Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #258: The Conglomerate

After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the powers-that-be at DC Comics decided to do something different with the Justice League.  Basically, it was changed to a workplace comedy about the comings and goings of the Justice League, now made up more of lesser known DC heroes.

But did these characters consider themselves to be jokes?  Not really, which is how we got the brief superhero team of the Conglomerate.

The Conglomerate was a superhero team set up by Max Lord’s ex-wife Claire Montgomery under the leadership of Booster Gold.  Initially, the team had a lot of corporate sponsorship, such that they mostly seemed to do promos for different companies more than actually fighting the forces of evil.  Booster was there due to some general disenchantment with the League.

See, while the League members were often showed squabbling or getting involved in various schemes that often failed miserably, the series didn’t treat the heroes themselves as jokes.  The League was still the first line of defense for the planet Earth, and on those occasions when a real problem came along, the League could handle it.

Actually, serious problems happened more often for the spin-off team of Justice League Europe while the American team did more schemes and squabbles.  But that was behind closed doors.  As far as the public went, and even other superheroes who didn’t spend much time with the League, they were good and competent heroes.  It’s what makes it a little frustrating reading more subsequent uses of the characters:  other people treat them like in-universe jokes when such was not the case.  Heck, a number of them stuck around when Keith Giffen and Co. finally left the books.

But during that actual run, being treated as something like a joke finally wore out Booster Gold.  Booster had, like every member of the team, been treated like a serious superhero when he first appeared.  Heck, Booster was DC’s first attempt to create another iconic character after the original Crisis.  Then he joins the Justice League, befriends Ted “Blue Beetle” Kord, and he does a lot of get-rich-quick schemes.  And even those are not completely out-of-character since a taste for fame and fortune is one of the things that drove Booster to become a superhero anyway.

Point is, he wasn’t really intended to be a joke.

But then something happens and Booster is finally fed up with being laughed at, so he quits in frustration.  Not long after, Montgomery approaches him about maybe setting up his own superhero team, and he jumps at the chance to make a difference and get some respectability at the same time.  Under the umbrella of multiple corporate sponsors, Booster’s new team the Conglomerate takes off.  Initially, the membership included another former Leaguer in the form of Gypsy, the telepathic Praxis, old-fashioned superstrong Maxi-Man, a woman who could deflect anything that hit her called Echo, another woman who could turn to gas called Vapor, and a brother to Gypsy’s old teammate Vibe initially named Reverb.

And then they mostly posed for pictures as a form of advertising.  Except for Praxis because, for some reason, he didn’t show up in photographs.  When the team did go out, they deposed a foreign dictatorship and nearly got arrested by the League.

The Conglomerate was made up of good people, and they didn’t stand for that.  They did help the League out briefly a couple times before Giffen left the book, but they weren’t a group that came out once.

Except, apparently, for Praxis, who got a multi-part storyline in the Justice League Quarterly book. And if I am being honest, a version of this character appearing on the new Harley Quinn animated series on the DC streaming service is the whole reason I’m even doing this entry.

Now, there were two other Conglomerates.  The first was made up of heroes from another universe, but they turned out to be the Crime Syndicate versions of the then-current Justice League.  Which, of course, meant they were really villains.

These guys,

Later, some of the original members formed a new team with a couple new members, including established DC heroes Nuklon and Jesse Quick.

Worth noting that Reverb changed his superhero name to Hardline by then.

And that’s that.  A corporate-sponsored team that mostly did corporate sponsorship stuff.  I think the backstory for how the team started might be more interesting than the team itself.

Then again, there is a reason these guys disappeared.

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