Friday, March 11, 2016

A League Divided: Chapter 7 (DC)
Justice League of America #200 When: March 1982 Why: Gerry Conway How: Joe Kubert

The Story So Far...
They came from beyond the stars! Many years ago, alien invaders chose Earth as the battleground for a challenge between would-be rulers! These bizarre strangers from the planet Appellax arrived as elemental vessels carried by a shower of meteors. The resulting threat of powerful monsters too great to be ignored!
Scattered across the globe, seven individual heroes used their unique powers to intervene: Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Superman and Batman! Combining their efforts against the final force of the Wood King, they thwarted the invasion and forged an unbreakable alliance known the world over as The Justice League of America!
Unbeknownst to those involved, or the many heroes who would join their ranks in the time following -- the threat from Appellax lay dormant within the minds of those who defeated them! Once triggered, the original JLA are programmed to gather the buried meteors to begin their restoration! With no memory of their subsequent allies, the brainwashed heroes must be stopped in a worldwide battle between hero and hero!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Superman 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Draw 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Superman 6 (Mach Speeds)
Stamina: Superman 6 (Generator)
Agility: Superman 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Hawkman 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Superman 5 (Lasers)

Man? Myth? Alien? Hawkman represents a little bit of each! Archaeologist and museum curator Carter Hall has lived more lives than most. Passing tragically from one existence to the next, Hall is cursed to death each time he bonds with his reincarnating soul mate [see; Hawkgirl]. His perpetual legacy is a mantle of passion and heroism across time and space. Possessing Thanagarian Nth Metal from a former life, the modern day Hawkman navigates the skies in the savage battle against injustice wherever he may find it.

Nth metal allows Hawkman to fly, enhances his strength, endurance, and grants him control over giant bird-like wings. Enhancing his offensive is an arsenal of weaponry sourced from the ages of man, with particular preference for medieval maces, nets, spears, clubs and axes.

Hawkman's choice of weaponry reflects his sometimes brutal approach to the pursuit of modern justice. We saw that play out to extreme when he severed Matter Master's arm with a battle axe [Hawkman #23]. He also wasn't pulling his punches against the murderous St. Roch Creature in Hawkman #31. This aggression offers a rare edge against Superman -- whose defining strength, speed, stamina, and endurance are well established and in a class beyond!

Hawkman's shown he can go mace-to-face with super-human powerhouses in the past, but it took the aid of Hawkgirl and Monolith to put Solomon Grundy down in our only notable example [Hawkman #33]. Relying on force to carry out strategy means Hawkman lacks the tactical equalizers of a Batman, who is the golden standard for defying Superman's natural strengths [see; Old Comics Wednesday: Batman v Superman].

Batman frequently falls back on real or synthetic Kryptonite -- the radioactive mineral that is Superman's biggest weakness. Hawkman isn't known for having access to the substance, but the make-up of the Appellaxian meteor they're fighting over contains Kryptonite! Depending on the strain, it means Superman risks total vulnerability, mortality, or other side effects. Is it sufficient to tip the scales enough to give Hawkman a fighting chance? Let's find out...

The Tape: Superman Ranking: Superman (#6)

What Went Down...
Hawkman finds no pleasure in the gathering of arms for the fight ahead: A 16th century corseque, an iron mesh net, a crossbow, cranequin, and flanged mace. Tools he will need if he's to stop The Man of Steel retrieving the final Appellaxian meteor from its burial place in Greenland. A journey made in minutes by the winged warrior, who flies a parabolic arc from Midway City through Earth's upper atmosphere.

The vantage point gives him the drop on a familiar red and blue blur: Superman!

The hovering hero ensnares his prey in iron netting and draws the tri-pronged corseque. With regret, he thrusts it directly through Superman's torso! The resulting explosion of anatomy confirms Hawkman's suspicions: Kryptonite in the meteor has forced Superman to employ his duplicate robot guard!

A second Man of Steel descends on Hawkman, who's counting on his medieval weaponry to trump the sophisticated super-robotics. A bolt from his crossbow makes light work of the attacking automaton -- another explosion!

With his other weapons spent, Hawkman draws his fixed mace and braces for a third facsimile. As it descends through the clouds, Hawkman detects something slightly different about this Superman. He swings wildly to greet it with the flanged end of his mace -- only to snap it across the unphased Superman!

Unfortunately for Hawkman, he had underestimated The Man of Tomorrow's ingenuity! Coated in an almost transparent "plasta-lead alloy" - the genuine article is shielded from the harmful effects of nearby Kryptonite!

Acting under the conviction of Appellaxian mind control, Superman's super-strength is too much for the ill prepared Justice Leaguer!

When next he enters the upper atmosphere, Hawkman flies a path not of his own making! A mighty blow of Superman leaving the unconscious warrior to float as if dead on the very edge of the world. Alone and defeated... until a strange beam of zeta energy plucks him from space...

The Hammer...
Yes! You guessed it! A lucky intervention from the scientists of Rann rescued Hawkman from an uncertain fate. There's nothing uncertain about today's victor, though: Superman!

Superman is a featured hero this March as we anticipate the release of super-sequel Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, March 25th.

The titular theatrical rivalry has been well documented on The Comic Book Fight Club, so instead, we're pitting Superman against other heroes for something a little different. It's been another chance to knock-off some of the untapped classics, as well. Last week we finally opened the book on Kingdom Come with an often requested showdown between Superman and Captain Marvel. This week: it's another legendary issue that's been on my personal To Do pile for many years!

Justice League of America #200 is a softball choice, if there ever was one. A few years before the bitter throwdown of The Dark Knight Returns, and long before the industry made its heroes routine villains in stories like Civil War: this was a super-sized spectacular turning two generations of the Justice League against one another! A dream match scenario - even if the line-up was a little lopsided.

The story hinges on the Justice League's first adventure: told originally in 1962's Justice League of America #9. Alien combatants from the planet Appellax staged a contest of supremacy on Earth, inadvertently bringing together the founding JLA members. Secret Wars on Infinite Earths readers will know the tweaked post-Crisis version told in Secret Origins #32. The otherwise fine retelling substitutes Wonder Woman for Black Canary [vs Glass Man], and diminishes the role of Superman [vs The Crystal Creature], while also eliminating Batman.
In the original JLA #200 scenario, '69 recruit Black Canary is assigned the takedown of brainwashed team original Batman, featured in a 2-on-1 also involving the team's first add-on and guest star: Green Arrow. I'm quite sure we'll be revisiting the issue sometime in the future to look closer at those other contests. In the mean time, I was pretty excited to start with Hawkman.
Of all the JLA fights, it's quite possibly the most mismatched, but therein lies some of the appeal. Hawkman's solemn determination to face overwhelming odds and a friend taps into the underlying grittiness of the character. He's not the strongest or most naturally powerful, but he uses the unique skills he has to fight the good fight. Over the years, that developed into a brutal edge that set him apart from other heroes. Medieval weaponry in uncompromising hands.
It's unflattering, but on another uncompromising count, it's interesting to note this is the first Superman fight to resort to the famed schoolyard presumption: that every fight should end with the opponent in orbit.
Will Superman get his comeuppance? Be here next week for tag team action as the World's Finest finally team-up to take on two familiar friends turned enemies! Can't wait until then? Find more classic superhero smackdown in the Issue Index Archive!
Winner: Superman
(+2) #4 Superman
(-3) #35 Hawkman

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