Monday, April 5, 2010
The Greatest Heroes of the Silver Age Battle a Big Starfish- Brave and the Bold #28
Well, "The Greatest Heroes of the Silver Age" minus Superman and Batman.
For those of you who don't already know, The Brave and the Bold #28 is a landmark issue in the history of Silver Age comics. Having already resurrected/revamped Green Lantern and The Flash, the next logical step for DC was to try and resurrect/revamp the old Justice Society of America. Only this time, it was decided that "League" sounded much hipper than "Society".
Naturally, sales powerhouses Batman and Superman were part of the line-up, as well as their old-school gal-pal, Wonder Woman. Also joining the new team were the brand-new sales sensations Green Lantern and The Flash. And rounding out the dream team were back-up feature stalwarts, Aquaman and J'onn J'onnz- Manhunter from Mars.
The story gets off to a great start, with Aquaman (maybe for the last time) being the first hero to learn of a threat to the Earth:
"Peter the puffer-fish"? Seriously? Anyway, a giant, alien menace preparing to invade the Earth? This sounds like a job for SUPERMAN!
Except Superman is too busy. Hmm, well, Batman's always been pretty clever. I'm sure the World's Greatest Detective could use his superior intellect and cutting-edge technology to save us all from the certain domination of an evil, alien intelligence...
Or, I guess he could beg off to stop some street crime. Well, I suppose we'll have to rely on the new kids and the second string, then:
Why does everyone make their HQ in a cave in the 50's and 60's? You know, I don't actually know how much it costs to renovate a cave. Is suspect with having electricity, gas, and running water installed, not to mention all the custom fit walls and carpet, it's probably pretty pricey. Maybe the JLA should have priced one of those pre-fab, steel buildings or something. Bad guys seem to have no trouble finding abandoned warehouses. I'm just saying is all.
So, setting a precedent that will be repeated many times for years to come, the five available members of the JLA split up and try to take on Starro's minions around the globe, individually. Except Wonder Woman. Can't send a girl out there by herself, so she teams up with the Martian.
During his part of the mission, Flash picks up a new friend:
A really irritating friend. A really irritating friend who snaps his fingers all the time and speaks in a completely bogus youthful slang clearly written by out-of-touch adults.
Of course, "Snapper" turns out to be the key to the whole thing. For some reason, Snapper is immune to Starro's influence.
Getting the team back together, Green Lantern uses his power ring to do a spectrographic analysis on Snapper and discovers that the lime Snapper was adding to his parents' lawn or "grass mat" is actually harmful to Starro and his minions.
The JLA quickly obtain some lime from local farmers...
Whew! I thought for a minute there I was going to have to not care if they paid for that lime!
and Starro shrivels up and dies.
Or does he??
But wait, even though Batman and Superman were completely useless to the JLA, they make Snapper an honorary member. Unfortunately for us, Snapper regularly comes to the meetings.
Gardner Fox will use this same formula for some time to come. Team finds out about problem. Team fights problem as individuals. Team teams up and wins. But hey, if it works, don't mess with it.
Mike Sekowsky does an admirable job of giving a universal look to seven heroes typically drawn in seven, individual and character-specific styles.
For those of you out there who feel I spend an unfair amount of time on DC comics and not enough on Marvel, I would like to mention that this single issue of Brave and the Bold was what inspired Marvel publisher Martin Goodman to tell Stan Lee to create a line-up of super-heroes. That's right, without the JLA, there would be no Fantastic Four, no Avengers. Pretty cool, huh?