Justice League of America #50 (December, 1966)

The eastern world, it is exploding
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’
You’re old enough to kill, but not for votin’
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’?

— P. F. Sloan, “Eve of Destruction”, 1964

Fighting soldiers from the sky
Fearless men who jump and die
Men who mean just what they say
The brave men of the Green Beret

— Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler and Robin Moore, “The Ballad of the Green Berets”, 1966

By October, 1966, United States military forces had been operating in Vietnam for over a decade, though mostly in an advisory role for much of that time.  Beginning in 1961, however, President John F. Kennedy had greatly increased the number of American troops stationed in the region; and his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, had used the authority of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, passed in August, 1964, to escalate the U.S.’s military role in the conflict between North and South Vietnam.  The deployment of 3,500 Marines in March, 1965, effectively began the American ground war there.  By December of that year, the number of U.S. troops had been increased to 200,000.     Read More

Justice League of America #49 (November, 1966)

DC Comics actually published two issues of Justice League of America in September, 1966:  the subject of this post, issue #49, which was released on September 13, according to the Library of Congress Copyright Office’s filing records (accessed, per usual, via the amazing web site Mike’s Amazing World); and issue #48, released a little less than two weeks earlier, on September 1.  That might seem odd, considering that JLA was only being published nine times a year at this point, but the extra November-dated issue was actually a reprint collection — an “80-Page Giant” featuring three of the premier super-team’s earliest adventures.     Read More

Flash #165 (November, 1966)

Comic book superheroes don’t get married very often.  The conventional wisdom is that tying the knot not only puts an end to any dramatic tension in a hero’s current romance, but that it also severely limits the storylines that writers and artists can explore with that hero in the future.  The pull of this idea among modern comics creators is so strong that even superheroes who’ve been married for as long as 15 years (Superman), or 20 (Spider-Man), can find themselves suddenly single — not through anything so mundane as legal divorce, of course, but rather by way of such plot machinations as having the Devil alter the characters’ history (Spider-Man), or rebooting a whole universe (Superman).     Read More

Justice League of America #44 (May, 1966)

Justice League of America #44 was the first comic book I ever got through the mail.  It came in a brown paper wrapper.  And it was folded in two, lengthwise.

Which, of course, would significantly lessen its future value as a collectible, but my eight-year-old self hardly cared about that.  After all, I was the kid who cut the logo off the cover of Superman #181 and cut up a story page in The Brave and the Bold #64 for the subscription coupon on the back — said subscription coupon being the very reason why I was now receiving my first issue of JLA through the mail, just a few months after I’d mailed the coupon in, accompanied by a single dollar bill.  (One dollar for 10 issues!  I saved a whole 2 cents per comic book.)  Read More

Green Lantern #43 (March, 1966)

Guest appearances and crossovers are par for the course in the superhero comics of today, but it wasn’t always that way, at least not at DC Comics.  In 1966 you had DC’s big guns teaming up every month (more or less) in Justice League of America, and Superman and Batman appearing together regularly in World’s Finest.  And The Brave and the Bold had by now evolved into a book featuring a constantly revolving lineup of (usually) two headliners (although Batman would soon lock down one of the co-starring slots as an ongoing gig).  But to have, say, Aquaman turn up in an issue of Wonder Woman?  That sort of thing didn’t happen very often. Read More

Justice League of America #40 (November, 1965)

Today’s 50 year old comic book ranks as one of the most personally significant that I ever bought, for several reasons.

The first, and most obvious, is that it introduced me to a number of superheroes I hadn’t encountered before.  I had known about Superman (and maybe Batman) before I bought my first comic, of course, and in my first month of comics buying I had picked up books featuring those two heroes (and possibly one starring Green Lantern), but this book was packed with colorful, memorable new characters.  The FlashThe AtomHawkmanAquamanGreen ArrowJ’onn J’onzz, the Martian ManhunterWonder Woman! (Waitaminnit — who let a girl in the clubhouse?)  And not just heroes, but villains as well, with cameo appearances by the Penguin, Captain Cold, Mirror Master, and — the Shark!  (OK, maybe not all the characters were A-listers.)

But just as important, if not more so, was the impact that the story had on the development of my personal moral philosophy.  Seriously.  Read More