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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While it's a technical point, do you literally mean what Mid-Nite carried in his medical bag? Because I can't recall him packing that any time but Crisis Between Earth-One and Earth-Two, and it only had the cyrotuber (note: I'm not doubting your accuracy, but this is the one I'm most curious about).


Fraser Sherman said:

1. 5252 78th Street

2. Hourman

3. Alfred got a cyborg eye with a laser in it (why yes, I’m being facetious).

4. He gave Earth-One Wonder Woman boots instead of sandals.

5. Flash’s Final Fling, Flash #159

6. Vandal Savage

7. The Thinking Cap stimulated his hair follicles.

8. Hourman (“Hourman’s Final Hour,” a Spectre backup)

9. Cyrotuber, blackout bomb, ? … or are you counting the cyrotuber as multiple weapons?

10. Abra Kadabra, Blockbuster.

IT’S THE QUIZ!!!

 

Okay, let’s see what I’ve got. Sadly, the silver age memory is flagging, and the books are kinda stored away… but I would NEVER miss a Commander Adam quiz! So I hope you’ll pardon the wild guesses…

 

COMMENTARY: Certainly Jay Garrick far and away made the most guest appearances of an Earth-2 hero. Alan Scott appeared… maybe thrice in Green Lantern? And Al Pratt twice in the Atom? But there were the Showcase team ups which I thought were pretty nifty, Dr. Fate and Hourman AND a cameo by Green Lantern, a Wildcat guest show in the Spectre… there were several. It was a great idea.

 

And of course, some imbecile at DC thought it was too complicated a concept and had to be “fixed” with the Crisis on Infinite Earths… which brought about all the problems that DIDN’T exist before the Crisis. Yes, because it worked for twenty-odd years with no confusion… time to mess with it. SHEESH!*

 

1. 5252 78th Street, Keystone City. (Yeah, I search engine this. Could well be wrong.)

 

2. Dr. Mid-Nite. (Wonder Woman’s magic circle probably doesn’t count… J )

 

3. Unknown.

 

4. Wonder Woman of Earth-2 had her original wrap-up sandals instead of boots. (Hadn’t been all that long since Earth-1’s had ‘em, but I believe that was the differentiation.)

 

5. Flash #170, “The See-Nothing Spells of Abra-Kadabra” – Dr. Mid-Nite and Dr. Fate appeared with the Flash (along with Jay Garrick, of course.)

 

6. Vandal Savage

 

7. It was an illusion created by the Thinker’s Thinking Cap.

 

8. Hourman

 

9. Blackout bombs, the Cryotuber, and a scissors.

 

10. Sportsmaster and the Huntress (yeah, their appearances between Earth-2 and Earth-1 were kinda hinky…)

 

Damn.. that’s a LOT of wild ass guesses. Hope you don’t mind Commander… and as always, very well done, my friend!

 

ELS

 

*Stands for nothing in particular.

No reference to Agent Knock Furious intended. Or maybe there was… :)

And if you don’t know who Knock Furious, Agent of S.H.E.E.S.H. was… go read some Not Brand Echh!

I loved "Solomon Grundy Goes on a Rampage" though Dr. Fate/Hourman seems like an odd pairing (certainly more so than Black Canary/Starman). But I suppose "guy with weird magical powers" and "guy who can punch through steel" does give you quite a bit of range.

Re Brand Ecchh, I was stunned to read one of Brian Cronin's columns recently and learn the initial target was Archie's hero line, not DC. Which makes sense (I know how much of a bad Marvel knockoff the Fly Man & Co. had become by the time I noticed them) but had never occurred to me before.

Not trying to derail anything, but can anyone explain what the deal was with Dr. Mid-Nite's cryotuber gadget?  The Sandman started using a couple of bizarre sand/silicoid related weapons around the same time the cryotuber debuted, but while those were perhaps even more ridiculous, they were also more quickly forgotten (except for their implied connection to what was ultimately revealed about Sandy Hawkins).  Was Doc's "universal power tool" based on some medical breakthrough at the time that I no longer recall?  The name seems to refer to freezing tumors, but I don't remember that gadget doing anything like that.  This has bugged me for years.

Apparently cryogenics was a big thing in the 60s. They used that to save Aunt Harriet when they thawed out Mister Freeze.

At first, the cryotuber emitted beams of heat and cold, then it could control nerve impulses or something. It was dropped around the same time as Sandman's sandblaster and Black Canary's choker of infinite devices!

Just a supposition: was Wildcat's popularity due to the fact that they did not try to "improve" him? By not relying on an esoteric weapon, his true grit and courage meant more to readers?

It could do both. It had multiple settings.

I presume both that and Sandman's enhanced weapons were attempts to juice up characters who couldn't do much beyond punch people (as was true of so many Golden Agers).

And as Dave noted they dropped all that after the Silver Age so I doubt it has anything to do with their popularity.

Philip Portelli said:

Apparently cryogenics was a big thing in the 60s. They used that to save Aunt Harriet when they thawed out Mister Freeze.

At first, the cryotuber emitted beams of heat and cold, then it could control nerve impulses or something. It was dropped around the same time as Sandman's sandblaster and Black Canary's choker of infinite devices!

Just a supposition: was Wildcat's popularity due to the fact that they did not try to "improve" him? By not relying on an esoteric weapon, his true grit and courage meant more to readers?

I didn't see the Sandman and Doctor Mid-Nite team up with Batman fives times in Brave & Bold or guest in The Spectre #3 or headline Super-Team Family #2. So something about Wildcat resonated with readers and one thing was that he wasn't given a campy weapon or gimmick.

Of course, it was an attempt to boost their powers like they did Starman with his cosmic rod and the Atom with his gadgets. Or the later Freedom Fighters. Or the Star-Spangled Kid.

My point was that readers liked Wildcat for what he is, not what he could do.

A fair point. 


Philip Portelli said:

I didn't see the Sandman and Doctor Mid-Nite team up with Batman fives times in Brave & Bold or guest in The Spectre #3 or headline Super-Team Family #2. So something about Wildcat resonated with readers and one thing was that he wasn't given a campy weapon or gimmick.

Of course, it was an attempt to boost their powers like they did Starman with his cosmic rod and the Atom with his gadgets. Or the later Freedom Fighters. Or the Star-Spangled Kid.

My point was that readers liked Wildcat for what he is, not what he could do.

In fact, the JSAers (& company) started getting upgrades pretty early on--Starman had refined his Gravity Rod into the Cosmic Rod, and the Wizard had, without comment, gone from being an hypnotic illusion-caster to being a Master of Tibetan Magic.  I suspect the Sandman & Dr Mid-Nite's collection of insane weapons had more to do with the dawning of the Camp Age than a mere up-grade, since those devices were pretty nonsensical.  That said, it was just that I can understand the thinking behind Sandman's goofy Sandblaster (even tho bringing back his gas gun, since he'd resumed wearing his gas mask, would have made more sense, but I don't think he used that until the Seven Soldiers of Victory adventure that started in JLA #100)--but the cryotuber was just weird--it kind of went with the "Doctor" part, but not at all with the "Mid-Nite"--the Distortion Blackout Bomb might have been overkill, but other types of weapons that would distort the vision of normal people while not effecting Doc might have been an interesting addition to the character.  Black Canary's amulet of infinite gadgets was actually worse in her Golden Age solo stories, so that actually was downplayed in the Silver Age.  The Atom was an odd case, as I get the impression that most of the people working on him in the Silver Age had no idea that he'd already gotten an unexplained (at least for several decades) upgrade in the Golden Age when he suddenly started displaying Wonder Woman level super-strength, but I was at least able to "head canon" his various gadgets by considering that he had spent at least a decade in college during his solo series, so maybe he actually did study enough different subjects to master the disciplines it would take to build a transforming car or a dimensional vibrator--since we never did learn what his major or majors were, there was at least a possibility that he had some aptitude in those areas, as opposed to a chemist like Hourman building a precognitive computer.   I do wonder why Wildcat was spared the indignity of random Camp Gadgets, especially given the wealth of cat puns at DC's disposal.

Fraser Sherman said:

It could do both. It had multiple settings.

I presume both that and Sandman's enhanced weapons were attempts to juice up characters who couldn't do much beyond punch people (as was true of so many Golden Agers).

And as Dave noted they dropped all that after the Silver Age so I doubt it has anything to do with their popularity.

Philip Portelli said:

Apparently cryogenics was a big thing in the 60s. They used that to save Aunt Harriet when they thawed out Mister Freeze.

At first, the cryotuber emitted beams of heat and cold, then it could control nerve impulses or something. It was dropped around the same time as Sandman's sandblaster and Black Canary's choker of infinite devices!

Just a supposition: was Wildcat's popularity due to the fact that they did not try to "improve" him? By not relying on an esoteric weapon, his true grit and courage meant more to readers?

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.

And yes, cryonics was a big deal--one of those cutting edge things that was about to become reality any day now. Like the personal jetpacks and moving sidewalks we were all going to commute with.

Philip Portelli said:

Apparently cryogenics was a big thing in the 60s. They used that to save Aunt Harriet when they thawed out Mister Freeze.

At first, the cryotuber emitted beams of heat and cold, then it could control nerve impulses or something. It was dropped around the same time as Sandman's sandblaster and Black Canary's choker of infinite devices!

Just a supposition: was Wildcat's popularity due to the fact that they did not try to "improve" him? By not relying on an esoteric weapon, his true grit and courage meant more to readers?

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.

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