Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Crisis Part 6 - Without A Justice League!

The fourth crossover between the Justice League and the Justice Society had a very different character than those that had preceded it. In this one the League is all but disappeared from their own comic book and the JSofA steps in to take over for them.

"Earth-Without a Justice League!" was again written by Gardner Fox and illustrated by Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs. Murphy Anderson as usual handled the inks on the cover. It begins with Johnny Thunder of Earth-2, the Society's resident doofus wondering about his counterpart on Earth-1 and since for him with his magic servant the Bahdnisian Thunderbolt, all he has to do is say it and it happens. But when he confronts his doppleganger he discovers that Earth-1's Johnny is gangster who takes control of the Thunderbolt almost immediately and knocks Johnny out. Planning a crime spree, he has the T-Bolt go back in time and effectively undo the origins of the members of the JLofA, and the result is a world minus a League as Part 1 ends.

In Part 2 the Justice Society of America discovers this skullduggery and heads to Earth-1 to help out. The team is made up of Dr.Fate, Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern, Atom and Mr.Terrific. They find bad Johnny and his T-Bolt who has to fight against the Society against his will. But he does the minimum and the JSofA survives and go to find out what happened to the JLofA. They then decide to fill in for the missing heroes and assume their identities.

Part 3 begins as the Society assumes the appearance of the League members and set out to confront the T-Bolt and his criminal controller. He is ordered to break himself into six parts to battle the imitation Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Atom, Flash, and Martian Manhunter and being weaker is ineffective. Johnny then orders T-Bolt to once again go back in time and have gangsters aquire the powers of the League members. He does and as the story ends, this criminal League is set to take on the JSofA who have resumed their original identities.

In "Crisis on Earth-A" (again by the Fox, Sekwosky, Sachs team) we find Earth-A, dubbed so by evil Johnny because it is an Alternate Earth, the scene of a ferocious battle between the "The Lawless League of America" and the Justice Society. The battle is intense but the JSofA comes out on top, beating the thug League.

In Part 2 of this tale Johnny then has Thunderbolt hit the JSofA with a hurricane, then an earthquake in an increasingly desperate effort to defeat the heroes. The Society overcomes both threats so Johnny has the T-Bolt transport him to the Moon where he imports an atmosphere. The JSofA using the combined magic of Dr.Fate and Green Lantern head to the Moon to confront the nefarious Johnny who has had Thunderbolt create three ultimate super-villains. The trio named Medusa-Man, Absorbo-Man, and Repello-Man confront the Society and quickly Medusa-Man turns Mr.Terrific and Atom into wood, Repello-Man causes both Hawkman and Flash to defeat themselves, while Green Lantern is defeated when Absorbo-Man turns his own green power against him. This leaves only Dr.Fate to confront Johnny Thunder and his baddies. Fate has already neutralized Medusa-Man with a mask, then uses the wooden forms of Terrific and Atom to defeat the Lantern-powered Absorbo-Man, and finally turns Repello-Man's powers against him with reverse attacks. Finally defeated evil Johnny wants for it all to be over so he wished that everything go back to the way it was before he met the Thunderbolt. The T-Bolt all too happy to comply resets the Earths and happily both the Society and Justice League are up and running as the story closes. T-Bolt tells the reader that only he and the Bolt know what happened.

This is rousing action romp with evil Johnny Thunder supplying a surprisingly effective threat. But as he becomes more desperate his wits desert him and his weak character cause his downfall. Fox does a dandy job of creating a what if scenario here, imagining what an evil Thunder would be like. And despite having great power, we learn that is not enough for evil to overcome good. That's a pleasant message for the story to end on after all the chaos.

The tactic to nullify the League by canceling their origins is a clever move, though in the case of Batman for some reason T-Bolt doesn't just stop the bullets that kill Bruce Wayne's parents, but frustrates Batman on his first case (which by the way was the same as the Golden Age Batman). And when the thugs assume the JLofA identities, the creation of a fake Superman and Martian Manhunter seems too weird given the innate nature of their powers.

This is a wacky tale for sure, but an enjoyable fest, that wouldn't see a sequel for many, many years.

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