A long time ago, in galaxy far, far away there was an Earth-One, Earth-Two, Earth-X, Earth-X, Earth ad infinitum…
Each and every summer, comic book fans looked forward to the annual meet-up of superheroes from Earths One and Two – better known as the JLA and JSA, respectively. Recently, DC has collected these annual crossovers into several volumes of TPBs entitled Crisis on Multiple Earths. Even though I already own the originals of most of these in, I picked up the volumes 1, 2 & 3 of this not too long – thinking it would be cool to have all of the crossovers in one place.
Ok – that’s not really what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about is DC’s editorial shift in the mid-60s. No, I am not going to simply point out how stupid those Go-Go checks look, or how strange it was to see Batman on almost every single one of the company’s covers. I am here to question what the hell they popped into Gardner Fox’s coffee that made him produce crap like Justice League of America #47.
I am getting ahead of myself. Let us jump back into the wayback machine and dial up 1965 on the settings. That summer, young folk were treated to Justice League of America #37 and #38. Not only did that bring back Mr. Terrific and all of his Fair Play awesomeness, but it also gave us a very entertaining, very inventive story centering around Johnny Thunder and his loveable, dangerously obedient thunderbolt. The JLA finds itself neck deep in trouble when the Earth One Johnny Thunder (not the nicest guy) gains control of the Thunderbolt. There’s lots of good space-time continuum stuff here, and things are kept light and lively. It is a wonderful showcase of Gardner Fox’s writing abilities.
Now we jump ahead to 1966, at the height of Batmania. My main problem with the next crossover issues #46 and #47 is not the goofy sound effect laden cover to #46, but the terrible, terrible writing. I know this can’t all by Gardner Fox – he must have been getting his marching orders from somewhere. Someone was telling him to make it more ‘hip’. It comes across as worse than Bob Haney’s Teen Titans, because at least those were teenagers. Another travesty was the re-introduction of the Sandman, one of the coolest Golden Age character, as a guy with a gimmicky gun, rather than one simply filled with gas. It all comes across as a funhouse mirror image of a Marvel Comic. The plot makes no sense – Solomon Grundy and Blockbuster are suddenly ‘reformed’, and the dialogue is cringe worthy. Can you ever imagine Dr. Fate telling the Flash that his move was a ‘Spinner Winner’? How about the Atom telling the Spirit of Vengeance that he is ‘Spectre-acular’? Well, it happens here, folks.
DC published a lot of good stuff during the Silver Age – just not in 1966.