Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Big Leagues!


I've been waiting for this one for a long time now. When DC began its Showcase reprint program some years ago now, they eventually reprinted the earliest issues of the Justice League of America. That was fantastic, great tales by Gardner Fox and exotically fascinating artwork by Mike Sekowsky. After some volumes that gave way to the stalwart artist Dick Dillin who in tandem with writers Fox, Denny O'Neil, Robert Kanigher, and Mike Friedrich carried the adventures of the League into the Bronze Age proper. Then came Len Wein and the series seemed to noticeably shift gears.

The artwork too ticked up as Dick Giordano stepped in as inker, taking the place of Sid Greene's bright sheen and Joe Giella's calm gloss. Giordano gave Dillin's work a crisp edge it has been missing and for a time the JLofA was the best drawn comic on the rack. The inking of Giordano gave way to his Charlton mate Frank McLaughlin, with barely a shift in clarity and the series found its artistic center for the next several years.

The stories in this volume span three years and three team ups with the Justice Society of America,  from the era of the crushing oil embargo to the celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of the United States itself. We encounter the death of heroes, the return of superstars, the crushing secret of the Sandman, the arrival of the Freedom Fighters, the marriage of Adam Strange, and the villainy of Cary Bates.

The covers themselves are enticing, little mysteries, puzzles and enigmas which demand an answer, which if found inside the comic only. These covers by Nick Cardy, Dick Giordano, Ernie, Chan, and Mike Grell demand attention and compel purchase.

It's unfortunate, but understandable why the full contents of the 100-page issues are not included, but these were among DC's very best. These time capsules offered a trove of fantastic reading at times in this young man's life when escape and diversion were essential. 

By the end of this run of Justice League stories, my favorites by far as if you couldn't tell, Gerry Conway has written a few stories, a hint of what is to come when he eventually becomes the long-standing scribe of the League a few years later. The League was published bimonthly through much of this period and that made for some really crisp and efficient storytelling. There's a lot discover underneath this awesome Nick Cardy image.

Recommended with the highest possible accolades. In the immortal words of "King" Kirby, don't ask, just buy it.

Here's a cover gallery.

Nick Cardy

Nick Cardy

Nick Cardy

Nick Cardy

Nick Cardy

Nick Cardy

Nick Cardy

Nick Cardy

Nick Cardy

Nick Cardy

Mike Grell

Dick Giordano

Dick Giordano

Ernie Chan

Ernie Chan

Mike Grell

Ernie Chan

Ernie Chan

Ernie Chan

Ernie Chan

Dick Giordano

Ernie Chan

Ernie Chan

Ernie Chan

Ernie Chan

Ernie Chan

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4 comments:

  1. I wonder if Ernie Chan was told "no backgrounds" or just didn't draw them or what...a lot of his covers suffer from it... GL has no legs on the Two-Face cover!

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    1. Chan was the go-to cover guy during this brief period at DC, so it might just be a matter of not having the time to do details. I notice though that Cardy didn't do so much detail either, but Giordano certainly did. The Chan covers seem to be designed to make impressions of action more than depictions of real events. I do like how effectively he draws the animals in last couple of covers. The giraffe with the spear in its mouth is a hoot.

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    2. That cover with the JLA in a cage is one of the first superhero comics I remember owning. Great cover.

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  2. I love this era of the Justice League, I must get this!

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