My summer look at the classic Justice League of America and Justice Society of America crossovers concludes with what turns out to be the final work of one of the great comic book artists ever.
Dick Dillin suddenly passed away at the age of fifty years old while working on this very trilogy. I well remember reading the blurb announcing his passing while waiting in the grocery store to buy the second part of the story.
Ironically it was a death that struck me quite hard, in that one of the most reliable things in my world at the time was that Dick Dillin was going to draw the latest JLofA adventures. His loss touched then and still has an effect now that I'm older than he was when he passed away. It's a reminder that our time is always limited, though we go to great pains to forget that most of the time.
This crossover returned to the classic pattern and had the heroes meet up with a new bunch of characters. This time the mined the vast trove of material left behind by Jack "King" Kirby when he unleashed his Fourth World on the world. His rich and evocative worlds of the New Gods changed the way comic book stories were told, and his creation of Darkseid gave the DC universe a villain worthy to take on the whole of their heroic academy. Orion, Metron, and Highfather of the New Gods and Scott Free, Big Barda, and Oberon of Mister Miracle are tapped to appear in this trilogy. Not in evidence are the Forever People, nor does Lightray make an appearance.
"Crisis On New Genesis or Where Have the New Gods Gone?" is written by Gerry Conway and drawn one more time by the great Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin. The cover is by Jim Starlin. The story begins briskly as the JSofA and JLofA decide to recognize their annual event by sending representatives to both Earths One and Two. Batman, Superman, Green Lantern and new Leaguer Firestorm head to Earth-2 and Dr.Fate, Huntress, Power Girl, and Wonder Woman head to Earth-1. But neither group gets where they are headed, instead both teams find themselves on New Genesis also called Supertown home of the New Gods. While Superman explains what the place is and how he visited it once, Firestorm brashly heads off to explore and encounters Orion in a foul mood in his more savage state. The combined heroes hear Firestorm's call for help and fly to his aid and attack Orion but the battle is stalled when Metron appears with Mister Miracle, Big Barda, and Oberon ast his side. After Orion uses his Mother Box to regain his calm facade, Metron explains that he brought them there to help the New Gods look for the missing population of New Genesis, and apparently the Injustice Society is involved. The scene shifts to Apokolips home of the deceased Darkseid. Once there Metron divides the heroes into four teams. Batman, Huntress and Mister Miracle head to the Imperial Palace as scouts. Power Girl, Firestorm, and Orion go to investigate a huge building project. Superman, Wonder Woman, and Big Barda go to the orphanage of Granny Goodness. And Green Lantern, Dr.Fate, and Oberon check out a a trooper barracks with an unusually heavy force. As Batman's team skulk through Apokalips backstreets, Miracle explains how Darkseid seemingly was destroyed some time before by his own forces. Oberon is caught by guards only to reveal that Lantern and Fate are disguised as guards and rescue him and infiltrate the barracks. In the lair of Granny Goodness Superman and Wonder Woman follow Barda as they rescue children being abused by Granny's servants and Orion, Power Girl and Firestorm find the missing citizens of New Genesis under the spell of the Fiddler building a vast machine which is revitalizing Darkseid himself.
"Apokalips Now!" is again written by Gerry Conway, but with the sudden death of stalwart artist Dick Dillin, the pencil chores are taken over by George Perez with Frank McLaughlin still on inks, and this team also handle the cover art. The action begins with Power Girl, Firestorm, and Orion attempting to stop the Injustice Society (Fiddler, Shade, and Icicle) from using slaves from New Genesis to revive Darkseid. The defeat Shade and Icicle but Fiddler is able to subdue the heroes and continue to rouse the tyrant. Superman, Wonder Woman and Big Barda follow the girl they rescued from Granny Goodness to a deep hideout where children have gathered to oppose Granny's work. They are led by a girl with fiery red hair named Crimson. Another child named Playto, gifted with vast mental powers reveals how Darkseid had allied himself with the Injustice Society and arranged for them to bring him back to life. Led by Crimson, the trio of heroes go to find and defeat Granny Goodness. Dr.Fate, Green Lantern, and Oberon find Izaya, Highfather of the New Gods in the barracks and free him. Batman, Huntress, and Mister Miracle breach the Imperial Palace and learn that Darkseid's ultimate plan not only calls for his resurrection but the removal of Apokolips itself to the very orbit of Earth-2 meaning the latter's utter destruction.
"Crisis On Apokolips or Darkseid Rising" is by the same creative team of Conway, Perez, and McLauglin. Jim Starlin and Bob Smith handle the cover chores. Metron muses about the action so far and then the scene shifts to a revived Darkseid who coniders the huge block of ice imprisoning his son Orion, Power Girl, and Firestorm, then the tyrant imprisons his former associates the Injustice Society ostensibly for defeating his own flesh and blood. Batman, Huntress, and Mister Miracle see this action and move to free their comrades. Meanwhile Izaya, freed by Dr.Fate, Green Lantern, and Oberon presses the attack to escape the bowels of Armageddo. Superman, Wonder Woman, and Big Barda follow Crimson and the child army to overthrow Granny Goodness. She thinks she has escaped her foes but Barda finds her. Batman's team has since free the captives of Darkseid and Orion rages to press the battle against Darksied. The scouting team continues into the prison and frees the Injustice Society. The battles rage then on all fronts with Orion challenging his evil father but it is Firestorm who uses his own powers to turn Darkseid's Omega Force against himself, defeating the tyrant. Then ray intended to destroy Earth-2 fires but has been sabotaged by Metron and instead strikes Darkseid reducing him again to atoms. The heroes then reflect on the battles and what it will take to rebuild.
This is a pretty good and tightly constructed story. The action gets going right away, and Metron is very effective in getting the teams set up. Once they are established their missions work beautifully to keep the plot moving very well with time still available for bits of character. The elements of the story flow exceedingly well together right up unto the last few pages of part three where things get too cramped. The story seemed to have needed just a few more pages to claify some of the action, but short of that it's pretty dang good.
Perez is to be commended to coming in and knocking out the second chapter in such record time after the untimely passing of Dillin. Perez is still a pretty fast artist by modern comparisons, but back in the Bronze Age he was incredibly fast. He was the ideal choice to take over the title and he stayed with it for quite some years, though no one has ever come close to challenging Dillin's dozen years on the title.
I dedicate these reviews to the memory of the great Dick Dillin.
I hope at some level you've enjoyed them. It's a great deal of fun to tear into these comics and read them so closely after all these years, though I never anticipated thirty posts on them. I learn a lot from this process, and hopefully it's not been too tedious.
Until next time.