Justice League of Amnesia

Justice League of America: The Greatest Stories Ever Told: written by Gardner Fox, Denny O’Neil, Martin Pasko, Gerry Conway, J.M. DeMatteis, Keith Giffen, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, and Joe Casey; illustrated by Mike Sekowsky, Dick Dillin, Kevin Maguire, Doug Mahnke, Howard Porter, Terry Austin, and others (1962-2005; collected 2006): Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales’ popular and controversial Justice League miniseries Identity Crisis had just come out when this volume was assembled. The selection criteria for this ‘Best-of’ collection thus became slanted to earlier Justice League stories that led somehow into Identity Crisis. It would have been a much better idea to create some sort of Justice League: Prelude to Identity Crisis volume, but no one ever accused DC of being sensible.

This assortment of Justice League stories is enjoyable, but very, very, very heavy on the Identity Swap trope that Identity Crisis would explore. And the first story seems to have been included because it introduces the handy element Amnesium to the Justice League (the memory-erasing substance had previously appeared several times in Superboy and Superman comics). Good old Amnesium. Lightly recommended.

Superboy: The Greatest Team-up Stories Ever Told: written by Leo Dorfman, Frank Robbins, Cary Bates, and others; illustrated by Kurt Schaffenberger, Dave Hunt, Bob Brown, Murphy Anderson, and others (1951-1981; collected 2011): Herein lies the template for Smallville and Arrow: early stories of a hero’s career in which he meets pretty much everyone we thought he met much later. Aquaboy! Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and Batman before they were Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and Batman! Young Lex Luthor! Young Jor-El! Young Lori Lemaris! Time-travelling Jimmy Olsen!

The 1950’s and 1960’s material is especially breezy and occasionally very, very odd as it attempts to have its earlier meet-up cake and eat it too, or whatever. So teen-aged Jor-El gets his memory erased by Amnesium so that he doesn’t remember meeting his own son on Earth. Superboy gets his memory erased so that he doesn’t remember Supergirl’s visit, a story which seems to also have a disquieting level of protosexual longing by Superboy for (first) cousin Supergirl. Lori Lemaris, Lana Lang, and Superboy all get their memories erased by Atlantean super-hypnosis so that none of them remember their earlier meeting. DC really should do a volume of the greatest memory-erasure stories ever told! Recommended.

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