Justice League of America #207 (October, 1982)
“Crisis on Earth-Prime, Book One: Crisis Times Three!”
Writer – Gerry Conway
Pencils – Don Heck
Inks – Romeo Tanghal
Letters – Ben Oda
Colors – Carl Gafford
Plot Consultant – Roy Thomas
Editor – Len Wein
Cover Price: $0.60
Been having a good time covering books that rub up on the Justice Society of late. Figure, why not take a look at a run of books where the Society rubs up on the League… with a dash of All-Star thrown in for the heck of it.
This is one of those annual JLA/JSA “Crisis” events, which we spoke at length about during the first couple of parts in our Crisis on Infinite Earths episodes of Cosmic Treadmill. You can find that discussion, and about 12 hours of Crisis-related chatter if you click the pic below!
We open with the Justice League and Justice Society getting ready for their annual get-together. They use a Transmatter Machine in order to visit each other’s Earths… and both teams are just about ready to throw the switch on their end. The JSA (Green Lantern, Power Girl, Huntress, Starman and Dr. Fate) step into their Transmatter Cube so that they can be delivered to Earth-1… only, something goes awry! They finds themselves nyoinked “sideways” during the ‘port… and somehow, it’s Earth-3’s Crime Syndicate who winds up at the JLA Satellite!
Lemme tell ya, the Crime Syndicate pulls no punches here, they beat the holy hell out of the League… all the while giving (relative) newcomer, Firestorm a history lesson about their Earth of origin! Heavy(est)-hitters, Superman and Zatanna are thrown into space by Superwoman and Ultraman. The rest of the team, not slouches by any definition (Aquaman, Hawkman, Firestorm), are simply laid out.
The Syndies then spy a rocket ship on board the JLA Satellite, and decide to ride it Earthward so they might start their reign of terror anew on Earth-1. They cite Per Degaton as the reason for their arrival… and are thankful he provided them with a second chance.
So… if the Crime Syndicate were able to ride the cross-dimensional waves to Earth-1… where the heck did the Justice Society wind up?! Well, it turns out they’re stuck in-between universes… in the very prison the Crime Syndicate had been stuck in! This provides Dr. Fate with the opportunity to deliver a bit more exposition for (relative) newcomer, Power Girl. Turns out, it took the combined forces of the League and Society to take the Syndies down. They’d been locked up tight every since… until now, that is.
Power Girl begins punching their emerald prison… bubble thing, clearly a construct of Hal Jordan’s. Dr. Fate suggests she settle her tea kettle so’s he can think. He recalls the battle… and how “like” heroes wouldn’t be able to escape this trap. Ya see, Power Girl has a similar powerset to Ultraman… who, himself is the knock-off Superman… so, it stands to reason this bubble would not let her break through. Luckily, neither Dr. Fate nor Starman have analogues in the Crime Syndicate… and so, they’re able to bust ’em all out.
The Justice Society floats through the emptiness of the void… while Alan Scott tries to find any rift in the spacial-whatchamacallit that they might be able to travel through. It doesn’t take too terribly long to find one… and once passing through, the team finds themselves on… Earth-Prime! Ya know, the Earth “we” live on (along with Ultraa and Superboy)! Only… it’s, uh… looking kinda different.
Alan gives the place a scan with his ring, and sure enough… this is Earth-Prime. Dr. Fate opines that this Earth had been decimated by atomic war… and suggests that it, judging by the climate, happened way back in the long ago. Power Girl and Huntress are then attacked by mutant plants… a threat that lasts exactly three panels. Alan scans again to see if he can find some “emotional residue”, and deduces that the man behind this holocaust was… Per Degaton!
We shift back to Earth-1 and the JLA Satellite, where the League is licking their wounds. Twenty thousand miles away, Superman wakes up from being kayoed by Superwoman. He spots Zatanna, wrapped up like a metal burrito just as she’s about to pass through (and burn up in) Earth’s atmosphere. He rescues her and they return to the Satellite together.
Upon arrival, Hawkman informs them that the experimental NASA shuttle they’d been looking after has been stolen (so, that explains why a rocket was even there in the first place!), and they think a bit about where their Earth-2 friends might’ve wound up. They decide to step into their Transmatter Cube, and find out… and, once they get there… they find the JSA headquarters all shades of messed up!
They do a bit of investigating, and come to the conclusion that the place has been a wreck for rather a long time. Further evidence is that a calendar on the wall is still opened to June, 1942 (we’re about to learn that this story “takes place” in 1982).
Aquaman starts feeling deja vu (all over again), and Superman uses his super-breath to bust through a wall of the joint. The League finds themselves… on an ordinary city street… only, there are statues and flags celebrating Per Degaton all over the place! Also, people are still dressed as though it’s the 1940’s… and neither the architecture nor automobiles have changed from then either, even though a news-ticker indicates that today is October 2, 1982!
When the civilians get a load of the Justice League… they panic! Conway compares the looks on their faces to those of concentration camp survivors… whiiiiich, might be a bit much. Anyhoo, the civvies call for the police, who arrive wearing very Degatonny outfits and red-sunglasses. They attack the League… but, c’mon… that ain’t gonna end well.
Rather then hurt the geeks, the League decides to flee. Superman comes up with plan to have Firestorm whip up a sphere with which they could travel through time. Recalling the last date showing on the Justice Society’s wall calendar, he’s got just the time in mind to visit! This way they might learn how Per Degaton came into power… and hopefully put a stop to it!
Time passes… in reverse, even… and the League arrives back in ye old 1942. The Justice Society HQ is untouched and pristine. Suddenly, a door opens… behind it… aren’t members of the Justice Society… but of the All-Star Squadron!
Wow… they sure crammed a lotta graham into this one, didn’t they? This issue on it’s own would be a six-parter nowadays!
To take a chestnut from John Byrne, this type of story totally makes me think of some of his comments regarding “fans-turned-pro” (only I’m going to use it favorably). This is a story wrangled by Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas… and is so steeped in DC minutia, that you know the people behind it have a deep appreciation of the characters and universe(s). These are the type of stories we’re so sorely lacking today… not only because continuity is a complete and utter joke, but it feels as though comics is just being used as a stepping-stone to bigger and better things for a lot of folks in it. The passion just isn’t there… and when it is, the characters are written so out of character to fit whatever story’s being told.
Okay, enough of my kvetching. How about this issue?
It was pretty great! Just so much going on… and the seeds of these Crises on Multiple Earths mysteries are planted. It’s really some high quality stuff. It’s a bit dense, to be sure… but, totally solid. We’re dealing with interdimensional time-travel… and yet, it’s still pretty easy to follow. I’ve been known to get “lost” when dealing with this kind of a tale… but, didn’t need to pull out Rip Hunter’s chalkboard even once here!
Earth-Prime… that is, “our” Earth, has been annihilated… and Earth-2 has been taken over by Per Degaton. Also, Earth-3’s Crime Syndicate is now running amok on Earth-1! That’s a whole lotta Earths… and it’s all going to wind up being connected. Had a lot of fun with this one.
Overall, worth a gander! It’s a pretty notable story, if only for it being an early multi-title crossover event. The “even” issues are taking place in the pages of All-Star Squadron. This wasn’t really something that happened all that much during the days of (primarily) newsstand distribution. It’s a pretty dicey proposition to expect your readership to track down issues of a book they might not read (or be able to find at their local haunt).
Today, of course, that isn’t a problem. This issue has been collected a few times (including Crisis on Multiple Earths, Volume 6)… and is available digitally.
Letters Page (featuring The Mad Maple, because… duh):