Having run through all the defunct heroes that the company had acquired over the decades, DC decided to plunder their own past and assemble some offbeat heroes from various genres to spice up the 1978 crossover event. Gerry Conway is the writer of the League adventures, a role he'd continue to hold for the remainder of the run.
"Crisis From Yesterday!" written by Gerry Conway and drawn by the always ready team of Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin under a Rich Buckler cover, begins quietly in 1978 as the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America have a dinner on Earth-1 at Club 22. The heroes commemorate their annual team-ups with hopefully a quiet celebration. But the festive nature is shattered by an explosion.
Then the story shifts to a limbo dimension bordering on the future time of 3786 A.D. where the Lord of Time, a League opponent reveals that his great computer in an effort to comply with its programming to fulfill the Lord's ambitions has engineered a means to dam the flow of time. The Lord realizes this is doom for all, but cannot stop his own creation. He hopes to goad the Justice League to save the day.
As Club 22 shatters, the heroes see shadowy figures and forms before they become unconscious.
Chapter 2 "Puppets from the Past" the attackers are revealed as heroes from across the centures. The Viking Prince, Jonah Hex, Enemy Ace, Miss Liberty, and The Black Pirate. These five individuals find themselves mysteriously assembled and able to communicate and further charged with vast energy enabling them to do fantastic things. Confused, Miss Liberty advises them to follow her to a place she knows where they can gather themselves. Meanwhile Superman breaks out the rubble of Club 22 and saves The Huntress, Flash, Star-Spangled Kid, Wonder Woman of Earth-2, Dr. Mid-Nite, and Elongated Man. Later Hawkman is found grieving over the comatose form of Hawkgirl. All of the other heroes in the combined JLofA and JSofA likewise are in comas. After taking their comrades to the hospital, Superman is able to trace a chronal energy signature which leads the survivors to Valley Forge.
Chapter 3 "When the Heroes Fall..." begins with a furious battle between the League and Society members and the Heroes from the Past, and the time-travelers are able to defeat the combined might of the League and Society.
In the epilogue, the Heroes of Yesterday are drawn into the Lord of Time's lair. He hopes that the defeat the combined heroes of the 20th century endured will make even more prepared to ultimately defeat his own computer. As the story ends the heroes recover and consider their attack.
"Crisis From Tomorrow!" is again by the Conway, Dillin and McLaughlin team. The cover is by Dillin and McLaughlin.
Chapter 1 "From Out of the Ashes" follows the combined heroes Superman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Elongated Man, Dr.Mid-Nite, Hawkman, Star-Spangled Kid, and Huntress as they use an expanded Cosmic Treadmill to travel forward in time. Meanwhile at the fortress of the Lord of Time the five Heroes of Yesterday (Enemy Ace, Jonah Hex, Miss Liberty, Black Pirate, and Viking Prince) rally against the Lord of Time's computer who counters with a Tyrannosaurus Rex from the past and Lizard mutants from the future. The five brave heroes are stopped and sealed away.
Chapter 2 "The Reefs of Time" begins with Aquaman returning from monitor duty to find most of his colleagues from the Society and the League in hospital beds comatose. He gets advanced equipment from the League's satellite and the doctors continue to try and save them. Meanwhile the heroes heading into the future come upon what they call reefs in time made of white dwarf star material. They are able to penetrate the barrier when Superman is charged by Star-Spangled Kid's cosmic converter and then thrown headlong into the reef by Wonder Woman. But Superman now has become comatose too. The heroes move on.
Chapter 3 "Encounter at the End of Time" follows the relentless heroes as one after another they fall. First Hawkman, then Wonder Woman, until they reach the Lord of Time's castle. Inside the Flash finds the Heroes from Yesterday in coffins, but then is attacked and rendered comatose himself by pterodactyls. Then the remaining quartet continue and find a multi-armed robot from the future who defeats all save Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man. It is left to Ralph, a hero who has been doubting his place among all these great heroes to save the day and destroy the computer by slithering by its defenses.
The scene shifts forward as the heroes are all revived and assembled and commenting on the aftermath. The Heroes of Yesterday have been returned to their times and the Lord of Time has been imprisoned. The story ends as Elongated Man regales his wife with is heroic exploits.
Conway does a smart thing by disabling most of the members of both the JLofA and JSofA right at the beginning of the story. That allows him a workable number of heroes to manipulate. The story benefits as some real characterization worms its way into this epic and we discover the center of our story is Ralph Dibny. The theme of never surrendering is well displayed and adds a neat focus to this story.
It was fun to see these heroes from the past, but their powers are pretty amorphous, and sadly they have a relatively small role in the second part. Paradoxes being what they are, it's best I guess that the historical heroes are isolated.
This was an entertaining effort.
Here's a gallery of covers featuring the debuts of the Heroes of Yesterday.