Justice League of America Annual #1 (August 1983) VF $3.20
Here is another bronze age comic book with Hawkgirl in between the covers. This one is special. It is Justice League of America Annual #1 (August 1983). Although this series began publication in 1960, the first of only three annuals appeared 23 years later. This 48-page issue comes between JLA #217 and #218. I came across it while I was working on my mission to read every issue of the original run of Justice League of America beginning with Brave and the Bold #28 and #30 and then continuing with #1 of Justice League of America (November 1960). Although it is different topic, I intend to stop with #232 as that is the final appearance of the original JLA before it became Justice League Detroit with issue #233. More on that later.
Although she is not featured on the cover, Hawkgirl does play a role in the story contained within.
The story, titled “If I Should Die Before I Wake”, has a lengthy introduction in which all members of the Justice League are present with three exceptions. We are told that Batman is occupied with his break-away group called the Outsiders. According to Wonder Woman, Batman and the Outsiders are “probably invading the country of Markovia…” Issue #1 of Batman and the Outsiders came out the same month as Annual #1 and on the cover Batman was depicted castigating the organization he had been with for almost a quarter of a century stating in regards to the Outsiders: “I had enough of your two-bit Justice League! From now on these are my new partners!” Batman gestures over his shoulder at his new group of super-hero cast-offs: Metamorpho, Halo, Black Lightning, Katana and Geo-Force.
Although it is not said, the Hal Jordan Green Lantern is off on a year long mission in deep space. This arc came full circle in Green Lantern #172 (January 1984) in a story titled “Judgement Day!” wherein Hal is made to stand trial before the Guardians of the Universe on the planet Oa.
The third person missing from the League meeting is Hawkgirl and as usual there is no mention of her even though her husband Katar (Hawkman) has responded to the alarm sent out to all JLA members.
Although she is missing from the introductory meeting of the Justice League, Hawkgirl does appear in Act II as she and Hawkman along with the Atom are teamed with the newest member of the Justice League, Firestorm. Hawkman reveals the nature of Hawkgirl’s earlier absence when he apologizes to her for taking her away from “her research”. It is not stated, but her research is most likely related to the Equalizing Plague, a McGuffin introduced a decade earlier (see my earlier post, The Great Equalizer).
I understand why, from a creative & editorial standpoint, certain characters are absent from a story. It is practice similar to when players on a baseball team are benched. During this period there were eleven heroes in the Justice League: Aquaman, Green Arrow, Atom, Black Canary, Phantom Stranger, Elongated Man, Hawkman, Red Tornado, Hawkgirl, Zatanna, and Firestorm (Batman was with the Outsiders and the Martian Manhunter left the group in 1969). So, I get why the creative team would want work with a sub-set of the League when constructing a story and I do not criticize that. I am just playing a game I call “Where’s Hawkgirl?”
In Act II, We are reminded once again that Hawkgirl is the technician of team Hawk. She has built a device called the Cerebrumeter which is based on a Thanagarian invention known as the Absorbascon. They will use Hawkgirl’s invention to track down Dr. Destiny.
We are also reminded that Hawkman, although capable of piloting a spaceship hundreds and thousands of light-years across the universe, has difficulty when it comes to things of a mechanical nature. Hawkgirl reminds her husband of the time when he caught his beak in the Cuisinart. This little slice of Thangarian domesticity appears to make the Atom uncomfortable. Besides Hawkgirl’s invention is “blinking like a hyper-active video game!”
Besides Hawkgirl’s surprise appearance, I thought the appearance of John Stewart is worth noting. John Stewart is the second Green Lantern assigned to the sector 2814, the sector where Earth is. John is also one of DC comics earliest if not first African American super-heroes. He is a former Marine turned architect. He first appeared in Green Lantern #87 (December 1971).
What strikes me is John’s taking issue with having been called away from his architect work to deal with the crisis. Wonder Woman comments that John “seems to disdain being a Green Lantern.” This is a common theme with other African American heroes introduced by DC during the Seventies. For example, when Green Arrow nominated Black Lightning for membership in the Justice league of America, the high school principal turned superhero turned down the group declaring “with that jive bunch of turkeys in the JLA? Forget it!“
Another African American character introduced in Seventies was Mal Duncan (aka Hornblower). Mal first appeared in Teen Titans #26 (April 1970) where he rescues the Titans from a street gang called Hell’s Hawks. After completing a rigorous obstacle course, Mal is greeted by the Titans and Mr. Jupiter who are telling him “you are now one of us.” To which Mal responds “Not yet! I’ll know when the time comes.”
It is as if the editors at DC comics were making an excuse: “Hey, we tried to introduce characters of color, but gosh darn it, they didn’t want to participate.”
Despite that little bit of controversary, we are reminded in the end that teamwork succeeds through a poster-like page with a banner that reads “All you’ve gotta do is dream…”
And they were nice enough to include Hawkgirl with the team.
The back cover contains an ad for a early video game named Burgertime. Made by Mattel Electronics, it was available for Intellivision, Atari 2600, Apple II, and IBM personal computer.