Great Pages: JUSTICE LEAGUE #5

From Justice League (Vol. 1) #5 (1987)

From Justice League (Vol. 1) #5 (1987)

From the beginning of Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis’ run on the post-Crisis revamp of the Justice League, Batman and Guy Gardner rubbed each other the wrong way. Guy’s brash egoism bumped up against Batman’s rigid control from the series’ very first pages. When things reached a head in the title’s fifth issue, Guy took off his Green Lantern ring and challenged Batman to a one-on-one fight. Batman floored Guy with a single punch.

However, it’s not the punch that makes this page great. It’s the rest of the League’s reaction to the punch that is truly wonderful. Between Mr. Miracle being impressed with Batman to Blue Beetle’s laughing fit (complete with the wiping away of tears) and Black Canary’s sadness that she missed the spectacle, the focus here is on character. The expressive facial art by Kevin Maguire sells the scene and allows the comedy possibilities inherent in everyone’s reactions to be played for all they’re worth. While this creative team told huge action packed stories, it’s these character beats that remain locked in many fans’ minds.


  1. Love this incarnation of the League. Love these guys. Ted’s glory days.

  2. Black Canary’s “Oh God I’m depressed” sells that page so well. And I miss the days when small font would be used instead of damned parenthesis.

  3. The page that launched a thousand gags.

  4. Thinking about moments like this are what make me so sad they never directly followed up on Generation Lost, with the full reboot instead.

  5. GREAT choice. This run is so firmly etched in my mind, and this is a perfect representation of why.

  6. I wish DC was putting out anything half this good today. Loved this series!

    • The last issue of Supergirl reminded me of this title. It was pretty damn funny, which I love in a superhero comic.

  7. I just love the way Blue Beetle wipes his tears under his goggles/mask. It captures the funny moment so well and hads a nice touch, we rarely see heroes interact with their face under their mask! 🙂

  8. That page? Never gets old.

  9. A true classic in every sense of the word.

  10. Classic! Absolutely classic.

    Although you need the panel before it of Guy shouting “I BITE!!!” to complete the magic.

  11. I just got Maguire to sign this issue a couple weeks back at Comicon. Nice guy. Said he’d do this book today if DC was interested, which they’re not and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Guess there’s no room for funny in funny-books anymore. For shame.

  12. I bought the first printing of the trade at NYCC a while back (and recently read it last month). Amazing how this still holds up even though some of the references are mighty dated. Yet another series where I really need to catch up on cause I haven’t read anything past the first trade.

  13. I really need to go back and systematically reread this series someday, such great stuff . . . (The Justice League Antarctica annual never fails to make me burst out laughing).

  14. Loved this series in the first few years! Its still one of the main reasons I love Guy, Beetle and Booster as much as I do.

  15. I get the humor…and Guy is an unlikable ass. But has Batman ever got his come-uppings for being a miserable control freak?

    • Avatar photo Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

      Not too often but it’s happened at least once courtesy of Hal Jordan and Green Lantern: Rebirth.

    • Batman let him have that one because he knew that Hal had been having a bad few days.

    • Avatar photo Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

      True. Plus, I think Batman returned the punch a few issues into Hal’s ongoing which soon followed.

      The only other time I can recall someone getting one over on ol’ Bats is Suicide Squad #10 when Amanda Waller threatened to expose Batman’s identity after he went undercover at Belle Reve. Fans cried foul in the letter column, if I recall, and the moment was walked back a bit editorially, but I still like the idea of Waller being even more of a badass than Batman.

    • Which was reinforced in that amazing Justice League Unlimited Episode, where Batman Beyond tracks down ancient Amanda Waller, and they have tea, and she reveals Batman is his dad. I think Batman always respected Waller in the old52, while frequently disagreeing with her methods.

    • Diana had Batman face down under her boot in Rucka’s WW run, right? Opposing views on how to deal with a certain criminal, if I recall accurately.

  16. Loved that moment and laughed out loud, the build up was great too,you could cut the tension with a knife for awhile and wanted it to happen so when it did it was gold.Another funny thing is it was right before they were going out in a mission together, and if I remember correctly Guy Gardner really wanted to do it and do it his way then gets clocked. The facial expressions do sell and make the run something special so saying they sell the scene is true but they sell the whole run. They even show all they’re faces each with a unique expression on the back of the trade that was a selling point for me even, I mean Kevin Maguires facial expression on these characters are too funny, too good and make the book but there’s definitely more to love here. More people should go back and read this run, it’s comics done right in a unique point in time for DC that holds up, and put Maguire on the map.