA'ers? Ray Palmer has an idea how; "Becoming microscopic in size, I could enter our dream-selves undetected and unfelt and perform delicate 'operations'!" (An editor's note adds, "What Ray Palmer has suggested is entirely possible! Modern medical techniques can perform amazing brain 'surgery' by applying electrical stimulation to many parts of the brain!") As Ray travels to the secret sanctuary which the evil members have taken over, the other members wait in suspense, then charge in to discover if Ray has succeeded in his mission. He has; the super-JLA'ers are flopping around like beached fish, unable to control their actions or use their powers effectively, and are easily captured by Diana Prince's lasso. (Atom is definitely the hero of this particular JLA story, as he both comes up with the argument that keeps the evil JLA from simply killing their rivals, and the means of finally defeating them.) Delivering the super-impostors to the law, the JLA members-- still, apparently, in their civilian identities-- obtain a court order authorizing them to officially return to Earth. They retrieve Aquaman from space, and trace Doctor Destiny to his jail cell through the gimmicked letter he sent, destroying his Materiopticon and arranging for him to be put in solitary (no more prison workshop for him). One more order of business remains-- beating up on Snapper Carr because they think he turned against them. No, not really... the last matter to be settled is, : "It's been wonderful knowing each other's secret identities!", Superman declares. "But since a worldwide knowledge of our secret identities may expose those dear to us to danger-- I'd better do something about it!" He proposes to get some "Amnesium" from his Fortress of Solitude and use it to erase secret identity knowledge both from each other (excepting, apparently, those like himself and Batman and Flash and Green Lantern who already knew each other's identities) and from the rest of the world. "SO SAY WE ALL!", the members agree. (As I recall, it was during Denny O'Neil's run writing JLA that he forgot or ignored that they weren't supposed to know each other's identities and started writing stories in which they all knew each other as civilians. Still later, a retcon story was done to explain how this came about.)

Finally in the issue there is a house ad for BRAVE & BOLD declaring that "STRANGE SPORTS STORIES is the most EXCITING SPECTACULAR ASTONISHING magazine ever published!" Actually, in an interview in the ALTER EGO magazine that just came out, former DC publisher Irwin Donenfeld and Julius Schwartz, who edited five issues of STRANGE SPORTS STORIES in BRAVE & BOLD, agree that it was "the biggest flop we ever published!" (Which didn't stop them from keeping it going longer than most Showcase/B & B trial runs, and then trying the idea again in the '70s....*someone* must have been really fond of that idea.....)