Review by Karl Verhoven
As with the first volume, a cent shy of a $40 list price is frankly outrageous for four issues of George Pérez illustrating Gerry Conway’s Justice League of America comics. The good news for those unwilling to part with that amount is that three of the four individual comics can be located in volume six of Crisis on Multiple Earths, available for under $10 on Amazon. The fourth can be bought as a comic for $15 from even the priciest of second hand dealers.
That Crisis book features the 1981 teaming of the Justice League with their Earth Two analogues the Justice Society, throwing in a remodelled version of the Secret Society of Super-Villains, actually a contrivance, like the basis for the story. It’s the exciting art of Pérez that brings matters to life. He usually thrives on a platoon of characters, but is asked here to illustrate first the villains gathering, then a series of one on one matches, mixing his locations, and maximising the fun. There’s a slight hitch when Keith Pollard’s more prosaic page layouts occupy half the concluding chapter, but it’s not a fatal intrusion. This is a lot of fun if you don’t bother thinking too hard.
Pollard’s contribution reignites the debate about why the first volume couldn’t have included Dick Dillin’s opening chapter work on a tale that Pérez concluded. That’s further brought into question by the inclusion of the final JLA story Pérez drew, in which assorted other artists supply individual chapters. That’s no hardship when that group are Jim Aparo, Brian Bolland, Pat Broderick, Dick Giordano, Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane and Joe Kubert, several making valedictory farewells to characters whose adventures they drew in the 1960s.
Pérez contributes an opening, a few inserts and a lengthy conclusion, amounting to 34 pages in all. It’s in service of a tale pitting the original seven Justice League members individually against some who’ve joined since, with roots extending back to the JLA’s origin story (original 1960s version, not later revisions). Conway is good at subtly quantifying team members for possible new readers without alienating those intimate with the cast. We’re told “From Italy to America by transatlantic jet, it is a journey of some eleven hours or more. For the fastest man alive, it is a journey of eleven seconds… and that only because he detoured around a mid-Atlantic storm”. His plot is leaky – what’s the purpose of the Phantom Stranger’s intervention other than to include him? – but for the most part it’s a solid page-turner, with each artist incorporating a full page pin-up into their material, far from common for the time. Those from Kane and a then largely unknown Brian Bolland are stunners.
This, though, is Pérez’s book, and he matches the best of the guest artists with several full pages and background detail lovingly rendered throughout, yet never to the point of distracting from the foreground action.
The book is rounded off with the covers Pérez produced for the following Justice League issues, including one iconic and symbolic full team shot. Good? Yes. $40? No.