Justice League of America #150 (January 1978) FN 6.0 $3.42
The reason why I bought this issue is because I knew from my research that Hawkgirl appeared somewhere between the covers. But what I did not realize until I examined the cover in detail is that Hawkgirl actually does appear on this cover.
On the cover a villain by the name of The Key is shown trapping the Justice League inside individual key holes. In the foreground we see Superman and he is followed by Batman, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Green Lantern – and off in the distance – Hawkman, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Red Tornado, Hawkgirl (upside down), and The Flash.
This issue is the culmination of an 10-issue run written by Steve Englehart (#139-#146, #149-#150). Issue #140 introduced a character known as the Manhunter a.k.a. Mark Shaw. Mr. Shaw later became the Privateer and he appeared off and on during this run. Issue #142 introduced the Construct and Willow. Hawkgirl made an appearance in #145 and it was in #146 that Hawkgirl became a member of the JLA. In #149 it was revealed that the secret identity of Star-Tsar was none other than the former JLA mascot, Snapper Carr. In #150, all of these story arcs become full circle.
In the story it is revealed that the person who is responsible for Snapper Carr becoming the Star-Tsar is a villain who has tangled and lost against the JLA a number of times before. His name is the the Key and at first I assumed that this was same villain who had gone up against the Earth-2 Justice Society America in their last Golden Age appearance in All-Star Comics #57 (March 1951).
Although the appearance and M.O. of both characters were nearly identical they were not the same. The Golden age Key appeared to have died in 1951. The Key who appears in Justice League of America #150 is the Silver age version of this character and this one first appeared in Justice League of America #41. Besides the appearance of the Key there are two other similarities between #41 and #150.
First, Snapper Carr also plays a role in #41 when he is tricked by the Key into poisoning the members of the Justice League. The toxic substance consumed by the Justice League members causes them to disband, destroy their base, and resume their solo careers. It also made them incapable of seeing the Key’s henchmen as they committed robberies across the nation.
In addition, to poisoning the members, Snapper Carr and the Key attempted to poison their sidekicks. This might have worked for Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, and Speedy; but when Hawkgirl did not drink her warm milk the night before, she was spared. Noticing that her husband was blind to seeing the Key-men robbing a bank in Midway City, the mystery began to unravel. Using Thanagarian tech, the Hawks were able to determine the secret identity of all the members of the JLA. Splitting up, the couple tracked down each team member and help them to get cured. Back together as a team JLA was now in a position to defeat the powerful Key. This time presumably for good.
From the Solicitation:
Cover pencils by Rich Buckler, inks by Jack Abel. The Key–or Not the Key, script by Steve Englehart, pencils by Dick Dillin, inks by Frank McLaughlin; the JLA tries to learn how and why Snapper Carr became their enemy; certain JLA members visit the home of Snapper Carr while others encounter The Key, a longtime enemy; Mark Shaw, now the Privateer, is revealed as a villain. 48 pgs. $0.60. Cover price $0.60. Grade: FN 6.0