For Your Consideration: DC’s Justice League of America: The Wedding of the Atom and Jean Loring

Robert Greenberger

Robert Greenberger


by Robert Greenberger

Jean Loring means different things to different people. To some, she’s a lawyer on Arrow, to others, she was an obscure DC Comics character. To contemporary readers, she killed Sue Dibny and was possessed by Eclipso.

Justice League of America: The Wedding of the Atom and Jean Loring

Justice League of America: The Wedding of the Atom and Jean Loring


But first and foremost, she was a brilliant lawyer and married to Ray Palmer, the Atom. She’s had a tortured history, marred by mental instability, but fiercely loved by the size-changing scientist as seen on display in Justice League of America: The Wedding of the Atom and Jean Loring. This 416-page hardcover cover collection includes Justice League of America #149-158 and Super-Team Family #13-14, which covers just some of her history.

To understand the context, we need to go back to The Atom and Hawkman #45 (October-November 1969) where Loring is driven insane thanks to radiation during a visit to a subatomic world where the Jimberen have kidnapped her and made her their queen. While rescued by the title heroes, her mental issues weren’t resolved for another year, in the pages of JLA #81 where the Atom and Hawkman take her to Thanagar for a possible cure. After an encounter with the insane Jest-Master, this finally happens.

Her stability is fine for another seven years. Then, a serial began in Super-Team Family, a series featuring unlikely combinations of heroes. Editor Paul Levitz used the Atom as the hero to connect the others as he began searching for Jean, who sadly had a nervous breakdown. This Gerry Conway-written event brought together the Flash and Supergirl in this inaugural chapter. Here, Loring was lost to another dimension.

A desperate Atom sought help from Green Lantern and Hawkman in #12 (Aug.–Sept. 1977) before a wild detour.

Super-Team Family #14

Super-Team Family #14


Conway was writing not only Super-Team Family but Secret Society of Super-Villains so the search for Jean continues there, too. Star Sapphire wants to harness Jean’s unstable, uncontrollable radiation-based powers as seen in SSOSV #10. With Captain Comet a regular in the latter series, he makes for a natural, pairing his telepathic powers with those of the sea king in issue #13 with art by Arvell Jones and Romeo Tanghal. Loring is found here in a schizophrenic state with the Atom being told he’s the only man on Earth who could save her. This leads to STF #14, once more drawn by Jones and Tanghal. Here, Gorilla Grodd, Star Sapphire, and the Floronic Man have kidnapped Jean, tapping her mental prowess to cause disasters. The Atom and the Amazon Princess swing into action to save the world before the Atom enters Jean’s brain to cure her. Once awake, she and Palmer decide it’s time to marry.

The JLA stories collected here begin with the final two offerings from Steve Englehart, as he tied up loose ends from his year-long run. Notably, Mark Shaw is seen here as the Star-Tsar before his eventual morphing into Manhunter.

Justice League of America #151

Justice League of America #151


Conway relieved him as the regular writer with issue #151 and remained in place through issue #255. Illustrating the JLA issues here is the steady team of Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin. His first issue picks up right where Super-Team #14 ended, with Palmer’s bachelor party, only to be spoiled by the team’s long-time foe Amos Fortune.

The impending nuptials take a backseat for a while as Conway got accustomed to being the series writer with a series of one-off tales. Issue #152 introduced the Middle Eastern orphan Traya, who would be adopted by the Red Tornado and his love, Kathy Sutton.

Justice League of America #153

Justice League of America #153


The following issue revisits Earth-Prime as “our” world gained its first hero in the form of Ultraa, bringing the league across dimensions to interact with him and comics editor Julie Schwartz.

Dr. Destiny rears his head to plague the team in #154 and #155 has a world suddenly appear near Earth with predictable chaos.

We finally circle back to the wedding with #156, which also includes the Phantom Stranger. Palmer asks his teammates about revealing his alter ego to Loring. After all, her mind is fragile so he didn’t want to cause more stress.

Justice League of America #157

Justice League of America #157


Finally, is issue #157, he comes clean, they kiss, and wed but first, Wonder Woman, Black Canary, and Supergirl have to rescue the male heroes from Mauri, Oceania’s Goddess of Love, believed defeated in the previous issue. Also on hand for the wedding is Captain Comet, who was also granted honorary membership in DC Special #27, although this was his only appearance with the team.

The final installment brings back Ultraa, who helps Flash and Wonder Woman battle the Injustice Gang.

While making her the insane woman who killed the beloved Dibny in Identity Crisis is totally logical and consistent, I always found it curious Brad Meltzer never wanted me to address her previous mental instability as we assembled the collected edition of the controversial miniseries.

There are some big ideas here, some key contributions to the pre-Crisis continuity, several of which have been retained in the Rebirth universe. The JLA stories are 34-pages in length, plenty of breathing room for action and characterization.

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