Every collector has one.
That one comic book that somehow remains out of reach.
For some, it’s “Detective Comics” No. 27, or “Amazing Fantasy” No. 15, or maybe “The Walking Dead” No. 1.
For me, for just about forever, it has always been “Justice League of America” No. 21.
If you have even a passing familiarity with the Silver Age of Comics, you understand the significance of that issue.
This August 1963 issue was insanely important for DC and for readers.
It marked the return of the Justice Society of America to DC continuity after a 12-year absence.
For the older readers out there like Jerry Bails and Roy Thomas (and even my father, I suppose), all those adventures they had loved so much in “All-Star Comics” actually happened – just on another earth.
This story, concluded in “Justice League of America” No. 22, was the first meeting of the two teams. Upon these issues, DC’s multiverse exploded.
The team-up proved to be so popular with readers that the meetings became annual summer events, issues this reader waited for impatiently and re-read countless times.
Anyone who has spent more than two seconds on this site could guess my love for the Justice Society of America, the first and the greatest super-team ever, and that’s purely unbiased, no-spin reporting right there.
Several years ago, having reached a certain point in my life, I set out to collect all the Silver Age appearances of the Justice Society.
Methodically I checked off all those team-ups that came before the one that hooked me on the comic book habit.
About five years ago, I obtained a copy of “Justice League of America” No. 22.
But the first part, issue No. 21, man, that remained beyond my reach.
When I was younger, when Boston still had monthly comic book conventions at a now-defunct hotel, there were always one or two vendors with that issue – at a price I couldn’t afford.
Now that I was in a position to buy, I couldn’t find a copy I wanted.
Sure, there’s eBay, but I’m just leery about shelling out any significant sum of money for a book I can’t see in person. Scans can be faked.
I actually obtained my first All-Star Comics issue earlier in the fall. Issue No. 34, cover date of April 1947, “The Wiles of the Wizard” introduces the villain who would bedevil the Justice Society for decades. What a treasure.
Just recently, my local comic book shop announced a huge sale. This was a big blow-out, with severe slashes in prices.
Bored, I decided to check out the back issue room. And there, displayed on the wall, was my prize. A great copy, at a reasonable price.
The logical answer is, now that I have everything I set out to get, I never need to buy another comic book.
Another equally valid answer is to start chasing down all those All-Star Comics.
Yeah, that’s not happening.
As much as I love the Justice Society, as pleased as I am with snagging an issue of “All-Star Comics,” I love having a roof over my head more.
And I already own a complete run of “All-Star Comics” digitally and in hardback, in those incredible DC Archives (which are now out of print). That’s enough for me.
But the purchase of my No. 1 Get of All Time does leave me wondering, and that’s not a bad thing.
And I realized the key issue for me now isn’t money or time but space.
My closets are stuffed with long boxes. My bookshelves are filled with trades, DC Archives and Showcases.
There’s so much good stuff out there, and many Silver Age titles are still affordable. I’ll never pass up a good copy of “Our Army at War.” But I think I need to spend more time organizing and cataloguing what I have as opposed to becoming the next guest on a very special episode of “Hoarders.”
As for “Justice League of America” No. 21, was the wait worth it?
Even though this story has been reprinted several times over the year, it has lost none of its appeal.
The reformed Justice Society celebrate in their “modernized” headquarters and note that their arch-foes, the Crime Champions, have notified them of when they will be committing crimes and have invited them to stop them.
That’s how polite villains are on Earth-Two.
That’s not just good, it’s Silver Age Great.