By the latter half of the 1970s, it was clear to anyone over the age of ten that Marvel was better than DC. Marvel’s continuity-laden universe, full of “real(ish)” people and flawed heroes, was more interesting and frankly, their writers and artists were better. DC being who they are, decided to lure away Marvel’s best writers. Steve Englehart was one of them.
In his first JLA story, he revived the Manhunters. They’d been around in Batman, but Englehart created a new one for this issue—a flawed hero who starts out fighting the JLA and ends up being their friend. This story was so good, it got turned into a cartoon—the “In Blackest Night” episode of Justice League Animated.
Then, in issue #142, Englehart did another DC/Marvel unofficial crossover! The character Mantis that he created for Marvel’s Avengers appears in the pages of JLA as “Willow.”
In just these three issues, Englehart completely turned JLA into a new book: One that felt steeped in DC lore, one with surprising and twisted characters…In short, one that felt very…Marvelous.
Then, in issue #144, he redid their origin in an extremely continuity heavy story that explained esoteria like the fact that the original JLA origin (from issue #9) took place in 1962, but the DCU at that time didn’t have a Green Lantern—so he retold the story, with Martian Manhunter as the central character instead of GL, in a story appropriately titled….
It’s like you can see how much fun Englehart is having playing with all the DC toys–like here, where he just throws everyone in…
And to top it all off, look who appears in the letters column!