DC Retroactive: The 1980s — Justice League of America and Green Lantern

Around the time that DC was getting ready to launch The New 52, a continuity reboot experiment that in my opinion was a pretty bad idea, they published specials featuring marquee characters and teams called “RetroActive.”  Each one featured a new story that took place during those books in a particular decade (the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s) as well as a reprint of a story from a similar era.  In order to maintain some sort of authenticity with the new stories, the company got a writer and artist team from that era (or someone who was a DC artist from that era) to write the new stuff; hence, Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle reunited for the ’90s Batman special, Denny O’Neil wrote the Green Lantern 1970s adventure, and William Messner-Loebs re-teamed with Greg LaRoque for some 1980s-era Wally West Flash.

The two books that I fished out of a bin during my Supermarket Sweep-style “fill a shortbox for $25” grab were the 1980s specials for Green Lantern and the Justice League of America, two eras of the books that I was more familiar with than someone who started reading comics in the early 1990s should have been, but I owned a number of issues because of my love of collecting DC’s crossover events.  The Justice League story features the Detroit team going up against Felix Faust with story and art by Gerry Conway and Ron Randall from Justice League of America #239 while Len Wein and Joe Staton go back to the first few days of John Stewart’s tenure as Green Lantern and give us a fight against The Shark as well as some personal moments between Stewart and broadcaster Tawny Young.  The classic stories are an early JL Detroit story and the Hal Jordan tale “Judgment Day” by Wein and Dave Gibbons from Green Lantern #172.

The Justice League comic fit pretty nicely into the ones that I already had as well as my perception of the Detroit team–they were more or less kids called up from the minors who were thrust into the spotlight before they were ready.  This may be a false impression based on what is five or six comic book stories, but that is where they all led me.  And for what it’s worth, it was a pretty solid read and I actually give Conway and DC credit for using the Detroit team when they could have done a latter-day satellite-era team appearance (although they did have a 1970s story that probably covered that era) because in 2011 the Detroit team was still kind of a blip or joke.

The Green Lantern issue was the one I liked more, although it was also the one I had more invested in.  Back in the early 1990s, some of my first Mile High Comics purchases were for the Green Lantern issues that were Crisis crossovers as well as a number of issues preceding it.  I owned the Wein/Gibbons issues where Hal quit and John was given the ring as well as the reprinted story in this issue (I had sold these long ago), so John Stewart’s tenure as GL was very close to my fanboy heart and seeing him again, complete with Joe Staton artwork (which has gotten better since the 1980s, I might add) was pretty awesome.

I honestly have no idea whether either of these fully fits in with the continuity of the 1980s in either book–at this point in my life, I don’t know if I really care.  I just enjoyed seeing these characters presented in new material that felt like a reunion special for an old television show.

Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?



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