Welcome to The Conway Crossover!
The Conway Crossover is a team-up of podcasts and blogs paying tribute to the amazing stories of Gerry Conway and focusing on creator rights. If this is your first time visiting Between the Pages, THANKS for stopping by. Between the Pages is a blog about pop culture and the world’s greatest cakes. I hope you enjoy your visit and come back again. Today, I’ll be looking at some of Gerry Conway’s classic stories featuring Spider-Man and The Justice League of America. If you’re hungry, don’t worry, I serve dessert on every single post. This time out, I’ll have some great comic book themed cakes and cookies.
The most famous story written by Gerry Conway is probably The Night Gwen Stacy Died. Nobody takes death in comic books seriously. Currently, Bruce Wayne and the Joker are both dead over at DC comics and nobody is in an uproar about their deaths because everyone knows that they’ll be back. The death of Gwen Stacy was published in 1973, while Norman Osborn has returned from the grave, Gwen hasn’t. The story was so powerful and the death so shocking that it still stands to this day. This is one of the stories which defines Spider-Man.
Among the characters that Gerry Conway created or co-created are Firestorm, Power Girl, Killer Croc, Vixen, Killer Frost, Jason Todd, Man-Thing, Werewolf by Night, Mockingbird, Felicity Smoak, Firehawk, Hammerhead, Jack O’Lantern, The Jackal, Plastique, Thundra, and last but not least, THE PUNISHER! The Punisher is one Marvel’s most popular characters. His first appearance was in Amazing Spider-Man #129 and he was created by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru, and John Romita, Sr.
If you look at pictures of the major heroes from the pulps, you’ll see that they are often portrayed firing guns. Somewhere between the pulp era and the bronze age of comics, it pretty much became a rule that heroes didn’t carry guns and that heroes didn’t kill. The Punisher is a pulp inspired character who kills criminals. I re-read Amazing Spider-Man #129 while working on this post and the thing which really made the Punisher stand out is that he takes no joy in killing. He kills because he feels it is necessary, not because he enjoys it.
This terrific Punisher Birthday Cake was made by The Cake Factory. I know what cake Dean Compton, the world’s biggest Punisher fan, wants for his next birthday.
The Clone Saga was a massive Spider-Man story which ran for almost three years in the 1990s. To give you an idea of how many issues were involved, the reprint is 11 oversize trade paper backs. Some fans love it, while others consider it the lowest point in Spider-Man comics. This massive and extremely controversial story was a sequel to a story that Gerry Conway wrote for Amazing Spider-Man #144 thru #149. Spider-Man returns from an adventure overseas and is stunned to find Gwen Stacy alive and well. In this story arc, Spider-Man finds out that this Gwen Stacy is really a clone created by The Jackal. The Jackal has also created a clone of Peter Parker / Spider-Man. The two versions of Spider-Man battle and the clone dies in an explosion. Lastly, the clone of Gwen tells Peter goodbye and leaves forever. Reading it as it was released must have been a blast because of the mystery of Gwen Stacy being alive and well, and then finding out that Spider-Man had to battle Spider-Man.
After the original clone saga wrapped up in Amazing Spider-Man, Gerry Conway left Marvel for DC Comics. Oddly enough, one of the characters he wrote for DC Comics was none other than the Amazing Spider-Man! Gerry Conway had the honor of writing Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man. My good friend LaMonte from Fantastiverse made a wonderful video about this famous oversize comic:
Gerry Conway and George Perez worked on an Avengers / Justice League of America crossover which unfortunately never was published.
While at DC Comics, Gerry Conway would write one of the definitive runs on Justice League of America. I want to spotlight four stories he wrote featuring the JLA. First is the Justice League of America / Justice Society of America / New Gods crossover. There was a day and age where Darkseid, Orion, Mister Miracle, and Big Barda rarely ever interacted with the rest of the DC universe. Because of that, this storyline was a real treat. I believe this was the first time any of these characters had appeared in an issue of Justice League of America. While this is a great three part story, it is also probably the saddest moment in JLA history. Dick Dillin, who had been drawing the Justice League for 12 years, died while working on Justice League #184. George Perez was brought on board to pencil issues 184 and 185.
A year later, Gerry Conway and George Perez brought us a three part Justice League of America / Justice Society of America / Secret Society of Super-Villains story. Of the JLA / JSA crossovers I’ve read, this one is probably my favorite. I also consider these three issues to be the best looking issues of Justice League of America. Like every JLA / JSA crossover, these issues are packed with super heroes and super villains and George Perez does an amazing job drawing all of them.
While listening to From Kid to Flash’s Conway Crossover episode, I learned something about this story that I never knew. Back when Gerry Conway was an editor at DC Comics, he came up with the idea of publishing a comic book featuring an anti-JLA, i.e. a team of villains. That idea would become The Secret Society of Super-Villains comic book which Gerry would edit and write many of the issues. That’s why Gerry’s portrayal of the villains in this JLA / JSA team-up is so terrific.
My favorite comic book written by Gerry Conway is Justice League of America #200. This comic features the original Justice League vs. all of the newer members. It also features The Phantom Stranger, Hippolyta and Paradise Island, and Adam Strange and Alanna on the planet Rann. It features Pat Broderick drawing a segment with Firestorm, Jim Aparo drawing Aquaman and The Phantom Stranger, Gil Kane drawing the Atom and Green Lantern, Carmine Infantino drawing The Flash and the Elongated Man, Brain Bolland drawing Batman, Green Arrow, and Black Canary, and Hawkman by Joe Kubert. The beginning, end, and epilogues to each chapter are drawn by George Perez. The end result is one of the best comic books DC comics ever published.
For their 100th episode, The Fire and Water Podcast did a two and a half hour episode about this one issue. The podcast includes a ton of guest stars including Gerry Conway. If you haven’t heard this episode, you can download it here.
In the 1960s, the Justice League was so popular that it created a spinoff called the Teen Titans. The Teen Titans featured the Justice League members’ sidekicks – Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl, and Speedy. In the 1980s, the New Teen Titans were relaunched by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. It became DC Comics top selling title and out sold the Justice League of America. So, the Justice League of America was updated with Gerry Conway writing this new era. The premise was that most of the old guard left and a set of new younger members joined. The new members were Vibe, Vixen, Steel, and Gypsie.
Vibe was a Latino break-dancer. While Vibe doesn’t appear very often these days in comics, his civilian identity - Cisco Ramon - appears every week on The Flash.
Vixen was supposed to be DC Comics first black female superhero. She was created by Gerry Conway and Bob Oksner in 1978. Unfortunately, during what is known as the DC Implosion a bunch of new titles were canceled and Vixen’s title was canceled before the first issues was printed. Gerry Conway added her to the Justice League and she became the JLA’s first black member.
Steel’s comic was also part of the DC Implosion. The original Steel comic was set during World War II, so the Steel that joined the JLA was actually the grandson of the original Steel.
Gypsie was also a new character. She was of Romanian descent and had the ability to turn herself invisible.
These young heroes were mentored by the older JLA members who remained - Aquaman, Zatanna, Martian Manhunter, and the Elongated Man. For the first time ever, the Justice League had a member who was black, a member who was Latino, and three female members. This was absolutely unheard of when Gerry Conway created what has become knows as Justice League Detroit. Some people considered it a failure, but it lasted for 28 issues and an annual. I think the only thing wrong with Justice League Detroit is that it was ahead of its time.
I hope you my reminiscing about some of Gerry Conway’s wonderful stories. The Conway Crossover continues through May in the following podcasts and blogs:
Superman & Batman Podcast covers the Superman/Batman team-up from World's Finest #269, plus the Conway written Red Tornado story from the same issue.
Vault Of Startling Monster Horror Tales Of Terror discuss the first issue of Tomb of Dracula.
Flowers & Fishnets covers the Black Canary and Green Arrow stories from World’s Finest #245.
Comic Book Time Machine discusses Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man and the unofficial crossover in Amazing Adventures, Justice League, and Thor (i.e. Amazing Adventure 16, JLA 103, and Thor 207).
Super Mates looks at Superman Family 186 & 187.
The Hammer Podcasts! will cover Thor 224.
Superman Forever Radio will discuss one of Gerry Conway’s classic Superman stories.
Task Force X discusses Action Comics #521.
Head Speaks covers Firestorm #1 & 2.
Quarter Bin Podcast covers Justice League of America #188
Fire & Water Podcast features a terrific interview with Gerry Conway about creator equity.
The LanternCast features The Collaborative Conway Crossover Caper! and reviews Brave and the Bold #174 and Super Team Family #12.
Pop Culture Affidavit looks at Cinder and Ashe #1 - 4
King-Size Comics Giant-Size Fun discusses DC Special Series #1, a Dollar Comics Issue that features a Conway penned Aquaman story.
From Kid to Flash looks at Secret Society of Supervillains #8 and #9.
Hey Kids, Comics! looks at Amazing Spider-Man #128.