I am less enthusiastic about a new Superboy comic book featuring Conner Kent than I would be about one featuring Clark Kent, but the first issue is off to a good start. What interests me the most, though, is the “Coming Soon” page at the end of the issue, which previews a race with Kid Flash, a new group of Teen Titans (“?!”) and a meeting with the real (again, “?!”) Superboy. I am especially intrigued by one of the Titans who is wearing the Earth-2 Robin’s original costume.

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Commander Benson said:


Now, one aspect of interaction between two characters that would have worked, never arose in the pages of JLA. That would have been how the Earth-One Batman dealt with the adult Earth-Two Robin. In all the JLA/JSA team-ups that included the Robin of Earth-Two, either the Batman of Earth-One was missing from the action, or circumstances were such that he never had any real "face time" with the grown-up Boy Wonder.


It's easy to envision the Earth-One Batman working with the Earth-Two Robin and treating him, out of force of habit, like the "junior partner". And such a thing would, no doubt, rankle the adult Robin, until he finally put his foot down and told off the Earth-One Masked Manhunter---"Look, I'm an adult. I shave and vote and everything. Besides, if you want to get down to it, I've been doing this longer than you have!"

Such interaction would have been logical and valid and interesting. But we had to wait until The Brave and the Bold # 182 (Jan., 1982) to see it. In the story "Interlude on Earth-Two", written by the very capable Alan Brennert (who, for my money, was the only post-Silver-Age DC writer to match Fox, Broome, Drake, or Hamilton). It was worth the wait.

Alan Brennert didn't write a lot of stories for DC, but he turned out some real gems, and that was one of them.

Although the notion didn't lastingly take, the idea had been introduced that Earth Two lagged twenty years behind Earth One. If we assume the JSAers were about 25 at the end of the war, this would make them c.35 in 1975 Earth One time. Arguably several of them were implied to be older than that, but Dick would still have been a bit a younger than you're supposing. (Assuming he's about fifteen years younger than Batman, if Batman were 50, he'd be 35.)

Regarding the Earth 2 Robin's costume, I definitely didn't like the grey one.  To me, if Dick is going to remain Robin, the colors should be consistent.  Otherwise--just my opinion--he should have become Batman.

In the Batman II/Robin II stories, Dick had become Batman and Batman's son was the new Robin.



Luke Blanchard said:

Although the notion didn't lastingly take, the idea had been introduced that Earth Two lagged twenty years behind Earth One. If we assume the JSAers were about 25 at the end of the war, this would make them c.35 in 1975 Earth One time. Arguably several of them were implied to be older than that, but Dick would still have been a bit a younger than you're supposing. (Assuming he's about fifteen years younger than Batman, if Batman were 50, he'd be 35.)



In your reference to Earth-Two lagging twenty years behind Earth-One, Luke, I am assuming you are referring to the blurb that appeared in JLA # 82 (Aug., 1970.) (It's a pretty safe assumption, because I never came across another in-story mention of a two-decade differential between the two Earths.)

That blurb read as such (boldface mine):

Twin Earths . . . twin galaxies . . . twin realities---occupying the same physical-space, yet separated by a gulf more vast than mere distance! Each atom and electron, each proton and neutron, vibrates in harmony with eternal cosmic rhythm . . . and, although the evolution of the twin universes is merely parallel, they vibrate differently! Thus, time is slower on Earth-Two . . . and its inhabitants will reach mankind's ultimate destiny---or ultimate doom---twenty years later than the creatures of Earth-One---

This was DC's first attempt to deal with the ageing problem of the Justice Society. Because the group was tied to World War II, the sliding-timescale was not an option. When the group was revived in the early '60's, the idea of middle-aged super-heroes in their mid- to late-forties was quaint and not to outlandish, physically. But after eight years, somebody upstairs felt that a loophole was needed to explain how the JSA could still, plausibly, be active.

Now, many folks who paid attention to Denny O'Neil's passage above took it to mean that the JSA, and Earth-Two, was perpetually at a fixed twenty-year lag from the JLA, and Earth-One. But that's not necessarily what it means.

I've used this analogy before, and it's a good one to demonstrate another interpretation. As a model, let's say that Earth-One and Earth-Two are both automobiles set to drive on parallel courses. The starting line is the Beginning of Time; the finish line is the End of Time, or "mankind's ultimate destiny." Under the fixed twenty-year gap model, both cars travel at the same speed, but the Earth-One car starts twenty years before the Earth-Two car. In such a scenario, the Earth-Two car would always remain twenty years behind the Earth-One vehicle.

But, there is another way to interpret it. Let's say that both cars leave the starting line at the same time; however, the Earth-One car drives at "X" miles per hour, while the Earth-Two car drives at "X minus .00005" miles an hour. In other words, a sliver slower than the Earth-One car. What that means is, the two cars start together and stay together for a bit, but, infinitisimally, the Earth-Two car drops behind, and the ratio is such that, by the time the cars reach the End of Time, the Earth-Two car is twenty years behind the Earth-One car. That certainly fits O'Neil's statement that the Earth-Two inhabitants will reach their "ultimate destiny---or ultimate doom---twenty years later than the creatures of Earth-One."

Under this model, in the year A.D. 1970, the JSA won't be twenty years behind the JLA. In fact, given the minutely slow ratio, the JSA may be only a year or so behind, if that.

Of course, I don't know which way Denny O'Neil meant it. But one model is just as valid as the other, and unless O'Neil himself explains what he meant, you can take his passage either way.

Now, even under the fixed twenty-year model, that gap is relative only between the JSA and the JLA. From the JSA's standpoint, they aren't thirty-five years old, and more than ten years have passed between World War II and 1970. To their perspective, they are in their fifties and sixties. (In fact, in the first JLA/JSA team-up, in JLA # 21-2 [Aug. and Sep., 1963], Gardner Fox makes reference to their grey hairs and wrinkles.) And the Earth-Two Robin would be in his mid- to late thirties or even forty.

But even if the adult Robin were thirty-five, the teen-age Robin of Earth-One would scarcely see him as a near-contemporary. Furthermore, at thirty-five, the Earth-Two Robin would be a veteran super-hero, certainly not deserving of the short shrift he received from his fellow JSA members in JLA # 91-2. And he would be of the same comparative age as the heroes of Earth-One's Justice League, whom the JSA members treated as the seasoned heroes they were.

First of all, sorry Jeff! Hopefully we'll get back to Superboy soon!

2) I forgot about the first Bat-Robin costume. It was styled like Robin but colored like Batman. Plus he looked chubby in it! :)

3) Never read a bad Alan Brennert story. Recommend Detective #500 and Secret Origins #50 along with his B&Bs.

4) In JLA #91, Robin's JSA membership was brought up as if Hawkman was dismissive of it. Robin had to remind the JSA chairman who inducted him about it. Funnier still was the Feathered Fogey patronizingly saying that since Batman wasn't there, they might as well let Robin help. Yeah, well good luck waiting for the Golden Age Batman to show up!

5) They mentioned in JLA #123-124 the time difference, too. That was co-written by Elliot S! Maggin and Cary Bates, the latter who endeared himself with Silver Age Legion fans, right Commander?  

6) Conversely, in America Vs the Justice Society (an under-rated series, IMHO), the time factor is brought up again. Jay (Flash) Garrick testifies that in 1963, he first encountered the Earth-One Flash. In 1963 on Earth-Two, that is. He claimed that it might have been later on E-1. So now the time rate was altered to protect the Earth-One heroes from their publishing age!

7) for all their bonding, the two Robins never meet again. Too bad, I would have loved to see the E-2 Robin's reaction to Nightwing!

As Phillip indicates, it popped up again in #123 (as I recall, it's mentioned when the JLAers appear on the aircraft carrier), and was interpreted there to mean that time on Earth Two runs twenty years behind Earth One.

 

There's a third possible interpretation, namely that time started out much slower on Earth Two but has sped up over time at an ever decreasing rate, so that Earth Two's time speed stands in an asymptotic relationship to Earth One's time speed. In that case it could be that time on Earth Two now proceeds at approximately the same rate that it proceeds on Earth One, that Earth Two is twenty years behind because it initially didn't, and that the lag will remain about what it now is hereafter. I've no doubt that's not what O'Neil meant.

By golly, you're both right.  Thanks, fellows.

 

In the first two panels on page 15, from JLA # 123 (Oct., 1975), the dialogue runs like this:

 

Batman:  "This Earth rotates at a slower speed---time passes less quickly than on our Earth . . . . "

 

Green Arrow:  "The idea is that Earth-Two is about twenty years behind because of some time-flux!"

 

(I had to go by memory on this one, guys.  There was no way I was going to wade through twenty years of JLA/JSA team-ups to seek out another reference.  Good on you for knowing it yourselves.)

 

That said, I have a couple of problems with both this reference and the twenty-year-lag in general.

 

With regard to JLA # 123, the Batman's statement is completely erroneous, both in terms of what was said before and in terms of general science (even the pseudo-science of the DC universe).

 

The Masked Manhunter of Earth-One brings up the topic of the time-lag by stating that Earth-Two rotates at a slower speed.  The rate of Earth-Two's rotation would have no effect on how fast time elapses.  It would mean that, on Earth-Two, the days and nights were longer, but time itself would still proceed at the same rate.

 

When Denny O'Neil first mentioned a twenty-year lag---back in JLA # 82---he stipulated that it was the Earth-Two universe's vibrational speed that was slower, and that is what caused the time differential between the two Earths.

 

So what we have here is another case of a Bronze-Age DC writer not knowing or caring what was established before.  In this case JLA # 123-4's writers, Cary Bates and Elliot S! Maggin, not checking to see what O'Neil had stated earlier.  (On the Superman family of titles, both Bates and Maggin were excellent writers; on JLA, overall, they were terrible.  And this tale was particularly difficult to wade though.)

 

As for the twenty-year lag, I'm still a bit confused over what O'Neil, and Bates and Maggin, were trying to established.  If they were trying to insist that the actual progress of years on Earth-Two was twenty years behind Earth-One, that would mean that, in JLA # 123-4, the Earth-Two scenes would have been taking place in 1955.  But all of the indicators---clothing, hair styles, technology, and so forth---show that Earth-Two is contemporaneous with Earth-One.  And if you go all the way back through the team-ups, or any other DC story that takes place on Earth-Two, clearly its development is as modern as Earth-One's.

 

The earliest Earth-Two scenes, the ones shown in DC comics from the 1960's, would have taken place c. 1943-9---if one insists that there is a literal twenty-year lag between the two Earths.  Yet, those scenes portray the elements of the then-modern Earth-One that weren't around in the mid-1940's:  television, jet aircraft, mini-skirts.  The same thing holds true with the Bronze-Age looks at Earth-Two---there's nothing about them that indicates that it is at a 1950's-level of societal development.

 

So it's safe to say that Denny O'Neil didn't mean 1970 Earth-One equals 1950 Earth-Two.

 

That leaves the notion that, somehow, thanks to the different vibrationary rates of the two universes, time itself (as opposed to the measurement of it) was slower on Earth-Two than on Earth-One.

 

If we accept this, then---in terms of our discussion above about the adult Robin's age and his interaction with the other JSAers and the Earth-One Robin---the time differential is only a factor relative to the two Earths.  With regards to Earth-Two apart, to its inhabitants' perspective, it is the (then-) modern age of the 1960's and '70's.  Twenty-to-thirty years have passed since the JSA's beginning just before World War II and the heroes have aged every bit of that time.

 

The Justice Society members might be physically younger than that in comparison to their Earth-One Justice League counterparts, but amongst themselves, the age differences between most of the JSA and Robin, and Robin and the other members of the "Super Squad" are pretty close to what I stated above.  Ergo, my criticisms of the adult Robin's handling by the DC writers (that they "youthened" him in order to have youth-oriented subplots) are still valid.

 

Thanks for pointing my oversight out, Philip and Luke.  I'll have that in my storehouse of knowledge, now, the next time this subject comes up.

SUPERBOY #3: Not only does Superboy have his own “Jimmy Olsen” in the form of Simon Valentine, he now has his own “Pete Ross” in the form of Lori Luthor. Conner sets up a foot race with Bart for a future issue, and Psionic Lad arrives from the year 2216.


Jeff of Earth-J said:
SUPERBOY #3: Not only does Superboy have his own “Jimmy Olsen” in the form of Simon Valentine, he now has his own “Pete Ross” in the form of Lori Luthor. Conner sets up a foot race with Bart for a future issue, and Psionic Lad arrives from the year 2216.


I've read Jeff Lemire's Tales of Essex County, and his Sweet Tooth every month, and I never would have guessed that he'd be such a terrific super-hero writer. The styles are SO different. Superboy has also held onto 95% of the sales of #1 so far in my store.

 


"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

Check out the Secret Headquarters (my store) website! Comics and Games for Everyone!

I used to listen to WOXY.com; It was the future of rock-n-roll! RIP WOXY


SUPERBOY #6: This issue features part five of the six-part "Reign of Doomsday" story, and I must admit I picked up the plot thread readily enough without have read the previous four installments. Essentially, Superboy is blindsided by Doomsday and they spend the entire issue fighting. Read from Conner's POV, he doesn't have any more of a clue what's going on than I do. The story continues/concludes in two weeks in the landmark Action Comics #900.
I don't think it's done in Action #900. And future covers actually make me more interested in this story.

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