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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For the record, folks, Doctor Mid-Nite's weapon was the cyrotuber, not the cryotuber.

I spelt it cyro when I typed it, then said, "wait, it use cryonics, so it must be "cryo." Oops.

"the Zap-Pow-Camp Gadgeterium" Oh, lovely phrase.



Dave Elyea said:

True, Starman's weapon simply made a logical progression, while Sandman & Dr. Mid-Nite clearly got a gift card from "the Zap-Pow-Camp Gadgeterium".  And while the Atom did seem really really strong in his first JLA appearance, he didn't strike me as "strong enough to knock a locomotive off its track" strong at the time.  After all, if I had a dime for every time I've seen a human level costumed hero display clearly super-human levels of strength, durability or recuperation in a comic, I could afford to buy my own cryotuber!

Fraser Sherman said:

No, the first JLA/JSA crossover was quite clear Atom could punch way above his weight class, so to speak. I was quite surprised to learn later that he'd started out as a non-super dude.It's been a while since I've read either of his Atom appearances, but I vaguely remember his gadgets.

I don't think Starman's Cosmic Rod at all compares to the cryotuber or Sandman's sand-gun — I think of it as more like Superman getting stronger and stronger over time than inventing something completely new.

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.

I thought it was cyrotuber instead of cryotuber, but since that made even less sense, I guess I just assumed I was having a dislexic moment.  What the heck does "cyro" mean?

Commander Benson said:

For the record, folks, Doctor Mid-Nite's weapon was the cyrotuber, not the cryotuber.

Here you go, Commander. 

Still on the prowl for the others. Geez, these are fun. Keep 'em coming!

1. 5252 78th Street, Keystone City

 

2.

 

3.

 

4. The E-2 WW wore lace-up sandals without high heels rather than high-heeled boots.

 

5. Brave and the Bold 72: Flash and the Spectre.

 

6.

 

7.

 

8. Hourman, in The Spectre #7.

 

9. The cyro -- or cryo-… saw it both ways -- tuber, blackout bombs and

 

10. Abra Kadabra and Blockbuster

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.

Probably the comics were already inaccessible. When I started buying comics in the 1970s 1960s comics were largely inaccessible to me, although I read many Silver Age stories in reprints. Some second hand bookstores carried comics, and I knew one comics store but didn't have much access to it.

I don't know if Marvel issues were sold here in the 1960s, and it wouldn't surprise me if they weren't. DCs were reprinted in B&W locally. (The local publisher continued to do that into the 1980s, but in my time some American DCs were available too. The Australian comics were actually a better deal - they were much larger, and they often reprinted a whole storyline an issue - but I didn't appreciate that as a kid.)

One of my first comics was Colossal Comic #53 from 1970. Its Superman, Superboy and Jimmy Olsen stories were from the 1950s and put me off Superman for years. Nowadays I at last know why I didn't like 1950s Superman stories: they have no violence!

Back then, unless you knew someone who had them there was little chance of finding comics not currently on spinner racks. In the 60s I think it was Julie Schwartz who facilitated fans getting in touch with each other and there were also small ads in some comics offering comics for sale. The fanzine Rocket's Blast/Comicollector was one of the early marketplaces for buying and selling comics and for advertising other fanzines and the early comic conventions.

In Murray Boltinoff's comics, specifically Challengers, Blackhawk and Tomahawk, a section of the letters column was devoted to fans who were looking for and offering issues to trade , buy and sell.

In the first JLA/JSA team-up, it was specified that the JSAers had been retired for 12 years (from 1951 to the then current 1963), but since most of them had been active for at least 10 years prior to their retirement (Black Canary was the only JSAer to debut after the War), that still made most of them at least 20 years older than their JLA counterparts.  That would make them mostly around their 40s at the time (Dinah Drake Lance prolly being in her late 30s, Wes Dodds prolly pushing 50, and everyone else, except Robin, who really should have been around Dinah's age, somewhere in between).  This was a perfectly reasonable age for them to be capable of resuming their crime-fighting careers, unfortunately, as the JLAers went on for decades without aging, the JSAers found themselves having their period of retirement increased regularly, and the Infinity Inc. crew compounded that when a bunch of characters who'd retired from crime-fighting while in their 30s mostly waited until they (and their wives) were in their 50s to start having kids.

Hence Roy Thomas eventually establishing the super-slow aging courtesy of Ian Karkull.

Looking back I find it interesting that settling down, getting married and going on with normal life was considered a valid reason for the JSA to quit. These days it seems unthinkable to retire unless you're traumatized or depowered. Or replaced by your clone.

Dave Elyea said:

In the first JLA/JSA team-up, it was specified that the JSAers had been retired for 12 years (from 1951 to the then current 1963), but since most of them had been active for at least 10 years prior to their retirement (Black Canary was the only JSAer to debut after the War), that still made most of them at least 20 years older than their JLA counterparts.  That would make them mostly around their 40s at the time (Dinah Drake Lance prolly being in her late 30s, Wes Dodds prolly pushing 50, and everyone else, except Robin, who really should have been around Dinah's age, somewhere in between).  This was a perfectly reasonable age for them to be capable of resuming their crime-fighting careers, unfortunately, as the JLAers went on for decades without aging, the JSAers found themselves having their period of retirement increased regularly, and the Infinity Inc. crew compounded that when a bunch of characters who'd retired from crime-fighting while in their 30s mostly waited until they (and their wives) were in their 50s to start having kids.

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