A Tribute to the of

A little over a year ago we bid a sad farewell to inker Frank McLaughlin, who I had the privilege to interview for [Sage #238] this feature back in 2010. I’d written Frank while he was in the rehab center toward the end of his life and heard back a few times and he kept his good humor to the last.

I was able to get a few original pieces of Frank’s art and one in particular intrigued me. It’s a Justice League of America collage and as I admired it on my wall, it seemed to me that at least a few of the depictions had to be panels from some of his work with penciler Dick Dillin while Frank had that regular assignment, for about a solid decade, I might add. Well, after successfully identifying a couple of the portions, I got ambitious and decided to try and find as many as I could from the books. It took a little while, but I had some success and thought to honor Frank and to do this edition’s feature, I’d select one of those issues to review. I settled on #127 with a publication date of February, 1976 and an on-sale date of November 4, 1975. The cover is by Dick Giordano with colors by Tatjana Wood and letters by our good friend, Gaspar Saladino.

Quick sidebar: The Eisner award results recently came out and while I dutifully cast my vote for Gaspar, he didn’t make it into the hall of fame this year.

Interiors are by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin with Carl Gafford colors and Ben Oda lettering under a Gerry Conway written script titled, “The Command is Chaos!” Finally, Julius Schwartz is our editor along with E. Nelson Bridwell as associate editor and Bob Rozakis as assistant editor.

The setting on the splash page is the United Nations, of all places, and as you can see, Red Tornado, Superman, Green Arrow and the Flash are being bum-rushed by some baddies in a dramatic fashion as they crash through the glass windows of the UN building. Leading the foursome is the Anarchist, not to be confused with the anti-Christ. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

Immediately the battle is on, with the JLA on the offensive, but they are quickly repelled by the Anarchist and his three stooges. The gang is wearing some form of force-shield that cannot be breached by our heroes. The Anarchist then goes one better, using some sort of force that removes Superman’s belt and then wraps it around his neck in a choke hold.

In similar fashion, the fiend turns the Flash’s boots and the Red Tornado’s uniform against them, putting them out of commission. Right about then, the villain monologues a bit, informing the League members that what he wants from the UN and the six world leaders he’s already got on ice is anarchy and chaos, which he feels will be fulfilled once he’s got all the world leaders under his control. Humiliation of the Justice League is just icing on the cake.

Green Arrow has heard enough, and in the midst of fighting a couple of the goons, he sets off a classic JLA chain reaction by firing a suction cupped arrow at Flash’s boots, removing them and therefore his immobility. Flash swiftly dashes over to Superman and uses super speed to create a magnetic field that releases his belt from around his neck. Then Superman aids the Red Tornado, who is spinning helplessly, by spiriting him into outer space where he can no longer whirl around.

Meanwhile, the Anarchist has taken advantage of the team’s distractions and transported the UN delegates away.

Elsewhere, in a Southern California Motel, Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan is sleep walking and only awakens moments later when he catches himself in the act of recharging his power ring at the emerald power battery possessed by all Green Lanterns throughout the universe. Hal realizes this is the sixth time it’s happened. He’s been somehow forced by mental command to do this and he’s determined to find out what’s going on. He starts by addressing and questioning the ring itself. The ring, unfortunately, cannot answer as its molecular structure has been affected by the hi-jacking. With steely resolve, the Emerald Gladiator changes into his uniform and flies eastward to take on whatever is interfering with him.

Another shift of the scenery finds us in Metropolis with Clark Kent, Steve Lombard and Kitty from the television station. Lombard is sporting crutches and a broken leg and they’re at the Metropolis Forum to see Simon Elis in action.

Elis is a faith healer and Lombard, perhaps taking a page from Harry Houdini, is scoffing and decides to see if Elis is a charlatan. Steve is shocked, however, when Simon manages to shatter his cast and heal his broken femur. Elis proceeds to address the crowd, informing them that there is chaos loose in the land and that they need to pray for a leader who can cure the world.

Clark Kent has seen enough and employs a clever ruse to allow him to leave the forum involving heat vision and a hot dog vendor’s mustard bottle. Soon he’s switched to Superman and summoned his teammates via the JLA emergency signal. Green Lantern, Batman, Black Canary and the Elongated Man have answered the call. After a quick explanation, where the Man of Steel speculates that the faith healer is actually the Anarchist, they go after Simon Elis, who is being driven along a country road on Long Island.

Unfortunately for our heroes, they’ve been spotted and at Simon’s command, the chauffeur fires off a burst of yellow energy that shatters Green Lantern’s emerald bubble holding his fellow teammates and sends them all sprawling. Incidentally, this is the first panel [of page 11] that Frank recreated in the collage, just below the JLA shield logo.

In the next harrowing moments, Batman, Black Canary and the Elongated Man begin to dematerialize just like the UN delegates and Simon Elis’ car follows suit, leaving GL and Superman to ponder their next move. Green Lantern then tells Superman what’s been happening with his power battery and ring and lays the blame with Simon Elis. He concludes that the only way to deal with it is to totally discharge his power ring, so they fly to the sun to try and do so. The effort fails as there seems to be a built-in system in the ring to prevent it. Superman suggests they fly to the JLA’s satellite HQ to see if they can come up with something there.

After more fruitless efforts, Superman tells Jordan to simply remove the ring and then he cannot be coerced into recharging it. Just then, the Flash arrives with Hawkman, Green Arrow and Black Canary in tow. Green Lantern is being forced to try and recharge his ring and the only way to stop it seems to be to have Superman knock him out cold. The gambit works and now the JLA is on the trail of Simon Elis, aka the Anarchist.

It isn’t long until they crash in on the Anarchist’s lair where their other teammates are trussed up along with the UN dignitaries. Hey! Check out the bald guy with the glasses in the forefront [of page 15]. Does that look like Julie Schwartz as drawn a few issues ago in JLA #123 and #124? [Sage #214]

The Justice League of America springs into action and this time their efforts seem to be working. Superman himself takes on the Anarchist and accuses him of kidnapping the world’s leaders not only to artificially create more chaos, but as Simon Elis, positioning himself to step in and take over as world-wide dictator. The Anarchist acknowledges that the Kryptonian crime-fighter’s theory is correct, but the villain is rapidly losing power. Superman helps the situation along with a super-powered punch that sends the Anarchist into la-la land.

The final page’s [#18] epilogue shows some shadowy silhouettes telling Green Lantern to awaken and charge his power ring. A groggy GL struggles to consciousness, but resists the order until he’s fully awake and is able to take in the scene. His fellow Justice League members are assembled and Superman informs Green Lantern that the Anarchist has been neutralized and he’s free and clear to utter that famous oath. Hal does so in the closing panel, which is also included at the bottom of my nifty collage.

That puts a nice, tidy bow on the latest Justice League of America case and gave me a wonderful excuse to show off my original Frank McLaughlin artwork. This one is a bruiser, by the way. 19-1/2” x 18-1/2” and it’s all mine!

Thanks once again for joining us, dear readers. The next edition of this ongoing feature will hit this very space on the web on August 15th, so cruise on by for another review and of course there’s a lot more offered here at the Silver Lantern, so do some exploring. You’re bound to find something that will enlighten and delight you.

Question? Comment? Feedback? Drop a line any time: professor_the@hotmail.com.

See you soon and…

Long live the Silver Age!

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