Review: Justice League of America #170

Justice League of America #170 cover
Cover by Dick Dillin and Dick Giordano

Justice League of America #170
Published and © by DC, September 1979

Title: “While a World Lies Burning”
Synopsis: The court case of Ultraa v. Justice League is interrupted by an alien invasion that threatens all life on Earth.

Writer: Gerry Conway
Penciler: Dick Dillin
Inker: Frank McLaughlin

Review: It’s never a good omen when Batman is sporting a spacesuit on the cover. When street-level characters like the Dark Knight get too far out of their element, things can get silly quickly. Luckily, that’s not really a factor here, as Gerry Conway takes a more ensemble approach. Pacing is a bigger problem, as the writer tries to juggle a courtroom drama and an end-of-the-world thriller; the result just feels rushed. And there’s no shining moment for cover-star Batman: he simply follows a computer’s orders. Despite typically decent art by Dick Dillin, this isn’t one of the JLA’s best outings.

Grade: B-

Second opinion: “Conway is inadequate to the task of adding any verve at all.” – Mike Tiefenbacher, The Comic Reader #178, March 1980

Cool factor: This isn’t a horrible issue, but it lacks a signature cool moment (and, no, Aquaman fighting fires while surfing on a whale doesn’t count).
Not-so-cool factor: Batman. In outer space. Riding a space scooter.

Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a 15p British variant of this issue. … According to MyComicShop.com, there is also a Mark Jewelers variant.

Character quotable: “I’m a detective, a synthesist, a practical scientist, if anything … and this is a job for a theoretical genius!” – The Batman, before realizing the JLA computer knows, well, everything

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on June 24, 2009.

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