EP0058: Crisis on Multiple Earths, Volume 2

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Come back to the late 1960s as the JLA/JSA battle strange black spheres and the sinister Dr. T.O. Morrow.

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Host: Get ready for universe spanning crisis as we take a look at Crisis on Multiple Earths Volume Two, straight ahead.

[Into Music]

Announcer: Welcome to the Classy Comics podcast where we search for the best comics in the universe. From Boise, Idaho, here is your host Adam Graham.

Host: During the Silver Age of D.C. Comics, as we discussed in another episode, a multiverse was established to exist with, particularly in the beginning, there being Earth-1 which was the home of the ongoing main D.C. Universe characters and then there was Earth-2 a parallel Earth with many similarities and a very similar history but with Golden Age heroes including Golden Age versions of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman who fought in World War two and contained the D.C.’s Golden Age characters including the Justice Society of America. As part of this multiverse those universes crossed over time and time again. It wasn’t actually an annual tradition. For more than twenty years, there were annual crossovers between these two universes as adventures would begin on one earth and ultimately to adventures on the other or onto an earth unrelated to either of the two.

We’re going to take a look at some crossovers from late in the Silver Age. These are from 1967 to 1970 and this was at a transitory time for the Justice League of America where this book has the last two crossovers written by Gardner Fox and the first two written by Dennis O’Neil and the last story that was penciled by Mike Sekowsky and the first three that were penciled by Dick Dillon, who became the go to Justice League penciler for many years. The story’s start out with Justice League 55 in 56 and the final two stories are from Justice League of America number 82 and 83. So, with that said we’ll go ahead and get started with the first two-parter and all of these are two-part stories, so four of them, The Crisis That Struck Earth-2 and The Negative Crisis That Struck Earth-1 and the only thing I’m really going to complain about art wise in the entire book is the image for Robin’s uniform. This is the first Justice League crossover to feature the Earth-2 Robin who is now grown to adult and has taken on an adult costume. However, that costume is just really awful. It combines the Batman and the Robin costumes in a way that just really clashes. He’s got, from the Batman suit, the trunks, the boot, the utility belt and the grey bodysuit, as well as, the blue gloves but added to that, he’s got the yellow cape and a very high collar. So, it’s a ridiculous looking long cape and his emblem is a red crest with a yellow R and the Batman symbol in the middle of it. It doesn’t look good on the cover. It looks a little bit better on the interior where actually the crest is different. It doesn’t have the red circle in there, which makes the thing look a little less busy but I think the R is not very good.

A lot of times during that Silver Age, they would imagine Robin as an adult continuing to fight crime and they would imagine costumes that just really didn’t fit an adult hero. It would either just be like Batman costume but with the number two on it to indicate that he is the second Batman rather than the first original Batman. Why this should matter to criminals? I don’t know but I digress. I think the costume in this book is probably one of the worst but again that’s the only complaint I have about the art in this book. Everything else is fine Sekowski and Dylan really know their stuff.

Alright, so now the plot. This begins with Black Energy orbs striking for average ordinary people and turning them into supervillains who have to be stopped by the J.S.A. However, when the J.S.A. fights them, they are handily defeated and so they call in the Justice League of America. The Golden Age Flash isn’t in the story so the way they get the JLA, is to send Johnny Thunders, Thunderbolt who has magic powers to traverse the space between the universe in order to bring back the JLA and they bring back several members of the JLA and it turns out the JLA is having a similar problem in their universe and so they’ll be glad to help and hopefully get some information on how to help them. Now the bright plan they come up with, is to take some more black energy and put it into several superheroes and hope that they can overcome that energy and the plan actually ends up working out, again, I think for limited reason. Mainly I think it’s comes down to the book’s belief in the power of good in the heroes even when they are infected with evil that ultimately wins the day. Probably the biggest problem I have with this book at the end, this particular story, is what was these black energy bolts about because it produces some very bizarre effects, turns people into not only superpowered beings and removes weaknesses from other superpowered beings or adds power but it also turns them evil. So, what’s the story on this? We really are never told. It’s just black energy orbs turns people evil and has to be stopped. Still it does come up with some good excuses for hero on hero battle and some nice art throughout. So, this is the weakest story in the book but I still think it’s OK and it’s not a bad read.

Next up is The Return of the Red Tornado and then T. O. Morrow Kills the Justice League – Today. The first part begins with the Red Tornado trying to join the J.S.A. claiming to be the original Red Tornado who appeared in the first Justice Society of America issue and he is rebuffed them pointing out that he identity of this person was actually Ma Hunkel but this Red Tornado insists that he is in fact the actual Red Tornado and tries to push his way into the Justice Society. It turns out that he actually, as he’s about, really does ruin everything and put everyone in danger and that’s by design because he is actually an android that was built by T. O. Morrow or known as Thomas Morrow, yes to-morrow. They spell that pun out pretty well and even use it as the title of the second part but because of this, he has a computer that calculates the odds of success and failure and how to affect different outcomes and so throughout the story, he’s kind of held hostage to that. He seems to have totally wiped out the Justice Society at the end of the first issue and so he starts in on the Justice League with a pretty solid attack. He introduces replicas of their loved ones to trick them so that they can put be put into spaces. He also attacks them with strang monsters and past villains from the Justice League of America and it does end up coming down to Red Tornado. In the end this is actually a pretty good story with some nice twist in it and again some great action and really, really nice art. It’s a nice, really epic story.

Then we get another two-parter. This is Dennis O’Neill story Star Light, Star Bright – Death Star I See Tonight! No Lucasfilm’s issue because this was eight years before Star Wars and then where death fairs to tread and this story takes us actually back quite a while in the history of Earth-2 as the star creature Aquarius is sentenced and exiled by the other intelligent star creatures and is left pretty much powerless, until he has an encounter with a Starman and is powered up and sets out to attack Earth-2 and the initial signs of the attack include massive personality changes by people that Aquarius is impacting and the heroes try to battle back on Earth-2 but our ultimately unsuccessful leading to the seeming destruction of Earth-2, with Dr Fate holding the remaining JSAers alive inside a ectoplasmic bubble while the Red Tornado heads to Earth-1 to get the help of the Justice League. The Justice League comes over but quickly they find that their friends on Earth-1 don’t recognize them and under control from Aquarius, the Heroes fight one another before teaming up to take on Aquarius.

This is a really imaginative story and you get a lot out of it. You do get some hero on hero fight and you also get some team ups and it happens in a pretty short space, so it’s really fast paced exciting and not just a lot of fun to read. The only downer is the death of Larry Lance the husband of Dinah Lances, the Black Canary, who at the end of the story decides to go and live on Earth-1 which is probably an extreme form of grief but what her death really does signal is that the editors at D.C. really saw potential for the character outside of annual or semiannual appearances in these particular team ups.

The final story in the book is Peril of the Paired Planets and Where Valor Fails…Will Magic Triumph and this story is about a character known as Creator2 and Creator2 wants to create a custom-built planet for his clients but in order to meet specifications, he needs raw material, which can be caused by having Earth-1 and Earth-2 vibrate close together to destroy both planets and use what’s left to make his brand-new custom-made planet. As a motive, this is actually pretty original for the early 1970s and so I like it and it’s a good story. What does happen, is that what affects a hero on our Earth-1 actually affects the counterpart on Earth-2. So. something happens to Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, it affects a Silver Age Flash Barry Allen and the heroes try their best. Green Lantern really has some great scenes however in the end, it comes down to the more magic based heroes including Johnny Thunders, Thunder Bolt and the Spectre to make a difference and the Spectre just is superb. He comes into the story rather late but really makes a great impact on it. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. If there are aspects to the big comic event stories you enjoy, then this comic is for you. With Crisis on Multiple Earths and the team ups you get a lot of the big plot ideas that you might get from an event comic but they’re generally quicker, faster paced and move through their plot at such a great pace, it’s just a lot of excitement and fun to read. So, if that sounds like something you’d like then this is for you. For me I will gladly give it a rating of classy.

Alright, well that will do it for today. Join us next time for another episode of the Classy Comics podcast. In the meantime, send your comment to classycomicsguy@gmail.com. Be sure and rate the show on iTunes and follow us on Twitter at classycomicsguy. From Boise Idaho, this is your host Adam Graham signing off.

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