Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Crisis Part 21 -- A Space Boy And His Dog!

Mike Friedrich is writing the Justice League in 1971 and his single offering in the crossover series is a most peculiar one indeed.

"Earth--The Monster Maker!" was written by Friedrich and drawn by the regular team of Dick Dillin and Joe Giella. The cover is by Neal Adams. The story begins with the scene on the cover, Batman appearing with the form of a seemingly dead Flash. The scene shifts to some outer space kids named S-Kyr and E-Nes who are joy-riding in some sort of space ship when S-Kyr's little brother A-Rym and his symbiote "Dog" named Teppy get sucked into separate dimensions, A-Rym to Earth-2 and Teppy to Earth-1. But the two of them need to be together to live and they have just under thirty-eight hours. On Earth-2 Green Lantern encounters A-Rym and gets beaten up and his power ring is stolen. The JSofA (Superman, Flash, Atom, Hawkman, Lantern and Robin) investigate. On Earth-1 Flash is put in a recovery tube and Superman, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and Atom investigate his attack near Hudson University where they find Robin who joins them. Soon the two teams communicate and switch some personnel. On Earth-1 A-Rym is confronted by the two Hawkmen, two Robins and Green Lantern. Robin of Earth-1 confronts A-Rym and is injured and he and he is whisked off to recover with his Earth-2 counterpart to care for him. A-Rym promptly defeats the remaining heroes and leaves. On Earth-2 the two Superman, the two Atoms, and Flash confront Teppy who knocks out the Superman, but they recovers and the speedster team isolate him in a giant hole. Flash and Superman of Earth-2 head back to their home Earth where A-Rym has been discovered in Slaughter Swamp by its most infamous resident Solomon Grundy. The Hawks, Green Lantern, Flash and Superman face off against Grundy who is protecting his new friend and the story ends with Grundy threatening to kill everyone.

"Solomon Grundy The One and Only" is again written by Friedrich with more sleek artwork by the Dillin and Giella team. Adams is again on the cover art. The battle with Grundy picks up with the heroes finally leaving the scene with their wounded. Meanwhile the two Robins are conferring, sharing tales of being patronized by their comrades. The Earth-1 Robin dons a new uniform designed by some Earth-2 artist named "Neal Adams" and the two head off to rejoin the fight. On the JLofA satellite Iris West shows up to relieve Black Canary who has been caring for the injured Flash. On Earth-2 the injured Flash and Superman are resting while the Green Lanterns plot a counterattack. GL of Earth-1 shares his ring power with the GL of Earth-2 and they along with the Hawkmen head back to battle A-Rym again. The Robins show up and rescue Green Lantern's ring. Robin battles a weakened A-Rym then shows him some compassion which the lost space boy responds to. The Lanterns meanwhile battle Solomon Grundy and combining their wills imprison him effectively. The assembled heroes then glean the true nature of A-Rym and Teppy and rush to get them together before the both die. The happy pair reunite and their improved lifeforce provides a beacon for their comrades to come and rescue them. The space boy and his dog head home safe and sound at last. The heroes then assess the outcome and the Hawkmen apologize to the Robins for patronizing them and the story ends with the Robin of Earth-1 wondering if he'll keep the new look.

I bought the first part of this adventure off the stands when I was young, but it would be many years before I was able to find the second half. The story is a wacky one, showing off Friedrich's tendency to offer up heavy-handed themes. This crossover too really seems to emphasize having the dopplegangers team up. The Hawkmen stay together throughout the story and while the Atom says it's "scientificaly" prudent the two Earths switch players when obviously it's just arbitrary. The heroes switch back and forth between Earths pretty willy-nilly and that makes for tough sledding when trying to keep track of the players.

I love Dick Dillin's designs for the aliens though. Dillin's aliens are often not that colorful, just guys with horns and spouts on their heads most of the time, but A-Rym and Teppy are drawn almost in a bigfoot style and that adds a real dissonance to the danger they are in. The use of the Robins is strange too, as the idea of a split between the generations is explored. The Hawkmen take the roles of insenstive grumps in contrast to the Robins who are just youngsters trying to be understood. The trouble is that Robin of Earth-2 seems too old for that.

I do like the Neal Adams costume for Robin. This outfit though will not get much traction until many years later when Robin of Earth-2 adopts a version of it when he joins the Super Squad variation of the JSofA.

The next crossover will be the tenth and it's a classic. Be here.

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