The Justice League at 60, Part 10: Rebirth on repeat

Tom Bondurant wraps up (for now) his series looking back at 60 years of the Justice League with a look at the most recent era.

Check out part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six, part seven, part eight and part nine of this series!

The New 52 lasted four years and nine months, from August 31, 2011 to May 25, 2016. On each of those Wednesdays, DC Comics released one universe-changing big-event issue and one issue of Justice League. In 2011 it was Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1; and in 2016 it was Justice League #50 and the DC Universe Rebirth special. All were written by Geoff Johns, still one of DC’s main guiding forces even as his attention shifted away from comics. The DCU Rebirth issue kicked off a months-long apology-in-print marked by “Rebirth” banners on all of the superhero books’ covers. This publishing strategy aimed to reintroduce elements of the DC Universe which the New 52 had stripped away, including the pre-New 52 Superman – who, as a distinct character, had been living in a sort of multiversal fishbowl – and the classic version of Wally “Flash” West. Among other things, this meant that Superman was now the newest member of the Justice League, since he replaced his late New 52 predecessor.

Although those cover banners were gone by February 2018, in terms of continuity we may still be in the “Rebirth” era today. Among other things, DCU Rebirth set up Doomsday Clock, the 12-issue miniseries from Johns and Gary Frank. Going on sale November 22, 2017 (cover date January 2018), it would explain how Watchmen‘s Doctor Manhattan had changed the DC timeline into the New 52, and how he would change it back.

Well, back-ish.

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The Justice League at 60, Part 8: Fantasy Drafts

In this edition, Tom Bondurant dives into the “Crisis Cycle” era that defined the Justice League before the New 52 kicked in.

For a series which only lasted five years, there’s a lot to talk about with regard to Justice League of America volume 2. Much of this involves events outside the series, both in DC’s other comics and with the people producing them. Meanwhile, the “comics blogosphere” came into its own, intensifying fan scrutiny and offering real-time commentary on controversies. This post won’t go too deeply into all that extratextual drama; but rest assured it was there, and it crept inevitably into the work.

With that said, let’s get started.

The Legends miniseries begat Justice League International and the Justice League: A Midsummer’s Nightmare miniseries begat JLA. The 2006-2011 Justice League of America similarly traced its roots to 2004’s Identity Crisis, written by novelist Brad Meltzer, pencilled by Rags Morales and inked by Michael Bair. Featuring the murder of a superhero’s spouse and reaching back into the League’s hidden history, Identity Crisis kicked off a “Crisis cycle” that churned through DC books for the next several years.

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The Justice League at 60, Part 7: Pantheon

With the team’s first appearance arriving in December of 1959, Tom Bondurant looks back at the different eras that have defined the Justice League over the last 60 years. This time around: JLA!

Check out part one, part two, part three, part four, part five and part six of this series!

Throughout the 1960s, Justice League of America was the standard-bearer for DC Comics’ superhero teams. In the 1970s, the series boasted an expanded roster and solid, steady Dick Dillin art. The 1980s brought sweeping, lasting changes, from Detroit to the JLI; and the early ’90s turned the League into a franchise. Still, was any of that ever really cool?

I can’t tell you for sure, but I can say this: starting in the summer of 1996, the Justice League was cool enough for Wizard. The breathless self-appointed arbiter of mainstream superhero comics’ cutting edge was all over JLA in the series’ early years, including a 1997 special issue devoted entirely to the title. It was a super-high concept executed by Grant Morrison, one of the era’s hottest writers. Of course Wizard was going to notice.

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The Justice League at 60, Part Five: The Experiment

You gotta lose your mind as Tom Bondurant dives into the infamous ‘Detroit League’ of the late 1980s.

Check out part one, part two, part three and part four of this series!

There’s a lot crammed into the 40-page story writer Gerry Conway, penciller Chuck Patton and inker Dave Hunt tell in 1984’s Justice League of America Annual #2. The issue charts the official end of the JLA (as Aquaman exercises his founding-member privilege to disband it) and the subsequent creation of a new, ostensibly more focused team. Along the way the Leaguers say goodbye to their ruined satellite headquarters and hello to “the Bunker,” a mall-sized fallout shelter in the middle of Detroit, built by an ex-superhero who apparently saw too many movies about NORAD. Everything that happens in the annual happens quickly: four experienced Leaguers decide to re-form the team moments after dissolving the original; the new League gains two new members who each saw the re-forming happen on live television; and the third and fourth new members basically break into the supposedly impregnable new headquarters. The issue ends with a block party, welcoming the Justice League to this particular run-down part of town.

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The Justice League at 60, Part Four: Conway’s Corner

Tom Bondurant continues his look back at 60 years of the Justice League.

Check out part one, part two and part three of this series!

Ask a Marvel fan about Gerry Conway and you’re likely to get an answer involving Gwen Stacy. Ask a DC fan about Conway and the answer may well involve his eight years as regular writer of Justice League of America. We’ve mentioned his statistics already, but they bear repeating: Gerry Conway wrote 102 of JLA‘s 261 issues (including 81 in the Satellite Era), plus one of its three annuals. Original JLA writer Gardner F. Fox is in second place with 65 issues.

Between Fox and Conway, an assortment of writers worked with the scarily dependable penciller Dick Dillin. Denny O’Neil, Mike Friedrich and Len Wein each contributed solid, multi-year runs before writing duties were shared among a bullpen for three years. After that was Conway’s immediate predecessor Steve Englehart, whose 10 oversized issues successfully combined existing DC lore with new characters and relationship-driven subplots. Included in the latter was friction between Flash, Green Arrow and Wonder Woman over her alleged bossiness (in reality mind-manipulation from new villain The Construct). Englehart left everyone on good terms, but it was awkward and a little bumpy getting there.

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The Justice League at 60, Part Three: Into Orbit

Tom Bondurant jumps into the ‘Satellite Era’ of the 1970s and ’80s this week, as he continues his look 60 years of the Justice League.

Check out part one and part two of this series!

What we’re calling the “Satellite Era” of Justice League of America began in November 1968’s issue #66, several issues before the team would move into its new headquarters stationed geosynchronously 22,300 miles above Metropolis. Still, writer Gardner Fox’s departure with #65 was the end of an era which stretched arguably back to the Justice Society; and successor Denny O’Neil was making changes even before the satellite was built.

Just as the Silver Age was dominated by Fox and artist Mike Sekowsky, the Satellite Era would be directed mostly by writer Gerry Conway and artist Dick Dillin. This period lasted until November 1984’s issue #232 (after which the team had moved out of the satellite for good); and of those 164 regular issues and two Annuals, Conway wrote 81 and Dillin pencilled 116. Because Conway arrived long after Dillin started, the two only collaborated on 39 issues. Nevertheless, one or the other was part of just about every JLA issue from November 1968 through February 1984.

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What Are You Reading? | X-Factor, Jughead, Suicide Squad and more

See what the Smash Pages crew has been reading lately.

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what the Smash Pages crew has been reading lately — including comics from past centuries and some from the past week.

Let us know what you read this week in the comments or on social media.

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The Justice League at 60, Part Two: Setting The Standard

Tom Bondurant continues his look at the different eras that have defined the Justice League with an overview of the team’s early years.

Check out part one in this series here!

On or about Dec. 29, 1959, newsstands received new issues of 10 comics series. Next to the four different Archie Comics titles and two Prize Comics romance series were four DC books: Sugar & Spike #27, Detective Comics #276, Strange Adventures #113 and (cover-dated February-March 1960) The Brave and the Bold #28. Like its fellow DC series Showcase, B&B had switched to rotating features and had just concluded three issues’ worth of the spy-centric Suicide Squad. Therefore, dominating B&B‘s cover this month was the title of the newest feature, Justice League of America.

Thanks to Strange Adventures #113, Starro the Conqueror was not the only tentacled menace on that day’s newsstands; but he was the only one being fought by a quintet of familiar superheroes. Martian Manhunter had been around for a few years in Detective; just a few days before, DC had published new issues of Flash and Wonder Woman; and on New Year’s Eve, readers would find a new Aquaman tale in Adventure Comics #269. The relaunched Green Lantern was the newest of the group, having concluded his three-issue tryout a month or so earlier, in Showcase #24. (GL’s solo book wouldn’t start until May 24, 1960.)

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What Are You Reading? | Strange Academy, Green Lantern, Dryad and more

See what the Smash Pages crew has checked off their ‘to read’ list lately.

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what the Smash Pages crew has been reading lately.

Most of the comics in this edition came out this past week, so if you’re curious about new comics, we have some thoughts. Although a couple of older books managed to squeeze their way in between the Empyres and Green Lanterns.

Let us know what you read this week in the comments.

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