Crisis on Multiple Earths, Volume 1
Writer: Gardner Fox
Artist: Mike Sekowsky
By Avi Green
One of the most exciting and creative times in comics was when DC
established in the Silver Age that there were two different,
paralell earths upon which dwelled the superheroes of the Golden and
Silver Ages, those being Earth-1 and Earth-2. And in this column,
I’m going to write all about DC’s three (so far) collections of
their classic crossovers between all these alternate worlds in the
DCU, which took place at least once a year, usually in the late
summertime, and were begun by the late, great Gardner Fox.
It was in The Flash #123 Vol. 1 from 1961 that the discovery
of two worlds was first made, when Barry Allen vanished off a
theater stage and accidentally entered Earth-2, where he discovered
that the Flash he read about in Showcase #4, Jay Garrick,
really did exist. But it was two years late that things really began
to take off, as the Justice Society made its triumphant return to
the spotlight in Justice League of America #21-22, when the
three villains of both earths – the Fiddler, Chronos, Icicle, Felix
Faust, Dr. Alchemy and the Wizard, teamed up to become the Champions
of Crime, and plotted to trap their nemeses on Earth-1 for starters,
beginning with the Flashes of both worlds, since they were the ones
who knew both trios of supercrooks on both earths. And this is what
led to both the Justice League and Justice Society at the time first
meeting each other, for what would be one of the most spectacular
adventures in the history of comics. Both teams crossed over into
the others to battle their archfoes, with some of the best suspense
in storytelling provided. This was also one of the earliest times
when a two-part story was written; until then, most comics stories
had only taken up one issue at a time. (Although quite often, there
were two stories within one issue in many series!)
One of the best things about this first part, which would be “Crisis
on Earth-1!” and “Crisis on Earth-2!” is that, just
when it seemed as if the heroes were able to best their foes, a
clever backup plan of the villains was put to use, causing a setback
for the heroes, and with that, more strategic thinking on the part
of the heroes was needed in order to emerge from the previous
predicament in order to get after their adversaries again. It all
moves along at a very brisk, exciting pace, providing enjoyable
action and suspense with every page.
The next story is one in which the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 made
its first appearance, with the evil counterparts of many of the
superheroes of the times being Ultraman, Superwoman, Johnny Quick,
Power Ring, and Owlman. And with the latter, Batman’s own evil
counterpart, in the picture, whose crimes are so brilliantly
planned, things won’t go over as smoothly as the heroes might think.
He recommends a special magical countereffect that’ll end up leading
to the defeat of both the JLA and the JSA, when the latter comes in
to deal with the Crime Syndicate in their turn. And to make matters
even more difficult, Ultraman for one is not vulnerable to
Kryptonite the way Superman is, and Power Ring’s you-know-what is
not vulnerable to wood or yellow colors like Alan Scott and Hal
Jordan’s is. Plus, Owlman, in contrast to Batman, has a superpower!
This too is a very cool adventure, providing some more suspense and
surprises for everyone’s pleasure.
The third story is where Johnny Thunder meets up with an Earth-1
counterpart of his own who socks him unconscious and then takes
command of his genie sidekick, Thunderbolt. This part is mainly a
spotlight for the Justice Society, as they try to stop the evil
Johnny of Earth-1 from committing crimes with Thunderbolt in tow,
and gives them a chance to shine. It’s also got one of the funniest
fight scenes involving the evil Johnny’s gang, whom he’s instructed
T-bolt to transform into the roles of Superman, Flash, Atom, and
Martian Manhunter. Simply thrilling.
The fourth and last part here has the Justice League and Society
dealing with a mysterious force that’s causing both the superheroes
and various other people on both worlds to get transported from one
plane to the other. And to make matters worse, Solomon Grundy is set
free from a special prison where the Green Lanterns put him, ending
up on Earth-1, while the pre-Crisis Blockbuster is broken out of his
own jail, and goes on a rampage on Earth-2. But the really big
climax here is when the heroes must all face off with a gigantic
alien being referred to here as Anti-Matter Man, who’s threatening
to destroy both earths with his anti-matter form, and the Spectre
has to charge in first in order to try and stop him.
One of the coolest things here was the appearance of the original
Sandman, who’s got his own Sandmobile, and whose gas and sand guns
have all sorts of neat gadgets included. And it was great to see
even Wildcat in action here, as Ted Grant shows what a wonderful
tough guy he can be. And it was such a joy seeing the Black Canary
in the adventure too.
Gardner Fox’s writing here is some of the best that he did during
his tenure as a writer for DC during the Silver Age, and features
plenty of excitement with every page. And the artwork by Mike
Sekowsky was some of the best of the times. The sci-fi gimmicks here
are some of the most appealing and engaging I’ve read.
So if you’re looking for some really fun team-up adventures from the
Silver Age with wonderful characters as the stars, this is where
you’ll find them.
Copyright 2006 Avi Green. All rights reserved.