Thursday, January 14, 2021

Crisis Classics #5 - Crisis On Earth-Three!

In 1964 the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America met again and a tradition is birthed. But this time when the super teams of Earth-1 and Earth-2 interact, it's because of a third party found on a third Earth. Earth-3 it seems is different from both the previous Earths we've encountered in that good seems to bad there. The super powered types on Earth-3 are actually villains. This as it turns out, while being bad for the folks of Earth-3 is fantastic for readers here on Earth-Prime. (More on that later.)

 "Crisis On Earth-Three!" by the Fox, Sekowsky and Sachs team again gets started very briskly. We see the Flashes of Earths 1& 2 doing their heroic duties and then we meet a third scarlet speedster. This one goes by name of Johnny Quick and he's robbing a museum. Quickly we meet a guy named Power Ring and a Superwoman, both of whom are committing crimes. It turns out that history is perverted on Earth-3 and one result is The Crime Syndicate of America made up of the three baddies we've already met along with Owl-Man and Ultraman. The Syndicate meets and bemoans that they haven't really got any challenges in their world of crime when Ultraman shows up and says he's found another Earth on which supertypes are heroes. This is the challenge they need immediately they invade Earth-1. The JLofA (made up of Green Lantern, Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman) set out to meet threat cheered on by Snapper Carr. They want to battle their counterparts but find the baddies have switched places. Flash battles Ultraman, Batman takes on Johnny Quick, Superman challenges Power Ring, Green Lantern takes on Owl-Man, and Wonder Woman alone does battle her doppleganger Superwoman. The Leaguers all defeat the Syndicate members but once defeated each Syndicate member utters the world "Volthoom". It turns out Volthoom is the magical source of Power Ring's might and the magical spell has transported the heroes to Earth-3. Anther battle between the teams takes place, this time with the Syndicate coming out on top. Unsatisfied with the results (each team winning on home turf) the Syndicate seeks out a neutral ground to battle the League and chooses Earth-2. Immobilizing the League they set off. But the JSofA has caught a glimpse of this activity thanks to the magic of Dr.Fate and the League is freed long enough to issue a warning, but nothing can stop the upcoming battle for Earth-2. 

"The Most Dangerous Earth of All!" picks up the action with a warned Justice Society (made up of Dr.Fate, Dr.Mid-Nite, Black Canary, Hawkman, and Starman) anticipating the Syndicate's attack and knowing not to allow them to say the word "Volthoom". In this they all succeed when the Syndicate shows up inside their headquarters and five battle break out. The Society is triumphant as Hawkman takes on Johnny Quick, Dr.Fate battles Power Ring, Owl-Man and Dr.Mid-Nite go at it, Superwoman and Black Canary spar, and Starman fights Ultraman. But it seems that claiming a victory verbally was the spell this time and turns the tables on the Society and they all end up transported to Earth-3 defeated ultimately. With the JSofA eliminated the Syndicate then frees the League and the counterparts at last battle, but the Leagues teamwork, a concept alien to the criminal Syndicate proves to be the deciding factor and on neutral territory it is the Justice League that prevails. But the Syndicate has one last scheme to blow up both Earths 1 & 2 but their faces give it away and they are then imprisoned in the borderland between Earths. The JSofA is freed and everyone returns to their own territory.

This crossover is among my very favorites. The story despite considerable complication never loses its momentum. And despite having ten heroes (cut down from the previous year) and five villains (also cut down) the story keeps everyone on track. There is a ton of action throughout both installments of the story with the ultimate victory really resulting from the inherent good qualities of the League and revealing the ultimate flaw in the Syndicate despite their foresight and scheming. The League will work to support one another while the Syndicate never seems to even understand the concept. This story also shows the way forward for the annual crossovers. New Earths are coming, each with its own special flavor. That makes what becomes an annual tradition always something to look forward to, with new discoveries always to make. Also I'd never realized that the Golden Age Hawkman had appeared in the JLofA before his Silver Age counterpart. Hawkman of Earth-1 doesn't join the League until later in the year. And I personally love villains who are reverse images of heroes. Professor Zoom, Red Guardian, Abomination, Crimson Dynamo, Sinestro and others are a lot of fun. Dark side creations offer up neat spins on the heroic character. Star Trek has done a great job over the decades with this concept, and it's shown with great zest in this story by Fox and Sekowsky. DC couldn't resist the idea, and despite their moronic rejection of multiple Earths following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, they at long last relented and reintroduced the Syndicate in some luscious comics by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. The Syndicate was really juiced up for the modern reader and they oozed depravity in a way that Fox and the Comic Code of 1964 could never allow.

Now that we'd seen another Earth with other older superheroes and a third with supervillains, the next stop was logical. What about an Earth with no superheroes. It's coming next week. . 

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