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End of Summer
 

Let's Go Back to Earth

A lament and article by Jack Morman

I miss Earth-2. I miss Earth-X. I even miss Earth-S, and of course our own Earth-Prime plus all of the other earths out there that were created to fix inconvenient continuity. Everyone had their own space (or dimension) and could go about their business without interfering with anyone else's storyline. But those days are over. Thanks to the Crisis, we are one big happy universe full of comicly correct continuity. (Although we still have no idea what's going on with Hawkman.)

But I'm not here to bury the past Earths; I am here to praise them. I love the old JLA/JSA crossovers. I cut my comic eyeteeth on those wonderful comics and as I go back and re-read them, I realize that they are just as wonderful today as they were when I was a kid.

For me as a child, I guess that economy was one of the main reasons that I picked up the Justice League comics. Instead of reading about one or two characters and their adventures, I was given a line-up of the greatest heroes in the world. Add the greatest heroes from another world, and you've got yourself a bargain!

To my knowledge, there have been about 24 or 25 JLA/JSA team-ups. (Those taking place in the pages of the Justice League book.) The alternate earth theory began back when the two Flashes teamed up in "Flash of Two Worlds" in 1963. This idea stuck and blossomed into the pages of the Justice League. The Silver age welcomed the Golden back into the limelight.

The team-up became a yearly project, but very often the early stories were just an excuse to get the two together and were not real strong. A couple of exceptions do come to mind though. The second crossover in JLA 29 and 30 introduced Earth-3. Here resided the Crime Syndicate in a world with no heroes. The villains of Earth-3 were copies of the icons of the DC universe. They included Power Ring, Ultraman, Super-Woman, Johnny Quick, and Owlman. They gave the assembled heroes a run for their money, but were placed into limbo in the end.

As the sixties gave way to the seventies, the team-ups got better and better. Other worlds were brought in including Earth-X and the Freedom Fighters, Earth-Prime and the evil Cary Bates, and even Earth-S and the Shazam family. (I have often wondered how the people of these alternate earths feel about being labeled when they feel they are the true earth.)

These earlier team-ups were good, but the best came in the early 80's. A lot of that quality had something to do with a young artist by the name of George Perez. His covers for JLA 183-185 leapt from the page. I saw them and had to have them instantly. They were well worth the price of admission. This 1980 series pitted the JLA and JSA against a few of the Earth-2 Injustice Society, (Fiddler, Icicle, and the Shade) plus the villain of villains, Darkseid. Of course, if Darkseid raises up, the New Gods have to come into play and play they did. My favorite scene in this series had Mr. Miracle and Batman attempting to free the imprisoned Fiddler, Shade and Icicle. The two look at each other and agree that if anyone can break into the impregnable prison, then the two of them can. That show of mutual respect from two characters really made this more than just a comic book for me. It became almost cinematic.

I didn't think that the annual meeting could get any better until the next year. In 1981, The heroes of both worlds were almost blanked out of existence by the Ultra-Humanite and an assortment of villains from both worlds. These comics, 195-197, were simply excellent. It featured one-on-one contests between heroes and their arch-foes with the foes coming out on top initially. The true highlight of this comic was that all of the arch foes were not necessarily top-drawer characters. Who would have thought the Signalman could have defeated Batman. The Ragdoll beats the Golden age Flash. The Monocle beats Hawkman and the Ultra-Humanite finally gets the original Superman. Even Jason Woodroe finally defeats his pesky enemy the Atom, plus Brainwave (the original) beats Johnny Thunder and his Thunderbolt. The good guys come through in the end, but it was a great run.

The other classic that I want to mention brought the two teams together with the All-Star Squadron. Per Degaton again almost takes over the world through his manipulation of time. Degaton also freed the Crime Syndicate from limbo to aid in his scheme. It was great to see them back in action. This was one of the longer team-ups since it stretched across from the JLA book to All-Star Squadron 14 and 15. I re-read this one recently and it was a real treat.

The two teams only got back together three more times before the Crisis on Infinite Earths put a stop to all that. The last three were underwhelming at best, with the George Perez covers for 219 and 220 the only real highlight. There was one other small highlight. The crossover in 231 and 232 was written by a relative unknown by the name of Kurt Busiek.

I still miss the multiple worlds. I know intellectually that everything is better now that the continuity is restored, but I wish that these heroes could get together more often. Perhaps with the advent of the new JSA comic, we can see a rebirth of this tradition in comics.

Jack Morman is an Assistant Principal with a wife and three beautiful children living together in West Georgia. He stresses the importance of superheroics to his students through comics strategically placed through the school and a large Superman stand-up in his office. His own incredible powers continue to be a burden he is willing to bear.

 
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