Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Retroactive - The 80's Part 1

As DC Comics are celebrating the creators that made an impact in the 70's, 80's and 90's, I thought I'd wander through the same decades and pull out my favourite comic of each year.

Welcome back to the 80's!


GREEN LANTERN #124 - The Secret of Sinestro!, written by Denny O'Neil with art by Joe Staton and Frank McLaughlin.

You might want to click the cover on the left to embiggen it - Sinestro's dialogue there is just fantastic!

It's all change in the world of Green Lantern as he and Carol Ferris are in the off part of their on-off relationship and Tom 'Pieface' Kalmaku's gone respectable (his word) and is now known simply as Tom. Oh, and there's one more thing that's altering this issue:

Yep, a parting of the Greens as Arrow leaves the title for a while, leaving Hal to chase down Sinestro on his own. He follows the renegade Lantern to his homeworld of Korugar where he meets up with Katma Tui who directs him to the equivalent of an opium den . . .

. . . run by Sinestro's father! Far as I know, this is the one and only appearance of the old man.

Jordan is trapped in the Null Chamber by Sinestro  who wraps him in yellow Null Rays, forcing him to picture the women he loves . . .

And that, my friends, is about as close as we get to the cover image of this issue! With the help of Katma, Jordan escapes Sinestro's clutches but isn't quick enough to catch the villain himself. With the images of Carol Ferris and Kari Limbo still fresh in his mind, what does Jordan do?

Oh, Hal. Have you no shame?

Oh, and the title of this issue, The Secret of Sinestro? Never mentioned once! Unless it's the fact that his dad runs a drug den!


JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #190 - Our Friends, Our Enemies, written by Gerry Conway with art by Rich Buckler, Bob Smith and Larry Mahlstedt.

Look, I know I promised no more Justice League of America but bear with me, okay? Just a few more to go before I started reading other titles back in the 80's.

Under a gorgeous Brian Bolland cover, Starro the Conqueror makes his return . . . technically he made it the issue before but as it's a two parter this still counts as far as I'm concerned! This story was the first time we saw him use his spores as a way of mind controlling large numbers of people including several Leaguers:

To this day those mini-Starros wrapped around the heroes faces makes for a startling image. Inspired by Alien's face-hugger from the year before? Probably, but they still work.

Of course, anyone familiar with Starro and how he works should notice something amiss in that line-up which is thankfully cleared up quite soon:

Sometimes it's good to be a machine!

In any team book that involves some of the heroes being under the villains control you can bet there's going to be a fight between the two camps - in this case Batman and Black Canary:

This story releases Starro from the dependence of his huge body, making him a much more credible threat to the League. Shame we haven't seen much of the big fella in recent years. Anyone know how that whole R.E.B.E.L.S. ret-con worked out for him?


JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #207 - Crisis on Earth-Prime Book One: Crisis Times Three!, written by Gerry Conway with art by Don Heck and Romeo Tanghal.

This should come as no surprise - how could I not choose the issue that gave this blog it's name?

Another annual team-up with the JSA, this is probably my favourite of all of them as the League (eventually) team up with the Society as well as the All-Star Squadron to defeat not only the Crime Syndicate of America from Earth-3 but also Per Degaton. Alternate Earths, time-travel, super-heroes and super-villains: this one's got it all.

While waiting for the Earth-2 heroes to arrive via the Transmatter Cube, the League get surprised when instead . . .

. . . the Crime Syndicate arrive and beat the snot out of them before vanishing down to Earth-1's surface. The Society find themselves in the Syndicate's prison in limbo and when they manage to escape and get to Earth, they find not Earth-1, Earth-2 or even Earth-3 but Earth-Prime which has obviously seen better days:

Yep, Earth-Prime - our own world where I'm typing this and you're reading it - has "been devastated -- by some kind of HOLOCAUST!"

The League decide to find out what happened to the Society and, after recovering from the Syndicate's attack, head over to Earth-2 where they find the JSA headquarters haven't been touched since 1942. A quick look outside reveals things aren't as they should be:

Per Degaton rules the 1980's of Earth-2! In moments Superman has Firestorm whip up a sphere capable of surviving the rigours of time-travel and the team travel back to 1942 to find the Justice Society. When they get then, they find someone else:

The All-Star Squadron!

This particular Crisis spans five issues, three of Justice League of America and two of All-Star Squadron and it still holds up as one of the better team-ups in my opinion.


JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #220 - The Doppelganger Gambit, written by Roy Thomas with art by Chuck Patton, Romeo Tanghal and Pablo Marcos.

You gotta love Roy Thomas and his almost obsessive need to correct/re-write the origins of his favourite Golden Age characters, re-jigging continuity to force things to make sense. Cue his attempt (albeit inspired by Marv Wolfman) to make us understand that the Black Canary who left the Justice Society and Earth-2 way back in Justice League of America #74/75 was not the same person as the Black Canary who'd been serving with the League since that time. See - there's two of them here, both held prisoner by the Earth-1 Johnny Thunder:

Canary's partially right - that is Larry Lance in the glass coffin but he isn't her husband. After Dinah Jr was born, the original Canary and Larry were attacked by the Wizard:

It was he who created her Canary Cry but as a curse rather than a blessing. Canary Sr and Larry had Thunderbolt take the child to his dimension where she grew without uttering another sound or without waking up, while Thunderbolt made Canary Sr and everyone else think the child had died.

Superman explains later, though, that the original Canary was dying after the attack that killed her husband:

So since Justice League of America #75, Canary's been her daughter's body but with her mother's memories.

I hope she has better luck explaining it than I did.

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