I was going to do a thread on my FIVE favorite Justice League/Justice Society team-ups when I discovered that I couldn't pick just five! So I'm going to write about all of them. These won't be synopses since I am assuming that everyone is familar with them, thanks to the Justice League Archives and the Crisis On Multiple Earths TPBs. This will just be my personal recollections and observations with a few facts. I'll start in the Mister Silver Age sub-heading then continue in my Fan of Bronze.

The first seven team-ups were written, of course, by Gardner Fox and the first six illustrated by Mike Sekowsky.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #21-22 (Au-S'63): The Crisis on Earth One & The Crisis on Earth Two

The JLA: This was the only JLA/JSA meeting that the Martian Manhunter played a part in the Silver Age.

Green Arrow meets his future love interest, the Black Canary. Naturally no reaction.

Both Flashes are taken out of the story early since they already had three team-ups in Flash.

 

The JSA: Instead of including Wonder Woman and Doctor Mid-Nite, Fox revived Doctor Fate and Hourman, neither seen since WWII.

Doctor Fate-restored with his full golden helmet, something that Silver Age readers would not know or even Bronze Age ones since DC would only reprint one Dr.Fate story with his half-helmet! But his gloves would be missing for awhile.

Hawkman-was revived wearing a hawk helmet in Flash #137 yet returned to wearing his yellow cowl. He appeared in Justice League before his Silver Age counterpart, even though he was mentioned in #3.

Black Canary-her marital arts skills and amulet devices are highlighted.

Hourman and the Atom--neither's super-strength is mentioned.

Green Lantern-seemed to hit it off with Hal Jordan right away.

The Villains: The Crime Champions are a great idea but...

Chronos takes on Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman!

The Icicle goes one-on-one with Doctor Fate!

The Fiddler is bald and wears a wig. Take that, Luthor!

The Icicle looks like Groucho Marx! "Last night, I shot Green Lantern in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I'll never know!"

The Crime Champions have a HQ between the Earths in "a great sphere of vibratory energy" that is multi-leveled and tastely furnished. Their civvies however leave a lot to be desired!

Some Notes: The golden, chained cages that the two teams are trapped in #22 was ripped off inspired by Mystery In Space #18 from 1954!

While the two groups meet, they do not team-up until the end when sixteen heroes gang up on six villains.

The Crime Champions do not return until the 80s!

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George said:

Yes, Fox was addicted to gimmicks. To him, that's what a comic book story was supposed to be. I've read a letter, written by Fox to a fan circa 1964, in which he said there was no room in comics for characterization, so stories had to be all plot -- as his were. But even when Fox wrote this, Stan Lee was proving him wrong (mainly in Spider-Man and Fantastic Four).


I suppose its no surprise that Fox thought this, but that's interesting that it was his conscious, studied approach to this kind of team comic. To tell the truth, not having read a 60's JLA story until almost in my thirties, I found it very hard to read early JLA. The characters seem to have so little personality, and aren't really engaging at all. I've been trying to finish the first JLA/JSA team-up collection of just these stories for ages now. although they are fun, once I put down the book its hard to remember what happened in the story, and I don't have a huge compunction to pick it up again.

having said that, this thread should supply me with the reason to attack the rest of the team-ups that I can get my hands on and join in the discussion.

Although the British invasion writers of the late 80's get all the credit/blame for clever-clever metatextual playing around with DCU stories, its clear that they were only developing what's in the first two team-ups discussed here. The idea that Earth 2 is a seemingly fictional world that interacts with the 'real' Earth 1 is only a short step away from something like Morrison's Animal Man, and the idea that the Earth 1 DCU is a place where the good guys always win also leads to all kinds of metaphysical fun.

Weird metatextual play is much more a part of the fabric of the DCU than of the Marvel U, largely because of the concepts introduced in these JLA stories.
Figserello said:


George said:

 

Yes, Fox was addicted to gimmicks. To him, that's what a comic book story was supposed to be. I've read a letter, written by Fox to a fan circa 1964, in which he said there was no room in comics for characterization, so stories had to be all plot -- as his were. But even when Fox wrote this, Stan Lee was proving him wrong (mainly in Spider-Man and Fantastic Four).


I suppose its no surprise that Fox thought this, but that's interesting that it was his conscious, studied approach to this kind of team comic. To tell the truth, not having read a 60's JLA story until almost in my thirties, I found it very hard to read early JLA. The characters seem to have so little personality, and aren't really engaging at all.


I think there's room for both approaches, if they are handled properly.

 

If a writer chooses to go with the plot-only/no-characterisation approach, it better be a damn good plot.  Because if the plot doesn't grip the reader, he's going to be bored with wooden characters who just go through the motions.

 

On the other hand, throwing in heavy characterisation works only if the writer has an ear for it.  Stan Lee certainly had this---for all of his bombast, Lee was able to keenly plumb emotions and infuse them in his characters.  Unfortunately, many writers cannot do this.  In the late '60's and early '70's, the "Young Turk" writers who had started at DC tried grafting personalities on the long-time heroes and, in many cases, it just didn't work.

 

The best---or perhaps, better said, the worst---example of this was the Green Arrow.  It was one thing for Denny O'Neil to give him liberal concerns, and wisely, he established a reason that predicated it---the loss of Oliver Queen's fortune.  But it didn't take long for O'Neil and later writers (whom only made the situation worse) to go 'way too far.  In short order, G.A. became a bellicose, argumentative, self-righteous loudmouth.  And even that could have been acceptable---if the rest of the Justice League had treated him like the pain-in-the-ass he was and kicked him to the curb.  But, no, that couldn't happen, because the writers loved writing G.A. so much.  So they tried to justify the Emerald Archer's extremely contentious depiction by saying that he kept the Justice League grounded (whatever the blazes that means).

 

And the scenes of the Green Arrow-Hawkman "feud" were so heavy-handed and contrived, they came across as a high-school drama club production.

 

Compare that to Stan Lee's handling of Hawkeye in his early Avengers forays.  Hawkeye was all of the same things:  the group's gadfly and inveterate needler of Captain America.  The difference was in the handling.  Lee had the ability to make it sound real and he knew how to give it depth.  With the Green Arrow, O'Neil and company copied the style but not the substance.

 

I think many writers forget that a little characterisation goes a long way.  Take the television show Mission: Impossible, a series renowned for being all-plot/no-characterisation.  And from the second season on, it was virtually that, gaining popularity by the intricacy and tension of its plots.

 

But the first season of Mission: Impossible was slightly different on that score.  And it's one of reasons why I've always preferred that initial season.  (Steven Hill's presence was another; I always preferred Dan Briggs to Jim Phelps.)

 

Before the series gelled into relying on the plot alone, occasionally, in that first season, we would see hints of personalities.  Not a great deal, just small exchanges here and there that would limn Dan, Barney, Cinnamon, and the others as not only distinct personalities but in how they interacted with each other.  The lid was lifted just a little, but it was enough.

The Commander wrote: >> Compare that to Stan Lee's handling of Hawkeye in his early Avengers forays.  Hawkeye was all of the same things:  the group's gadfly and inveterate needler of Captain America.  The difference was in the handling.  Lee had the ability to make it sound real and he knew how to give it depth.  With the Green Arrow, O'Neil and company copied the style but not the substance.

 

See, now I would've said the exact opposite about Hawkeye. I found him insufferable from his first appearance, and never to this day have I ever liked the guy or even felt he was a character we should care about in the slightest. He was one of those guys who, if you met in real life, you'd stay a million miles away from. I never saw him as having any redeeming qualities whatsoever, and it always felt to me like Stan couldn't figure out a personality for the guy, so he just had him mouth whatever obnoxious thing popped into Stan's brain at the time.

Dave Blanchard said:

The Commander wrote: >> Compare that to Stan Lee's handling of Hawkeye in his early Avengers forays.  Hawkeye was all of the same things:  the group's gadfly and inveterate needler of Captain America.  The difference was in the handling.  Lee had the ability to make it sound real and he knew how to give it depth.  With the Green Arrow, O'Neil and company copied the style but not the substance.

 

See, now I would've said the exact opposite about Hawkeye. I found him insufferable from his first appearance, and never to this day have I ever liked the guy or even felt he was a character we should care about in the slightest. He was one of those guys who, if you met in real life, you'd stay a million miles away from. I never saw him as having any redeeming qualities whatsoever, and it always felt to me like Stan couldn't figure out a personality for the guy, so he just had him mouth whatever obnoxious thing popped into Stan's brain at the time.


For my money, Green Arrow and Hawkeye are both obnoxious blowhards who should have been tossed on their cans certainly the second time they started popping off at mouth. But they keep their teams grounded, whatever the blazes that means.

Dave Blanchard said: 

See, now I would've said the exact opposite about Hawkeye. I found him insufferable from his first appearance, and never to this day have I ever liked the guy or even felt he was a character we should care about in the slightest. He was one of those guys who, if you met in real life, you'd stay a million miles away from. I never saw him as having any redeeming qualities whatsoever, and it always felt to me like Stan couldn't figure out a personality for the guy, so he just had him mouth whatever obnoxious thing popped into Stan's brain at the time.


Well, it's all personal taste, of course.  One likes what one likes---or doesn't.

 

For me, the things which distinguished the early-Avengers Hawkeye from the 19690-and-on Green Arrow were two.

 

First, Hawkeye's obnoxiousness was not suffered well by his fellow Avengers.  As opposed to the JLA members, whose response to Green Arrow always seemed to be "Heh, heh, there goes Ollie, again," Cap and Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch would have kicked Hawkeye to the curb in a heartbeat---except that they needed him.  At the time, it was a four-man team with no heavy hitters.  In the stories themselves, Hawkeye pointed out that Cap didn't have the luxury of ousting him.

 

Second, Hawkeye showed genuine growth.  Even early on, he would have mild recriminations about his own arrogance; not sufficient to change his ways, mind you.  That didn't happen until The Avengers # 29 (Jun., 1966), after he let Power Man and the Swordsman escape because he couldn't draw down on the Black Widow.  Even Hawkeye felt he deserved to be hammered because of that, but Cap reminded him, "We're all Avengers, yes, but we're also human beings, with feelings and emotions!"

 

"And that’s the guy I’ve been riding for months,” Hawkeye realised. “I wish the ground would swallow me up right now!”

 

After that, the bowman continued to be a blowhard, but he ratcheted 'way back on his contentiousness.  Also not stated but implied, part of the reason was Goliath and the Wasp had returned to the fold, and Hawkeye was now expendable.

 

The Green Arrow never showed such growth.  He continued to rail, no matter what.  Oh, in one story or another, it might be pointed out to him that he was wrong, but he never displayed any change over that.  He never had any epiphanies, as did Hawkeye.  Instead, G.A. continued to moan and grown and harrass like a petulant little boy.

 

And the JLA had no reason to keep him around.  When you've got powerhouses like Superman and Green Lantern and Wonder Woman on the team, dumping an archer would scarcely make a ripple.  Frankly, G.A.'s attitude was so disruptive, the League would have been better off without him.  It didn't make sense to keep him; that's why the writers came up with that "he keeps the League grounded" nonsense.

 

Again, not trying to argue the point; just showing you how I saw it, that's all.

A note on the Crime Syndicate: I was moved by their deaths in Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 because they were trying to protect Earth-Three and its people. True, it was because they didn't want to destroy their world, just rule it, though they were never portrayed as dictators and probably left the majority of the population alone. What got me was, in a few panels, we got Owlman's confusion. Johnny Quick's immobility, Power Ring's cowardliness, Superwoman's defiance and Ultraman showing a bit of Superman's nobility at the end.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #46-47 (Au-S'66): Crisis Between Earth-One and Earth-Two/The Bridge Between Earths!

For the first time, members of the JLA and JSA switch sides and have an actual team-up! They didn't plan it that way but hey, at least it happened!

The art also improves with the addition of Sid Greene, making it look more "modern".

The JLA: I don't have to remind anyone about Batman's promience in these issues, heck in Justice League for the next two-three years due to his TV show. From the sound effects on the cover of #46 to his dominance on the cover of #47, the Caped Crusader became the selling point for the series. It's his foe, Blockbuster that is featured along with references to the Alfred Memorial Foundation, later the Wayne Foundation. Both elements are key elements of the New Look Batman's epic battle with the Outsider! Thankfully his role in the story proper is no greater than anyone else's! One point is that he unmasks in front of the JSAers and they don't know who he is. This is contradictory to the premise that all the JSAers know each other's secret identities, though if anyone did not reveal his true identity, it would have been the E-2 Batman.

The Flash seemed fairly ineffective and goes through one of his weird body-changes with his giant, clown feet!

The same could be said for Green Lantern who should have been stronger against Solomon Grundy since he doesn't have the wood weakness of his E-2 counterpart. He was very proud of himself for pitting Grundy againt Blockbuster even though the two could have killed people in their battle!

This was Hawkman's first JLA/JSA team-up and he acted like he knew everyone! He was instrumental in Grundy's initial defeat. But I never liked Sekowsky's version. It lacked the pristine elegance of Anderson and the primal energy of Kubert. Like Batman, he looks like just another super-hero!

The Atom spends the first part unable to shrink, though luckily he's with Italian scientist/bombshell Enrichetta Negrini (who may have been a better match for him than unstable Jean Loring!). In the second, it was his brainstorm that saves the Earths and drove away the Anti-Matter Man.

The JSA: There's a lot to discuss here!

Though there was little mention on the covers, The Spectre finally reunites with his JSA comrades but as with every Spectre appearance, he is kept seperate from them, due to his vast power. He IS the Bridge between the Earths and is unable to stop the Anti-Matter Man whose very touch reeks havoc on the Ghostly Guardian's ectoplasmic form. It was unintentially funny to see a big-headed dwarf Spectre! He also was willing to sacrifice his existence to save the Earths, a them that would come up again!

Doctor Fate must lead a team of non-powered teammates against the A-M Man, learns of the Spectre's predictiment, gathers the heroes, protects them from the void, creates a ring around the A-M Man while spouting off "hip" dialogue and starting a pie-fight!!! He is also capable of creating "magical atomic explosions"!!! No, really!

When I was buying back issues, these two zoomed out of my price range, due to the fact that they were the first Silver Age appearances of the Sandman. This was because of Neil Gaiman's wonderful, frightening, magnificient and ground-breaking Sandman series. If people thought that there was a connection, they were sadly mistaken! The Sandman was revived in his original green business suit (more on that later) but instead of his trusty gas gun, he had a strange "energy rod" though it looked like a gun that altered sand that he threw into various shapes of glass or cement. Could it be an offshoot of the Siliciod Gun? And he had a Sand-Car! He lost all his pulpish aura and looked slightly comical.

Black Canary appears again as the only girl in the tale. At one point, she is trapped by her own hair which is grown to Medusa-links. She also forgets that it's only a wig! She has to be saved twice!

Doctor Mid-nite carries a doctor's bag and wields a new device as well. The Cyrotuber affected nervous systems and emiited both heat and cold. It lasted a bit longer than Sandman's new weapon.

Thankfully Wildcat receives no "up-grade". He is a two-fisted brawler with a bit of an attitude! 

The Villains: The Anti-Matter Man is the most mysterious of foes. He does not speak nor are we privy to his thoughts. Except for his battle with the Spectre and his brief attack on the two teams, he is a passive menace acting in self-defense, in his mind anyway. The threat of anti-matter was first mentioned in #30 and would come up again. The A-M Man was never seen again, exccept in the non-continuity DC Challenge.

Solomon Grundy, one of the best E-2 villains, makes his first JLA appearance, escaping the magic/green bubble he was placed in  from Showcase #55 (Ma'65) with added powers. He also looked rather chunky!

The Blockbuster, another "hulking" man-monster, also had added powers.

Strangely none of the heroes had super-strength. You think that they would have summoned Superman (from either world)!

Some Notes: I always wondered why the Sandman wasn't revived in his gold and yellow outfit. Was it because that version was linked to Jack Kirby who was making history at Marvel at this time? I don't think that DC reprinted any of the Simon & Kirby Sandman until the King was back at DC. And they reprinted a couple of early Sandman stories before that.

Or was there another reason? I remember reading, and I'm sure Commander Benson and Mister Silver Age can verify this, that in Showcase #34 (the debut of the Silver Age Atom), they showed the cover of All-Star Comics #3 to represent the Golden Age Atom. There was the Sandman, and Doctor Fate for that matter, in their original forms, becoming the versions that DC's readers would have the best chance of being familar with. But what about the Atom? He wasn't revived his first costume. But he was shown in his second one in Flash #129 (Ju'62) and #137 (Ju'63), so that die was cast.

This was a true team-up with a strong premise and a serious threat. It was marred, however, by campy dialogue and some dreadful captions! It was too silly in places! A pie-fight! Goofy looking villains! Instant cement blocks! Big feet!

The next one would be both better and worse!

Tune in soon! Same Bat-Time! Same Bat-Channel!

As for Hawkeye, he had a LOT of emotional baggage! Being an orphan, losing his brother, Barney, having no roots, almost being killed by his closest father-figure, the Swordsman, frustrated by his lot in life, trying to be a hero, rejected, falling in love with the wrong woman, having to battle the much-stronger Iron Man, etc.

He stayed in the Avengers because they became his family, his circus troupe. But he was afraid that they would leave him so he didn't want to get close to them! He wanted to lead to give him a sense of control. He was betrayed by one mentor so he rebelled against his new one in Cap!

Maybe he did think that they could not afford to lose him. After all, he was very good, skilled, able, tough. He did care about the Avengers and being an Avenger. They just had to get used to him. And, as the Commander pointed out, he did change. That's why his first run as an Avenger was from #16 to #109!

The Commander wrote:

< The Green Arrow never showed such growth.  He continued to rail, no matter what.  Oh, in one story or another, it might be pointed out to him that he was wrong, but he never displayed any change over that.  He never had any epiphanies, as did Hawkeye.  Instead, G.A. continued to moan and grown and harrass like a petulant little boy. >>>

 

There's a salient point you're forgetting, though, Commander: Green Arrow's change of personality didn't actually start in the JLA, but in his own comic book (well, he shared the cover logo, anyway). The way I remember those O'Neil/Adams stories, virtually every issue was an epiphany of some sort, though sometimes it was Green Lantern learning more about himself, sometimes it was GA. Ollie didn't really start climibing on his high horse in the pages of JLA until after he started teaming up full-time with Hal, and shortly thereafter they actually took a sabbatical from the JLA. And I really can't think of any single moment in Hawkeye's career (not that I've paid that close attention) that comes anywhere near the dramatic moment displayed on this cover.

 

 

All that being said, I never really cared for the "new" Green Arrow much, either, when he first came along. In fact, I stopped buying the JLA for about a year in disgust at all the changes DC was inflicting upon us in the post-Silver Age (getting rid of the Martian Manhunter, depowering Wonder Woman, giving GA a beard, breaking up the Batman and Robin team, etc.).

As a matter of fact, as we all know, Neal Adams redesigned Green Arrow for Brave & Bold #85 (S'69) but Ollie lost his fortune in Justice League of America #75 (N'69) and had a new personality in #77-79 (Ja-Ma'70) before he began co-starring in Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76 (Ap'70). You must admit, that's a great deal of change in a short amount of time. When I did the research on this, I was shocked by the rapidness that GA went through. He was still in his old costume during the 1969 JLA/JSA team-up, #73-74 (Au-S'69), the same month as B&B #85. They must have planned to add GA to Green Lantern before they knew if the change in GA would be received well, or well enough!

I don't remember, was Speedy's drug problem addressed in Teen Titans?

Hawkeye did experience the death of his brother, Barney, being constantly dumped by the Black Widow and having so much self-doubt that he re-invented himself as the second Goliath. Does that count?

Dave Blanchard said:

The Commander wrote:

< The Green Arrow never showed such growth.  He continued to rail, no matter what.  Oh, in one story or another, it might be pointed out to him that he was wrong, but he never displayed any change over that.  He never had any epiphanies, as did Hawkeye.  Instead, G.A. continued to moan and grown and harrass like a petulant little boy. >>>

 

There's a salient point you're forgetting, though, Commander: Green Arrow's change of personality didn't actually start in the JLA, but in his own comic book (well, he shared the cover logo, anyway). The way I remember those O'Neil/Adams stories, virtually every issue was an epiphany of some sort, though sometimes it was Green Lantern learning more about himself, sometimes it was GA. 


The way I remember those stories -- via the magic of reprints, as they were published before I started reading comics in earnest -- was that they were one-sided diatribes, with Green Arrow as the flaming, preachy, self-righteous liberal and Green Lantern always and inevitably cast on the losing, and thus "wrong," end of the argument du jour, no matter what it was. Beautifully rendered, of course, but terribly, terribly one-sided.
ClarkKent_DC said:
Dave Blanchard said:

The Commander wrote:

< The Green Arrow never showed such growth.  He continued to rail, no matter what.  Oh, in one story or another, it might be pointed out to him that he was wrong, but he never displayed any change over that.  He never had any epiphanies, as did Hawkeye.  Instead, G.A. continued to moan and grown and harrass like a petulant little boy. >>>

 

There's a salient point you're forgetting, though, Commander: Green Arrow's change of personality didn't actually start in the JLA, but in his own comic book (well, he shared the cover logo, anyway). The way I remember those O'Neil/Adams stories, virtually every issue was an epiphany of some sort, though sometimes it was Green Lantern learning more about himself, sometimes it was GA. 


The way I remember those stories -- via the magic of reprints, as they were published before I started reading comics in earnest -- was that they were one-sided diatribes, with Green Arrow as the flaming, preachy, self-righteous liberal and Green Lantern always and inevitably cast on the losing, and thus "wrong," end of the argument du jour, no matter what it was. Beautifully rendered, of course, but terribly, terribly one-sided.


That's the way I remember them too, CK.  It was all Green Arrow showing Green Lantern how wrong he was.  Oh, O'Neil occasionally gave G.L. some dialogue in defence of his side of the argument, was it was just to set up G.L. to be shot down by Green Arrow's "clearly superior" viewpoint.

 

And thanks for bringing up that classic "My ward is a junkie!" story, Mr. Blanchard, because it illustrates perfectly the difference between the Green Arrow and Hawkeye. 

 

Yes, at the conclusion of the "Speedy takes drugs and it's all Green Arrow's fault," two-parter, the Emerald Archer was put in a bad light---which, at first, he tried to argue his way out of.  (Actually, that was one of the rare times I agreed with G.A.---what a whiner Speedy was; "I started taking drugs because you didn't pay attention to me, anymore!"  Boo-freaking-hoo!)  But whatever self-awareness G.A. might have picked up from that episode was gone by the next issue, when he was back to being his usual self-righteous, bellicose self.  There was no permanent growth or adjustment in his attitudes.

 

Hawkeye, on the other hand, did evolve.  While remaining something of a loudmouth and a grouse, he developed into more of a team player.  And that critical scene with Captain America at the end of The Avengers # 29 marked a turning point; from then on, he stopped harassing Cap and, eventually, would become his biggest booster.

 

 

Justice League of America  # 46-7 (Aug. and Sep., 1966)

 

 

Oh boy oh boy, I’ve been waiting for you to get to this one, Philip!

 

Let’s get the “bad” out of the way first.  And I will readily stipulate that this epic did have some downchecks.  You hit on them all, in fact.

 

Gardner Fox lapsed into some truly atrocious prose throughout, especially in the narrative.  This JLA two-part took place squarely during the period for a few months in 1966 when Fox was employing some truly awful faux-“hip” dialogue and captions across all the stories he wrote in the middle of ’66.  If you look at the Atom tales he wrote at the same time, it’s even worse than what he came up with for the JLA/JSA cross-over.

 

I’d imagine that this was one of DC’s many attempts to glom onto whatever Marvel Comics was doing right.  That was an error anyway you look at it.  Fox, apparently, was going for the more intimate, jocular, over-the-top prose that Stan Lee used.  The thing was . . . it was a natural style for Lee, and thus, it sounded natural when he did it.  With Fox and other DC writers who tried to imitate it  (the award for worst DC attempt to sound hip has to be for Otto Binder’s “Demon Under the Red Sun”, from Superman # 184 [Feb., 1966]) it just sounded contrived and artificial.  Instead of trying to “out-Marvel” Marvel, DC should have stuck with playing to its strengths.

 

The pie-fight is another example.  Oddly, it went right past me at the time, but from a more mature perspective, I can see it was an ill-placed attempt at humour.  I could forgive it if the plot had been constructed in such a way that it was a forced result.  But that wasn’t the case.  Doctor Fate could have used his magic to transform those flying cement blocks into feathers or water droplets or just plain dematerialised them.  No, it was a gratuitous attempt at slapstick and Julius Schwartz should have blue-pencilled it.

 

The covers of the two issues were pretty bad, especially that of # 46---the awkwardly drawn anatomy, the lack of other heroes besides the Batman and Wildcat and the Sandman, the bizarre use of onomotœpia.  And, of course, being in the throes of Batmania, the Masked Manhunter had to crowd everybody else out of the picture on both covers.

 

 

Fortunately, there was so much “good” in this team-up that it overwhelmed the bad.

 

For once, we are presented with a crisis truly worthy of the word.  The first JLA/JSA pairing wasn’t really a crisis---sixteen super-heroes amassed against a half-dozen moderately powered villains whose only ambition was to rob.  The next one with the Crime Syndicate came a little closer; conceivably, if the Crime Syndicate had won out over the JLA and the JSA, it would have been grim tidings for Earths-One and –Two.

 

If one regards “crisis” as something world-threatening, the third one just slipped across the line, since the criminal Johnny Thunder had converted Earth-One into “Earth-A”.

 

But this one, ah, we are really presented with dire straits, indeed---with the fates of both Earth-One and Earth-Two at stake.  Now we have a crisis!

 

When Gardner Fox hits his stride as a plotter, there is no-one better, and one of the most fascinating things about this story is how he manages to take three separate situations---any one of which would give the two Justice teams pause---and intertwines them.  You have the mystery of why denizens of Earth-One and Earth-Two are mysteriously transporting to the other Earth.  You have the twin menaces of Solomon Grundy and the Blockbuster being on the loose.  The first situation affects the second because both behemoths suddenly exchange worlds.

 

And then there is the matter of Earth-One and Earth-Two, slowly coming together into collision, and this phenomenon attracts Anti-Matter Man, an explorer from the anti-matter universe.  Should he come into physical contact with either positive-matter world, everything is destroyed.

 

As you mentioned, Philip, this time, the two Justice groups go into action as a team.  They have to; it’s forced upon them by the mysterious force exchanging folks between Earths.  (The same force which is causing the problem also prevents any of the heroes from getting back to their respective Earths with their own powers.)  So, on Earth-One, Justice Leaguers Hawkman, the Flash, and the Green Lantern team up with misplaced Doctor Mid-Nite and the Black Canary.  Meanwhile, over on Earth-Two, JSAers Doctor Fate, Wildcat, and the Sandman are joined by Earth-One’s Batman.

 

As I mentioned, to me, it’s much more of a nail-biter when only a few heroes are available to deal with this kind of cosmic threat.  But for this story, it also evokes another downcheck.  Where are the other Justice Leaguers and Justice Society members?  Why aren’t they joining in the matter, as well?  The usual “tied up on urgent cases of their own” excuse really doesn’t work---what personal case could possibly be more urgent than the looming end of the world?

 

Fox should have at least taken a few panels to explain why the absent heroes weren’t able to show up.

 

I enjoyed Fox’s choices for the Justice Society roster in this tale.  I’m glad he put the Sandman back in his original outfit.  To me, there was always something intriguing about a mystery man whose “fighting togs” consisted of a business suit and hat, an opera cape, and a gas mask.  It always seemed so casual next to all the Spandex types.  (“You call that a costume?  Sheesh!”)  I’ve always liked Dr. Mid-Nite, too.  Nothing was made of his sole super-power (if you can call it that) of being able to see in the dark, but it was fun seeing him upgrade his medical bag with the cyrotuber.  And, of course, the Black Canary was there as the token JSA female.  (Schwartz and Fox were still shy about confusing the readers by using the Earth-Two Wonder Woman; they’d get over that by next year.)

 

And then there was---surprise, surprise, he said sarcastically---Dr. Fate.  By now, the power of his sorcery had reached cosmic proportions, with him being able to magically draw the two groups of heroes into space and then create liveable conditions so they could fight Anti-Matter Man.  This raises a question:  if he was powerful enough to do that, why couldn’t he get the heroes and other people back to their own respective Earths?  I guess we weren’t supposed to think too hard on that.

 

At least, Fox was able to use the Spectre intelligently.  By taking him away from the main action on either Earth and putting him in space to confront Anti-Matter Man, depicted as his equal in power, it kept the Ghostly Guardian from resolving the whole affair by chapter two or the readers wondering why he didn’t.

 

 

One of the things I really enjoyed about this story was how Fox was able to weave in so many details from the continuity of other series:  Solomon Grundy’s escape from the imprisonment in which he was placed in Showcase # 55 and his pathological hatred for the Green Lantern; how the Blockbuster could be controlled only by his brother, Roland Desmond, or Bruce Wayne; Enrichetta Negrini, Ray Palmer’s lab assistant, and a supporting character in The Atom; how anything that the Atom shrunk, except himself, would explode when returned to its normal size.

 

As for some of your other points, Philip, you’re right---having Anti-Matter Man cause the Black Canary’s blonde hair to grow and ensnarl her was a gaffe.  It was a wig and she could have just taken it off. 

 

As far as every member of the Justice Society knowing the secret identities of every other member; hence, they should have recognised Bruce Wayne when the Batman unmasked to try to calm the Blockbuster:  I don’t think that was the standard then.  Certainly some JSAers knew the identities of some others---Dr. Fate and Hourman, Starman and Black Canary, for example.  But I don’t think it had been established at that point that they all knew who everybody was.

 

And I don’t have a problem with the Green Lantern’s solution for keeping Solomon Grundy and the Blockbuster from running rampant while the heroes were busy fighting Anti-Matter Man.  In fact, I thought it was brilliant in its simplicity.  Instead of the heroes fighting them separately, bring ‘em together and let them bash each other’s brains in.

 

I’m guessing that G.L.’s tactic there didn’t risk collateral damage to either people or property.  Though the story didn’t state so, if you look at the topography around where Grundy and the Blockbuster were fighting, it appears to be a remote area, far removed from the public.  Perhaps, someplace in the canyons of Arizona or New Mexico.

 

 

Lastly, the art on these two issues was the best that would ever be seen in JLA during the Silver Age.  These were the first issues inked by Sid Greene and he was able to give Mike Sekowsky’s pencils depth and shading they had never shown before.  And what makes these two issues truly distinctive art-wise was the colourist, whomever he was.  The rendition of colour was more subdued than what would come later.  The hues weren’t washed out, but underdone just enough to let Greene’s heavy use of blacks do their job and add dimension to Sekowsky’s pencils.  In ’67 and ’68, this would not be the case; the colours would be so garish as to compete with Greene’s use of blacks and undo most of their effect.

 

I know I’m in the minority, but this one gets my vote as the best of the Silver-Age Crises.

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