Deck Log Entry # 200 The Earth-Two Silver-Age Challenge!

It’s summertime, and a half-century ago, if you were a DC fan, it meant the arrival of the annual team-up between the Justice League and the Justice Society.  In the spirit of those fondly remembered sagas, I’ve dedicated this year’s quiz to Earth-Two.

 

For those of you who came in late, the parallel-Earth concept was initiated in the DC universe by Julius Schwartz and Gardner Fox, the editor and writer, respectively, of The Flash.  The tale “Flash of Two Worlds”, appearing in issue 123 (Sep., 1961), was intended as a nod to the older fans who were writing in asking about the original version of the Flash and the other Golden-Age DC heroes who had ceased publication by the early 1950’s.  As the story established, DC’s heroes of yesteryear resided on a different Earth, occupying the same space as the modern Flash’s world, but vibrating at a slightly different rate, which kept them apart.  Technology, history, customs, life---all were nearly identical on both Earths, but with occasional differences. 

 

This second Earth---which would eventually be designated as Earth-Two---was where the Golden-Age adventures of the Jay Garrick Flash and the Alan Scott Green Lantern, and all the others had taken place.  "You see," said Schwartz and Fox to those long-ago readers, "we didn’t forget about your heroes; they just live on another Earth."  To the creative team’s surprise, the idea of a group of super-heroes that lived on an Earth almost like ours was a hit with both the older and the younger readers.

 

Fox had the two Flashes teaming up again, once in 1962 and in 1963, and each story gave increasingly wider looks at the other super-heroes occupying Earth-Two, who had joined together back in the 1940’s as the Justice Society of America.  Solid sales of those issues established those old-time all-stars as fan favourites.  In the summer of ’63, Schwartz pulled out the big guns and had the Justice League of America meet the Justice Society for a two-issue crisis affecting both worlds.  The pairing proved to be so popular that it became an annual tradition.

 

Despite Schwartz’s initial intention to keep the appearances of the Earth-Two heroes to a tantalising minimum, the readers’ fascination with them gained ground until the crusty old editor had to give in.  In 1965, you couldn’t pull a DC mag off the rack without bumping into a Golden-Age mystery man.  The original Green Lantern had started making appearances in his Silver-Age counterpart’s title.  Showcase ran to back-to-back issues starring Doctor Fate and Hourman; The Brave and the Bold did the same thing with Starman and the Black Canary.  And that year’s JLA/JSA team-up was the Justice Society’s show all the way.

 

 

 

For this quiz, that Earth-Two explosion in 1965 was a good thing, for it provided much of the material for my quiz, which is devoted to the Silver-Age appearances of Earth-Two characters.

 

Those of you who look forward to my quizzes are familiar with the rules, I know, but for anyone stopping by my column for the first time, here are the standard rules:

 

1.  All of the questions, and answers, are drawn from Silver-Age material.  That is, anything produced by DC from the publication of Showcase # 4 (Sep.-Oct., 1956) to December, 1968, which I demark as the end of the Silver Age.  If your answer comes from outside that period, then it is invalid.  For example, if I were to ask “What is the space sector patrolled by Tomar Re, the Green Lantern of Xudar?” and you answered “Space sector 2813,” you would be wrong.  During the Silver Age, Tomar Re’s space sector was “9”; “2813” was a Bronze Age revision.

 

The Silver-Age limitation is a tricky thing to keep in mind.  Even the veteran quiz-takers here slip up sometimes.  (Remember the “Per the Legion Constitution, who is the only person that the Legion Leader is answerable to?” fiasco?)

 

2.  I’m definitely not infallible, also something to which the veteran quiz-takers will attest.  I might have missed something, somewhere, in twelve years of DC publication.  If you come up with an answer that meets the criteria of the question and can cite the Silver-Age reference, then I will gladly award you credit.  “But I always thought . . . “ explanations won’t cut it, though.

 

3.  I’ve got no problem with anybody using a search engine to look for answers.  I try to make my questions as Google-proof as possible.  The right answers are difficult to find with a search engine, though I cannot say impossible.  Once I got tripped up by an article I had written for another site; it contained the answer to a question in one of my quizzes, and one of quiz-takers found it.  (Hi, Luke!)

 

4.  There are no prizes.  You’re playing for bragging rights.

 

There are a couple of caveats pertinent to this quiz.  One, no stories before The Flash # 123, when the parallel-world concept was instituted, count.  I didn’t want to get bogged down in “This 1959 Superman story must have happened on Earth-Two because it said he didn’t have a Superboy career,” kind of stuff. 

 

Second, the “What If?” story including the Batman and Alfred of Earth-Two, from Detective Comics #  347 (Jan., 1966), doesn’t count, either.  I excluded it because it’s an “imaginary” appearance.  It shouldn’t make a difference, anyway, but I wanted to save you the trouble of considering it or reviewing it.

 

That’s it.  Everybody ready?  Let’s go!

 

 

 

1.  What is the street address of Mr. and Mrs. Jay Garrick, in Keystone City, on Earth-Two?

 

 

2.  Which member of the Justice Society created a computer capable of forecasting the probable time and location of a crime?

 

 

3.  With Dick Grayson grown up and moved out, what special protection did Bruce Wayne arrange for Wayne Manor whenever he was away on business?

 

 

4.  When the Earth-Two Wonder Woman appeared for the first time in a JLA/JSA team-up, how did artist Mike Sekowsky visually distinguish her from her Earth-One counterpart?

 

 

5.  Which comic (title and issue number) contained the first adventure of an Earth-One and an Earth-Two hero who were not direct counterparts, nor was a JLA/JSA team-up?

 

 

6.  That the original Flash avoided recognition by blurring his features with internal super-speed vibrations was not revealed (at least to the readers) until his fight against what villain?

 

 

7.  Along with the original Flash, another Golden-Age character revived in The Flash # 123 was a foe from his rogue’s gallery, the Thinker.  In his Silver-Age début, the Thinker looked just as he had in his 1940’s appearances---as a bald-headed man with a pencil moustache.  However, in the Earth-Two villain’s next Silver-Age appearance, he sported a full head of hair.  After fans’ letters pointed out the discrepancy, what was Julius Schwartz’s in-fiction explanation for the Thinker’s newfound hirsuteness?

 

 

8.  Other than the Spectre, who was the only other Justice Society member to be featured in a solo story?

 

 

9.  We saw at least three crime-fighting weapons that Doctor Mid-Nite carried in his medical bag.  What were they?

 

 

10.  As long as we’re talking about him, Dr. Mid-Nite encountered two Earth-One villains during the Silver-Age.  Which two?

 

 

 

Good luck!

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Me too. But then I was reading a flashback issue in Dan Jurgens 1990s Teen Titans run that absolutely nailed the style of their late Silver Age/early Bronze Age period. And it sank in that this was as ancient to a tween as WW2 was to me back at the end of the Silver Age.

God I'm old.

Captain Comics said:

Luke Blanchard said:

The Silver Age revival wasn't all that long after their last appearances for a number of characters, as they outlasted their solo features as members of the JSA. The JSA's feature ended when All-Star Comics was converted into All-Star Western at the start of 1951. "Flash of Two Worlds" appeared in The Flash #123 (1961). The JSAers were shown in flashback in #129 (1962), appeared in #137 (1963), and went into action again in Justice League of America #21-#22 (1963).

Julie Schwartz was the editor of Flash Comics when the Atom was made over, and of the later issues of All-Star Comics. Carmine Infantino drew the first story with the new costume.

I think atoms weren't widely associated with power before the end of WWII. The Atom's transformation into a super-powered character in 1948 reflected the new understanding.

It's funny how ideas get stuck in your head in your youth that refuse to go away.

When the JSA appeared in the early 1960s, I got the impression that these were characters that had appeared during World War II. That was nearly 20 years in the past as I read "Crisis on Earth-One!", and also -- equally important -- from before I was born, so therefore "old," (like my parents). The text also suggested that Earth-Two characters were roughly 20 years older than their JLA counterparts. (Some had gray hair at the temples! OLD!)

As I got older though, I learned enough comics history to realize that many of the JSA had only been out of print for about a decade when hey started returning in Flash, thanks to All-Star Comics continuing until 1951. Even more surprising was that Jay Garrick had only been gone for five years when Barry Allen debuted in 1956.

No wonder DC started getting mail asking where the JSA had gone -- they were barely gone at all!

But in my head theres' still a sharp division between Golden Age and Silver Age. Maybe it's because of the superhero drought in between. But probably it's because that was one of the first things I learned, so I find it hard to un-learn it.

It's too late now, but I wonder why they felt the need to make the JSA so ancient? Was it because the new writers thought of them as WWII characters? I don't think they were treated as ancient before the Silver Age writers were shown the door.

The Silver Age stories involving the JSA didn't, IIRC, mention WWII. They chose to age the JSA while ignoring the ages of the JLA. Hal Jordan got gray temples while I wasn't reading, but it apparently was an omen of phasing him out.

No, that was Gerard Jones deciding he was a little older than some of his colleagues. Then Geoff Johns retconned it into a sign of Parallax getting into him.

I don't find it the age thing that strange. As their Golden Age adventures were canon, it was natural to reflect that in the Silver Age and make them a little older. And then later, as people reflected how long it had been since the 1940s ... I suppose it would have been simple enough to fudge their timeline too (after all Reed and Ben used to be "tied" to WW II), but as they were primarily guest stars for so many years, perhaps nobody thought it worth fudging the continuity.

The first story to deal with the JSA as really old--unless you count Batman being retired and Robin grown up in JLA 55—would be Spectre 3. Wildcat is now feeling his age and at the end of the story goes into semiretirement. It didn't become an issue otherwise until after the Crisis, when they decided to get rid of the JSA once and for all (the theory being that a bunch of old fogeys had no place in a world that already had the JLA, Teen Titans, Outsiders, etc.).

Richard Willis said:

It's too late now, but I wonder why they felt the need to make the JSA so ancient? Was it because the new writers thought of them as WWII characters? I don't think they were treated as ancient before the Silver Age writers were shown the door.

The Silver Age stories involving the JSA didn't, IIRC, mention WWII. They chose to age the JSA while ignoring the ages of the JLA. Hal Jordan got gray temples while I wasn't reading, but it apparently was an omen of phasing him out.

Fraser Sherman said:

And then later, as people reflected how long it had been since the 1940s ... I suppose it would have been simple enough to fudge their timeline too (after all Reed and Ben used to be "tied" to WW II), but as they were primarily guest stars for so many years, perhaps nobody thought it worth fudging the continuity.

The writers and many of the readers may have thought of the JSA as being from the 40s. "In-story," I don't believe the 40s were mentioned, nor was WWII (until the Freedom Fighters, at least). The crazy part is that Superman and Batman preceded all of them but (until they came up with Earth 2 versions of SM and BM) no effort was made to address how long they had been around.

The original idea that the JSA members were 20 years older than the JLA members should have just remained the standard. If Barry Allen and Hal Jordan had very adult jobs in 1960 then let's say they were at least 25. That would mean they were born in 1935, which would make them 82 today.

On the one hand, I think that the "aging in real time" concept was an interesting one for an alternate Earth crop of superheroes, but that would only really work over time if the characters in question followed more "normal" patterns than the JSA ultimately did.  That way a literal next generation of heroes (or at least characters) would have come up as the originals aged out of practicality.  Sure, there would probably have been less interest (or maybe not) in having Barry Allen team up with Jay Garrick's daughter than the original Flash, but there could have been a lot of story opportunities in the various offspring dealing with the decision to follow in their parents' footsteps, or go a different route, and since it would have made more chronological sense for the Infinity crowd to have been the JSAers' grandkids, that additional generation would have provided the chance to mix and match more powers & gimmicks, as long as the JSA had enough daughters to make some interesting pairs.  For instance, I always thought the resolution to Damage's parental mystery was ridiculous, since he was revealed as the son of the original Atom, but somehow infused with the DNA of the JSA and the original JLA by Vandal Savage, because comics.  OK, but Damage's powers were super-strength and projecting explosive blasts.  None of the characters involved in his genetic grafts had explosive powers (except maybe the Spectre, who most likely had no DNA)--if Al Pratt's daughter had married the son of the Human Bomb or TNT, Damage could have been a likely result of the union, instead of a goofy hand-wave.

On the other hand, just sticking the JSAers a consistent 20 years older than the JLA would certainly have been less confusing to most people--including the creative teams dealing with them--since unlike a lot of Golden Age chara, the members of the JSA weren't really all that tied to World War II--it was really only significant to Wonder Woman, and she's immortalish.  Heck, when Roy Thomas got the All-Star Squadron going, he had to import Axis villains from a Batman movie serial and Wonder Woman's 1970s Return to WW2 imposed by the TV show!  There weren't really enough actual period villains to reuse.

Completely disagree with you on Damage's origins. I loved the idea of Vandal Savage using him as a kind of composite metagene test (not the whole DNA, just the metagene). And it seemed clear to me that the mix didn't mean he inherited their combined powers—Savage expected the results to manifest in different ways. Or possibly he would have shown more powers had the series gone along.

Like Marvel's X-gene, the metagene seems to pass along the capacity for power, not necessarily the exact powers. Obsidian, unlike Jade, didn't get GL's ring energy. Nuklon's powers had nothing in common with his grandfather Cyclotron. Sparx' metagenetic family in Superboy and the Ravers all seemed to have different powers.


Dave Elyea said:

On the one hand, I think that the "aging in real time" concept was an interesting one for an alternate Earth crop of superheroes, but that would only really work over time if the characters in question followed more "normal" patterns than the JSA ultimately did.  That way a literal next generation of heroes (or at least characters) would have come up as the originals aged out of practicality.  Sure, there would probably have been less interest (or maybe not) in having Barry Allen team up with Jay Garrick's daughter than the original Flash, but there could have been a lot of story opportunities in the various offspring dealing with the decision to follow in their parents' footsteps, or go a different route, and since it would have made more chronological sense for the Infinity crowd to have been the JSAers' grandkids, that additional generation would have provided the chance to mix and match more powers & gimmicks, as long as the JSA had enough daughters to make some interesting pairs.  For instance, I always thought the resolution to Damage's parental mystery was ridiculous, since he was revealed as the son of the original Atom, but somehow infused with the DNA of the JSA and the original JLA by Vandal Savage, because comics.  OK, but Damage's powers were super-strength and projecting explosive blasts.  None of the characters involved in his genetic grafts had explosive powers (except maybe the Spectre, who most likely had no DNA)--if Al Pratt's daughter had married the son of the Human Bomb or TNT, Damage could have been a likely result of the union, instead of a goofy hand-wave.

On the other hand, just sticking the JSAers a consistent 20 years older than the JLA would certainly have been less confusing to most people--including the creative teams dealing with them--since unlike a lot of Golden Age chara, the members of the JSA weren't really all that tied to World War II--it was really only significant to Wonder Woman, and she's immortalish.  Heck, when Roy Thomas got the All-Star Squadron going, he had to import Axis villains from a Batman movie serial and Wonder Woman's 1970s Return to WW2 imposed by the TV show!  There weren't really enough actual period villains to reuse.

I absolutely see your point, but somewhere along the line, there was a story wherein the Martian Manhunter attempted to teach Damage to use the telepathic ability that presumably came with J'Onn's DNA (do Martians even have metagenes?  I know they don't have Luck Glands.)  As it stands, I clearly exaggerated the "goofiness" of Damage's origin, but I still think that using an additional generation to provide him with a parent with explodey powers would have been nice, and chronologically logical.

Fraser Sherman said:

Completely disagree with you on Damage's origins. I loved the idea of Vandal Savage using him as a kind of composite metagene test (not the whole DNA, just the metagene). And it seemed clear to me that the mix didn't mean he inherited their combined powers—Savage expected the results to manifest in different ways. Or possibly he would have shown more powers had the series gone along.

Like Marvel's X-gene, the metagene seems to pass along the capacity for power, not necessarily the exact powers. Obsidian, unlike Jade, didn't get GL's ring energy. Nuklon's powers had nothing in common with his grandfather Cyclotron. Sparx' metagenetic family in Superboy and the Ravers all seemed to have different powers.


Dave Elyea said:

On the one hand, I think that the "aging in real time" concept was an interesting one for an alternate Earth crop of superheroes, but that would only really work over time if the characters in question followed more "normal" patterns than the JSA ultimately did.  That way a literal next generation of heroes (or at least characters) would have come up as the originals aged out of practicality.  Sure, there would probably have been less interest (or maybe not) in having Barry Allen team up with Jay Garrick's daughter than the original Flash, but there could have been a lot of story opportunities in the various offspring dealing with the decision to follow in their parents' footsteps, or go a different route, and since it would have made more chronological sense for the Infinity crowd to have been the JSAers' grandkids, that additional generation would have provided the chance to mix and match more powers & gimmicks, as long as the JSA had enough daughters to make some interesting pairs.  For instance, I always thought the resolution to Damage's parental mystery was ridiculous, since he was revealed as the son of the original Atom, but somehow infused with the DNA of the JSA and the original JLA by Vandal Savage, because comics.  OK, but Damage's powers were super-strength and projecting explosive blasts.  None of the characters involved in his genetic grafts had explosive powers (except maybe the Spectre, who most likely had no DNA)--if Al Pratt's daughter had married the son of the Human Bomb or TNT, Damage could have been a likely result of the union, instead of a goofy hand-wave.

On the other hand, just sticking the JSAers a consistent 20 years older than the JLA would certainly have been less confusing to most people--including the creative teams dealing with them--since unlike a lot of Golden Age chara, the members of the JSA weren't really all that tied to World War II--it was really only significant to Wonder Woman, and she's immortalish.  Heck, when Roy Thomas got the All-Star Squadron going, he had to import Axis villains from a Batman movie serial and Wonder Woman's 1970s Return to WW2 imposed by the TV show!  There weren't really enough actual period villains to reuse.

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