Not every Justice Society-Justice League team-up was a crisis.
OK, let me amend that: Not every Justice Society-Justice League team-up started as a crisis.
One, in fact, was even sort of about the mashed potatoes. Mmm. Delicious mashed potatoes.
And it ended with a pizza delivery and the teams turning down an order of free breadsticks.
I mean, who does that? Barbarians.
In “JSA” No. 54, cover date January 2004, “Virtue, Vice & Pumpkin Pie,” the Justice Society welcomes the Justice League into their Manhattan brownstone for a tasty holiday dinner.
Instead of one or two pages of character interactions bookending multiverse-spanning action, writer Geoff Johns and illustrators Don Kramer and Keith Champagne flip the formula by presenting three pages of action in an issue bursting with delicious personal moments.
Wonder Woman lectures the JSA about the atrocities perpetuated against Native Americans. Yeah, she’s that dinner guest.
Black Canary dumped Dr. Midnite back in “JSA” No. 31, and now she twists the scalpel by saying they were never in a relationship. She can’t help it if guys just naturally fall for her. Oh, Canary, for someone with the grossest Pre-Crisis origin, you sure do think highly of yourself.
Green Arrow shoots a turkey leg out of Hawkman’s hand.
Batman spends the entire visit stalking the mansion looking for threats.
It’s a wonder the Justice League gets invited anywhere. Bunch of super-meta-buzzkills.
I kid. A little.
Still, Oliver raises a great meta-point: Why is everyone in costume?
Because we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Hourman is making whipped potatoes in the kitchen. Look, Liberty Belle says to her daughter, Jesse Quick, a super-hero who can cook. Just about everyone thinks Jesse and Rick look perfect together. Huh. Wonder if anything will come of that.
Jakeem Thunder and guest Impulse have a lot in common: They’re Keystone City neighbors and both like stuffing food up their noses. Stargirl is horrified to discover she is seated with them at the kids’ table.
The story builds on the friendship between Bats and Mr. Terrific, who keeps trying to get the caped crank to relax.
And just when Mr. Terrific is passing the potatoes, the room explodes, a fissure across dimensions releasing the fiendish Kulak the Sorcerer and the Warlock of Ys. (Actual villains, with Silver Age appearances and everything.)
At last they will have their revenge against their hated foes!
But they weren’t prepared for this mob of heroes – covered in turkey, yam and cranberry sauce.
Maybe they should come back another time.
Well, at least somebody gets the stuffing – kicked out of them.
In some ways, this change-of-pace stand-alone story seems like a natural outgrowth of the annual JLA/JSA team-ups. In the historic “Justice League of America” No. 100 in 1972, writer Len Wein opened with the Justice League celebrating their 10th anniversary when the team was yanked to Earth 2. Instead of crises bringing the heroes together, crises would find them when they were together.
Writer Gerry Conway carried that idea to its extreme during his stint on “Justice League,” to the point in which a party turned into a murder investigation when a foe hitched a ride inside Jay Garrick to kill the original Mr. Terrific.
Batman was right to be paranoid.
You can find this story on the DC Comics app and in the trade paperback “JSA: Princes of Darkness.”
I love this story because of all the holidays, Thanksgiving is my favorite. It’s a day not about gifts or wacky costumes or fireworks, it’s about sitting down with the people you care about the most and sharing a meal.
More than any other team, the Justice Society is family.
Kids’ table and all.