Monday, November 11, 2019

Saluting Our Combat Veterans

Saluting the men and women who fought for our country on this Veterans' Day...

....with this cover of G.I. Combat #200 (March, 1977) by Joe Kubert, featuring a story by Robert Kanigher and Sam Glanzman teaming up the crew of the Haunted Tank (stars of this comic) working with Sgt. Rock and Easy Company, Mademoiselle Marie and the Losers (Captain Storm, Johnny Cloud, Gunner and Sarge) fighting one of their many battles of World War II.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

JLA JSA Third Multiple Crisis

Worlds will live, worlds will die.   The tag line of DC's Crisis On Infinite Earths....but, who were on all those Earths, and who was living there?

Another in a series of collections on the various Crisis events faced by the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America....and, with this series of team team-ups, additional parts of the DC Universe were added to each grouping!

Let's dive into them!

Earth -- The Monster Maker

First up this time, Justice League of America #91 (August, 1971) by Mike Friedrich, Dick Dillin and Joe Giella, with a cover by Neal Adams, and a JLA/JSA team-up of the super-heroic counterparts of each Earth, including special guest, Teen Titan Robin!

It also started off with the scene on the cover, injuring the Flash, and dealt with a lost boy and his dog, but they were interdimensional beings, who were symbiotic, so needed each other to survive.  The Flash (E-1) was injured by the dog (Teppy) by New Carthage (the college home of the E-1 Robin, the Teen Wonder).  The JLA goes to fight the animal there, where they are joined by the JSA, who had fought the boy (A-Rym), with he taking on the E-2 Green Lantern at Slaughter Swamp.  After eventually capturing the dog, the E-2 Flash and E-1 Superman head to Earth-2, bringing along the rest....to find the boy getting help from.....Solomon Grundy!



Solomon Grundy -- The One And Only

While the similarly named members of the JLA and JSA work to resolve the menace of a lost boy in Justice League of America #92 (September, 1971) by Mike Friedrich, Dick Dillin and Joe Giella (under a Neal Adams/Dick Giordano), they encounter Solomon Grundy!

While Barry Allen Flash recovers in the JLA Satellite (aided by Black Canary and Iris Allen), the JLA and JSA fight A-Rym and Solomon Grundy, with the two Robins taking a break as the E-1 Robin has a damaged uniform (and gets a new costume for a bit from the E-2 Robin, as designed by Neal Adams, and both dealing with their Batman problems, as well as battling the authority of their respective Hawkmen), then with the help of the Hawkmen, stop A-Rym, while the Green Lanterns stop Solomon Grundy, and the teams reunite A-Rym and Teddy, and see they get back to their own people. 

Meanwhile, Batman and Green Arrow find Aquaman (which leads into the next new issue after a JLA Giant, wherein the JLA faces the new villain Merlyn, and his ties with Deadman and the League of Assassins!).

Jay Flash appears next with Barry Flash fighting Vandal Savage in Flash #215, the Earth-2 Hawkman doesn't appear again until the JSA has its own series in All-Star Comics in the 1970s, the Earth-2 Atom waits until he is found by the Secret Society of Super-Villains in that team's last issue to appear again, Solomon Grundy  coming from the fourth JLA/JSA team-up, and faces the Earth-1 Superman in Superman #301, the Earth-1 Robin returns to his original costume in his next appearance (though that costume will appear again)....and the rest of the JSA are as follows....



The Unknown Soldier Of Victory

This JLA/JSA team up in Justice League of America #100 (August, 1972) by Len Wein, Dick Dillin and Joe Giella (under a Nick Cardy cover) is a big one, so just follow along as events get revealed during the three issues!

The entire JLA (plus a few friends) gather at the JLA's original mountain headquarters for their 100th meeting (with cameos by absent Martian Manhunter, Snapper Carr and Adam Strange), when the JSA suddenly brings them to Earth-2.  The JSA explain that the Earth is being destroyed by a menace called the Iron Hand, and are looking for help.  Dr. Fate, with the help of Johnny's Thunderbolt and Zatanna summon the cosmic being Oracle, who explains that the Hand can be stopped by the same device that the Seven Soldiers of Victory used to stop the Nebula Man.  Green Arrow asks...."who are the Seven Soldiers?"....and finds out they were a group of Earth-2 heroes who disappeared after their battle with the Nebula Man in the 1950s (including his own Earth-2 duplicate), leaving behind a tomb to the unknown Seven Soldier. 

The Seven Soldiers originally gathered to fight the Hand (who united their own foes), but were now scattered in the past, waiting for the current JLA/JSA to go retrieve them.

Dr. Fate, the E-1 Atom and Elongated Man are sent to get the Crimson Avenger in Mexico in the time of the Aztecs, as readers find out that the current Iron Hand menacing the world is the original Hand who faced the Seven Soldiers!

The Hand That Shook The World

Justice League of America #101 (September, 1972) by Len Wein, Dick Dillin and Joe Giella (under Nick Cardy's cover) is another busy one....so, let's go!

Diana Prince (at this time, the depowered E-1 Wonder Woman), is alone at the JSA HQ, and explains to late arrivals Mr. Terrific and the E-2 Robin and Green Lantern what has been going on.  Meanwhile, the E-1 Superman, E-2 Sandman and Metamorpho go to get the Shining Knight from Genghis Khan as he invades China; the E-1 Hawkman and E-2 Wonder Woman and Dr. Mid-Nite help Little John free the E-2 Green Arrow (who was filling in for Robin Hood); and the E-1 Batman with Hourman and Starman free Stripsey from Egyptian slavery building Khufu's tomb.

The three JSAers leave Diana at their HQ to help people on their Earth and find out who is in the unknown Seventh Soldier tomb.....and the Iron Hand shows up at JSA HQ....to deal with Diana!



And One Of Us Must Die

An ominous issue is Justice League of America #102 (October, 1972) by Len Wein, Dick Dillin and Joe Giella (as seen by the Nick Cardy cover), as fate does not bode well for one of our heroes.

The cosmic Oracle bemoans that he is not allowed to interfere in man's destiny, as the E-1 Green Arrow, Black Canary and E-2 Johnny Thunder and his Thunderbolt save the E-2 Vigilante from American Indians and their bison in the old West; Aquaman, the E-1 Green Lantern and E-2 Wildcat deal with cavemen and a flood rescuing a flu bug bidden Star-Spangled Kid; and the E-1 Flash, Red Tornado and Zatanna free the E-2 Speedy from the ancient sorceress, Circe.

But, that's Seven Soldiers!  Who is in the tomb?

It was the "eight" Soldier....Crimson Avenger's partner, Wing, who used the Nebula Rod to stop the Nebula Man, and was buried by monks who found him in the Himalayas.  The Iron Hand now reappears, trying to kill Diana, but she uses her judo to stop him, accidentally breaking his control device to stop the menace to Earth.  Android Red Tornado takes the Nebula Rod to stop the new menace, theoretically sacrificing himself for all (though later events prove that not true).

The JSAers all came from and appear next in JLA/JSA team-ups (most from the 8th JLA/JSA adventure), with Dr. Fate having come to this adventure after an adventure with Superman in World's Finest Comics and Mr. Terrific, who appears in the next to last solo JSA adventure in Adventure Comics.   The Seven Soldiers of Victory are now in the present, and their fates play out in All-Star Conics, DC Comics Presents, Infinity Inc. and in the Crisis On Infinite Earths.



Crisis On Earth-X

How do you top that last adventure?  Why, introduce a new Earth to the JLA/JSA in Justice League of America #107 (September-October, 1973) by Len Wein, Dick Dillin and Dick Giordano, with a Nick Cardy cover, in the issue that introduces the Freedom Fighters!

True, the Freedom Fighters are made up of old Quality heroes Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, Doll Man, Uncle Sam, the Ray and Black Condor....except they are living on Earth-X, a world where the Nazis won World War II.

Using new Transmatter devices, the JLA and JSA prepare to cross Earths, with the E-1 Batman, Green Arrow and Elongated Man heading to E-2, and the E-2 Superman, Sandman and Dr. Fate go to E-1....a breeze disrupts the machine while the two Flashes operate the devices on their respective Earths....that breeze being the revived Red Tornado, trapped on Earth-1 after events explained in the previous issue when Reddy joined the JLA.  The six heroes find themselves on Earth-X, fighting Nazis.   The Freedom Fighters find the heroes, and explain the world is ruled by mind control devices created by Hitler....and they all must work together to destroy the multiple devices.



Thirteen Against The Earth

Justice League of America #108 (November-December, 1973) by Len Wein, Dick Dillin and Dick Giordano (with Nick Cardy cover) deals with the JLA, JSA and Freedom Fighters in a fight against the Nazis of Earth-X.

The combined heroes work together to take out the rest of the mind control devices, and learn that Hitler, on this Earth, even conquered Japan, turning on his Axis ally.  This sets up a chance for the last mind control device to work on the JLA and JSA, forcing them to battle the Freedom Fighters....but Red Tornado is also immune, and is able to control Hitler (or his android copy), and defeat it and the last mind control device, finally freeing Earth-X from Nazi control (and the computer brain that controlled all this was sufficient to use to connect to the Transmatter Cubes, to allow the JLA and JSA to return home with help from the E-1 Green Lantern and E-2 Flash).

The Freedom Fighters would return in their own 15 issue series (though now having relocated to Earth-1....but still not able to escape the ghost of Earth-X, but here are their Quality Comics adventures), with Dr. Fate returning next in Flash #236, the Earth-2 Superman not returning until the 1970s All-Star Comics series, and Sandman...getting a special focus in the next JLA/JSA team-up!

The Creature In The Velvet Cage

Justice League of America #113 (September-October, 1974) by Len Wein, Dick Dillin and Dick Giordano (with this Nick Cardy cover) has the only one issue JLA/JSA story, but it's a doozy, explaining why Sandman left behind his yellow and purple outfit and what happened to Sandy the Golden Boy.

The JLA (Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Elongated Man) meets the JSA (Flash, Hourman, Wonder Woman and Sandman) fighting the Horned Owl Gang, and discuss the E-1 Wonder Woman regaining her powers (but still not rejoining the JLA, taking on 12 Labors to prove her worthiness to herself), when Sandman abruptly leaves....the teams follow to find him at his home, with a wrecked caged room.  Sandman explains that his young partner, Sandy Hawkins, didn't leave him years ago, but instead was transformed into a silicon monster by Sandman's new Silicoid Gun.  Wes had kept him in a cage and gassed unconscious to keep him safe, and shredded his purple and yellow costume after this failure.  The teams pursued the monster, catching him, finding out that Sandy's initial madness had faded, and he was no threat.

Sandman would not return until the end of the JSA's run in All-Star Comics, Jay Flash returned to fight Rag Doll with Barry Flash in Flash #229, and Hourman and the E-2 Wonder Woman returned in the next JLA/JSA team-up (which is in the next Crisis On Multiple Earths volume).  Sandy's plight is addressed in two issues of DC Comics Presents (#42 and #47), that detail "What Ever Happened To...." Sandman and then Sandy!

A pretty important run of JLA/JSA team-ups, revealing not only a lot of DC Multiverse history, but positioning new events and happenings for later issues, building on its foundations and showcasing what was already there.


A truly special batch of stories, as new events were followed up on (especially in All-Star Comics when the JSA was revived, and the Star-Spangled Kid joined and Robin got a new costume)...

...as well as more history revealed, as later, the All-Star Squadron came into existence, and they helped fill in the holes in history with new "retroactive continuity", using new stories to fill in history that had yet to be explained (including the origins of Earth-X and the Freedom Fighters, and why Sandman first switched to the yellow and purple costume!).

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Watching The Monitor: Infinity Inc., Huntress and All-Star Squadron of Earth-2

The previous adventures of the Monitor and Lyla focused on their interactions with Earth-1, but they were observing the entire DC Multiverse.


Here are their observations of Earth-2, where they were checking out the groups there.


Atomic Dreams - Nuclear Nightmares

First up, part of the origin of Infinity, Inc., from Infinity, Inc. #8 (November, 1984) by Roy and Dann Thomas, Jerry Ordway, Mike Machlan and Tony DeZuniga.

The members of Infinity, Inc. were the sons, daughters and proteges of the Justice Society of America, and were dealing with those mentors having turned evil due to exposure to the "Stream Of Ruthlessness" (which turned heroic people evil).  As the Golden Age Atom battled Nuklon, the Monitor negotiated with the Ultra-Humanite (a foe of the Golden Age Superman).

Sadly, this story has yet to be reprinted.


The Rise And Fall Of The Phantom Empire

Next up, Lyla and the Monitor are looking even further back, all the way to World War II on Earth-2, with the All-Star Squadron, in All-Star Squadron #40 (December, 1984) by Roy Thomas, Richard Howell and Bill Collins, under a cover by Arvell Jones.


The All-Star Squadron was a gathering of all the heroes of Earth-2 during World War II, focusing more on heroes who hadn't been members of any group before, like Johnny Quick, Liberty Belle, Robotman, and new heroes, like Firebrand and Amazing-Man.  Here, they defeated the Phantom Empire in Detroit (and readers learned that their super-powered front man, the Real American, was an android, supplied to them using future technology, by the Monitor).  Events of this story led to Amazing-Man becoming a member of the All-Star Squadron.

This story has yet to be reprinted.


The Final Blackout

Last, but not least of the tales of Earth-2, is Wonder Woman #321 (November, 1984), which has the last of the back-up tales of the Huntress (Helena Wayne, Batman's daughter) by Joey Cavalieri, Rod Whigham and Rick Magyar.

After a particularly hard time on a case, Helena Wayne (who became a hero after the death of her mother, the Catwoman....who had married Bruce Wayne/Batman, as these two had careers in the 1940s on Earth-2, and ended them in the 1950s).  In Huntress' reflections, as the Monitor cataloged her, Lyla wondered about her own place in the events to come. 

This tale of the Huntress has yet to be reprinted (though the first half of Huntress' back-ups has been, twice), and the mini-series promised never happened, thanks in part to the Crisis On Infinite Earths.

Shadows

To be fair, Vigilante #14 (February, 1985) by Marv Wolfman and Trevor Von Eeden, didn't contain an appearance by the Monitor or Lyla, nor did it focus on the Earth-2 Vigilante, who was a member of Seven Soldiers of Victory of Earth-2, but instead focused on Adrian Chase, who had on occasion opposed the New Teen Titans of Earth-1.

But, the super-suit which allowed Mr. Hammer to blend into the shadows likely was supplied by the Monitor (and this Vigilante had his beginnings in the first tale that Lyla appeared in).

The Monitor and Lyla also observed a team-up of the JLA/JSA and Supergirl, and they would continue to watch Earth-2, as well as other times and places from World War II, to the wild west to the far future as events progressed to the Crisis On Infinite Earths.




Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween Super Friends

Happy Halloween!

Ramona Fradon and Robert Allen Smith gave us the cover of Super Friends #28 (January, 1980) which teased a confrontation among DC's top heroes and most villainous monsters (but they were only magically transformed guests).

Here, a look at when these monsters first appeared, and when they met who they faced!

Bizarro

The first adult Bizarro version of Superman appeared in Action Comics #254 (July, 1959) by Otto Binder and Al Plastino as an imperfect duplicate of Superman created by Luthor, but, Superboy had faced an earlier Bizarro back in Superboy #68 (October, 1958), though that version was destroyed.


Swamp Thing

The Alec Holland version of Swamp Thing first appeared in Swamp Thing #1 (October-November, 1972) by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, a scientist burned in an accident and healed by the swamp.  He first met Batman in Swamp Thing #7 (November-December, 1973).


Demon

Etrigan the Demon first appeared in The Demon #1 (August-September, 1972) by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer, as an agent of Merlin, bonded to human Jason Blood during the fall of Camelot to fight evil.  He first met Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman #280 (June, 1981).


Man-Bat

Kirk Langstrom created a formula that turned him into a half-man, half-bat creature, called Man-Bat in Detective Comics #400 (June, 1970) by Frank Robbins, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano.  While Batman and Man-Bat faced off in that issue, Robin didn't meet Man-Bat until Power Records 30 in 1976 in the aptly titled "Robin Meets Man-Bat".

Solomon Grundy

Now, Solomon Grundy first appeared in All-American Comics #61 (October, 1944) by Alfred Bester and Paul Reinman fighting the Golden Age Green Lantern as the animated corpse of Cyrus Gold, but, even with multiple encounters with the JLA...never really ran into Aquaman before the Crisis On Infinite Earths.

Though, well after, Aquaman and Solomon Grundy were in JLA: Year One #2 (February, 1998) in a retroactive retelling of the JLA's first year (which, itself, was a story of how five heroes became...super friends!).

How's that for a tricky treat?



Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The End Of The House Of Mystery



Mike Kaluta gives us the image no one wanted to see....

....a true horror....

....the end of an era, with Cain leaving the House of Mystery, from House of Mystery #321 (October, 1983).

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Bernie Wrightson Halloween

Remembering the late Bernie Wrightson (October 27, 1948 to March 18, 2017), an incredible artist taken from us too soon.

This classic cover of House of Mystery #256 (January-February, 1978) features the host of the house, Cain, about to play some Halloween tricks on a group of holiday mirth makers.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Watching The Monitor: Swamp Thing, Blue Devil, Amethyst, and Warlord

Taking a supernatural turn, the Monitor and Lyla continue their investigation of all things in the DC Universe, this time exploring the magic contained within the multiverse.....

....with a look far and wide, going from the Hollywood hijinks of the Blue Devil, to the swamps of Louisiana, to the far off realm of Gemworld, and even deep into the Earth and the hidden land of Skartaris.

Viva Nebiros

First up is Blue Devil #5 (October, 1984) by Gary Cohn, Dan Mishkin, Paris Cullins and Gary Martin.  Dan Cassidy, the stuntman who was bonded into his mechanical suit by magic, becoming the hero known as Blue Devil, was facing the forces of the demon, Nebiros, with help from the JLA's Zatanna, all as the Monitor and Lyla watched their progress.

This story was reprinted in digest form in the Best of DC #61 (June, 1985).

A Halo Of Flies

Next up, is Saga Of The Swamp Thing #30 (November, 1984) by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and Alfredo Alcala, where Swamp Thing had ended a confrontation with old Atom foe, the Floronic Man/Jason Woodrue, as Jason was beginning to tap into the Green, the source of power for protector of the Bayou (with Monitor and the future Harbinger observing as even the Joker found these proceedings not worth a laugh).  The Monitor begins to show the depth of what he watches here....and the evil that was growing in Louisiana was getting worse, with Swamp Thing and Abby Arcane in the middle of it, with Matt Cable, or was he?

The Brimstone Ballet

Continuing with Swamp Thing, from Saga Of The Swamp Thing #31 (December, 1984) by Alan Moore, Rick Veitch and John Totleben, wherein the Monitor and Lyla watch the returned Anton Arcane (mystic foe of Swamp Thing and uncle of Abby Arcane, Swamp Thing's love), and all the horror that is unleashed at this time.

Both Swamp Thing stories has seen many reprints, most recently in both hardcover and softcover, in volume 2 of the Saga Of the Swamp Thing collections.

Sleepwalkers

Taking a slightly different look, Monitor and Lyla peer into the doings of Amethyst, young Amy Winston who was really a princess of the other world known as Gemworld in Amethyst #2 (February, 1985) by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn, Ric Estrada and Romeo Tanghal, under a cover by Paris Cullins and Ernie Colon.


This story has only been reprinted in black and white in the Showcase Presents: Amethyst, Princess Of Gemworld.

Demons Of Days Past

This time around, Monitor and Lyla looking into the lost world of Skartaris, in Warlord #90 (February, 1985) by Cary Burkett and Rich Buckler, with a cover by Rich Buckler and Dan Adkins.  They observe Travis Morgan, a USAF pilot who landed in this land in the center of the Earth, and a little of his battles with the primitive and sometimes supernatural forces that live there along with the woman he loves, native Tara.

This story establishes the Warlord as a part of the DC Universe, which Warlord creator Mike Grell would detest, even though later, Mike Grell did team Travis Morgan with Green Arrow in two issues of Green Arrow, after the Crisis On Infinite Earths.

Reminiscing

Last but not least this time around is Warlord #91 (March, 1985) by Cary Burkett, Dan Jurgens and Dan Adkins, with a cover by Rich Buckler.  The Monitor and Lyla look into the past of the Warlord and his daughter, Jennifer, as he prepares for a desperate battle.


Neither of the two Warlord tales have been reprinted.

Still many lands and times to be explored in the DC Universe, as Monitor and Lyla will continue to serve as our guides for now (as they had already taken a look at Wonder Woman's Paradise Island)....taking us to see the Justice Society of America, as well as Jonah Hex, Superman, Batman and the Outsiders and more, all as these heroes were being prepared for the Crisis On Infinite Earths!