Justice Society of America #1 (April, 1991)
“Vengeance from the Stars, Chapter 1: Beware the Savage Skies!”
Writer – Len Strazewski
Artist – Rick Burchett
Letterer – Janice Chang
Colorist – Tom Ziuko
Editors – Brian Augustyn & Mike Gold
Cover Price: $1.00
Taking a break from out #Action100 endeavor to take a look at some good ol’ comics-comfort food.
It’s hard to explain… but, I’ll give it a shot. For whatever reason, reading the Justice Society reminds me of Christmas (not that I have to look all that hard for things to remind me of Christmas… by the way, there’s only 290 days until Christmas as I write this). Maybe it’s nostalgia… maybe it’s the feeling of family. Not sure what it is… but, well… it is.
Anyhoo… today, we’re going to read the (first ever) Justice Society of America #1… from 1991? I know… it surprised me too. Heck, I’ve researched it a bunch, and I’m still not completely convinced that this is the first #1!
We open in 1950 during a the Mount Pride Observatory for a press conference where Ted Knight is about to speak.. The proceedings are interrupted by a wacko with an “End is Near!” sign. Being the affable fella he is, Ted allows him to speak. He warns about the “Savage Skies” and offers Ted an aged star-map for his perusal before running off.
Later, we rejoin Ted at the Observatory’s telescope. He’s handing it over for use in a project the following day, and figures he might as well take his last few looks through it. He decides to use the old coot’s star-map as a guide… and boy, does he get an eyeful!
We jump ahead one week… and arrive back at the Observatory alongside the Flash, Jay Garrick. Ted tips him off about some of what’s gone on… and asks him to check out the Boulder Dam. He fears that whatever it was he saw among the stars is “eating” their power supply. Jay can dig it, and asks if Ted would like to come along… to which, Ted reveals that he is now confined to a wheelchair!
As Jay runs off, Ted meekly apologizes under his breath. Ya see, he just sent his buddy into a trap. Ted is now, unwillingly, under the control of… somebody.
Moments later, Jay arrives at the Boulder Dam and looks for the person in charge. When he begins to explain the danger, everyone’s first thoughts turn to the Russians. As he continues, the workers notice a huge surge of juice in the lines… which ultimately manifests itself into the Greek (I think it’s Greek) God, Orion (I think it’s Orion)!
Jay hops to, and begins running circles around the giant star-beast, but doesn’t manage to slow it down. He then, along with the assistance of the Boulder Dam crew, proceeds to spin a web of power lines between two towers in hopes that this might hinder the beastie.
And… it does! For now, anyway.
Back at the Observatory, Ted celebrates Jay’s victory… much to the aggravation of his keepers. They tell him to shut his yap… and we learn that one of the fellas working for the main-baddie is… Solomon Grundy!
The main-baddie sends Knight and Grundy off on “assignment” and flips the television from the news to I Love Lucy (or, Love that Suzy). He then just destroys the set. I feel ya, fella… some episodes of that show are tough to get through!
Back at Boulder, Orion (if that is his real name) has transformed into a giant electrical dog! It proceeds to gnaw its way out of the power-line webbing and takes to re-energizing itself… even, in a pretty funny bit, “eating” on of the Boulder Dam crew!
As Jay tries to maintain order, he is struck on the back with a girder. Looks like this dog might be good at playing fetch… or at least bludgeoning folks with whatever its got in its mouth!
The dog’s rampage looks to have been enough to knock out all of the power from here… to Gotham. Lights out, America!
Fun little adventure here! Not bad at all.
It’s funny when I look at the brief early 90’s Justice Society runs… among my first thoughts is “Wow, I was sooooo bored by this when I was a kid”. I mean, I’ve told the story on the podcast, but I actually bought Justice Society of America #1 (the 1992 “ongoing” series) off the racks as an “investment”. What can I say, 12-year old Chris was an idiot. Or, maybe a “bigger idiot”, I dunno.
When I tried actually reading it… it was really nothing I could glom onto. Jay and Alan weren’t my Flash and Green Lantern… and I just couldn’t get invested. Thought the costumes were goofy… thought the art was too cartoony… just wasn’t my bag.
Fast-forward almost a decade later… and I couldn’t get enough!
I feel like the main “problem” with these early Justice Society of America series’ was that they were hitting the shelves at the same time as Marvel’s new adjective-less (Spider-Man, X-Men) books… and Image’s… well, everything. I wish I had given these books and these characters more of a chance when I was younger… because there is a lot to like here.
The other problem is… if you don’t know these characters already, you’re not really going to after reading this issue. I mean, there’s a bit of exposition… Ted Knight (briefly) uses the Star Rod. If you were around in the pre-Crisis days, that might mean something… but, if you’re 11/12-year old Chris, that doesn’t really move the interest-needle.
I feel like I’m just repeating myself at this point. And, I probably am.
Overall… I can wholeheartedly recommend checking this out. It’s plenty fun, and very well drawn. If you happen to be reading this in 1991… and currently are a pre/early-teen, you may not get as much out of it. This issue is available digitally… but doesn’t appear to have been collected.
(Not the) Letters Page: