Justice League of America #90
Published and © by DC, June 1971
Title: “Plague of the Pale People”
Synopsis: The U.S. disposes of chemical weapons at sea, disrupting the Pale People’s culture and pulling the JLA into a war.
Writer: Mike Friedrich
Penciler: Dick Dillin
Inker: Joe Giella
Review: DC’s efforts to serve up “relevant” stories during the Bronze Age were often penned by older writers, causing a weird, tone-deaf disconnect with the readers they were trying to reach. That’s not the case here, as future Star*Reach publisher Mike Friedrich was in his early 20s when this comic hit the stands. His story is preachy in tone and reflective of the issues of its day: It’s anti-establishment, anti-war, pro-environment. And there’s an overt religiosity to it that’s rare in mainstream comics. There are some holes in the story, but it’s a fascinating – and enjoyable – relic of its time.
Cool factor: An Atlantean Cultural Exchange center. The Proof Rock, which is also apparently a plant and a lie detector? Hawkman setting himself up as a prophet and establishing a new religion? Yeah, this one’s got a lot going on.
Not-so-cool factor: There seems to be a basic misunderstanding of hydrology here.
Notable: The credits include a “special thanks” to John Cardozo.
Character quotable: “Take and eat of it, for this is the food of life!” – Hawkman, prophet of the Pale People
Editor’s note: This review was written August 25, 2022.