Classic covers, with a spin
From March 1960, THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD# 28. It's hard to imagine today what a jolt of pleasant surprise seeing this comic must have given a youngster. Long before the Interenet and well before organized fandom, kids didn't know weeks or months ahead of time what was going to be published. There was the delight of the unexpected that's hard to recapture today. Adding to the novelty here was that the Flash was still a new character and that the Green Lantern had only appeared a few times in tryouts, he didn't even have his own series yet. Aquaman had long been a back-up feature limited to a few pages a month and the Martian Manhunter had the same drawback. In fact, I think the Manhunter had only become publicly known a short time earlier; before that, he had been a secret crimefighter working mostly while invisible. Wonder Woman was actually the veteran of the group, established in her own comic that had been running for twenty years. In fact, since the concept of Earth-Two had not been established, readers who knew a little about comics history could reasonably think this was the same Wonder Woman who had belonged to the Justice Society in ALL-STAR COMICS (which itself had folded ten years earlier.)
The second illustration by Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema is from a 2004 issue of Roy Thomas' ALTER EGO. It seems to be speculating what might have happened had Marvel revived the All Winners Squad (retroactively called the Invaders) instead of DC coming up with the Justice League. It's an appealing concept and it may be my imagination, but Starro seems a bit perplexed by the situation ("I just can't win!")The story goes that Marvel (or Atlas, at the time) publisher Martin Goodman wanted Stan Lee to come up with a super-hero team comic because JUSTICE LEAGUE was a hit. But, being the loose cannons they were, Stan and Jack Kirby developed a new title that broke a lot of genre conventions. No costumes or secret identities, a lot of agita and in-group squabbling, more physical brawling than the DC style. Whether they expected it or not, Lee and Kirby started major trends of their own. Again, the second cover from that issue of ALTER EGO pulls the old switcheroo.
You know, that cover to FANTASTIC FOUR# 1 has some elements that don't make a whole lot of sense. Why does Sue seem to think turning invisible faster would help when the monster already has a hold of her? Why is Reed tied up with ropes... of all the characters ever published, how many are less likely to be restrained by ropes than he would? It would have made more sense to show Mr Fantastic stretching up from stage left to show his powers. Of course, it's almost fifty years too late to suggest this...) The DCified version brings up the point that Superman and Batman were members of the Justice League who hardly ever appeared in the first few years. This goes back to ALL-STAR COMICS, when Justice Society members who got their own titles were bumped up to honorary status, both to avoid over-exposure and to give other characters a shot in the limelight. The exception to this was Wonder Woman; the rules were bent to let her stay in ALL-STAR COMICS (although as a secretary not taking part in the action) even though she had her own comic. After a few years, this protocol was dropped, she became an active member and both Green Lantern and the Flash returned to the title.