Monday, January 15, 2007

A page from history

From Justice League of America issue #57, cover dated November 1967. Script by Gardner Fox, art by Mike Sekowsky and Sid Greene.

"Asked what reward he wanted for saving the life of a wealthy garments manufacturer -- Joel Harper, a young Negro, requested only -- a job!" we learn from the Flash as this story opens.

"I'd sure like to know why -- of all things he could have had -- Joel settled for a job!" wonders Snapper Carr.

Not much of a job, either; when we meet Joel after this introduction, he's pushing a wheeled rack of menswear along a street in the garment district. Way to show your profuse gratitude, mister wealthy garments manufacturer!

And then, mister wealthy garments manufacturer turns around and fires Joel for helping a temporarily blinded Flash stop a quartet of bank robbers...because the rack of clothes got ruined in the melee. And you blame Joel for his bitterness? The Flash, however, is impressed with Joel's powers of observation...and suggests his friend Barry Allen will help Joel get a job as a policeman in Central City.

However it may look to modern eyes, this was pretty heady stuff for comics in 1967...when Dr. King was still alive and still considered a subversive threat by the establishment (as much for his opposition to the Vietnam War as for his views on race relations) and having a black person on the cover of a comic book seemed like an invitation to having that comic banned in large segments of the country.

Also in this story, Green Arrow helps an Apache boy, and Hawkman assists a philanthropist trying to aid impoverished people in India against local opposition. All for the sake of helping Snapper finish his term paper on National Brotherhood Week...

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