The Best Comic Book of All Time!
First of all, the year is 1981. Yes, I am showing my age, here. I was 11 years old. There is not much I remember about that day except sitting in a hospital emergency room being treated because I had a major asthma attack. As a result, I was in the emergency room that seemed like days but it was probably just around 5 or 6 hours. In addition, that is a long time for an 11 year old kid to stay put in a bed and not be able to get up and roam around.
So, I couldn’t sleep because they were basically giving me adrenaline to help with my asthma. Furthermore, that just made it even less bearable to sit still. Rather than me being bored out of the wazoo, my mother noticed I needed something to keep myself busy. She told me she would be back in a little while.
A year before, a childhood friend of mine introduced me to drawing superheroes. He was a good artist at 10 years old, realizing I had that same gift. My mother later let me know that drawing was a talent she had, also and she said I took her talents. A friend of my dad gave me a large 4 foot wide roll of white paper that probably stretched out to around a thousand feet long. I would cut sheets of paper from that roll and draw my favorite superheroes until my hand nearly felt like it was going to cramp for life. By the time I was in middle school I had used up that whole roll. A comic book artist is all I thought I wanted to be. But that is another story for another time.
I had never really owned a comic book before. At the local grocery store, I would read off the rack while my mother would shop for groceries. She never would let me get one, usually saying to not waste money on them and it was mainly it was due to lack of money. Superheroes was my passion growing up. I remember getting up at 6 o’clock on Saturday mornings to watch Super Friends. (It’s still my favorite cartoon most of all without of course the Wonder Twins and Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog.) For my birthday and Christmas I would get the action figures.
Back to the emergency room. My mother comes in and has a brown paper bag with her. She gave it to me and I anxiously open it and find 3 comic books in them. Wow! It was the first time I actually had comic books! I can’t remember two of them, but one I remember one the most and it’s why I think it’s the best comic book of all time.
The comic was Justice League of America #195. It was the first time I was introduced to the heroes and villains of Earth-2 and I was fixated on those characters. I haven’t heard of them before. I knew Jay Garrick and Alan Scott but didn’t know they were Earth-2 heroes. They were old retired superheroes, I thought, but I really liked the Jay Garrick Flash. Their costumes were really different and neat to me.
I didn’t know anything at the time about comic book writers and comic book artists. The art on the cover and in the comic book caught my eye. I had no idea who Gerry Conway or George Pérez were. Now my knowledge of comic book artists and writers, I realize that they were one of the greatest writer and artist of all time.
Here is the story of that particular comic book. Jonathan Cheval, once known as a former criminal, the Monocle, who is bored with the non-criminal life, returns home to find someone waiting for him.
Roger Hayden, the Psycho Pirate, uses his emotion manipulating abilities to escape from prison. Hayden attempts to escape from prison, only to be stopped by a rain of gunfire from the prison guards. The Monocle rescues Hayden, and helps Hayden’s escape.
Street thugs attempt to rape a, seemingly, homeless woman. To their surprise, their so called victim turns out to be the Cheetah. The three men are barely escape with their lives. Cobb, as the Signalman, and Killer Frost, approach Cheetah.
The Rag Doll robs a bank and with the police giving chase, the Rag Doll finds a bit of luck, as the Monocle tells him to get into a car. Hayden, as the Psycho Pirate, uses his powers to stop the pursuing police.
The Cheetah, Killer Frost, and the Signalman, find horticulturist Jason Woodrue, who has given up a life of crime. The Cheetah violently exposes Woodrue for what he truly is, Plant-Master, the Floronic Man. Realizing he can’t hide not being to hide among humans anymore, and he decides to join them.
The Mist finds and murders his former henchmen and the Mist is recruited into the new Secret Society of Super-Villains.
The Cheetah, Killer Frost, the Plant-Master, and the Signalman meet with the Brainwave and Signalman gets into a heated argument with Brainwave. After subduing the Signalman, for his less than gracious attitude, Brainwave transports all four criminals to Earth-2.
The Cheetah, Killer Frost, the Plant-Master, and the Signalman meet with the Mist, the Monocle, the Psycho Pirate, and the Rag Doll. Ultra-Humanite, the archnemesis of the Earth-Two Superman, who has the ability to transfer his genius brain into different bodies, and who is now in the body of a mutated giant ape, self-appoints himself as the leader of the new recreated Secret Society of Super-Villains. The Rag Doll gives the Ultra-Humanite’s history to the Signalman.
The Ultra-Humanite believes that if ten specific heroes, from Earth-1 and Earth-2, are erased from reality, the universe will remove all super-heroes, from either Earth-1, or Earth-2. Which one, we don’t know. Ultra-Humanite unites the arch-nemeses of the heroes to enact his plan to extiguish them.
The Justice League of America, and the Justice Society of America, hold their annual meeting, aboard the satellite headquarters of the Justice League of America. Aquaman, and the Red Tornado, are surprised the gathering has come and gone without incident.
The Black Canary keys in a temporary code, to allow the Green Arrow to use the Justice League’s transporter to return to Star City. Alone on monitor duty, the Black Canary is surprised by the Mist. She doesn’t know that the Mist has gained the power of intangibility, as well as the ability to being invisible, the Black Canary, accidentally takes herself out of the fight.
The Golden Age Hawkman is attacked by the Monocle and he retaliates by summoning an army of birds. The Golden Age Hawkman takes possession of the Monocle’s weaponized eyepiece. Not knowing the Monocle can remote operate his eyepiece, the Golden Age Hawkman is stuck down by point blank laser fire, erupting from the eyepiece in his hand.
The Cheetah attacks Wonder Woman and Cheetah maneuvers Wonder Woman into accidentally lassoing the Washington Monument. Wonder Woman is forcibly pulled off the wing of her Invisible Jet, and crashes hard into the Washington Monument, before falling to the ground. Cheetah takes advantage of this to attack and subdue Wonder Woman.
The Mist, the Monocle, and the Cheetah all report their individual successes, to the Ultra-Humanite.
Unbeknownst to the other villains, the Ultra-Humanite knows exactly which Earth will lose all its heroes, when the Secret Society of Super-Villains completes their task. If they find out, it will not sit well with half of the team.
There were some great things of note about this comic book. A two page team pin-up poster of the Justice League of America and The Justice Society of America was drawn by George Pérez, who was a master at doing these types of pin-ups. It was the first 60 cent comic book of Justice League of America. It had a Batgirl Hostess Ad (back when the ads were somewhat cool. The ad was like a miniature comic book story). It was the 18th annual JLA and JSA Team-up.
That comic alone led me to start drawing superheroes in the same style as George Pérez. I liked the stocky build of Brainwave. He looked unbeatable if he got into a fist fight. My drawings started to reflect that. I don’t know how many times I drew and recreated the panels and the pin-up poster. I just couldn’t get enough of it.
What is your favorite comic book of all time? Was there a significant event or reason you like it? Let me know by leaving a response. I would love to see all your thoughts.
Next Issue: Injustice 2 Review. (Yes, I am actually playing it!)