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Justice League of America 9
"The Origin of the Justice League!"


Story: Gardner Fox Art: Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs Editor: Julius Schwartz

Ah, the Justice League of America. What's so special about them, you ask? For one thing, when I picture the JLA in my mind, it's the Silver Age version I see, with stories told in a single issue, as opposed to loooooonnnngggg story arcs. Each story managed to present each JLAer in his or her splendid individual glory, as the members strutted their stuff on their own, teaming up towards the end to vanquish their foe!

Just how did the Justice League come together? What was the menace which posed such a threat to this gathering of heroes? Where the heck did it come from? What made this group decide to continue as a team? Why don't I continue with the review?

At the time of this issue, the JLA's headquarters was in the Secret Sanctuary, a cave, as opposed to the later JLA satellite. Snapper Carr, the JLA mascot and precursor to Marvel's Rick Jones and D.C.'s ginchy Teen Titans, is on his way to see his friends for a party, a birthday party which commemorates the formation of the World's Greatest Super-Heroes.

When Snapper arrives at the headquarters, he sees Green Lantern moving chairs. Wonder Woman tells the "honorary member" to grab a mop and pail in order to make the place spotless! (Yes, ma'am! In current continuity, when was the last time we saw Diana wearing an apron?) Snapper is cleaning the display cases in the souvenir room when he asks Wonder Woman about some wooden splinters and shavings in a display case. She tells him that it's the very first souvenir for the room, and he realizes that it's related to the JLA's first case! Aquaman points out that it means far more than that, as Green Arrow shares Snapper's curiousity about how the Justice League began.

Wonder Woman tells her fellow members to finish cleaning the Secret Sanctuary for the party so that the others can tells what part they played in their first ever case. Aquaman points out that there isn't a permanent chairman, but when it comes to cleaning time, it's agreed that Wonder Woman is the boss! (Agh! I'm surprised that Diana didn't tell Arthur to go soak his head, but he does that anyway.) Superman is wiping the ceiling, the Martian Manhunter is cleaning the walls, Flash is moving at super-speed with a feather duster, and Green Lantern is helping Batman and Aquaman move furniture, all under the supervision of Wonder Woman, who is using a mean vaccum. (Gee if their enemies saw them doing this, they'd laugh themselves silly! Why doesn't G.L. use his power ring or have Flash, Supes, and J'onn use their super-speed to finish up the cleaning detail? Teamwork, that's why.) With the cleanup done, Snapper brings in the birthday cake to celebrate the Justice League, while the Martian Manhunter begins to tell the story.

As the Flash is handing a piece of cake to Aquaman, Snapper and Green Arrow are listening to J'onn with rapt attention. In his other identity as a police detective, J'onn heard about people being turned to stone, but the radio call abruptly ceases as the police are likewise turned to rock! (Holy Bob Dylan, Batman!) Changing to the Martian Manhunter, he speeds to the scene.

J'onn sees that the city's inhabitants have been turned to stone, as an odd sensation begins to change him! Using his Martian abilities, he fights off the effects. He then sees a stone giant using blue beams from its eyes to turn everyone to rock. Using his full speed, he slams into the stone giant to no effect. Using his Martian-Vision, J'onn reads the stone giant's mind, and realizes that the creature is one of several beings from the planet Appellax! The distant planet's ruler had perished and several of the inhabitants intend to fight over the throne.

Earth is the closest planet to Appellax, and has never been visited by the Appellaxians. Combat would take place there in order to spare Appellax from damage. Each warrior representative is placed into a meteor ship and then sent through hyperspace, where the victor of the games would claim the throne of Appellax. The meteors have fallen in seven separate zones, where each warrior is to conquer his land and take control by enslaving the inhabitants and turning them into slaves for the fight. Each warrior and his slaves would fight the other six until only one is left. Unfortunately the mindlink has enabled the stone giant to become aware of the Manhunter's weakness to fire!

The stone giant grabs a lamppost and rubs it against his rock skin. The Martian Manhunter is now aware of the stone giant's weakness, but sparks hit a nearby sawdust pile, causing a fire which sends him to the ground. J'onn lands near a fire hydrant and swiftly opens it. He uses his Martian-Breath to control the water, which extinguishes the fire. J'onn then flies towards the alien creature's head... aiming for the weak spot on his temple...

Twin emerald fists strike with the force of a dozen Hurricane Fabians and the stone giant is knocked to the ground...unconscious. The people begin change back to normal and witness the Martian Manhunter's triumph. The police assure J'onn that they'll use sledge hammers on the giant's skull if he gets out of line! (Holy Rasche, Batman!) He learns of the other meteors and sets out to the one which landed on the Carolina Coast, but as he arrives, emanations from the unopened meteor cause him to begin to turn into wood! (Holy Pinocchio, Batman!)

Aquaman continues the story, and recalls how he communicated with a fish who was fleeing from a meteor which had turned his fellow fish to glass. As he swims to the area, his body begins to tingle, and the King of the Seven Seas also begins to turn to glass! He witnesses the arrival of a glass sea-being heading directly towards him! The Sea King thinks to attack, but his glassy form leaves him vulnerable. However, his ability to think enables him to outwit his opponent.

Using his telepathic powers, Aquaman warns his friends away, then summons a trunkfish to attack the glass creature, as well as sending some Indian Trigger Fish and Australian Certodus to the attack! (Holy Fish Police, Batman! It must have been quite a commute!) The trunkfish head for the glass creature, but are turned to glass before they can successfully attack. Aquaman pins his hopes on the fish above the glass creature, for these particular type of fish produce individual sounds, including ones which should be sufficient to shatter glass!

The glass creature shifts its gaze to the fish, who are also turned to glass, but a group of drum fish arrive, and use their vibrating muscles to produce sound vibrations which shatter the glassy foe! (Holy Ringo, Batman! They "Beatled" him!) Aquaman and the fish are turned back to normal, and the King of The Seven Seas heads to the surface, anxious to alert the authorities of his experience. (Holy Ellis, Batman! In the Silver Age, the authorities believe whatever story you tell them... including how you're amphibious and can talk to fish! Suuurrre they do...!) Riding a pair of dolphins, Aquaman heads for the Carolina Coast and the unopened meteor, where he, too, is ensared by the meteor's rays!

Wonder Woman continues the story... She was on her way to Paradise Island (or as I call it... No Man's Land...) on a visit to her mother, Queen Hippolyta, but as she circles the island in her invisible plane, she sees a bunch of glimmering blobs oozing along the ground! (Holy Steve McQueen, Batman!) The island is completely deserted, as Diana makes her way to the Amazon Laboratory, and sees on a viewscreen that meteor had landed earlier. Its occupant, a being composed of liquid mercury, oozes out, emitting weird radiation which strike the Amazon maidens!

Wonder Woman sees her mother and other Amazons begin to liquefy before her eyes. They become beings of mercury adn begin following their new leader for the open sea. As Diana close in on the mercury being, she also begins to turn into mercury, but she manages to loop her magic lasso around the creature and uses her strength to fight off the transformation. She twirls the creature around as fast as she can...

Faster and faster goes the magic lasso, as Wonder Woman swings her rope and remembers that the boiling point of mercury is 356.9 centigrade. (Holy Selegue, Batman!) She's determined to vaporize it before being transformed into mercury herself. The creature dissolves into a mass of whirling vapors... Queen Hippolyta and the Amazons are grateful for Diana's intervention. Using the Amazonian instruments, Wonder Woman learns of the other meteors, and heads for the one in Carolina, only to be trapped along with Aquaman and J'onn.

Green Lantern continues the story... He was in outer space when he saw the meteor appear out of hyperspace. He follows the meteor to Earth and sees a giant golden bird emerge from it! (Holy Sesame Street, Batman! It's a Big Bird!) As the bird flies along the jungles of Rhodesia, he sees the bird emit a white ray which causes the animals to turn into winged beings. As G.L. gets closer, he sees two hunters who have been turned into flying beings. He uses his power ring to cast a sheath of protection for himself. Due to the ring's weakness to the color yellow, the emerald gladiator uses it to create a giant magnifying glass and focuses the sun's rays on the giant bird.

As the beam strikes the bird, it blocks out the sun and swiftly grabs Green Lantern, who begins to turn to gold, as well. Desperately, G.L. uses his ring to bring a storm cloud closer and turn the rain drops to hail. Although the hail strikes the bird with force, it is not sufficient to cause damage. Green Lantern tears free from the golden talons, and heads for some waterfalls before the bird creature can attack him!

The emerald gladiator flies through the waterfall, with the bird creature in hot pursuit, but G.L. uses his power ring to freeze the falls... trapping his quarry in solid ice. With its defeat, its victims return to normal, and are sent to hospital via the power ring. At the hospital, G.L. learns of the other meteors and heads for the Carolinas, only to be trapped alongside the others.

It is now the Flash's turn to continue the story... In his other identity of a police scientist, Barry Allen was in Europe for an Interpol meeting when he hears about a meteor landing in Italy! Using the ring which conceals his costume, he changes to the scarlet speedster, and races to the scene, where he sees a giant creature composed of flame emerging from the meteor! As he races towards the creature, he sees that other people have been affected and have become creatures of flame, as well! The Flash uses his speed to create some wind, but the flame creature only grows larger. He sees his very fingertips burst into flames...

The Fastest Man Alive uses vibrations to get some distance from the flame creature, then races onto a nearby lake, where he whips up a column of water to drench the creature! The watery column evaporates in the face of the tremendous heat! The Flash then races to Africa and rounds up some sand from the Sahara, but the flame creature manages to transform the sand to crude glass. After having used wind, water, and sand, the scarlet speedster intends to beat the fire by eliminating the air!

The Flash runs at top speed around the creature, creating a vacuum which soon causes the creature to die out, and returning the citizens to normal. Now aware of the meteor in the Carolinas, Flash races there, but soon joins the other heroes in captivity.

Unlike the other Appellaxians, the Carolina invader attacked the arriver JLAers with a mighty burst of radiation, transforming them into beings of wood. A giant wooden being soon emerges from the meteor... (Holy Howdy-Doody, Batman!) The JLAers are unable to resist and are compelled to follow the wooden creature in a slow and ponderous manner. Aquaman strains his muscles to collide with Green Lantern, swinging his limb against him...

Green Lantern's power ring is freed, but his will power is greatly weakened. He sends a beam towards the face of the Martian Manhunter, who uses his Martian Breath to knock Flash into Wonder Woman, thus having her in range of the emerald gladiator's ring. He is able to transform one side of her to normal, enabling her to reach her magic lasso.

The giant wood being turns and sees that Wonder Woman is partially free, but before he can do anything, she uses her magic lasso to encircle him, and causes it to render him into so much splinters and shavings. (Holy Gillette, Batman! What a close shave!) The JLAers are freed and are grateful for the the teamwork which has enabled them to defeat their common foe. J'onn mentions the presence of another meteor in Greenland, having learned about it from his mind probe with the stone giant.

Arriving in Greenland, J'onn is flying and Green Lantern has made a platform for his fellow heroes. They witness Superman and Batman battling a diamond being! The JLAers are aware that the man of steel and the caped crusader have banded together as the world's finest team. Superman continues the story, as both he and Batman were on a case when they heard of the mysterious meteor in Greenland. As they drew near, it turns out that the meteor was composed of Kryptonite! With Superman on the ground, Batman begins to turn into diamond, as he desperately pilots the Bat-Plane and heads towards them! (Holy Turn Left At Greenland, Batman!)

The Bat-Plane crosses the ice field, as a grappling hook snags the Kryptonite meteor, and carries it far away! The man of steel regains his strength, then charges towards the diamond being... using the power of super-friction to transform the diamond creature into a lump of coal! Snapper Carr interrupts the story and asks Superman how he was able to change the diamond to coal. He tells Snapper that he "rubbed" the diamond creature the wrong way!

It is on the icy field of Greenland where the seven heroes decide to band together - as a League... suggests the Flash -- in order to uphold Justice. The meteor beings were returned to their world, and the JLAers kept the splinters as a souvenir. Back in the present, Snapper asks Wonder Woman about the origin of the Secret Sanctuary, but that's another story yet to be told. As she gathers up the plates and cups, Snapper and Green Arrow sing "Happy Birthday" to the Justice League, much to the amusement of their fellow members.

I think that I shall never see a sight as majestic as the JLTrees... errr... JLA by Fox, Sekowsky, and Sachs. Gardner Fox certainly spotlighted each individual member in a story which truly spanned the globe. Under his writing, no Leaguer dominated the spotlight... to the expense of the others, and even the big guns, Superman and Batman, appear towards the end of the story.

This was a compelling threat to the heroes with the aliens and their many forms of attack, which demanded the gather of the JLA. It was a pleasure to see Flash, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman in action, each dealing with the various threats in their own unique manner.

As already noted, Snapper Carr was the precursor of the Teen Titans, with such expressions as "jamming his brain cells" when guessing who the birthday party was for, being "tuned in and blowing his jets" rather than being a drop-out and hopefully not blowing his jets at the dining table (not to mention the prospect of Martian and Super-Breath being blown his way). You must admire a character who tells Superman that he "doesn't read him, but he has such hi-fi thoughts, he'll jsut cool his engine until he's on his wavelength." Sheesh, in a retcon, Snapper would be "dee-vee-deed, indeed, and warming his microwaves in anticipation."

The art by Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs is awesome, indeed: J'onn J'onzz with his long, muscular arms; Aquaman, whose hair remains dry underwater; Wonder Woman with those red earrings,s horts, sandals, and exclaimations of "Sufferin' Sappho!" Then, there is the great Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, who does some awesome aerial tactics against an avian menace.. who just happens to have a color scheme with disagrees with G.L.'s power ring! The Flash, with his costume-popping ring and scientific mind, who has to go through many attacks before finding the right solution; thanks to Gardner Fox for chronicling this adventure of the fastest man alive. Finally, there's Superman and Batman as a team. The Martian Manhunter notes: They often do that, I understand!" Ha! I often wondered how the other heroes would react to the World's Finest team, and now I know!

Steve Chung
"The Review of The Justice League!"