It’s my firm belief that the true golden age of comic books was in the 1970s. The fact that this roughly coincides with my own youth is of no import and this minor coincidence should be disregarded.
The 1970s were the years where comic book publishers started pushing back – ever so gently – against the Comics Code Authority and its stifling mandates on “appropriate” story elements, but before the industry dove head-first into the Massive Crossovers and Grim ‘n Gritty drama of the mid-to-late 1980s.
That isn’t to say there wasn’t some seriously messed-up stuff in the 1970s.
Let’s take Justice League of America #130, for example, published in May of 1976.
There aren’t a ton of stories from this time that really stuck with me, but this one has always hung around the back of my mind, probably because the visuals are so bizarre. I recently found that it was available on Comixology, so I dropped the $1.99 for the sake of nostalgia.
The gist of it is that Hawkman has been working on a new teleporter and security system so that JLA members – and only JLA members – can quickly get to the Justice League Satellite, which was their headquarters from 1970 until 1985. As he’s demonstrating it for The Flash, an alien just happens to sneak into the teleport chamber, and the result is that the two heroes and the alien get mixed into three bizarre looking amalgamations as they beam abort the satellite, after which the alien tries to steal the satellite for its own purposes. There’s a satisfying fight or two, the heroes eventually uncover the alien’s weakness, and the heroes and alien get separated back into their proper bodies, just in time for JLA #131, in which “Superman, Flash, Hawkman, and Aquaman fall victim to an attack on New York City by intelligent bees”. I am not making this up.
But before moving on to the intelligent bees, there’s just one last thing to take care of on the satellite. This is a bit of the story that didn’t stand out as a kid but which is dark as all get out when read from an adult’s viewpoint:
Yes, Ollie, the latest member of the JLA is an alien. It’s an expectant mother, in fact, something that Supes kind of stumbles over saying. Apparently his weaknesses are Kryptonite, magic, and icky girl stuff.
So, as mentioned, this was published in 1976 and the JLA Satellite was eventually destroyed in 1985. That means that, for nine years, the JLA held a pregnant alien captive, in an induced coma, because it made their computers work better. The satellite was basically Space Guantanamo.
Katar explaining this isn’t that weird – I mean, let’s face it, this is a perfectly normal Hawkman solution to a problem. I feel that one of the more liberal leaguers should definitely have spoken up at some point, though.
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