Deck Log Entry # 192 The Silver-Age Challenge---Secret Identities

It’s summer again, and time for the annual tradition here.  No, I don’t team up with my parallel-world counterpart to tackle a crisis.  I mean, it’s time for my annual Silver-Age trivia quiz.

 

These things are getting tougher to write.  I’ve always had to keep the Internet at bay, but now the information on line is getting more expansive and more detailed.  Case in point:  in my first Silver-Age Challenge, some eight years ago, I asked for the space sector assigned to Tomar Re, the Green Lantern from Xudar.  That is, as the Silver Age had it.  As a precaution, I had run “Tomar Re” through the search engines, and every hit that listed his space sector had it down as “Sector 2813”, which was a Bronze-Age development.  Tomar Re’s first Silver-Age appearance established that his space sector was “9”.  That didn’t appear in any hit I referenced, so I was able to use the question.

 

But a few months ago, I ran the same search and discovered that every biographical site on Tomar Re included the detail that he originally patrolled space sector 9.  I would have to toss out that question, now.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that I was able to stay ahead of the Internet for this round of posers.

 

The rules.  It gets old putting them down every year---you veteran Legionnaires know them by heart---but I feel I have to, just in case somebody new wants to play.  But, I’ll list them as briefly as I can:

 

1.  This is a Silver-Age quiz.  That means that all questions, and all of the answers, come from comics and related materials published with a cover-date of September, 1956 (Showcase # 4) to December, 1968---the time frame I consider to be the Silver Age.

 

2.  Information introduced post-Silver Age doesn’t count.  Subsequent retcons and revisions have muddied the Silver-Age waters, so be careful.

 

3.  Can I miss stuff?  Sure.  In fact, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened more often.  So it’s possible that you'll come up with an answer that wasn’t the one I had in mind.  Be sure to cite your source, so I can check it to ensure your information satisfies my question---“But I always thought . . . .” arguments won’t cut it---and if it does, I’ll be glad to credit you with a correct response.

 

4.  No prizes here.  No no-prizes, either.  You’re playing strictly for bragging rights.

 

As you’ve probably guessed, the topic of this year’s quiz is secret identities.  Every question will relate in some fashion to costumed characters and their civilian identities.  This year is a little different in the fact that it’s not strictly a DC or Marvel quiz.  I came up with some good questions from both companies (in fact, I think the toughie of the bunch, and there always is one, came from the Marvel side) but not enough from either to devote the whole quiz to one side or the other.  To avoid confusion, each question is prefaced with the company involved.

 

And, as always, I’ll start off with a lob.  All set?  O.K., here we go!

 

 

1.  (DC)  What reward did Pete Ross receive after Ultra Boy discovered how Pete loyally protected Superboy’s secret identity of Clark Kent?

 

2.  (DC)  Conversely, what reward did Lana Lang receive from Superboy for turning down a perfect opportunity to learn his secret identity?

 

3.  (DC)  Commissioner Gordon briefly appeared as which costumed hero?

 

4.  (DC)  After Superman and Batman, and Green Lantern and the Flash, who was the third pair of Justice Leaguers to exchange knowledge of their secret identities?  (For keeps; in other words, JLA # 19 doesn’t count.)

5.  (Marvel)  During his sojourn on Earth as a guest of the Avengers, Hercules briefly used an ordinary mortal alias.  What was it?

 

6.  (DC/Marvel)  Both DC and Marvel had a masked, costumed character named "Ant-Man".  Who were their civilian identities?

7.  (Marvel)  Name two masked heroes in the Marvel Universe who were practising lawyers in their civilian identities.

 

8.  (DC)  Colonel Steve Trevor gave Wonder Woman a taste of her own secret-identity medicine when he briefly assumed the rôle of which costumed super-hero?

 

 

9.  (DC)  Yeah, yeah, we all know about the awful period in which the Blackhawks adopted super-hero identities.  But one of the famed Black Knights operated as a costumed mystery-man before he became a Blackhawk.  Name the man and his costumed identity.

10.  (Marvel)  After Captain America was revived by the Avengers, what was the first job he had in his civilian identity as Steve Rogers?

 

 

Good luck!

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Obviously, Dream Girl foresaw that Insect Queen would save the ship, so no one, including herself, was in any real danger. 

Randy Jackson said:

To clarify, Lana received her Insect Queen ring from an alien who had crash-landed in Smalllville. In gratitude for helping him get on his way, he gave her the ring.

2) To answer the question correctly, from Adventure Comics #355, Lana saw Superboy duck into a broom closet to change secret identities, but chose not to look and see who he was changing into. As a reward, Superboy took her to the 30th century, albeit not to try to join the Legion. However, she had brought the ring and changed into Insect Queen. After saving a crashing rocket ship with Dream Girl aboard (and really, why didn't Dream Girl know that the rocket would crash?) , she decided to try and join the Legion as Insect Queen. She was rejected as her powers were not natural, but she was given Legion Reserve Status.

Randy Jackson said:

Lana received her insect powers in a separate story. I don't remember all of the particulars, but I think Professor Lang brought home a "magic ring" and Lana discovered that wearing it gave her the insect powers. I  think she got involved with the Legion at the end of the story, but I don't think it's the same story as the question at hand.

All joking aside (and this is my final guess):

1) A Legion ring. I'm sticking with this answer because I think I recall the Commander disputing the claim that Pete's honorary membership was a reward for how well he guarded Superboy's identity.

2) He took her with him to the 30th century to meet the Legion. Randy beat me to this one.

3) Stealing Philip's answer, Mysteryman.

4) Stealing Randomnole's answer, the Atom and Hawkman.

5) Stealing Randy's answer, Mr Power.

6) The Ant was Eddie Whit, who appeared in Teen Titans #5. (I had to look up his name.) Ant-Man appeared in Batman #156 and was Jumbo Carson. (Ditto.) Philip beat me to this one.

7) Matt Murdoch, Daredevil, and Matt Hawk, Two-Gun Kid. Richard beat me to this one.

8) The Patriot.

9) Chop-Chop, who fought the Japanese as the White Dragon.

10) Sparring partner in Avengers #23, apparently.

As to #1 and Pete Ross' reward, he was given by Ultra Boy and Marla a 30th century coin which would serve as a pass (Rao know how!) for entry into the Legion Clubhouse to attend a meeting, though that would take a couple of years!

About his honorary membership, my theory was that it was granted after his actions in Superboy #100 which I'll talk about soon in my Legion reread.

1. A coin that served as a pass to the Legion clubhouse.
2. A kiss.
3. Mysteryman
4. Atom and Hawkman
5. Mr. Powers
6. Hank Pym and Jumbo Carson
7. Two-Gun Kid and Daredevil.
8. The Patriot.
9. The White Dragon (that took some searching)
10. Police sketch artist.

And may I say, great work as usual, Commander.

Commando Cody, J'Onn's continuity was typically something of a mess back in the day. Despite his supposed inability to return to Mars, they had Martians show up on Earth via various means several times. And despite Mars being a utopia that had evolved past the point of criminals existing, a lot of Martian crooks showed up (as in the Capsule Master case). And darn it, that may just be early enough to beat Hawkman/Atom.

Philip the Ant-Man story is a good opening chapter to "Robin Dies at Dawn" as it sets up the mystery of what's happened to Batman. And of course "Batman has shrunk down and donned a new identity to hide the truth from the underworld" wouldn't have been at all an unusual plot at the time.

And darn again, I forgot Steve's short gig as a sparring partner. I knew he eventually worked for the cops so that's my best guess.

Clarification: I knew he'd been a beat cop and I believe a sketch artist, so that seemed like the way to go. But wrong.

And I'm impressed how many people got the White Dragon which I'd thought the most obscure (and toughest to find--Hercules' ID is obscure, but it's not hard to know where to look).

I remember Steve Rogers carrying around an artist's portfolio in his civvies, because it was the only thing big enough for him to hide his shield in (as opposed to the Golden Age, where he somehow was able to keep it strapped to his back without his shirt looking funny.  I guess he had the same tailor as the Silver Age Angel.), but I don't recall him actually working as an artist until much, much later.

Commando Cody said:

This was a very odd story as far as the Martian Manhunter’s continuity. Dr. Erdel’s machine that brought J'onn to the Earth is working, and he uses the machine to return to Mars to get information about the Martian criminal.

My understanding is that was the status quo in J'onn's series at that point: he'd got the electronic brain working again, and could've gone home to Mars. By the time of The Brave and the Bold #50 J'onn's run in Detective Comics had only half a year to go.

(For those who don't know, he was moved to House of Mystery as the lead feature when Julie Schwartz became the editor of Detective Comics and Batman. The Elongated Man replaced him in Detective's back-up slot.)

(corrected)

I don't believe so Luke—he'd had several opportunities to go home by one means or another but invariably that would mean leaving some other evil alien on Earth or the like, so he passed. But it was one-shot each time.

Fortunately if I'm wrong somebody's bound to get it right.

Mr.Blanchard is correct---by that point in the Manhunter from Mars series, Dr. Erdel's robot brain was fully capable of sending J'onn J'onzz to Mars and back.  I discussed this in my Deck Log Entry # 37, "Mars or Bust!".

Here are the salient passages of my article:

“The Mystery of the Martian Marauders”, from Detective Comics # 301 (Mar., 1962), has slipped beneath the radar of most Silver-Age fans, even though it’s a milestone issue for our green-skinned hero.  As the tale describes, Dr. Alvin Reeves, a brilliant scientist, accidentally discovers Professor Erdel’s robot brain in the abandoned building where the Manhunter has stored it for safekeeping.  Dr. Reeves restores the device to working order.  He has even managed to program it for teleportation between Earth and Mars.  In doing so, however, he has accidentally transported himself to Mars.  A side-effect of the machine sends a band of Martian criminals to Earth.

 

J’onn J’onzz discovers Reeves’s handiwork when the fleeing fugitives use the robot brain to return to Mars.  The Alien Ace activates the machine and returns to his home planet.  Following a brief reunion with his parents and his kid brother, T’omm, MM captures the Martian crooks and rescues Dr. Reeves.  And since Our Hero had the foresight to put the robot brain’s controls on an automatic setting, getting back to Earth with Reeves is not a problem.

What makes this story noteworthy is that the reset button is not pushed.  No last-minute stroke of fate destroys the robot brain or takes it out the Manhunter’s control.  Now, he can travel to Mars whenever he wishes.  I suspect this was a deliberate choice of Jack Miller’s, leaving open the option of setting an occasional J’onn J’onzz adventure on Mars.  It was an option that became available when the original notion of a Martian operating in secret on Earth had been supplanted by making the Manhunter a public hero and a member of the Justice League.  Miller’s dialogue in this tale makes it pretty obvious; when he leaves his family to return to Earth, J’onn J’onzz tells his mother, “Don’t worry!  I’ll be able to return from time to time!”

I have no way of knowing, but I suspect that this change was introduced to widen the scope of the Manhunter's adventures.  Jack Schiff probably realised that with J'onn J'onzz's integration into the DC universe as a member of the Justice League, and with such space-capable fellow members as Superman and Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, the conceit that the Manhunter was unable to get back to Mars was no longer valid.  By making the robot brain functional again, it offered the possibilities for adventures on Mars or even other worlds.

For whatever reason, Schiff never took advantage of that option, but Murray Boltinoff and Bob Haney did, in "Wanted---the Capsule Master!", from The Brave and the Bold # 50 (Oct.-Nov., 1963).  That's why it wasn't an error when the story had the Manhunter using the robot brain to return to Mars to acquire information on the main villain, Vulkor.

I mentioned that the story in Detective Comics # 301 had dropped beneath the radar.  That apparently went for DC personnel, too.  When "Wanted---the Capsule Master!" was reprinted in The Brave and the Bold # 114 (Aug.-Sep., 1974), somebody---probably editorial assistant Paul Levitz---had the sequence of J'onn J'onzz using the robot brain to return to Mars rescripted and redrawn to show the Alien Ace simply consulting a computer in his mountain hideaway to get the information on Vulkor.  No doubt that change was made because of the belief that the original scene was a mistake.  It wasn't.

Hope this helps.

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