The Ages of the Justice League

Essays on America’s Greatest Superheroes in Changing Times

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About the Book

The first superhero team from the Silver Age of comics, DC’s Justice League has seen many iterations since its first appearance in 1960. As the original comic book continued and spin-off titles proliferated, talented writers, artists and editors adapted the team to appeal to changing audience tastes.
This collection of new essays examines more than five decades of Justice League comics and related titles. Each essay considers a storyline or era of the franchise in its historical and social contexts.

About the Author(s)

Joseph J. Darowski teaches English at Brigham Young University and has published on comic book superheroes such as the X-Men, Wonder Woman, and Superman as well as on television series such as Chuck and Frasier.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Joseph J. Darowski
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 220
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6225-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2707-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface 1

The Brave and Bold Beginning of the Silver Age Superteam


(John Darowski) 5

A League of Orphans and Single Parents: Making a Family

in an Era of Father Knows Best (Louie Dean ­Valencia-García)18

The Caged Bird Sings: The Justice League of America and 33

the Domestic Containment of Black Canary (Thomas C. Donaldson)

Social Justice and Silver Age Superheroes (W.C. Bamberger) 50

Relevance in Wonderland: The Mixed Success of Gardner Fox’s

Message Comic Books (Gene Phillips) 58

A Crisis of Infinite Dearth: Winning Vietnam via the

­Never-Ending War on ­Earth-X (Peter W. Lee) 66

The Benefits of Doubts: Steve Englehart’s Radical Take on

Tradition (Jason Sacks) 80

The ­Not-So-Golden Age: Gender, Race and Nostalgia in

All-Star Squadron 1981–1987 (Ruth ­McClelland-Nugent) 91

Gritty Levity: The Giffen/DeMatteis Era of the Justice League (Charles Henebry) 107

“I’m Batman! Bwah ha ha!” Comedy in the Grim ’n’ Gritty


Eighties (Brian Cogan) 121

Lacking Leadership: The Justice League Europe’s Place in

the DC Universe (Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns and

Leonardo Acosta Lando) 131

Extreme Transitions: Trends and Trepidations from 1992 to 1996 (D.R. Hammontree) 142

What We’ve Got Here Is Failure to Communicate: Trust,

Technology and Fear in “The Tower of Babel” (Nicole Freim) 151

“Whether we fear we do too much—or not enough”:

JLA/Avengers and the ­Cross-Universe Causes of Conflict (Joseph J. Darowski) 162

Madwomen: Sexism as Nostalgia, or Feminism in The New Frontier (Jennifer ­Swartz-Levine) 172

Absolute Secrets Kept Absolutely: Public Memory and

Forgetting in Identity Crisis (Daniel J. ­O’Rourke) 186

The Good, the Bad and the Reboot: Justice League in 194

the New (Cathy Leogrande) 52

About the Contributors 207

Index 210

Book Reviews & Awards

“goes into extensive detail about the individual characters starting from their origins and their transition and evolution through the decades…makes for fascinating reading”—Collectors’ Corner; “These essays provide an insightful and entertaining exploration of how a superhero team, spearheaded by America’s most iconic pop culture creations, reflects, and sometimes critiques, American attitudes toward justice, morality and the use of power.”—Randy Duncan, director of Henderson State University’s Comics Studies program, co-author of The Power of Comics; “Joseph J. Darowski’s The Ages of the Justice League: Essays on America’s Greatest Superheroes in Changing Times is an exceptional study that is highly informative, critically brilliant, and fun to read. It cements his already outstanding reputation as one of the foremost comics scholars in America.”—Gary Hoppenstand, Michigan State University.