Monday, July 25, 2011

Crisis Part 20 - Magical Mystery Tour Of Death!

1970 brought new things and continued the traditions of the last decade. The annual crossover event between the League and the Society saw another two-part installment. But missing was longtime DC inker Sid Greene, his replacement was reliable Joe Giella who gave Dick Dillin's pencils a smooth gloss. Denny O'Neil offers up his second and final crossover tale.

"Peril of the Paired Planets" by O'Neil, Dillin and Giella, under a cover by Neal Adams, begins dramatically on Earth-1 when Superman plummets from the sky unconscious. The JLofA investigates and they suspect magic when Batman too is struck down. The remaining League members Hawkman, Atom, and Flash call in Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and Black Canary from leave. The story shifts to Earth-2 where in space Red Tornado encounters an alien spacecraft. On board are some blue aliens led by a mysterious blue figure called "Creator Squared" (actually the text uses the superscript number). Wishing to mine the energy of the twin Earths when they are pushed into one another across the dimensions and explode, Creator Squared puts a device in Tornado's noggin and situates him in the Borderland between Earths as a beacon of sorts to increase the inevitable pull. He then sends five of his henchman to capture the JSofA members with high-tech nets. Superman is the first captured and we learn that it is this capture which brought down the Superman of Earth-1 in the beginning of the story because of the affinity between the two heroes and the closing situation of the Earths. Next Dr.Mid-Nite is captured and his counterpart on Earth-1 is Batman. Flash is next and he escapes the aliens for a while, but eventually he is captured and so is Barry Allen. As the Earths get closer and closer many people across both globes detect ghostly images of what seem to be themselves. The JSofA assemble to face the threat, and on Earth-1 Green Lantern attempts to get to Earth-2 but finds the way blocked. The Atom's diagnosis suggests some link between the Earths is drawing them together, and the team not knowing about Red Tornado suspect it just might be Black Canary who migrated from Earth-2. She declares to save both Earths she must die.

Under a very strong Dick Dillin and Murphy Anderson cover, the O'Neil, Dillin, and Giella team offer up part two of the saga titled "Where Valor Fails...Will Magic Triumph?". The story opens with the assembled Justice Society facing the threat when more of the super nets from the aliens appear and attack the members. Starman is captured, as is Wonder Woman, and Hourman is defeated also. On Earth-1 Green Arrow consoles Black Canary who imagines she must die to save the planets while Green Lantern tries again to get access to Earth-2 and finds a hole. He discovers Red Tornado but is then cut-off from a return. Hawkman is on Earth-1 helping people who are threatened by ghostly dopplegangers of themselves when he too is struck down at the same time as his counterpart on Earth-2 is captured by a net. The Society continue to fight and Green Lantern of Earth-2 is caught when the net becomes wood, his weakness. This also freezes the Lantern in the Borderland. As time ticks away, Canary has just twenty minutes she thinks before she must commit suicide. Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt and Dr.Fate gather up the Spectre from his graveyard lair and head to the Borderland where Spectre uses his body to form a barrier between the Earths. Thunderbolt and Fate attack Creator Squared's spaceship directly ultimately destroying it and ending the threat and freeing Red Tornado from his influence. But Spectre is caught in the wake of the twin Earths speeding away from each other and is seemingly "killed". The scene shifts to Earth-1 where Green Lantern returns and tells the League what has been happening since he was filled in magically by Dr.Fate. They all feel remorse for the sacrifice of Spectre but suspect he will return somehow.

This crossover feels somehow more muddled than have others in the series. O'Neil seems more adept at communicating emotion than cold plot details and consequently, I think the story has some decent pathos, but lacks the forward impetus that other entries have had. I will say that his attempt to move back and forth from the Earths is a brave device but doesn't always succeed as it might. Also the sacrifice of the Spectre (the second Earth-2 "death" in as many crossovers) is underwhelming simply because of his very nature. The threat of Creator Squared never really seems potent enough to cause the problems he does. That said, this is a brisk and reasonably entertaining story with a lot of members from both teams getting some exposure.

One oddity is the correlation between Dr.Mid-Nite and Batman. This correspondence has been suggested before in other crossovers, but since we know for a fact that Batman of Earth-2 is around, it seems very peculiar that this relationship between these disparate heroes would exist. This points up a real oddity though in these crossovers, and that is since DC has been all too ready to reveal both a Superman and Wonder Woman on Earth-2 why exactly does it seem that Batman will not get that nod. In Wonder Woman's case, it's a clever way to get the classic Wonder Woman some action while the Emma Peel phase works itself out over in her own title. But the two Supermen seem straightforwardly confusing, if its visual clarity between the heroes that DC desires.

Anyway, this crossover I'd have to label as the weakest installment yet in the annual event, but that doesn't mean it's not still great fun to read.

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  1. 83's a great cover, but the figures didn't "feel" like Anderson's work.
    It looks a lot like Nick Cardy penciling, especially the Superman and Batman figures!
    The inking is clearly Anderson.
    Oddly, the GCD lists Dick Dillin as the cover penciler, but it really doesn't look like his layouts!

  2. The Crisis on Multiple Earths Volume 2 listed only Anderson as the cover artist. GCD often has information from Julius Schwartz's notes, so that might be the real deal there. I'll have to check it out.

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