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September 13, 2008


Mr Element-Dr Alchemy

Paul Nussbaum / Star - Tsar / Snapper Carr
The real author ...... (no Joke {get it })

Mark Engblom

Totally lost me on that, Mr. E.

ShadowWing Tronix

I used to go by Mr. E., actually. Me and about 5000 other people, I bet, but how many used Mann as a "last name"?

Probably too many.

Back on topic, I find it interesting that Paul wanted to axe two of the original Justice League members.

Michael Rebain

I remember reading that letter in the original comic! I'm curious about what Mr. Nussbaum made of Wonder Woman's depowering and resignation from the JLA during the next year.

Another interesting letter regarding the JLA's membership appeared about that time in one of the 80-Page Giants. It was written as a letter commenting on the 100th issue of the comic, which would not appear for another few years. This writer predicted that Batgirl would be a member by that time, as well as a hero named "Psi" who had some sort of nuclear powers.


I like your notion of Nussbaum as a corporate ax man, since it brings to mind Alec Baldwin in GLENGARRY GLENN ROSS. I can just imagine him walking around the Justice League headquarters; "Third prize is, you go home, Aquaman!"

Pat Curley

Actually it is something of an oddity that GA, Aquaman and the Manhunter made it into the JLA. Unlike the JSA, where members quit once they got their own mags, the JLA was supposed to be for features that had graduated to title status. The problem (of course) was that the Silver Age was only barely underway and so the only characters that were available under that criterion were Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern. Atom and Hawkman got their own mags, and joined; Metamorpho became the first to decline membership even after he soloed.

And the MM and WW and I believe GA all left the JLA in the next year or two, at least temporarily.

Mark Engblom

"Actually it is something of an oddity that GA, Aquaman and the Manhunter made it into the JLA."

Great analysis, Pat.

The JLA membership philosophy *is* an interesting contrast with the JSA's. In hindsight, doesn't it seem strange that DC would essentially banish their most commercially popular characters from the JSA as soon as they received their own titles? It seems so counter-intuitive now (in the present age of multiple titles featuring fan favorites like Wolverine and Batman), but in the early days of superhero comics, it must have made sense at some level to someone. For the life of me, I can't figure out HOW....but the marketing and economic realities of that era were a whole different ball game than today.

John Nowak

I wonder if the logic was something like this:

1) The popularity of individual characters is cyclic.

2) The popularity of a character can be ruined by overexposure.

3) People will buy a book even if it isn't entirely focused on the characters they like (anthologies were still selling at the time; I guess that buying a comic that only had a few pages you liked made more sense at 10 cents a pop than three bucks)

3) So, let's have a book centered on characters who, individually, cannot sustain their own title. A Green Arrow book would fail; a Flash book would fail; a GA / Flash book would succeed.

But I think the key assumption here is that overexposure is a bad thing.

I don't know if that's objectively right or wrong, but I do think it's significant that very, very few superheroes created in the last 30-odd years have hit anything like the popularity of the characters invented in the Gold and Silver ages.

Mark Engblom

All great point, John. As I touched on in my previous comment, we're oftentimes just guessing at that era's comic book marketplace and the forces and factors that shaped it. You're very well right on the thinking behind the weaker characters getting the team books and, to a certain extent, we can still see that sentiment at work today (such as the current JLA title featuring several B and C-listers).

Since we're on the subject of earlier practices, I'm reminded of the thinking behind comic book numbering in the late 50's and early 60's. When DC awarded the Barry Allen Flash his own title, the decision was made to start the numbering at #105, which resumed the numbering of the original Golden Age series. The thinking was that customers of the time would be more attracted to a series with high numbers (in the belief that it looked like it was a time-tested product), rather than a #1 issue. Of course, that sensibility is completely flipped around in the modern marketplace where #1 issues always grab our attention and high numbers elicit a "why bother?" reaction.

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