Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Crisis Part 29 - The Death Of Fair Play!

The 1979 Justice League of America and Justice Society of America crossover was very different in tone and character than any that had preceded it, save perhaps for the the single story about Sandman and Sandy some years before. It was a small story, without any heroes from any other sources coming into play. This story was in many ways a locked-room murder mystery, save that the room was the Justice League satellite.

"The Murderer Among Us: Crisis Above Earth-One!" is written by Gerry Conway and drawn by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin. The cover is by Dillin and inked by Dick Giordano. The story begins with the two teams, the JLofA and JSofA having their semi-official annual meeting on the League satellite to compare notes and threats and whatnot. The new chairperson of the JLofA Zatanna presides over the meeting. After the official matters are settled, the two teams go to the satellite rec room to eat, drink and be merry. Terry Sloane, the hero called Mr.Terrifc the Master of Fair Play tells the two Flashes about his encounter with an old enemy named The Spirit King and says he's been able to track his old enemy. Jay (Flash)Garrick wishes Terry had come to him since he'd also battle the Spirit King, but Sloane a man who had just come out of retirement again is miffed and storms off and says that soon one of the assembled guests will be branded a traitor. Soon after a terrific explosion occurs and the satellite decompresses. The heroes race to mend the problem but Superman finds the savaged and slain body of Mr.Terrific. Zatanna inspects the wreckage mystically for clues. She is struck down and goes into a coma and the two Flashes then search the satellite for intruders but find none. The truth then is evident, that the murderer must be among them.

"I Accuse..." is again by the Conway, Dillin and McLauglin team. Dick Giordano handles the cover art alone this time. After a reprise of last issue's events, the heroes have Dr.Fate and the Green Lanterns work together to seal the heroes within the satellite. Then Batman and the Huntress are assigned as dual detectives to discover which of the assembled heroes murdered Mr.Terrific. There investigation ruffles some feathers, but when Huntress attempts to use the satellite computer to follow up some leads from Earth-2 it explodes and she is seriously burned, but Dr.Fate is largely able to heal those wounds. Then Batman reveals that he knows who the murderer is and indicates it had to be the one hero assembled who had also battled the Spirit King, the Flash of Earth-2. The Spirit King appears ecotplasmically out of the form of Jay Garrick and confesses that indeed he had used the Flash to infiltrate the meeting, but that he'd become corporeal long enough to strangle Mr.Terrific and he'd hoped the heroes would then blame Jay Garrick for the crime. The possessed Flash then races to the transmatter machine the League satellite uses and escapes. The JSofA follows him taking the body of Mr.Terrific back home where the case will be resolved finally. The League then discovers that they are still trapped on the satellite behind the mystical shield, which gets a laugh even at such a critical time.

This was intended to be a crossover of a different kind, a smaller scaled character piece, and I'd have to say it was reasonably successful. The interactions of the heroes are pretty good and while the ultimate mystery was a little less complex than I'd have preferred, it holds up well enough. The artwork is a bit darker this time, giving the story an appropriate mood. I think Dillin's cover for the first half of the story is the best he ever did for the series. Alas they never had him do too many of them. Having the whole story set on the satellite was exceedingly cool indeed, though that the heroes forget to block the transmatter machine is a bonehead move of epic proportion.

Adventure Comics offers an after-the-fact look at Mr.Terrific's funeral with no info on how things were resolved alas. All in all this was a good change-up in the format, but I'm glad all of the crossovers weren't like this.

We wrap up this whole crossover shebang next time. And tragedy strikes. Be here.

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