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Cover Stories by Jon B. Knutson
Jon Knutson presents comic book covers with a common theme
and relates any information and comments about them.

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COVER STORIES for 12/10/2006

All right, faithful readers (and also those of you reading this column for the first time), welcome to another edition of "Cover Stories!"


It's time for another 1-10... this time the 1-10 spotlight is on Justice League of America! Just Imagine... the World's Greatest Heroes, united in the cause of Justice! Superman! Batman! Wonder Woman! The Flash! Green Lantern! The Martian Manhunter! Aquaman!

Well, okay, Superman and Batman were mostly absent in the earliest issues of the book... but they certainly made more appearances than their Earth-2 counterparts did in the Justice Society of America, eh?

One can't really discuss the JLA without acknowledging their predecessors, the JSA, though... whose adventures were published in All-Star Comics. Much has been written by others (and probably better than I ever could) about how important the creation of the JSA was to comics... they were the first-ever superhero team!

And yet, the JLA was probably equally important. The way had been blazed with the creation of the Silver Age Flash (in Showcase #4), and later with the creation of the Silver Age Green Lantern... most of the rest of the charter JLA members had been published uninterrupted since the Golden Age (except for J'onn J'onzz, introduced in Detective even before the creation of the Barry Allen Flash).

The JLA, of course, first appeared in The Brave and the Bold, after that title had been turned into a companion magazine of sorts to Showcase... not too long afterwards winning their own title!

If the new Flash opened the door to the Silver Age, I think one could say the JLA threw the door the rest of the way open and held it wide for the coming of the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and a host of other characters!

And then there's Snapper Carr, the mascot of the League... who paved the way for Rick Jones... and probably the Teen Titans, too (at least, as regards the "hip" teenage talk they spoke).


And here's the first two issues... issue one introduced perennial JLA foe Despero, who forces the Flash to play a game similar to chess to save the JLA'ers and Despero's people back in Kalanor.

This cover, which was rather mild for a first issue, featured Murphy Anderson art. Inside, "The World of No Return!" was by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Bernard Sachs.

The story was reprinted in Justice League of America #58, Millennium Edition: JLA #1, the Justice League Archives Vol. 1, and in Showcase Presents: Justice League of America Vol. 1 (actually, these first ten issues were all reprinted in Archives and Showcase Presents volumes, so I won't mention that again).

Issue 2's cover, also by Anderson, features a cover at least inspired by one of the JSA All-Star Comics covers (in fact, I seem to recall Roy Thomas tying the two stories together in an issue of Infinity, Inc.).

Inside, "Secret of the Sinister Sorcerers" was by the same creative team as issue 1! Simon Magus, the villain of the issue, manages to make science not work on Earth, and so the JLA seek the help of Merlin in the Magic Dimension (where magic has stopped working) to set things right.

This issue was reprinted in Justice League of America #48.


Issue 3 features one of my favorite JLA covers... maybe it's just because of the absurdity of a ship being rowed through space! Or perhaps it's the Martian Manhunter handling two oars while his teammates handle one each.

"The Slave Ship of Space!" features the villainous Kanjar Ro, who forces the JLA to help him defeat his enemies. Still the same creative team, too! This story was reprinted in JLA #48 and DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #15.

Issue 4... ah, have you ever noticed how so many issue 4's were monumental issues? Showcase #4 introduced the Barry Allen Flash, Avengers #4 brought back Captain America, Fantastic Four brought back Sub-Mariner... and JLA #4 brings Green Arrow to the team!

It's funny... Green Arrow had also been continually published since he was introduced... but the editors of the book just completely forgot about him when assembling the JLA! (Don't feel too bad for him... the same thing happened with Speedy when the Teen Titans were created).

The story within, "Doom of the Star Diamond," was reprinted in JLA #67.

Issue 5's cover, featuring gravity going wild, is kind of a misleading cover... given that the scene isn't a pivotal part of the story! "When Gravity Went Wild!", by the same creative team (remember when creative teams stayed on books?), has Green Arrow going on trial for helping the enemies of the JLA escape from capture. Naturally, he was exonerated of all charges, and it turned out he was really helping the JLA after all! This issue was reprinted in JLA #39.

We're halfway through this 1-10... let's see what the back half bring us, eh?


Now, I'll be the first to admit that many Silver Age titles have some very silly stories in their runs... and here's one of the sillier JLA stories, in issue 6.

"The Wheel of Misfortune" is created by Professor Amos Fortune, who learns that people have a "luck gland" that controls their good luck and bad luck! Making a science of luck, he uses his knowledge to commit crimes and thwart the JLA's attempts to stop him. How is he ultimately defeated? Well, let's just say it's because the Martian Manhunter isn't human...

Hey, at least I'm not going on about how Fortune uses his good luck to have a car's exhaust overcome the JLA... But you can read it for yourself in the reprint in JLA #58, if you can afford it!

Issue 7's cover is just plain bizarre, isn't it? Have I featured this cover in a previous column? If not, you'll see it again in a future circus theme...

The story involves Snapper Carr and his girlfriend, Midge, being captured by aliens who are operating out of a circus (see, I told you that there was some silly stuff going on) and the JLA rescuing them.

This story was reprinted in JLA #76.

Issue 8's auction of the JLA makes one wonder how this cover would be re-imagined today, in the age of eBay - or does it? I am rather curious how someone would rework it... Anyway, in this story, a small-time gangster finds a strange ray that he uses to turn the JLA into mind-controlled criminals. The story was reprinted in JLA #58.

JLA 9 JLA 10

Nearly done! Issue 9 finally tells the origin of the JLA... and what an origin it was! Snapper Carr gets the JLA to fill him in on how the team was formed, with meteors from outer space landing on earth and transforming earth creatures into bizarre otherworldly creatures... and yes, the cover scene does really occur!

This story was reprinted all over the place... in 80 Page Giant #8, JLA #97, DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #5, and More Secret Origins Replica Edition #1.

Issue 10's cover features Felix Faust (remember his appearance on a cover in last week's column?). Note that Batman and Superman take more of an active role in this issue (still, note that Faust's fantastic fingers were one short, given there were only nine Leaguers available in this issue... maybe they should've inducted Hawkman in the team before now, eh?). This issue also introduces the Three Demons, Abnegezar, Rath and Gast, and how they can be freed with three mystic artifacts (which were featured in the JLA/Avengers miniseries of a few years back). The story continues in JLA #11, by the way... and it was reprinted in JLA #85.

Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories" -- and in the meantime, you can check out my blog at for other musings and ramblings by me, or email me with comments about this column at !

Jon B. Knutson

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