Justice League of America The Silver Age: Vol. 1

This volume collects the first twelve appearances of the Justice League of America. I’ll start by saying that the title is wrong, as the League consists of two aliens from outer space (Superman & the Martian Manhunter), an Amazon (Wonder Woman), and the ruler of the undersea kingdom Atlantis (Aquaman). That’s right, half the team isn’t even American, but why quibble? The other members are! We’re talking The Flash, Batman, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow. There’s also honorary member Snapper Carr, a teenager who snaps his fingers and says things like Daddy-O because that’s how young people talked back then.

The Justice League of America fights alien conquerors, invaders from the future, mad scientists, and gangsters. Standout villains include Starro the Conquering Starfish, Amazo the Super Android, and Kanjar Ro, the would-be alien conqueror who channels Charles Atlas. Character development is minimal, but if you like your superhero comics with a heaping dose of pulpy science fiction you’ll enjoy this.

I myself don’t have a favorite issue, because the stories are all the same. Here’s the basic template: the League splits up to confront whatever new menace they are facing. Despite their superpowers they are captured, only to turn the tables on their captors. And then it’s on to the next adventure! I liked these stories – which are all one-shots – but they do blend together. I complained about the issues in the first volume of the X-Men all being the same, but this is even worse – or better, depending on your tastes.

Random observations: Superman and Batman barely appear in this volume. I think that’s because Superman and the Martian Manhunter have similar powers, and Batman has no powers at all. Batman doesn’t even have trick arrows like Green Arrow, who is way too clean-shaven. I like my Green Arrow with a bushy, fulsome beard! The Martian Manhunter looks like the Jolly Green Giant and uses his Martian super breath at least once an issue. They also give him new abilities (Martian eyebeams!), whenever the plot requires it. The less said about Snapper Carr, the better.

Bottom line: there are worst ways to kill a few hours.