Monday, September 7, 2015

Guest Reviews - Crisis on Earth-Prime!

Doug: We hope our friends in the States are enjoying their Labor Day off. Our pal from north of the border, Mike W., is along to walk us through a fun Justice League of America summer team-up romp. Take it away, Mike!

M.S. Wilson: Since my last Justice League of America review (from #195-197) was so well-received, I thought I'd try another one... but with a couple of extra parts this time. This is a review of the 5-part crossover "Crisis on Earth Prime", which spanned JLA #207-209 and All-Star Squadron #14-15. I was reminded of this crossover a while back when someone (possibly Edo) mentioned it as being one they liked. I remember liking it too, but it's been years since I read it, so I was interested to see if it holds up. I'm a big All-Star Squadron fan, so I'm predisposed to like this. Enough talk, let's get reviewing!
 Book One: Justice League of America #207 (October, 1982)
"Crisis Times Three"
Written by Gerry Conway; Art by Don Heck and Romeo Tanghal
 We start out with five members of the Justice Society (Dr. Fate, Starman, Green Lantern, Huntress, and Power Girl) getting ready to beam to Earth-1 for their annual get together with the JLA. Five JLA members (Superman, Hawkman, Firestorm, Aquaman, and Zatanna) eagerly await the arrival of their friends (and we learn that Firestorm still has the hots for Power Girl). But something goes horribly wrong! (Hey, it's a JLA/JSA crossover... something always goes wrong.) Instead of the JSA materializing on the satellite, the Leaguers are shocked to see their old foes the Crime Syndicate (and we get a splash page that's a rip-off -- I mean homage -- of X-Men #100, with the teams facing off against each other). Since Firestorm hasn't met them before, he (and any new readers) are treated to a brief history of the Crime Syndicate: They're from Earth-3, where there are no superheroes but only super-villains; they fought the JLA before and were trapped in Limbo. But now they're out and make short work of the JLA. This seems like one of those DC fights where the good guys lose because it moves the plot forward; I'm sure when it's time to wrap up the story, the Leaguers will mop up the floor with the bad guys. Anyway, the Syndicate smashes a hole in the satellite and send Superman and Zatanna tumbling into space; they then repair the hole in the satellite and steal the JLA rocket plane to go conquer Earth-1. I'm no scientist, but I'm pretty sure a gaping hole to outer space would cause explosive decompression and pull everyone into space... maybe they have one of those Star Wars force fields that allows people to stand in open docking bays. The Syndicate mentions (several times) that they were betrayed by someone named Per Degaton ... now, who could that be? Any fans of All-Star Squadron are way ahead of me.
We next find out what happened to the missing JSA members; logically enough, they're in the inter-dimensional stasis bubble that previously housed the Crime Syndicate. We get more exposition about the Syndicate, including a recap of their previous appearances, as the JSA work on an escape plan. It doesn't take them long to bust out and Green Lantern says he knows how to get back home (something to do with a rip in the dimensional fabric, blah, blah, comic book science, blah, blah). But instead of ending up on Earth-2 (or Earth-1 for that matter), they find themselves on another Earth -- one that's been devastated by what seems to be a nuclear holocaust. It looks like they're in New York City... the Empire State Building seems to have broken in half, but the antenna tower on top is surprisingly intact! They're attacked by some mutated plants, which they defeat easily. GL uses his incredible plot device -- I mean ring -- to deduce: (1) that they're on Earth-Prime, a world with no superheroes i.e. our world; (2) that the nuclear holocaust happened decades ago; and (3) that the holocaust was caused by... Per Degaton! That is one handy ring.
Back above Earth-1, Superman saves Zatanna (miraculously, of course) and the JLA decide to use the trans-matter cube to go to Earth-2 and look for the missing JSA members. I guess it never occured to them to look in Limbo, where the Syndicate were imprisoned? Firestorm is shown to be reluctant to use the trans-matter cube -- seriously, he's like Dr. McCoy -- but hasn't he used it before? I'd swear he's been to Earth-2 before. Anyway, they go to Earth-2, but JSA headquarters is a shambles and, according to a wall calendar, has been abandoned since 1942. They go outside and all the cars and fashions are straight out of the 1940s, but they quickly realize they're in the present (1982), but a present far different from the one they expected. They soon figure out Per Degaton is behind the altered history (the gold statues of him on every corner kinda give it away) and are attacked by some of Degaton's thugs. After a quick fight, they go back into JSA headquarters and Superman and Firestorm combine powers to travel back in time (another of those plot convenient abilities that's never seen again). We're also reminded that Firestorm is the young, hip member of the team when he references Rick Springfield... in 1982, nobody was hipper! When they get back to the 1940s, the JSA headquarters is intact, so they know whatever Degaton did to change history hasn't happened yet. They hear someone at the door and eagerly anticipate meeting a young, dynamic JSA (in Zatanna's case, she seems very eager), but when the door opens they're shocked to see... the All-Star Squadron! Wait, who? We'll find out in part two! (Actually, part two tells the parallel story of the All-Star Squadron leading up to this moment, so we'll have to wait even longer to see the fantabulous first meeting between these two teams).
Book Two: All-Star Squadron #14 (October 1982)
"The Mystery Men of October" 
Written by Roy Thomas; Art by Adrian Gonzalez and Jerry Ordway
This issue starts with twelve members of the All-Star Squadron giving Nazi salutes to Per Degaton and then trying to kill each other. Professor Zee (Degaton's boss from All-Star Squadron #3) shows up to remind the Squadron that Degaton is a bad guy; the heroes quickly turn on him and... Degaton wakes up. Yes, he was just dreaming (at least Patrick Duffy wasn't in the shower), but the dream has restored Degaton's memory of his two previous defeats. That's right, last time Degaton was defeated, Roy Thomas used that old cliche of having everyone (hero and villain) forget everything that happened. Well, I'm sure he and Gerry will find a much more clever way of ending this story.
Anyway, now that Degaton has regained the memory of being ignominiously defeated (twice), he immediately starts working on a new scheme. I'm sure this one will work out much better. He kills Professor Zee (well, that's new at least) and uses the Professor's time machine to go from 1947 (his present) into 1982 (his future) to get weapons so he can go back and conquer 1941 (his past)... got all that? But there's a glitch and he winds up in 1982 on Earth-Prime (aka our Earth). He realizes there are no superheroes there and figures it's a great place to steal weapons. But back in his time machine, he's caught in a timestorm and ends up in Limbo. He rescues the Crime Syndicate from their stasis bubble and we get another recap of their history. Degaton asks the Syndicate to do him a favor since he busted them out, and they agree. He takes them to 1962 (on Earth-Prime) and has them steal the missiles from the Cuban Missile Crisis (and Roy Thomas gets to be a schoolteacher again as he gives us a rundown of the real life Cuban Missile Crisis). They get the missiles, which leaves the United States and the Soviet Union hurling accusations at each other over the "missing" nukes; this explains the devastation found by the JSA on Earth Prime in JLA #207. Naturally, the Crime Syndicate betrays Degaton, but he was expecting that (would you trust people who call themselves the Crime Syndicate?) and as soon as they touch him, they're hurled forward to a random Earth in 1982. Degaton doesn't know which Earth, but we do, since we already saw the Syndicate appear on the JLA satellite on Earth-1. Now that Degaton has a bunch of nukes, he's ready to go back to Earth 2's past and take over the world. And speaking of Earth-2 in the 1940s...
We next see Liberty Belle, Johnny Quick, and Firebrand getting out of a taxi in New York. They're immediately attacked by a goofy-looking guy calling himself Nuclear the Magnetic Marauder. Robotman and Commander Steel show up to help, but they probably aren't the best choice to go up against a guy who controls magnetism. After a short fight, Nuclear gets away and the All-Stars continue on to JSA headquarters. Nuclear is seen again in All-Star Squadron in a couple months, but he's not exactly a classic villain. It feels like this issue was running short and they needed to fill up a few pages. When the Squadron members get to the JSA meeting room, who do they find? Yes, it's the five JLA members from Part One. So, we end with the same scene, but get two different paths leading to it. It's actually a neat idea and it's executed pretty well, tying Degaton, the Crime Syndicate, and the nuclear holocaust on Earth-Prime all together. Gerry and Roy are listed as plot consultants in each other's books, so they were obviously working closely to tie everything together. So, in the next issue we'll see the long-awaited confrontation between the JLA and the All-Star Squadron... unless they decide to take a side trip to Earth-C to bring in Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew!
Book Three: Justice League of America #208 (November 1982)
"The Bomb-Blast Heard Round the World" 
Written by Gerry Conway; Art by Don Heck and Sal Trapani

We start off with something we've already seen twice -- the confrontation between the JLA and the All-Star Squadron in JSA headquarters on Earth-2 in January 1942. We get the usual misunderstanding fight (remember, Gerry and Roy both worked at Marvel for years), but it's soon settled and the two teams compare notes and recap the previous two parts of this crossover. Firestorm also tries to make time with Firebrand, but things don't really work out. The Squadron gets a call from President Roosevelt and they all head to the White House to see him. Most of the JLA members are quite impressed; in fact, Zatanna seems very taken with FDR. I'm not sure if Gerry's trying to write Zatanna as being kind of "man-hungry", but that's the way it comes off to me. I know later on he writes her as (almost literally) salivating over Dale Gunn, but this characterization seems a little weird to me. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it. Anyway, the meeting is interrupted by Degaton (on one of those futuristic projection television devices... Japanese-made, no less), and he tells them -- and the rest of the world -- that he has nukes from the future and intends to demonstrate their devastating potential the next day on some random targets. The heroes realize this is the turning point that leads to the future where Degaton is master of the world, and they vow to stop him and restore history.
We now check in with the JSA members in the nuclear devastation of 1982 Earth-Prime. They track some "human" readings with Green Lantern's ring, but find only mutated freaks. After a short fight, they find a normal (relatively speaking) human and Dr. Fate absorbs his memories, learning about the Cuban Missiles disappearing. Fate senses a psychic residue and realizes Per Degaton was behind it all. Back on Earth-2 (1942), the All-Stars and the JLA watch Degaton's nuke demonstration in the middle of the ocean. The Squadron members are shocked by the power of the warhead and realize Degaton could potentially destroy the world. Suddenly, the missing JSA members appear in their time-bubble above the ocean. They're unconscious, but the JLA and All-Stars grab them and take them aboard the observation ship. Speaking of observation, Per Degaton is watching them from a jetliner, which he also stole from the future apparently (along with a communications satellite and whatever else is needed for the plot to advance). Degaton gloats about the stranglehold he now has on the world and plans his conquest, along with the destruction of the All-Star Squadron. Will he succeed? We'll have to wait until next issue to find out.
Book Four: All-Star Squadron #15 (November 1982)
"Master of Worlds and Time" 
Written by Roy Thomas; Art by Adrian Gonzalez and Jerry Ordway

We start this issue with Per Degaton still watching the first gathering of the three teams (JLA, JSA, and All-Star Squadron). He's still confident he can take over the world and eliminate all of them in the process. We get a flashback explaining how the JSA happened to show up here -- Dr. Fate, Green Lantern, and Starman combined powers to get off of Earth-Prime and Degaton's nuclear demonstration drew them to this exact time and place... or something like that. GL refers to "your Earth" when talking to the All-Stars, but aren't they both from Earth-2? These particular JSAers are from the future, but it's all Earth-2 as far as I know. Anyway, the three teams tell Roosevelt what's going on and Degaton sends another threat to the world, saying he has another two dozen nukes and will use them against any nation that doesn't turn over supreme power to him. Roosevelt tells the assembled heroes that he'll do what Degaton asks if they can't get rid of all the nukes.
They split into smaller teams (which is a staple of these crossovers). Superman, Dr. Fate, and Robotman attack Degaton's satellite up in space. But Degaton left a surprise for Superman--some green kryptonite! Robotman learns not to open unlabeled lead boxes, but before he can remedy his mistake, Ultraman (from the Crime Syndicate) shows up (getcha scorecards, you don't know the players without a scorecard!). Yes, apparently the Syndicate is working with Degaton again, even though last time we saw them (on Earth-1 in 1982) they were mad at him for double-crossing them. Robotman almost sacrifices himself to save Supes from the green-K, and Supes (after pounding Ultraman) returns the favor by yanking Robotman out of the atmosphere before he burns up. Fate does his usual magical mumbo-jumbo.
We next see Aquaman, Starman, and Liberty Belle over the ocean south of Japan. Liberty Belle worries about what would happen if Degaton (or anyone) used nukes. Aquaman and Starman decide not to tell her how WWII is going to end. They track the nukes to an island and get jumped by Superwoman. She's beating them until Aquaman gets a couple of blue whales to smash into the island, flooding the facility and (I guess?) destroying the missiles. During the fight, Starman warned Superwoman that using his cosmic rod might set off the nukes, but apparently thousands of tons of seawater pouring in on them is just fine. Starman does give Liberty Belle a small spoiler by mentioning Jimmy Doolittle's Tokyo raid, but he covers by saying he was talking about Doctor Doolittle ... and Libby apparently buys it. People were so innocent in the 40s.
Meanwhile, in the Midwestern United States, Hawkman, Huntress, and Johnny Quick search for more nukes. Huntress steadfastly refuses to give Johnny any clue about what happens in the future, but still manages to slip up a couple of times. They find the missiles hidden in grain silos (of course) and are attacked by Power Ring. He says the Crime Syndicate have been planning to double-cross Degaton the same way he did to them ... I think we all saw that one coming, didn't we? Huntress knocks out Power Ring quite easily (thus making the parallel between him and Hal Jordan complete), but his ring still launches one of the nukes. Johnny and Hawkman catch it and defuse it, as well as the others still in the silos. On the final page, we see Per Degaton freaking out about the Crime Syndicate betraying him (well, I guess someone was surprised by it), but he boasts that the rest of the missiles will never be found ... and even if they are, he has an ace up his sleeve. What could it be? We'll see in the final chapter.
Book Five: Justice League of America #209 (December 1982)
"Let Old Acquaintances Be Forgot..." 
Written by Gerry Conway; Art by Don Heck 
We open with the three successful teams from last issue returning to the White House to tell Roosevelt they've found most of the nukes. But as long as Degaton still has some left, the world still isn't safe. We then get a quick recap of the overall story so far. There's also an interesting aside as Roosevelt is shown pondering the ethics of the Manhattan Project. We next see Geneva, Switzerland where Firestorm, Power Girl, and Commander Steel are looking for the last three nukes. They're confronted by the mayor, who I can only assume came through Degaton's time machine since he's dressed like someone from the 1800s. They're attacked by some of Degaton's thugs and Power Girl is pounded by Johnny Quick (the Crime Syndicate guy, not the All-Star). Quick accidentally launches the missiles before Firestorm takes him out and the three heroes have to disable the nukes, which they do, of course. A couple of them are shown exploding, but I'm assuming (hoping!) the nuclear warheads were disabled so half of Europe isn't covered by fallout. I'm not sure how Power Girl could get into Europe... at this point, I thought Hitler had the Spear of Destiny, which turned any super-powered person into a Nazi (that was Roy's explanation for the obvious question of why the superheroes didn't just go to Europe and end WWII within a day or two). Maybe Power Girl wasn't affected because she's from the future? It can't be because she's Kryptonian (which she still was, at this point), because the Earth-2 Superman was affected by the Spear in other stories.
Anyway, back in Washington the rest of the heroes are relieved that all the nukes are accounted for. But three of the heroes haven't been seen yet. Zatanna, Green Lantern, and Firebrand are at Professor Zee's lab, trying to convince him that his bumbling assistant Per Degaton (who's absent today) will use the Professor's time machine to wreak havoc in the future. The Professor says his machine isn't working yet, but GL and Zatanna fire it up and program it to send them to Cuba in 1962 so they can stop the theft of the nukes before it starts... even though it's already happened! A few issues ago, Superman said something about the timestorm (which Degaton mentioned in All-Star #14) affecting probability, so the heroes would actually be able to change events that had "already happened". Well, if Superman said it, it must be true. Also, the missiles were stolen from Earth-Prime's 1962, so I guess the Professor's time machine can cross dimensions too... or maybe that was part of GL and Zatanna's programming? I guess in this case, we can truly use "a wizard (witch) did it" as an explanation.
The rest of the heroes track Degaton to his hideout, which turns out to be the site where the Pentagon will soon be built. You gotta admit, Degaton's got style. The heroes make short work of Deggie and his minions, despite the futuristic weapons he's equipped them with. Owlman -- the last Crime Syndicate member -- being a master tactician, decides to run away, but Huntress pounds him. In 1962 Earth-Prime Cuba, the three heroes beat the Crime Syndicate quite handily, which harks back to my earlier comment about plot convenience: is this really the same Crime Syndicate that took out (or will take out) five Justice Leaguers, including Superman? Degaton is with the Syndicate and tries to flee, but Zatanna knocks him out. She and GL combine their powers again and send the Syndicate and Degaton back where they belong, which instantly reverses everything that happened... and  everyone forgets the whole damn story. Arrrrggghhhhh! They did it again! I can see the logic (Degaton didn't steal the missiles to begin with, so none of it ever happened, so nobody can remember something that didn't occur), but I hate when they wipe out the whole story like that; it makes me feel like reading it was all just a big waste of time, since none of it "really happened". That's my main complaint about Infinity Gauntlet/War/Crusade/Whatever... everyone's memory is wiped at the end, so what was the point? But at least those stories still happened, even if no one remembers... this story has been retroactively wiped from existence. And who knows what sort of dangerous precedent that might set for DC?
We get a few pages of wrap-up, showing everything back to normal. Of course, some characters have "lingering feelings of doubt", but that's par for the course with this type of story resolution. We see the full JLA/JSA reunion, where some of the heroes marvel that nothing happened this time around and Batman says another crisis was "against the odds". It also looks like Firestorm might actually get somewhere with Power Girl (speaking of dangerous precedents). And that's the end. Overall, it was a pretty good story; the plotline got a little convoluted, but it's not as hard to follow as I remembered -- though it comes close in a few places. It was well done in general, with most of the story making sense, though the "everybody forgets because it never really happened" ending still bugs me. The art is good--I always liked Gonzalez/Ordway on All-Star Squadron, and Heck's stuff looks better than usual here. So, all in all, I'd say it's worth reading, as long as you don't mind a few time travel convolutions and a bit of a cheat ending. But if we let things like that bother us, we'd all have given up on comics years ago!


Humanbelly said...

Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway are the writers, and Len Wein is the editor? Boy, that's a strong contingent from Marvel's 1970's 1st string, isn't it?

Great, great job, Mike W-! Morning time constraints often keep me from thoroughly reading some of our review-posts-- but it's Labor Day! (Plus HBWife just hit the airport for a weeklong conference in Anaheim, soooooo the breakfast dishes are idling just a bit. . . ) In spite of a number of critical eyebrow-raisers on display here, it's had the effect of making me TOTALLY want to fill in big gaps in my sporadic JLA run from the Bronze Age, as well as pick up the old ALL-STAR SQUADRON. I had no idea Cliff Steel was on that team, and I've forever had a fondness for that big rusty lug-nut. But the whole thing has exactly the desired effect on my inner 11-year-old-- it plasters a dopey grin on my face at how inescapably COOL it is to have this HUGE group of heroes, both iconic and obscure, all packed into one big ol' story!

Now. . . it does seem to me that it really, reeeeeallllly wants to be a heck of a lot more carefully written, y'know? Even these bullet reviews reveal a flat-out comic dependence on never-before-seen, precedent-setting, special powers and abilities (sorta like Thor's hammer, eh?). And they're comin' from all sorts of folks, aren't they? Green Lantern, Dr Fate, Superman + Firestorm = Time Travel, etc. It's almost like a nostalgic trip back to DC's 1950's operating manual. That sort of thing badly weakens any story, honestly, and from this particular group of creators in 1982 one would certainly expect a bit more effort at making some pretense of in-the-moment plausibility. Too many Magic Buttons, as it were.

And yeah Mike-- the ending is probably the ultimate deal-breaker for me. Again, even by 1982 the whole, memory-fading-seems-like-a-dream schtick was such a ridiculous cliche that it had crossed the audible-groan line into the realm of throw-the-book-across-the-room. ESPECIALLY after 3 months and 5 issues of collective storyline. I wonder. . . hunh, I wonder if in fact this may have ALL been done with a wink and a snark on the parts of Mr's Conway, Thomas, and Wein as an in-house swipe at the "DC" method of approaching these kinds of events? Wow-- as I consider it further at all. . . I think I may be onto something. Whatcha think? This level of forced, plot-furthering contrivance should have been anathema to this extremely adept group of creators, yeah? Conway, in particular, was NOT one to take an easy way out of any corner if he could help it.

Oh-- let me echo that the art is certainly more than adequate. Don Heck is well-served by both inkers in his first two issues (esp Tanghal), and its only in that third JLA issue, where he's apparently inking himself?, that his weaknesses seem to become more apparent. That big panel of post-holocaust New York is particularly impressive-- intact radio spire and all (heh).

Joe Kubert cover-- how cool is that?

You know what's nice about this? It gives an old fan like me, who has pretty much hit the limit of what's left for him to reasonably collect, another title to patiently and quietly pursue. Thank you much, chum--!


Anonymous said...

Was that All-Star Squadron #14 cover a 'tip of the hat' by one great to another? (Please see The Avengers #79)


Edo Bosnar said...

I second HB's commendation on a great job, Mike. That's a fantastically well-written review/rundown of the story. I'm probably the one who mentioned this cross-over before, and although I haven't read it since, well, 1982, I still have fond memories of it - at the time, I was a really, really big fan of All Star Squadron, so I ate this one up. Your review correctly points out some of the flaws, and I agree that the end, with everything getting fixed and nobody remembering, is definitely the biggest problem. However, it still seems to me that this one is worth (re)reading.

Graham said...

I remember this one. I was looking forward to it and when that first JLA with the Perez cover hit my mailbox, I really got excited. The art inside was a bit of a letdown (I liked Heck in the early Marvel reprints that I read, but just never got into his later work....not sure what happened there.....he always seemed a bit rushed in his later work), but the Gonzales/Ordway work in All-Star Squadron made up for it. The story was a bit convoluted, but the main thing was the team-up of all three, so that was okay. JLA had gotten into a bit of a rut for me......I'd been reading it for ten years this gave things a little boost.

Martinex1 said...

I did not follow DC regularly, but I had these issues. I too liked the All Star Squadron. And I have to say that the covers with the heads and roll call were a big attraction to me. Because I was not an avid follower, the exposition and background detail helped a lot. Looking back at it, Don Heck's art here is not bad at all; there is a lot crammed into those panels and the action flowed well from what I recall. Nice review Mike W., that brought back a ton of memories (including everywhere for the 4th part).

Redartz said...

Excellent, very comprehensive review, Mike W! I've never owned or read any of these issues, so I appreciate your detail! As a history buff, I found the numerous historical asides of interest;, certainly one of Roy Thomas' strengths.

From your narrative I can sense the somewhat convoluted nature nature of this multi-layered tale. As an early 80's piece, reading this called to my mind the looming Crisis on Infinite Earths (talk about complex storylines!)...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the comments! For some specifics:

@Humanbelly: I'm not sure if you were joking or not, but the Robotman in All-Star Squadron isn't Cliff Steele, he's Robert Crane (or Paul Dennis in his "secret identity"); the Cliff Steele Robotman (of Doom Patrol fame) was much later and had gold-coloured "skin". Your theory about Gerry and Roy using a cliched ending on purpose is interesting. They were both pretty good at characterization over at Marvel, but not so much here. Roy seemed to delve into the All-Stars' personalities fairly well (over the entire run), but Gerry's JLA stuff sometimes seemed lacking in that department; maybe it was editorial mandate, since most of the JLA had their own books in which to develop their characters. Gerry's characterization did seem to get deeper with the Detroit League, who didn't have their own books.

@Frank: I looked up Avengers #79 (it's been years since I read it) and I think you might be right...there's a definite similarity with Degaton and Grim Reaper each holding an hourglass.

@Redartz: One of the things I liked about Roy's All-Star Squadron was how he worked real history into the stories; I've been listening to the Two True Freaks podcasts lately, reviewing All-Star Squadron and they go into depth on each issue, pointing out all the historical references. Kinda makes me want to reread All-Star Squadron...and maybe Infinity Inc. too!

Mike Wilson

Anonymous said...

Holy time conundrum Batman!

Yeah, this is Days of Future Past - DC style baby! If you thought merry Marvel's mutant tale of time travel was convoluted, you should check out this whopper of time travelling! I confess, I've never read this story; just reading Mike's review with Earth 1, Earth 2, etc. and the JSA/JLA/ASS, er, that should be All-Star Squadron, made me feel tired!

Thomas and Conway must have sat down and plotted this thing really closely. I didn't know there was a villain called Power Ring. He looks like GL's evil doppelganger. One can definitely see Thomas's influence especially in the historical events like the Cuban Missile Crisis, WW2 and FDR.

This looked like a great 5 issue series. They don't make 'em like this anymore kiddies!

- Mike 'crisis on paying infinite bills ' from Trinidad & Tobago.

ColinBray said...

I first read these issues a couple of years ago and through the fog of daily comic reading since those issues remember enjoying them very much.

Sure, as detailed in the review (BTW thanks Mike!) there are inconsistencies and a parading of comic book tropes but in a way that adds to the charm. The story feels kind of dated (even for 1982) in a deliberate, affectionate way which was a tone that Roy Thomas cultivated, especially in his 'revival' books.

From this you would be right in assuming I preferred the All-Star Squadron strand of this story to the JLA strand. But hey, being the first full JLA summer crossover story I've read from start to finish it certainly got my juices flowing to read some more.

ColinBray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Humanbelly said...

Oh wow-! No, that's a good clarification, Mike. I'm totally unfamiliar w/ the All Star Squadron, and was in fact wondering how/why Cliff was grey in this particular incarnation. And I'd totally lost track of who was on which team when, as well. So Robotman is very much like Flash & GL in that there are completely different individuals filling the roles in the Golden vs. Silver Ages. Did the first incarnation survive the Crisis, then? It would have been neat to see him in the ranks of the 21st century JSA alongside Jay and Alan. . .

Hey, how 'bout those speech patterns? Especially Power Ring? Delightful use of stock-voice shorthand to quickly show that he's a Bad Guy, what with the somewhat thuggish, sloppy diction, yeah? Ya got yer three quick & easy villain Voices to go with in a pinch: 1) Supremely hyper-intelligent megalomaniac who invariably refers to everyone as dolts and imbeciles (Dr Doom, the Leader, Mordru); Snarky, snotty wise-guy who clearly needs the validation of his own "witty" yammering voice (the Joker, Arcade, most of Flash's rogues); and Varying degrees of "Thug", with limited vocabularies, below average intellect, and an implied brutish streak of cruelty (Geeze, there's millions-- Rhino, Sandman, Absorbing Man and Wrecker are all pretty far down one end of that scale; guys like Power Ring, Trapster, and Whirlwind kind of inhabit the other end.).
This isn't particular to comics at all, mind you. British mystery writers of yore have depended on it since. . . there've been British mystery writers. As soon as it's revealed that the ultra-posh Duchess of York is in reality a murderous imposter, she suddenly starts talking like Liza Dolittle's less well-healed cousin. . .

(Aaaaaaand I've tangented yet again. . . )

Rip Jagger said...

As it turns out I just read this story line again for the first time in years just yesterday. It's a complicated story, but it never loses its way as some of these overripe too-many heroes stories can do. This time though the thought struck me that this story was in a way a reprise of Roy's classic Kang trilogy from the Avengers which introduced the Squadron Sinister and in a manner of speaking the Invaders.

Rip Off

Anonymous said...

@HB: According to the "Whatever Happened to Robotman" back-up in DC Comics Presents #31, Robotman's friend Chuck Grayson (the guy who originally performed the operation that placed Robert Crane's brain in the robot body) was dying of some brain disease, so he had his body put into suspended animation so Crane's brain could be transplanted into it, and Crane could be fully human again. I think he popped up later (fully human) in Stars & STRIPE.

Mike Wilson

Humanbelly said...

Thanks Mike. I'm just such a sucker for these almost-human characters. What I immediately notice is that it's not all that different, in a broad sense, to what became of the Deathlok cyborg after his initial run, where other guys' brains were transplanted into it over the course of time.


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