First Published: December 2007
Contents: Justice League of America #37 (August 1965) to #60 (February 1968)
Key Creator Credits: Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky
Key First Appearances: The Key, Royal Flush Gang (10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of Clubs), Amos Fortune, Shaggy Man
Story Continues From: Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 2
Story Continues In: Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 4
Overview: From their secret headquarters in Happy Harbor, we rejoin the Justice League of America in their third Showcase Presents volume. When the volume starts, the league stands strong at 10 members – the original seven plus Green Arrow, Atom, and Hawkman. Surprisingly, when this volume ends, the membership will still remain those 10 members. But more on that later, let’s get into the stories.
At the point, Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky had developed a set pattern for the title. There would be eight new issues each year, plus one reprint issue. And for two issues each year, the Justice League would team up with their friends in the Justice Society, which usually resulted in some crisis that involves the two teams working together. This volume gives us three JLA-JSA team-ups, so it’s well worth reading.
What makes this volume interesting to me is the new villains introduced here. The Key would become a long-time foe of the League in all of its incarnations, and his power and story gets updated over the years. My personal favorite foes, the Royal Flush Gang, show up led by Amos Fortune. Various iterations (or should I say, suits) will return from time to time to challenge the League, with or without Fortune. Finally, Shaggy Man stumbles into the picture, and would make occasional appearances later on.
Now, going back to the membership. Surely being asked to join the Justice League would be highlight of any hero’s career. However, the League receives their first “No”, when an offer is extended, but rejected, by Metamorpho in issue #42. Metamorpho agrees to be an honorary member. In issue #51, Zatanna makes her first appearance in the pages of Justice League, as she finally tracks down her missing father (see Showcase Presents Hawkman Vol. 1). However, it would take the JLA another 110 issues before Zatanna is made a member.
Why should these stories be Showcased?: I really think this is a good starting point if you want to dive into the history of the Justice League. The storytelling and the artwork have leveled out, and you know what you will get from month to month. The lineup remains constant, but it does vary from issue to issue as not all 10 members show up for each case. And we see other characters make cameo appearances, which finally gives the reader a feeling that DC is developing a large shared universe of characters.
Footnotes: Justice League of America #39, #48, and #58 are 80-Page Giant reprint issues. collecting three previously published stories. The covers for these three issues are in this volume.
Justice League of America #42 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Metamorpho Vol. 1.
Justice League of America #60 is also reprinted in Showcase Presents Batgirl Vol. 1.
If you like this volume, try: DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke. This is an incredible story set in the days of DC’s Silver Age. One of the biggest issues I have with the comics from this era is that the characters very rarely crossed over with each other. We never saw Aquaman or the Sea Devils when Superman went to Atlantis to visit Lori Lemaris, The Green Lanterns were seemingly unaware of Hawkman and the other Thanagarians. The Blackhawks fought a lot of the same types of foes as the Challengers of the Unknown. Sure, we had some minor crossovers, such as the Batman & Superman pairing in World’s Finest or the creation of the Justice League. With the New Frontier project, Darwyn Cooke brought everything and everyone together into one large story arc set in the 1950s. Following the end of World War II, many of the world’s Golden Age heroes went into seclusion due to the paranoia brought on by the Cold War. But the challenges of the 1950s brought out a new generation of super-heroes ready to face the world. Cooke’s artwork showcases the optimism of the 1950s super-hero, while his writing gives us a modern day take on times past. This story has been collected in multiple formats – I would suggest getting the Absolute edition, just to see the artwork on a larger page. However you read this story, do it! You won’t be disappointed.