Monday, June 16, 2008

Justice League of America #144 (7/77)

Green Arrow, having spent some time reading through old League journals, allowed his detective mind to activate his knee-jerk reactivism. It seemed that the date the League was said to have formed was seven months prior to Hal Jordan's having become Green Lantern, much less his starting working with other heroes. Ollie felt like he'd been lied to, and let Hal have it, but the also-present Superman stepped up. "Okay, Arrow! You've caught us red-handed-- and I, for one, am just as glad the secret's out." Superman led the pair to a viewing room on the League Satellite, where Ollie watched a video recorded by J'Onn J'Onzz before he left the team. "As you listen, please understand why we had to hide the truth! It wasn't you we feared-- it was the times!"

J'Onzz related the story of his arrival on Earth in 1955, with much of the dialogue and layouts taken directly from Detective Comics #225. "Soon, I found employment as a police detective-- but even sooner, I learned how correct I had been to hide my true identity!" Vice-President Nixon was pushing bomb shelters. The Red Scare was in full effect. Campaigns against juvenile delinquency focused on scapegoats like comic books. People had begun seeing, and fearing, UFOs. "Everywhere I went, I heard words of fear and bravado-- as if this country I had appeared in were under attack! And yet no attack ever came! I saw only prosperity-- and paranoia! It was quite curious! Naturally, therefore, I used what knowledge I possessed to attempt repairs on the Robot-Brain! Dr. Erdel had been a genius, however, and my efforts wrought no effect for several years!"

"But on the night of February 11, 1959--" a news report announced Superman's defeat of Lex Luthor (as related in Action Comics #249.) "Yes, and I saved Middletown from the Martian weapons that somehow fell to Earth, and nearly died in the process! But no one knows it, because of my vow to hide from the humans! I've accomplished much good here-- all of it invisibly! I am not a slave to my ego, but I have a normal Martian pride! Perhaps, with my record, it is time to announce myself!" Just then, J'onzz's arch-enemy Commander Blanx appeared with a squad of Pale Martians in Jones' home! "You should not be surprised, J'onn! Did you not find our trial offerings-- the Martian weapons!" Blanx had been responsible for J'onzz being sent into exile on his native Mars before Dr. Erdel's Robot-Brain drug him to Earth. As a result of J'onzz's work on the device, its probe-ray had begun appearing near his place of exile, and had been detected by Blanx. The Commander sent the capsule of weapons as a trial teleportation before he and his men allowed themselves to pay J'onzz a visit. "I cursed my blunder, but held the Commander's eyes! He had wanted to kill me in our previous encounter! Only my popularity with my people saved me-- but my people were far away now!"

Jones backed away from the Pales toward his lab. "You are a cool one, J'onn! I'll sleep better when you're gone!" Jones reached for a sink with valves marked as air, water, and fire, and set off a blaze. "The flames weaken me, though not quite so much in my Earth form! And I was prepared for them! Blanx and his men will be helpless, while I escape!" Jones waited a half hour for the Pales to exit his lab as he did, but none came. Jones cut the main gas supply, to find the Robot-Brain melted to slag and his fellow Martians presumably having returned home before it was rendered useless. "...after this reminder of what I left behind, my homesickness is completely cured! It is just as well!"

The next morning, an unusually svelte Captain Harding announced pale-skinned aliens were running riot on the south side of town-- they had just teleported to safety elsewhere in Middletown! "Blanx and his men will stop at nothing-- they've proved that on Mars! They want me to come to them-- and I must oblige!" Jones reverted to Martian form and turned invisible, but one of Blanx's men detected his heartbeat. J'onzz began throwing fists, while Blanx drew a pistol. "You've had your way with the backward humans, J'onn-- but you're as vulnerable as any Martian to this Microwave Pistol!" The beam pained J'onzz, but he retained his strength and beat the stuffing out of Blanx. Just then, a voice demanded J'onzz to freeze!

"Standing amidst the rubble was a human in scarlet-and-gold! I'd seen some newspaper photos from Central City, but I knew little about the Flash... My initial reaction was instinctive!" J'onzz turned invisible, but Flash moved across the room with speed enough to cover every square inch until he reached the Martian's jaw! It was a trick he'd learned in Flash #106 a week prior, when faced with the Mirror Master. Set on his butt, J'onzz tried a different approach. "Yes, here I am, friend-- and I am your friend! It is the pale-skinned Martians who have done the damage here! I sought to stop them! If you fight for justice, I am on your s--"

A woman's scream pierced the air from an overlooking apartment window, as tenants were horrified to spy these invading aliens. One went so far as to take aim with a rifle, which Flash raced up the side of the building to slap from his hand. As J'onn J'onzz vanished after the fleeing Pale Martians, Flash chastized, "You fool! You frightened him... and now he's gone-- along with the ones he said were his enemies! With their powers, how can I track them? Why didn't you let him finish what he was saying?" The crowd just dismissed all Martians as alien invaders, and even started to question whether Flash was one, too! "I had to get away from there! Those people are scared-- in an ugly mood-- and since I'll never reveal my true identity as a police scientist, they might well have turned on me!"

John Jones and the disguised Pale Martians seperately observed Flash spend hours tracking aliens he could not perceive in his midst, as a hysterical crowd began to form around Middletown City Hall. Captain Harding tried to quiet their fears and accusations, but having failed, turned to the Flash. Barry Allen likened the mess to Orson Welles' infamous broadcast of "War of the Worlds," then invoked the unimpeachable name of Superman to mollify the crowd. Shame he'd never actually met the Man of Steel...

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