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Five Goofiest Moments in Justice League of America #110-114

Every week, I’ll examine the five goofiest moments from a five-issue stretch of a particular comic book series. Here is a list of the moments featured so far.

This week we look at Justice League of America #110-114, written by Len Wein and drawn by Dicks Dillin and Giordano.

As always, this is all in good fun. I don’t mean any of this as a serious criticism of the comics in question. Not only were these writers certainly never imagining people still reading these comics decades after they were written, great comics often have goofy moments (Kirby/Lee’s Fantastic Four is one of the best comic book runs of all-time and there were TONS of goofy stuff in those 100 plus issues!). In this case, I am a big fan of Wein’s Justice League. I even did a feature on it for my Year of Cool Comics. So this, just like all other future editions of “Goofiest Moments,” is not a criticism of the comics in question.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

In Justice League of America #110, Black Canary designed and sewed a new costume for Red Tornado…

The costume itself is fine, but it just makes me smile to note that Black Canary feels that it is appropriate to give the guy a stripe down his forehead.

A couple of issues later, we see that Black Canary just can’t help herself. The Justice League are forced to bring Amazo out of commission to help save the League (who have lost half of their superpowers). Canary, of course, can’t help but take this opportunity to re-design Amazo’s costume…

I just like the idea of Canary being unable to keep herself from re-designing the costume (and as you can see, he is pretty big, so it was quite an endeavor).

In Justice League #111, we see just how run-of-the-mill these adventures were getting for the League, as Elongated Man suggests pausing in the middle of a crisis to pick names of villains out of a hat, to spice things up…

That is pretty darn goofy. It would be higher if Elongated Man had not acknowledged the goofiness of it all.

This one is probably a bit unfair, as I guess that is just what his car was called, but still, in #113, when Sandman speeds off in a seemingly normal car….

that we learn is actually the SAND-CAR?

It made me laugh at the idea of Sandman just naming all of his possessions “sand-,” whether they have anything to do with sand or not. “Sand-paper towels, sand-couch” etc.

5. Transistors can do anything!

Remember how Stan Lee would explain away lots of stuff by just saying that transistors were responsible for it all? I was reminded of that when I read Justice League #112, where the League is dealing with the fact that Libra stole half of all of their powers/abilities and then lost them all when Libra became one with the universe.

“The molecules that contain our lost powers”?! I just love the pseudo-science of that! Plus, the idea of Batman’s intelligence floating through space.

4. You MUST have lost half of your intelligence, Batman!

At the end of Justice League #112, Amazo has brought the league their powers back, but he uses his absorbed intelligence from Batman to figure out that the League is using him…

Batman, however, out-tricked him and absorbed away all of Amazo’s powers and then Batman took him out. But check out the explanation for what happened at the explosion…

Beyond that not making sense as to how to avoid getting hurt in an explosion, why in the world would Batman not clue in his teammates as to his plan?!?!

3. More fun with Stan Lee go-to gimmicks!

Another thing that Stan Lee liked to use as a bit of a catch-all ability back in the day was “Judo.” Everyone seemed to use Judo in Marvel Comics. Heck, Reed freakin’ Richards was an expert in Judo! Over at DC, Batman was a Judo practicioner, as well.

However, when the League is fighting a giant powerful being (Sandman’s old sidekick, Sandy, transformed into a silicone-based creature), maybe Judo is not the right call, Batman!

I just love A. how confident Batman was and B. how confident Flash was in Batman.

2. If the comic said it happened, it must have happened!

I just love the sheer randomness of this moment in Justice League #112 where the Flash…creates a cold-proof aura that Green Arrow can use on a trip to the Arctic.

I hope that the Flash has that ability in the New 52!

1. Oh Hal…

In Justice League #110, Wein obviously wanted to do a story with the alternate Green Lantern, John Stewart. So he needed to have Hal out of the picture. HOW he chose to do it is hilarious…

Oh, Hal, you clumsy oaf you!

42 Comments

Didn’t Green Lantern lose his willpower molecules? That makes even less sense than intelligence molecules.

P.S. Dick Giordano…best inker in comic-book history? Discuss.

why in the world would Batman not clue in his teammates as to his plan?!?!

It’s almost as if Batman lost half his intelligence and didn’t think of that idea. :P

For #2, I’m thinking it was supposed to be GL that created the cold-proof aura, and that someone screwed up. (Note the green glow around GA.)

randypan the goatboy

January 2, 2012 at 6:08 am

Why didn’t batman clue in his team to the plan? It might be because he is…..THE GOD DAMN BATMAN….ughhh. i feel really bad about that. I usually like to work harder for a joke, but sometimes you just have to take the short cut. Random observation/ simple question here. I always thought that Red Tornado’s body design was the look that Canary designed for him. I know they had to change over from that awful purple and red look but every time you see the Tornado rendered into several smaller pieces it is his body design and not a uniform. So which is it? a body design or a uniform? I am proud to say that at one point or another i had every one of those issues[ and well beyond..i even had a full run of justice league Detroit] The League will always be my favorite book. I have read them all since 1974[; and a bunch earlier thanks to the magic of back issues and trades] so i want to see more goofy moments from the league…make it happen captain

Regarding Batman defeating Amazo:

The thing that makes that scene more goofy than anything – at least for me – isn’t Batman not cluing in his teammates, it’s that Batman’s very explanation contradicts itself.

He restates that he lost his deductive reasoning, but his entire plan to deal with Amazo is arrived at BECAUSE he used deduces that Amazo is onto the League’s plan.

I can’t help but think that having all those power-laden molecules floating through space is just CRYING out for a new story…somehow. Ah, comics.

The scene where they are all sitting around moping because they don’t have super powers anymore is hilarious. Nevermind that Hal’s are in his ring, and that Ollie doesn’t HAVE any, which is probably why he’s so cheerful, and that Batman’s brain isn’t really a super power.

I also love the one where they all decide to fight different foes…just for the hell of it. And Batman has a hissy fit.

#1 is probably my favorite Hal Jordan moment ever.

And how great is that Dick Dillin art? It’s such a shame that nobody remembers this guy; he’s always been one of my favorite Silver and Bronze Age artists.

[…] Such as Justice League America #112, which I found out about over at Comics Should Be Good. […]

The funny thing is, THIS is the period that people are talking about when complaining that modern superteams bicker amongst themselves too much – because supposedly back then the JLA was a group of consummate professionals. But actually looking at the stories is both cringe-inducing and revelatory: they actually acted like children! Even the comic’s narrator describes the JLAers as “boyishly eager”, making tactical decisions about how to best pursue criminals based on what would be most entertaining. The pseudo-scientific gibberish (which isn’t in any way worse than “gaining superpowers from radioactive spider”) doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the fact that the heroes themselves sound like complete idiots. And this is the JLA’s “golden age”? Really?

Before someone responds by arguing that these were written for kids: how young are these kids supposed to be? Because even as a kid I remember thinking that these guys were dumb. I mean, in the scene where they’re all gloomy because they lost their “superpower molecules” Aquaman is breathing underwater, Elongated Man is stretching his neck as usual (and since that’s his whole deal it doesn’t seem like he’s missing any relevant powers), and what’s Green Arrow so upset about anyway? Did he lose his womanizer molecules?

Meanwhile, Black Canary’s main purpose seemed to be the team’s resident seamstress (proudly following the footsteps of the JLA’s secretary Wonder Woman, because they’re gurls hurr hurr). And her secondary role apparently involved bringing snacks & refreshments for her male teammates. I guess Wonder Woman and Black Canary should both be glad that the JLA didn’t need a cook or cleaning lady.

As a judo practitioner myself, I can tell you that it does in fact work against giant silicon creatures.

I thought that I’d read most of the JLA issues from this era (and I treasure how Hal gets taken out of commission; #110 is among my favorite issues), but I have no memory of this “molecules” issue. That’s… that’s just… wha?

Bernard the Poet

January 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm

To be fair to Elongated Man’s ‘pull a villain out of a hat’ plan – if the Justice League had followed Green Latern’s suggestion and just gone after their respective foes, then Batman would have to have flown to Hollywood to defeat the Scarecrow and then immediately turned around and flown to Singapore to take on Poison Ivy. Meanwhile, Superman would have had no one to battle and would have spent the entire issue sitting in the JLA Satelite twiddling his thumbs.

By the by, how does that arrow on Red Tornado’s head work? Did Black Canary paint it on or is he wearing a red mask over his red face?

Libra stole the molecules of only the heroes who fought him: Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, and Elongated Man. Green Arrow and Black Canary presumably were feeling sad for their colleagues’ loss.

I guess you could say Ralph lost half his gingold-charged molecules. But another swig of gingold presumably would’ve restored his powers to full.

The whole point of the story is that Batman is several times smarter than everyone else. Losing half his intelligence still means he’s smarter than Amazo and the other Leaguers.

P.S. One could argue that Red Tornado’s austere red and purple look actually fits the character better.

I like to think the thought process behing the Flash’s cold-proof aura (which, unless the comic later specifies otherwise, I am almost certain is supposed to be a device he built, not something he did with his powers) went something like this:

“Hey, we’ve got Green Arrow walking around in the arctic with bare arms. Shouldn’t he be cold?”

“You think anyone will notice? Fine, throw a jacket on him.”

“And cover up that classic costume? It’s not the 90s yet, people don’t want to see heroes wearing jackets!”

“Okay, put a green glow around him and say Green Lantern insulated him or something.”

“But Hal’s lost half his willpower and he doesn’t usually do stuff like that even at full power.”

“Fine. Say it’s a cold-proof forcefield that Batman built or something.”

“But Batman’s at half his usual intelligence! And he’s never had an anti-cold device when fighting Mr. Freeze, so it’d have to be something he whipped up just now. Why would they wait for half-smart Batman to invent something instead of having Ollie grab a jacket?”

“Oh, so it’s speed thing? Fine, have the Flash do it. Barry’s a scientist right? And he’s still at full intellect. He could have it built before Ollie remembers where he put his mittens.”

“Done. Geez, we’re putting a lot more thought into this than we usually do, this being the Silver Age and all.”

“Sure, but it’s important that these things make sense.”

I realize that to the majority of today’s comics fans this all falls under the heading of “comics from before I was born” but please — these issues are from the Bronze Age, not the Silver Age. These distinctions matter to some of us.

Also, bear in mind that prior to these issues, the JLA had been through a period of sophisticated characterization and flashy prose courtesy of Denny O’Neil and the woefully underrated Mike Friedrich, and it’s always seemed to me that Len Wein was deliberately going for a more lighthearted, almost retro feel in these issues — pointedly evoking the Silver Age to stake out his own territory as a writer and distinguish himself from his immediate predecessors. So when modern readers look at these as goofy, or imagine “that’s just what comics were like in those less enlightened times,” they might be missing some of the context.

Funny enough, I could see a “cold-proof aura” as something the Flash would have. When the Flash is speeding, the air molecules around him would normally be super-slow around him, thus making him feel very cold, so it would make sense that he might have a secondary power to offset this problem, such as a cold-proof aura.

I’m pretty sure ZZZ nailed the thought process on the aura. Except they made it green and attributed it to GL first, then realized that wouldn’t work at the last moment.

It would be the opposite with the Flash, Rob. Friction from the air drag would burn him alive if he didn’t have some kind of slippery coating on his suit. Or maybe the Speed Force takes care of that these days.

So how long did Aquaman walk around with a fishbowl on his head?

“Molecules” and “vibrations” were always favorite catch-alls in DC’s Silver Age, so it makes sense to see them being used in the Bronze Age as well, there being so many precedents.

So how long did Aquaman walk around with a fishbowl on his head?

Just until he got the other half of his powers back. He lost the ability to breathe air when half of his powers were taken.

Aquaman must have felt pretty left out when Black Canary was distributing coffee and cakes. Just look at that expression on his face. Poor guy…

Re Amazo and Batman…Amazo had super-hearing so Bats couldn’t risk him overhearing any spoken plans.

As for Canary, I wouldn’t suggest she give up her day job, those are two hideous costumes!

Red Tornado: The Last Airbender????

PPPHFFFFTTTTT….

Re Amazo and Batman…Amazo had super-hearing so Bats couldn’t risk him overhearing any spoken plans.

Except the Justice League is already shown speaking plans in front of Amazo’s body in the panels above, including the Atom mentioning out loud how they have to trick Amazo when he wakes up. Therefore if Amazo COULD hear them with his super-hearing, he’d have already known they were planning to trick him anyway.

“…But you’ll have to find your own hat!” Best. Batman. Line. Ever.

Come on guys, pity poor Libra.

“Ah hah! Now I will be able to breath underwater… *cough cough sputter* What? I already can breathe air!

The “picking random assignments” thing was done a lot in the early JSA stories of the ’40s. Of course the best one was the Legion’s Planetary Chance Machine.

Aquaman had the fish bowl over his head because at this point he still had the limitation that he couldn’t be out of water for more than an hour at a time.

RE Aquaman’s fish bowl, I was wondering why he was wearing it – then it struck me, maybe he’d lost half his ability to talk to fish – he could still do it but only in a really quiet voice. By wearing the fishbowl, if he was able to overcome this – if he needed to speak to a fish he could just pop it into the bowl so the fish was nice and close and could hear him…

Brian Cronin:”Another thing that Stan Lee liked to use as a bit of a catch-all ability back in the day was “Judo.” Everyone seemed to use Judo in Marvel Comics. Heck, Reed freakin’ Richards was an expert in Judo!”

RE: Reed Richards knowing judo,

Well, he was in the OSS during WW2 (cf FF # 11 and SGT FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS # 3), so Reed being a judo expert wasn’t quite so odd.

Thanks for these highlights. JLA #113 — “The Creature in the Velvet Cage,” a JLA/JSA crossover that revealed the fate of Sandman sidekick Sandy, the Golden Boy — was the first comic I ever bought. I read the issue countless times, including the lettercol, which featured discussions of issue #110 — and both the new Red Tornado costume (folks thought RT looked too much like that *other* android hero, the Vision), and John Stewart’s pinch-hitting for Hal. At last I know the stories behind those events.

I second the accolades for Dick Dillin. His work introduced me to most of the Justice League (Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman had always just *been there* in my awareness); the JSA; Adam Strange; villains such as Dr. Light and Despero; and even the Marvel family and the Quality heroes (from “Earth-X”). He deserves to be remembered among the greats.

I’m just glad Batman used a judo hold, rather than a “judo blow” or “judo punch” (both of which I’ve seen in other comics). Judo doesn’t have punches, kicks, or blows. It’s all holds, throws, and pins.

The funny thing is, THIS is the period that people are talking about when complaining that modern superteams bicker amongst themselves too much – because supposedly back then the JLA was a group of consummate professionals.
Personally, I’d rather read stories with this type of bickering than ones with Batman secretly making vicious counterattack plans against his own teammates. YMMV.

I LOVE how bent out of shape Batman gets at the innocent suggestion to mix up the villain pairings a bit. “…But you’ll have to find your own HAT!”

@ Bryan L

Actually judo does have strikes, they are however contained solely in kata and rarely if ever trained in a practical manner.

Judo kata preserve a number of techniques that are not permitted in competition or in randori, including punches, kicks, and the use of the katana and other weapons. The study of kata is usually begun typically at around the green belt level.

That last one with Hal is the funniest damn thing I’ve seen, just for the fact how unflinching Len Wein is in making him look incompetent. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like this done with an A-lister before. I could easily see this kind of thing in a Deadpool issue, but the fact that they did it with the Green Lantern? Priceless.

I have been waiting for someone to have Reed use his judo. And waiting. And waiting. It’ll happen someday, I’m sure. Although how useful it would be for a guy who can stretch, I have no idea.

There used to be a blog that had a feature showing all the times Hal Jordan got hit on the head and knocked unconscious. Can’t remember at all what it was, does anybody know?

Hammerheart,
Well, I don’t think that the Len Wein-scripted issued of JLA were their “Golden Age” and I’ve often wondered why a lot of people do. You make some great points about why these comic book stories are, indeed, cringe-inducing. The then-younger writers, like Wein, Wolfman, Isabella and especially Conway were trying to apply the Stan Lee magic to the characters they wrote, but they only got the surface qualities and, hence, their attempts at characterization were shallow. Instead of any depth, we just got bickering. Look at Wein’s Hawkman/Green Arrow feud – there was really no good reason for it. Also look at Conway’s writing – have the characters argue like little children and that creates friction and tension….NOT! I knew it then when I bought these comic books as a kid and I know it now – DC was trying to repeat Marvel’s success by “humanizing” their characters, but they failed miserably, time and time again.
For me, THE Golden Age for the JLA was Englehart’s run from # 139 through 146 and then 149 and 150. His characterizations of the JLA were logical outgrowths of the characters as written by Fox and Broome – there was no stupid behavior masquerading as characterization….and the plots are amazing too.

The then-younger writers, like Wein, Wolfman, Isabella and especially Conway were trying to apply the Stan Lee magic to the characters they wrote, but they only got the surface qualities and, hence, their attempts at characterization were shallow. Instead of any depth, we just got bickering. Look at Wein’s Hawkman/Green Arrow feud – there was really no good reason for it. Also look at Conway’s writing – have the characters argue like little children and that creates friction and tension….NOT! I knew it then when I bought these comic books as a kid and I know it now – DC was trying to repeat Marvel’s success by “humanizing” their characters, but they failed miserably, time and time again.

I totally agree, and I’d throw O’Neil in with writers who superficially mistook childish bickering for real, organic conflict. They were trying to be Stan Lee but ended up with imitation minus the inspiration. DC’s attempts to do FF-type bickring often just came off nasty and petty and childish.

Aquaman had the fish bowl over his head because at this point he still had the limitation that he couldn’t be out of water for more than an hour at a time.

That wasn’t why he was wearing it. It was because he lost his ability to breathe air.

Thanks for the hit of Dick Dillin. I really needed that. His art is like a template for DC’s Silver Age and I mean that in the best way.

“the molecules of your various super powers” is dumb enough, but Hal doesn’t even HAVE any powers, just a piece of high-tech jewelry like Atom has, and Ralph’s powers are drug-infused and clearly still working. Superman, Batman, Arthur, Oliver and J’onn are normal for their respective species, so it’s basically just Dinah and Barry voting to risk the safety of billions to recover their freakish abilities. Nice ethics, heroes.

Similarly I’m 98% certain Ralph proposed the villain swap simply because that was his only shot at feeling up Ivy. Batman’s just pissed because usually that’s his territory.

And since Sandman’s schtick is actually gas guns instead of literal sand, shouldn’t his car be called the Gas Guzzler?

It really looks like that cold-proof aura was power-ring based, what with the green glow. But somebody couldn’t fit “Green Lantern” into the word balloon and the editor vetoed “Hal”. Speaking of whom, recalling Hal’s dating proclivities, I suspect his missing out on a Christmas-Eve date is all for the best. “What, you mean Cindy Lou was a minor?! She assured me that time works differently in Whoville!”

Phred, Luchins.com “What Were They Thinking” never missed an opportunity to pillory Hal’s clumsiness or praise his fine, fine hiney.

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