Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Keith Giffen is Everywhere

Plucked from the longboxes is All Star Comics #62, from October 1976. The title had been, at this point, recently revived to carry the continuing adventures of the aging Justice Society of Earth-2.

I'm a little confused on the provenance of this issue, as I'm pretty certain I didn't read it in real time...in fact, it felt like the first time I was reading it last night. Over the years, I made a few trades with other collectors, freeing my collection of my unwanted Marvel titles and picking up some DC ones. I suppose that's how this issue came into my hands.

It was Gerry Conway who revived the JSA, and he helms the creative list here, credited for Plotting. Paul Levitz is down for "patter", Keith Giffen for "pacing" and Wally Wood for "pictures". So the creative team gets a point or two for alliteration...but ASC #62 is the issue that, for me, begs the question, just how old is Keith Giffen, anyway?

I was always more interested in characters than creators, as a young reader, and I suppose the first thing I think of his being involved with was the post-Crisis Legion I enjoyed so. His writing there and elsewhere felt young and fresh,and I suppose I assumed he was some new upstart. I had no idea he'd been in the business as far back as 1976!! (But no worries, Keith, I won't actually calculate an age here...folks can visit your Wikipedia entry and do the math for themselves!)

Anyway...the story is already underway here, and numerous threads to follow...but the team, newly reformed has the younger characters of the Star-Spangled Kid and Power Girl at the core of the team, formed of older members Hawkman, Flash, Green Lantern and Wildcat. Dr. Fate's been working with them too, but as this issue begins, he's in some sort of magically-induced coma.

So everyone's pretty pleased when Rex Tyler, AKA, Hourman dons his costume and shows up to offer his Miraclo power to the team. Of course, Rex is a little confused by all the changes time has brought to the team, especially as regards the new addition of something called a "power girl".

I love his snippy and respectable response to Hawkman's description of the new girl on the team.

Amusing to note that here, as seems to be so often the case in more recent years, the JSA Brownstone has been ruined...but we still get this great cut-away of the JSA sub-basement, still in perfect condition.

Unfortunately, Wildcat and Power Girl seem to be forever sniping at one another. Ted's a little miffed that Kara's able to make short work of their recent foes, and she doesn't leave him anyone much to punch.

Their somewhat good-natured in-fighting leaves Rex a little cold, since he remembers the glory days, when everyone seemed to get along, or at least set aside those differences to focus on the Axis threats of World War II.

Meanwhile...Sheira Hall is attacked by a man-monster who has escaped from a cube of amber which had been stored in Carter's private museum. The creature calls itself Zanadu (yes, with a Z...but you can still hear Olivia Newton-John in your head, can't you?) and while he kills an intruder in the library, Sheira he transports to some alternate dimension, leaving a shimmering silhouette of the two of them for Hawkman to discover and ponder.

Hawkman sounds the JSA alert, which interrupts the bickering of Wildcat and Power Girl...and also reaches the quiet offices of the Editor of the Daily Star, in Metropolis. Although retired, the latest edition of the paper has gone to press and the editor finds that he's free to respond to his former team-mates's call for help.

This is, of course, the Golden Age (original) Superman whose appearance at JSA headquarters pleases Wildcat, who's growing tired of the verbal sparring with Power Girl. Kal-L defends her and says he's heard she's been doing a great job...but Kara isn't interested in being patronized...and feels a little threatened by the appearance of her well-known cousin.

Part of Kara's trouble is that Kal can't stop saying things like this, which to her mind are a little exclusionary of her considerable talents and abilities.

Of course, it's this team in-fighting that distracts them from their battle with Zanadu, who seems to be able to overpower Kryptonians easily...and perhaps has taken possession of Wildcat with strange hypnotic music; Wildcat attacks Hawkman as this issue draws to a fast close.

The next issue box promises a battle between Kryptonians, among other things. I always wondered why Power Girl was characterized as such a grump when she was a member of Justice League Europe, especially since then she didn't remember that her home planet(s) had been destroyed. Now I realize she's always been a grumpy puss...and I understand that Giffen was just carrying on the tradition years later.

COMING SOON: Justice League Week!!!

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