As I began to read Showcase Presents the Justice League of America I soon quickly came to the startled realization that in my thirty plus years as a comic fan, I had never read the first appearance by the JLA in Brave & The Bold #28. This came as a surprise as I had read, in some form or another, the first appearance of just about every major superhero or team: Superman, Batman, The Avengers, Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, etc..., but never the Justice League. It came to me that growing up I had read many of these DC first appearances in those old, oversized, Famous First editions, and read many of the Marvel first appearances in Origins of Marvel Comics collections. But somehow I missed on the Justice League. Thankfully DC continues to produce these affordable and jam-packed Showcase editions. With over 500 pages, this book collects Brave & the Bold # 28 - 30, Justice League of America # 1 - 16, and Mystery in Space # 75, the formative years of DCs greatest super team. All of the stories in this book were written by Gardner Fox with art by Murphy Anderson, Mike Sekowsky, and Carmine Infantio, all with great Anderson covers. Murphy Anderson was as much the artistic face of DC comics in the 1960's as Kack Kirby was at Marvel in the same period.
Interestingly, in Brave & the Bold #28, we get virtually no origin at all. In fact the league is already established with members The Flash, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Superman, and Batman. It's obvious they've already worked together as they have communication devices to signal each other when needed, which Aquaman does when he discovers the threat of Starro the Conqueror, a giant, intelligent starfish from space. Only Superman fails to answer the call as he is deep in outer space battling a meteor swarm. Then in Brave & the Bold #29, the team goes up against the Weapons Master Yotar from the year 11960 who travels back in time with his futuristic weapons to destroy the JLA. In Brave & Bold #30, professor Ivo creates the synthetic humanoid known as Amazo who has the power to steal the powers of the heroes.
Superman would see his first action in Justice League of America #1 as the team would meet for the first time one of their greatest enemies, the tyrant Despero from the planet Kalanor. Other long time JLA villains also make their early appearances in this volume including Doctor Light (the lighting rod for the Infinite Crisis storyline) and Felix Faust. Green Arrow would gain membership into the team in issue #4 and the Atom would join in issue #14. One of the very first issues of the title I remember seeing and reading was #7. This one has the famous funhouse mirror cover with distorted images of the team including the hefty Wonder Woman which I always got a kick out of.
By today's standards the stories may seem a bit simplistic and they are but this was, after all, the very early 60's, pre-Beatles and Viet Nam and it was a simpler time. The running theme of teamwork is present in many of the stories as the team learns to work together to best utilize their abilities. Yes the comics are in black & white and printed on low-cost newsprint paper. But in color this book would be three times as much and that's what the hardcover Archive editions are for. This is great stuff. Vintage Silver Age comics at their finest!
Reviewed by Tim Janson
on January 10, 2006
Ignore the review above....all Showcase titles are in B&W. It's nice to see DC finally coming out with their own version of the Marvel essentials.
First, I grew up reading DC comics. Green Lantern, Flash and Justice League were my personal faves. This is a terrific opportunity to have the early JLA stories, in a great format, without costing an arm and a leg. I'd love to give this Five Stars, but the lack of color (which, I assume, would have increased the price), for me keeps it at Four.
The early issues of the JLA title are all here as well as the first three JLA stories from The Brave and The Bold. Starro, Faust, Amazo....all the big bad guys are here as well. Great art and terrific stories from the sixties! What more can you ask for?
My God, DC silver age comics were goofy. If you LOVE the Superfriends, then this is for you. I mean, if you love the fact that every villain in the universe had some Krytonite, some yellow lasers to zap Green Lantern with, and a Bic lighter to get Martian Manhunter- then this is AWESOME! The stories are so absurd that you have to suspend all disbelief and just enjoy the comedy of it. This is not for people who want a serious story, this is for heroes who are so stupid they are trapped by the most insane devices. This is about villains who are mega-whacky. This stuff is just FUN, FUN, FUN.
on March 30, 2007
I enjoyed this huge graphic novel for the most part. The stories were bizarre but good if you expect that. Makes me think of B Sci-fi movies, very over the top but creative despite that. My favorite part had to be the creative use of super powers, one of the most fun parts of the book. Of course you expect Green Lantern to do some very different things with his ring, but the Flash does some amazing things too. He can control the world around him by varying the way that his uses his superspeed: create vibrations, slow down his rate of falling, create wind etc. (If you read this you will see what I mean).
The villains were all very different, using technology, alien intellect, or magic to trouble the Justice League. The plots have the general pattern of: 1. some seeming impossible challenge, 2. solution through the creative use of powers or some other clever device. This makes for some redundancy but still a lot of fun. (Don't try to read all in one setting...Space them out at bit.)
There are some flaws that draw you out of the fun that the book has to offer. The thing that irked me the most was "Snapper Carr." I understand this is the age of sidekicks, and part of this era of comic books, but he was definitely overused and annoying. The only other complaint is the lack of color. The color would add so much to the visuals. I understand this comes with the territory of these huge complitations, though.
I think this book is definitely worth the read and if you like old comics worth a purchase. It was fun to read these early comics and consider how much comics have changed.
on June 24, 2016
My feelings on this volume are very split. The value of these stories from a comic book history are great, with the first appearance of the Justice League of America as well as the debuts of recurring villains such as Kanjar Ro, Despero, Felix Faust, and one of my favorite baddies, Dr. Light. His issue is my personal favorite, and I feel it makes for an excellent cover for this volume. It even features the issues where Green Arrow (Oliver Queen) and The Atom (Ray Palmer) join! They even team up w/ Adam Strange at one point! So why don't I love this volume like I should?
Well, because these stories are very much a product of its times, and no one exemplifies this more than "Snapper" Carr, The JLA's sidekick. He is a "cool cat" who hangs out w/ the League because he helped them defeat Starro that one time. Many issues end w/ him delivering a slang-filled summation of the events or helping out somehow, snapping his fingers all the way. You can't help but wonder, why does the League need him around? Is the epic combination of Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, The Flash, Aquaman, Superman and Batman not enough to satisfy the readers? He's no Rick Jones is what I'm saying. I do think he serves a purpose other than audience surrorgate, but I'll get to that soon.
And then we get to the stories themselves, which are mostly a new villain-of-the-month arriving, the JLA fighting him together or separately, being momentarily stumped, and then figuring out a way to beat him. This is the formula that most silver age comics have, and what can I say? It works on delivering that action. And I always admire it when a hero figures out a clever way at stopping a villain w/out always having to just beat 'em up, which they do on a couple of occasions. And it is cool to see them all being friends and smiling often, which gives a mood of camraderie and pure heroism.
But what I feel is the book's biggest detriment is the lack of characterization all around. These characters are pretty much purely defined by their powers and abilities, not the roles they have our characters or their personalities. Compare this to The early issues of Fantastic Four or Avengers and you see a much bigger difference in how they act, such as The Thing being the sarcastic, easily angered and miserable yet loyal strongman or Captain America being the haunted, experienced war veteran trapped in a period that is not his own and I think you'll see the difference. Meanwhile, Flash is the fast one, Wonder Woman is the female one, Aquaman is the water guy, Martian Manhunter is the alien who can blow really hard (seriously), Green Lantern can make green things, etc. It almost seems like "Snapper" was introduced to add some character.
Don't get me wrong, I am not criticizing Gardner Fox or anyone involved with stories like these because I am very grateful for what they accomplished, I just feel that this is a hurdle people might have to jump in order to be put in the proper mindset to enjoy these. The most enjoyable aspect was the iconic covers, which do a fantastic job at creating intrigue for the story that is about to be presented. And like many silver age comic book from the era, the stories are goofy and cheesy in that perfect silver age way. Some highlights include issues BATB 28, and 1, 7, 8, 9, and 12.
Despite the criticisms I've levied, I would say give it a look for yourself. If you are a fan of the silver age or one of those fans who just want to take a look at the beginning like me, this is the volume for you. And the price is fantastic, by the way.
on January 11, 2006
Blame Amazon for not listing the book as having a B&W interior, but if you know ANYTHING about Marvel's ESSENTIAL line or DC's SHOWCASE collection, you should know what to expect. You're getting 500+ pages of comics for less than $12... how can anyone complain?
That aside, these are all the classic JLA stories from dawn of the Silver Age of comics. The stories are very corny and silly by today's standards, but they are still fun to read. With the grim and grit of comics these days, these SHOWCASE books are perfect for younger readers as well. If nothing else, it is the world's greatest coloring book.
I like older comic books, written back in the day when things were simpler. For this reason, overall, I have enjoyed the Essential series from Marvel, and I optimistically decided to try out one of the similar Showcase volumes that DC is publishing. My first experience was with the Justice League of America, and sadly - contrary to many of the other reviews expressed here - I cannot give it a positive review.
The Justice League consisted of the all-star lineup of the DC universe: Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman and the Martian Manhunter. Joining the group later would be the Green Arrow and the Atom. Also, part of the team was one of the more annoying sidekicks in comics history, Snapper Carr, a finger-snapping teen with a tendency to speak in pseudo-hepcat language.
The artwork is consistently nice, but the writing has its problems. I understand that these comics were written in a different era and with kids as the key demographic, but compared to the work of Stan Lee and company just a year or so later with Fantastic Four, this material is very weak. The personalities of the superheroes are almost exactly the same; outside of references to superpowers, you could mix up the speech bubbles for the characters and never know the difference (I suppose this is the only thing that makes Snapper stand out).
In addition, the same plot seems to be recycled issue after issue, with just the villain changing: each story has a villain threatening the world; the Justice League splits into smaller groups to deal with individual threats and being overcome until they reunite as a team to stop the bad guy.
I suppose the big problem is that these comic books were never meant to be read as a set, but rather as individual stories read a month or two apart. It's kind of like of cookies: if you eat too many at one time, you'll get sick, but eaten at separate times, you can enjoy each one. Because of this cookie concept, I am giving this book a low three stars although it probably really rates only two. This set has more historical value than entertainment value.
on December 8, 2013
The Justice League of America was the first of several silver age superhero teams. It would be the basis for the popular Super Friends cartoon series in the 1970s. This book collects there 1960 tryout in Brave and the Bold Issues 28-30, their first sixteen adventure in their own book in Justice League of America 1-16 as well as a team up with Adam Strange in Mystery in Space #75.
The team begins with Aquaman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, the Martin Manhunter, Superman, and Wonder Woman. While DC’s two most popular characters, Batman and Superman aren’t honorary members as they were during the golden age with the Justice Society of America, they are absent from several adventures including the first one. Green Arrow would join the team in Justice League of America #4 and the Atom would sign on in Issue 14.
Batman and Superman missed out the first JLA adventure published in the Brave and the Bold #28 as the others take on Starro, a gigantic alien starfish. The character is a more serious threat than he looks, and the story is fun even if the ending is a little silly. Average teenager Snapper Carr is invited to join the JLA as an honorary member. Snapper contributes a little to the plot but mostly adds appropriate 1960s youth slang.
Batman and Superman are presents for B&B #29 that features a man from 10,000 years in the future who believes he’s destined to beat the Justice League. This is one of the best stories in the book. B&B #30 introduces Amazo, a great recurring villain who steals the heroes powers.
JLA #1 introduces Despero. JLA #2 sends the league into the world of magic and need the help of Merlin to get back. Issue 3 introduces Kanjar Ro who arrives in a silly space galley complete with rows and requires the Justice League to defeat his enemies or the whole world will remain frozen.
Issue 4 is actually a somewhat complex story about an alien good guy who has to pretend to be a villain to get the JLA to defeat some dangers so he can return to his home world. Issue 5 has Green Arrow on trial for helping some villains escape, but there’s more to this story than meets the eye. JLA #6 places our heroes against a man who has discovered luck is a scientific formula he can change.
Issue 7 has evil aliens running a funhouse. Issue 8 features a criminal that can control the Justice League and offers their services for sale rather than killing them. Snapper Carr actually proves his worth in this story. Issue 9 attempts to create an actual origin story for the Justice League fighting the meteor people in what’s really an okay flashback. Issues 10 and 11 are the only multi-part stories. In Issue 10, Felix Faust casts a spell making the Justice League his temporary slaves, so he can take over the world. He fails at that but manages to release some demons who the JLA has to fight in Issue 11.
The Mystery in Space story is more about Adam Strange with the Justice League guest starring as Strange tries to get their help to save the Planet Rann. It’s not really a Justice League but is really fun. JLA #12 introduces Dr. Light who is a strong villain with his various light based tricks and presents a real challenge to our.
Another of my favorites in here is JLA #13 which has the league battling robot duplicates of themselves on an alien world. Aquman doesn’t compete because there’s no water on this planet. So instead he serves as a coach/cheerleader which does suggest that Aquaman has value to the team even when not in the water.
JLA #14 begins with the JLA voting to make the Atom a member of their team, but once the ballots are counted, the entire team can’t remember who he is. Neither can the Atom who is testifying in a court case and both he and everyone else forgets who he is and what he’s doing there. It’s an interesting tale as the JLA faces Mister Memory. My big problem with this one is that Mister Memory is that was an existing villain with an entirely different villain identity. Given how much these “theme” villains put into their identities, you can’t just change them to something different and I’m not even sure why they reused this forgettable looking villain.
JLA #15 has the League trying to stop rock monsters from destroying several cities but it’s not just a random monster. JLA #16 has the League facing the Maesto who has a plan that lowers the curtain on the Justice League. This story has a nice fun twist.
Overall, this was a fun book, even if it was a bit silly at time. DC stories of the era were strongly plot based as well as focused on getting the League a chance to show off their powers. The plots are decent and the villains are good for the most part even though there aren’t a ton of heavy hitters in this line up.
If the book’s plot are good exciting sci-fi fun, the book suffers from characters who have no seeming personality in the book. At one point, Green Lantern used his power wing to switch costumes between the characters with Batman disguised as Wonder Woman and you couldn’t tell.
Wonder Woman wasn’t totally respected in this book. JLA members has a loose structure where any hero could say, “Me, Aquaman, and the Flash will go to Atlantic City.” Wonder Woman never makes such a pronouncement, instead she’s always ordered. The only time she commands is when the Justice League is cleaning up its headquarters. Nice!
Batman is also under utilized in this book. As the JLA served to show off superpowers which Batman didn’t have this was bound to happen, plus they didn’t give him much in the way of “cool batgear” to show off.
If I had one big complaint is that with the early JLA, the sum is less than its parts. Having read Showcase volumes about Superman, the Atom, the Flash, and Martian Manhunter from the same era, all of them were more fun in their own stories, and their own individual stories were typically better than the Justice League stories.
All that said, the Justice League was fun and it succeeded at reintroducing the superhero team concept to the 1960s
on March 20, 2008
The Showcase Presents line is letting me have a second childhood and I'm loving every page, even in B&W. Years ago I had every issue in this collection. I started buying JLA new with issue #19, and started my time as a serious collector soon after. I always felt Sekowsky was the perfect JLA artist while my favorite artist, bar none, was Infantino. When Sekowsky's run on JLA was done it was hard for me to keep my interest in the series. By the time I was in the 10th grade had I found the three Brave and Bold issues plus JLA 1-18 for a nickle each in a used book store. The lady who owned the store knew comic collecting was starting to take off because of The Batman TV show but she continued to sell used comics at half their original cover price, and she usually let me have first crack at them. Years later I let most of my collection go and even if I had them all today I doubt I would ever take them out of their bags. The Archive series is nice but I'm tired of collecting things and tired of finding places to put them. When I finish my Showcase Presents books I think I'll just give them to a grandson or sell them on ebay, or toss them. If nothing else, the price of these is hard to beat.