The Justice League (International/America/Giffen-DeMatteis-League) has been something of a comfort food for me over the past 15-20 years. It is one of those legendary comic runs that keep me coming back. I probably run through the hundred or so (if we include JLQuarterly and JLEurope) issues twice a year, contributing much to the growth of my pile of unread comics, new and old. Reading as many comics as I have over the past 30 years, I often read an issue once, and file it away likely never to be seen (or read) again.
The Giffen-DeMatteis era Justice League, however, is different. It’s special. It’s a near perfect mix of super heroics, soap opera, and sit-com with unforgettable characters.
I was introduced to this version of the Justice League almost by accident. It was during 1992’s Death of Superman storyline. The Giffen-DeMatteis era had already come to an end, however, much of their cast remained. Justice League America #69 “Down for the Count” was where I “met” this League. Growing up a Marvel kid, I expected a more “Super Friends” Justice League than I got. Where was Aquaman? Wonder Woman? The Flash? Who is this bowl-haircut having Green Lantern? Fire? Ice? I was lost. These characters all looked, for a lack of a better term… cheap. I remember reading it, and just waiting for Superman to show up. I was only reading this book to follow him, anyway.
Being a completionist, I picked up the next couple of issues of Justice League America that were part of the Funeral for a Friend storyline and the post-Doomsday restructuring. It was during these issues (#70 especially) that the character dynamics hit me. Booster Gold and Blue Beetles friendship was on display as Ted lay critically injured. Booster’s own crisis, with the destruction of his costume which resulted in the loss of his “powers” was riveting. Guy Gardner finally showing his respects for the fallen Superman by wearing the black armband was the final straw. These characters were rapidly winning me over.
Imagine my disappointment reading Justice League America #71, where many of the characters I’d just fallen for were replaced. My only hope in following the Justice League exploits of Booster, Beetle, Guy and the rest lay in the back issue bin. This was 1992-1993. The speculator market was still a thing. Month-old issues of many comics were priced up to double cover price and placed in the bins. My hopes for collecting the previous 68 issues of Justice League America with my meager lunch-money budget were slim at best. Or so I thought.
I stumbled across Justice League #1 for $2.50 at my local comic shop. This was over 3x the original cover price… but it was a NUMBER ONE. In 1993, “Number Ones” may as well have been a brick of solid gold. I guess this would be a decent place to begin the review/discussion of the issue, thank you for reading this block of self-indulgent text. I hope these first few entries won’t be too much of a chore to read through as I shake the blogwebs loose.
Justice League #1 (May, 1987) $0.75
Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis (plot/script), Kevin Maguire (pencils), Terry Austin (inks), Gene D’Angelo (colors), Bob Lappan (letters), Andrew Helfer (edits)