Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Justice League of America #156 - July 1978

The Phantom Stranger and the Justice League encounter...The Fiend with Five Faces!

The Phantom Stranger made his first JLA appearance under its (then)new writer, Gerry Conway, in a tale called "The Fiend With Five Faces!":


...notice something interesting here? The Phantom Stranger is, for the first time, included in the official JLA Roll Call! I wonder how he felt about that?

As you can see above, the issue opens with Aquaman staggering, nearly unconscious, in attempt to get to the JLA Satellite. He is helped into one of the transmitter tubes by a local cabbie

While Aquaman is attended to on the satellite, Flash and Green Lantern run into a sort of wood nymph type bad guy, who seems to control the vegetation around them, which he uses to knock the two heroes out.

Aquaman tells the JLA about this mysterious being he encountered...the Fiend with Five Faces! Investigating a series of natural underwater disasters, the trail led him to a small isle, where he saw this bizarre creature, who was a statue that came alive, and then blasted Aquaman as soon as it saw him!

While discussing what to do, the Phantom Stranger appears, explaining he is there to offer assistance.
Uh-oh, this must be real trouble!:
Various teams of JLAers answer distress calls, where they each run into god-like beings who were once combined but now are free to wreak havoc on Earth. Red Tornado, Batman, and the Stranger head for the Pacific:
During the melee, the Stranger disappears, as he is wont to do.
The JLA manages to fight some of the magical warriors off, and The Phantom Stranger reappears to help free their leader, Tangora:
Tangora is freed, and he tells his subjects that this moment of freedom is to replenish their souls before they must rejoin into one being, not to cause destruction. Tangora reforms them all into one beings, the isle where they came from sinks, order is restored.
There's an Epilogue, where The Atom debates with his friends about whether to tell Jean his secret identity. Batman is against it (surprise), but Flash, Elongated Man, and Aquaman are for it:

So what's he going to do? To be continued!

I love that The Phantom Stranger hangs around during the "Should I Tell Her?" debate with Ray, but says nothing. I think it was a lost opportunity, not to have PS say something like "Look, I've been with Joan of Arc, Queen Elizabeth, Madam Curie, Mata Hari, Ava Gardner, and Jane Fonda. I'm telling you, Ray, women can't handle dating a superhero!"

Followed by awkward silence from the rest of the team.

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