Sunday, May 5, 2013

I'm Far Away From Nowhere

…And so Vegas never lived up to my expectations.
Justice League of America #201 (April 1982)

This was one the first comics I remember wanting to save and keep in somewhat readable condition. All of my other comics were crumpled, stripped, torn, looked over, and packed around until they disintegrated, but this one punched my seven year old brain in the mush and told me to keep it around.

C'mon—look at that cover! How could that ginger just take Superman OUT? Why is the League on a spinning roulette wheel? Did they get shrunk?! That means the Atom was double shrunk! He can barely lift that metal ball! Ultraa spells his name with TWO As!! Oh my god!!!!

It's been thirty years since I've read it, but my memory of the plot was that it centered on Ultraa, who I thought was DC's version of Jan-Michael Vincent's "Nanu" in Disney's The World's Greatest Athlete (hey, I was seven, cut me some slack), living like a homeless guy with no memory (thus making him DC's version of Prince Namor), and being tricked into a life of crime.

Mom…what's a "swinger"?
The JLAers intervene. Hawkman's all depressed about something and the Flash has to talk him into joining the battle (making him seem even cooler for some seven year old reason). Ultraa beats the crap out of everyone until he realizes he's as bummed out as Hawkman and apologizes. Then the US Congress steps in and sends Ultraa to happily live a primitive life with some aborigines (just like Nanu). It didn't make sense, but I loved it. LOVED it.

Then the teaser for the next issue they ran in the letter column dug both its thumbs into my eyes—
Switching to decaf on the Satellite was a bad idea
Zombie Batman?! In Space?!?! Whaaaaaat?!?!?!

I've still never read or owned that next issue. My parents bought me comics off the grocery store spinner racks, and I was only allowed one per trip, so I must've either missed it or forgotten about it. You can't wait a month for anything when you're seven. I should track that down.

Anyway. Justice League of America #201 was pivotal. It kicked off my comics collecting habit. It made moody Hawkman my favorite character for a long time, which led to writing some letters to DC and seeing my name in print for the first time a couple years later.
Look, mom—I'm pre-Internet famous!
Boy, did I chase that feeling. Two decades on I'd be paid to write comics and I'd have a character in the Pre-52 Hawkman cast named after me.

Yep. Life will never be that good again!


Ben Bates said...

I'm sure that I and all other readers want to know what character and HOW it came to be!

Ben Bates said...

Also, yes those comics look extremely exciting! That zombie space Batman in particular is igniting the creative tender in my brain. I wonder if the comic can live up to the promise the teaser makes...

Say, if you liked those old Justice League comics have you seen some of what they've been doing recently? Check out this cover to issue 2, I think it's a lot like what you liked when you were seven-

and check this out! Talk about wanting, no NEEDING, to know whats going on in the book!