Comic Book Legends Revealed #471
Welcome to the four hundred and seventy-first in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and seventy. This week, did a fan come up with the idea behind the Justice League of America? Did Marvel secretly keep using Godzilla AFTER their license ran out? And did the Source Wall actually make its debut in an intercompany crossover not by Jack Kirby?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: A fan gave DC the idea for doing the Justice League of America.
STATUS: I’m Going With False
Larry Ivie passed away recently. Ivie was one of the great pioneers of the comic book and fantasy fanzines. He was an early contributor to Alter Ego and he even produced his own well-respected fanzine, Monsters and Heroes, for a few years at the end of the 1960s. He did the cover artwork for Monster and Heroes – he was a fine artist…
Ivie wrote stories in the first issues of Warren’s Creepy AND Eerie…
He also wrote a story in the first issue of Tower’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents…
So Ivie was RIGHT there at the start of so many pieces of comic book history, he just never quite made it to the big-time himself, and he was certainly capable of it (I’ve read in various places that Ivie was a perfectionist and that might have held his art back a bit).
In any event, among the many important contributions Ivie made to comic book fandom and comic book history, one of the more important ones that I’ve heard over the years is that Ivie is often credited as inspiring DC to create the Justice League of America.
I tend to think that that is likely a bit of a stretch.
In the earliest days of fandom, the fans doing the fanzines were also interested in doing their own comic books. DC Comics’ Julius Schwartz was particularly responsive to fans, so a number of fans wrote in pitches to Schwartz. Heck, Roy Thomas and Ron Foss, early editors of Alter Ego, both used the pages of Alter Ego to talk about their own pitches for DC characters (Thomas for a new version of the Spectre and Foss for a new version of Dr. Mid-Nite that DC had turned down so that he was now revamping into a new character, Eclipse).
Ivie was no different. He pitched Julius Schwartz in 1956 on an update of the Justice Society of America, only called the Justice Legion of the World and it would star the sons and daughters of the original Justice Society. Schwartz did not pick Ivie’s pitch.
The always informative Tom Brevoort recalled that Ivie tried ANOTHER pitch in 1959, this time he decided to do a series that would pick up from where the last Justice Society series left off, with all of the original members in it. Interestingly, as Tom points out, the name of this story was “The Justice League”…
Based on Ivie’s own recollection in Alter Ego #5, I believe he still intended for the title to be called the Justice Society of America, but the fact remains that in 1959, he titled his pitch “The Justice League.”
Gardner Fox, by the way, did not name the team Justice League. He wanted to keep the name the same. It was Schwartz who changed the name, claiming that he was inspired by baseball. Schwartz noted in the Justice League Companion, “The readers were more familiar with ‘League’ from the National League and the American League.”
That sort of sounds like it very well could be an after-the-fact memory, ya know?
So I could EASILY see that Schwartz, if only subconsciously, did, in fact, take the name “Justice League” from Ivie.
However, the Silver Age version of the Justice Society of America…
was unlike either Ivie pitch.
And really, the iea of taking the various heroes of the Silver Age and putting them together into one team book was just a bit of an obvious idea, especially since DC already had that framework in place from the Justice Society (Schwartz edited the Justice Society in All-Star Comics during the 1940s) before either Ivie pitch.
So the fact that the finished product did not resemble either Ivie pitch beyond the basic “update Justice Society” and the fact that Schwartz was pretty clearly already heading this direction (doing one revamp of a Golden Age character after another, from Flash to Green Lantern to Hawkman to Atom, etc.) that I think the idea was coming whether Ivie suggested a JSA reboot or not.
So much like the recent CBLR about the fan inventing Wolverine, I believe this to be a coincidence more than an actual inspiration. Although the name is a lot more likely.
Ivie’s idea, though, did help at least partially inspire Roy Thomas’ later Infinity Inc., which WAS about the sons and daughters of the Justice Society (Thomas mentions Ivie, at least, when discussing the history of the project)…
Larry Ivie was an important part of comic book history, but I don’t believe that he was the inspiration for the Justice League of America (but perhaps he was the inspiration for the NAME “Justice League,” which is pretty impressive in and of itself).
Thanks to Tom Brevoort for the extra information and thanks to Alter Ego for that Justice League drawing from Ivie.
Check out the latest TV Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Did Mississippi really ban Sesame Street in 1970?
On the next page, did Marvel keep using Godzilla in comics after their license to the character ran out?