A Tribute to the of

By the time this edition of the Silver Age Sage hits the internet, weíll be on the cusp of the new Justice League movie. Iíll admit to being a little nervous. Despite my loyalty to DC, at least the older stuff, I can admit that the competitionís movies have, for the most part, blown them out of the water. I still think the Batman trilogy was masterful, but sadly, itís the exception to the rule. So, Iím hopeful, but nervous.

It seems like an opportune time to do a Justice League of America review to mark the occasion and as I often do, I spent some time combing the archives here to make certain I donít repeat myself. Itís happened before. Usually the webmaster is superb at catching me when I do, but I discovered we both let one slide quite a while ago. Using the same reprint edition, I reviewed JLA #12 (as reprinted in JLA #76) for both Sage #121 and Sage #282. I guess the other reprint in there, JLA #7, has yet to grab me. Anyway, this time around Iím going to go back to December 1960/January 1961 for the second issue of the title, featuring ďSecret of the Sinister Sorcerers!Ē by Gardner Fox. Julie Schwartz, as usual, is in the editorís seat and Mike Sekowsky penciled the interiors with Bernard Sachs on inks and good olí Gaspar Saladino on letters. The cover, however, is another matter. Have you ever looked at something and just not seen it? Iíd seen this cover before and obviously just skimmed it, because on closer examination, I thought, ďThatís not Sekowskyís work. In fact, thatís really kinda crappy, even for the era. Who did this?Ē Iím going to argue with comics.org, too. If thatís Murphy Andersonís work, Iím turning in my Silver Age credentials. The thing is, Iím not really certain who it might be. If thereís any speculation out there, Iíd love to hear it. Now, into the belly of the beast on this dime-priced book:

The splash page depicts our heroes surrounding a cauldron and summoning Merlin himself. The caption informs us that things have gone screwy on earth and that only magic seems to be working while science takes a back seat.

Very soon in far-flung places it becomes manifest as Green Lantern attends a magic show and the trick shouldnít have worked while the simple light switch fails. Diana Princeís telephone similarly malfunctions as does Barry Allenís incredible shrinking Flash uniform, John Jonesí patrol car, Batmanís utility belt, the telegraph for Clark Kent to file his story and even Snapper Carrís photo enlarger. Multiple fingers activate the emergency JLA signal in hopes that it will function correctly.

Meanwhile, on another world, the great Merlin is trying to conjure up some rain in Magic-land andÖnothing doing.

As it turns out, a trio of wicked wizards have pulled the olí switcheroo. Simon Magus, Saturna and the Troll King conjured a door to another world, the Earth, of course, which was a dead ringer for theirs other than the science vs. magic angle. When they came back, they joined forces on another spell and brought a car to their world. Incidentally, Mike Sekowsky didnít just gin up a generic automobile. Oh, no. This first one was a pretty good example of convertible 1960 Impala.

Ultimately, after getting a few vehicles and other Earth goodies, they exchanged the two lands, leaving theirs influenced only by science and Earth subject to magic. The reasoning? Since the trio of baddies are the only ones with scientific gadgetry, they can loot and pillage at will, which they promptly accomplish, collecting things such as Excalibur, the golden-egg laying goose, Pegasus and fairy gold, all of which seem to fit nicely into the Impalaís trunk. (I can vouch for the capacity of a 60ís vintage Impala trunk. A story for another time. Nothing too nefarious, I assure you.)

Back at the secret JLA HQ, the members, whose very powers are not working, are pondering what has happened and what to do about it. GL relates what happened to him at the magic show and speculates that somehow, that is now the guiding power there. Using old fashioned candle power, Wonder Woman and Snapper go to their library to collect all the tomes on magic.

Next thing you know, theyíre at the cauldron, throwing in the various ingredients found in a book and they manage to create a sapphire. Now that the trial run has been successful, they decide to summon Merlin, who soon arrives from Magic-land.

After comparing notes, a plan is laid. Merlin will transport three teams to take on each of the wicked wizards, collect the incantation elements and return things to normal. Merlin will provide the magical transport to the other realm. After they go on their missions, Merlin conjures a magic carpet and he and Snapper Carr are flying off to investigate something.

Chapter II opens with the two green guys, Jíonn Jíonzz and Green Lantern, to the lair of Saturna, where they are greeted by two mythical creatures, a Manticore and a Griffin. A Manticore, it seems, is a lion with the head of a man with needles on the end of the tail that will paralyze. Wouldnít you know, itís body is yellow, which is anathema to the power ring.

The Griffin, half lion, half eagle, decides to take on the Martian Manhunter. Our hero seems to be getting the better of the beast when abruptly a column of fire emerges from the cavern floor, weakening our favorite Martian. They each keep their wits about them, though and GL uses a ricochet maneuver to take down the Manticore while Jíonn uses his ebbing strength to hurl some gravel into the Griffinís eyes. Soon each hero triumphs and they then pay a visit to Saturna (who happens to reside in Asgard) and defeat him, gaining his segment of the incantation.

Chapter III begins with Wonder Woman and the Flash encountering troll giants in Olympia, guarding the Troll Kingís castle. For trolls, they look an awful lot like VikingsÖ One promptly scoops up Wonder Woman and the Flash reacts by using his super speed to dash around them, kicking up whirlwinds that make them dizzy and prone to falling. The Amazon princess then binds them with vines and the Flash heads for the castle gate, but is stymied by a gate that was suddenly dropped. The Fastest Man Alive is now out cold and captured. When Wonder Woman completes her task and discovers what has transpired, including a raising of the drawbridge, she uses her magic lasso to breach the castle walls and battle her way past dwarves armed with tommy guns.

She relieves them of their arms after deflecting their rounds with her bracelets and prepares to take on the Troll King himself. Unfortunately, heís prepared with a trap door that leads her into a dungeon right alongside her teammate. Wouldnít you know a heavy stream of water begins to enter the chamber. Thinking quickly, the scarlet speedster whips up a cold wind with his arms, freezing the water and creating a way for them to climb out, capture the Troll King and gain the page with his part of the incantation.

On to Chapter IV with Superman, Batman and Aquaman seeking Simon Magus on the continent of Oceana, each searching in their natural realm of air, land and water, respectively. Superman finds Magusí cloud castle, but discovers itís guarded by wind sprites that impede his progress. Fighting his way inside, the Man of Steel weakens the closer he gets to Magus’ throne, which he learns is carved from a kryptonite meteor. Suddenly, however, he is propelled forward and they burst through the castle walls, courtesy of a quick burst of wind from the wind sprites, but as it turns out, Magus is able to dissolve right out of the Man of Tomorrowís clutches.

Batman, on foot in the Forest Perilous, finds himself fighting off enchanted trees somewhat reminiscent of those in the Wizard of Oz, only they ainít just pitching apples. Batman uses his utility belt to bring some fire into the mix, distracting the trees into releasing him. He spots Magus, but the magician vanishes once again.

Off to the ocean, where the Sea King commands the unusual marine life to take him to Magus, which they promptly obey. So focused is Aquaman on the sight of the mage, though, that he doesnít notice until too late the descending net. Luckily for our hero, he spots remora-fish and orders them to grab onto Magus, holding him fast until he releases the net. Now the third and final part of the incantation is in the hands of the JLA.

Chapter V brings things full circle with the JLA members along with the captured conjurers converge on the doorway between realms. They then spot monstrous hands coming through the doorway and fight to keep them contained. As the huge, blue man bursts through, the Justice League goes on the offensive, but they then recognize the voice of Snapper Carr, who sheepishly admits he was fooling around with Merlinís wand andÖ

After going through the portal back to their HQ, Merlin reverses the spell and then uses the retrieved incantation to return everything to its proper space, ending this full-length adventure.

I always enjoy these classic tales of the Justice League of America, even when the setting might be stretching things to the breaking point. This story gets a good solid 7 on the rating scale for unusual adventure, esprit de corps and of course the fertile mind of Gardner Fox, weaving in some classic mythology along with the more modern variety. Hereís hoping the big screen debut of one of my favorite super-hero teams manages to take the baton and run with it.

Be sure to check in again on the first of December for another deep dive into DCís Silver Age right here at this perch on the World Wide Web. As usual, Iíll happily entertain questions, comments and other feedback at my personal e-mail: professor_the@hotmail.com.

See you in about two weeks andÖ

Long live the Silver Age!

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