Justice League of America #209 (December, 1982)
“Crisis on Earth Prime, Book Five: Let Old Acquaintances Be Forgot…”
Writer – Gerry Conway
Art – Don Heck
Letters – Ben Oda
Colors – Carl Gafford
Plot Consultant – Roy Thomas
Editor – Len Wein
Cover Price: $0.60
Greetings gentle reader! Today we wrap up Crisis on Earth-Prime. As is the case anytime we finish off an arc here at the humble blog, you will be able to find it in it’s entirety over at our Collected Editions Page!
I’ve had a blast with this one so far… let’s see if Gerry and Roy can stick the landing!
We open with the trio of… trios we followed during yesterday’s issue, returning to Washington, D.C. to report in to President Roosevelt. Our first few pages are a quick and dirty retelling of what went down the pages of the previous chapters… Roosevelt’s right-hand man, Harry Hopkins jots everything down on a chalkboard so we can follow along. If you wanna follow along… you can check out our Collected Editions Page!
So, as it stands… we’ve got 30 minutes til Degaton drops the bomb. Out of the 27 nuclear missiles, 3 remain… and we’ve got two teams of heroes still out on assignment. Before checking in with one of those teams, we see F.D.R. jot down a note regarding the Manhattan Project… and how he ought to look a bit deeper into it. Not sure how much of this is revisionist history to assuage him of guilt… but at the same time, I suppose it doesn’t matter all that much.
Next, we shove off to Switzerland and join the team of Power Girl, Commander Steel, and Firestorm. No sooner do they land, than they find themselves attacked by a cluster of heat-seeking (non-nuclear) missiles! Pee Gee punches one out of the sky, while Steel absorbs the impact of another. Firestorm blows the roof off a nearby building revealing… the Degateam!
After dealing with the geeks, Power Girl enters the building to snoop out the nukes. Only, she finds herself battling… Johnny Quick… the other Johnny Quick… the bad one, from Earth-3. The one with the cone head. Anyhoo… they fight!
Quick swats at a member of the Degateam… unwittingly knocking him right into the launch button for the nukes! D’oh. Firestorm swoops in and locks the baddie in a construct clamp so the good guys can plan their next move.
The heroes spend the next couple of pages dismantling the live nukes… and manage to get the job done before they go big-boom. They return to Washington, D.C. and chat up Roosevelt. They, again, speak of the horror of nuclear armament… and all hope they’re never put into a position where they might have to make the decision to use such a thing.
So, all’s well that ends well, right? Well… no, we ain’t done yet. Remember, Degaton and the Syndies mucked about in Earth-Prime’s Cuban Missile Crisis… and doomed it to Armageddon. We’ve still gotta deal with that! And so, we head over to Earth-Prime, and join Green Lantern (Alan Scott), Firebrand, and Zatanna as they’re chatting up Professor Zee (Zee and Zatanna in the same scene? Madness.) about his assistant Per Degaton.
They convince Zee (and a Professor Everson) to let them finish building… and use their time machine in order to travel to 1962, which, as it turns out, is much easier than it sounds!
And so, bada-bing, bada-boom… the trio of heroes finds themselves in Cuba… just as the Russians are collecting their nukes. Moments later, a rip is torn across the sky… and from it emerges Degaton and the Syndies!
Meanwhile, back on Earth-2 (1942), the rest of the collective heroes discover where Per Degaton is hiding out. He’s underground at the location where the Pentagon is going to be built.
From here, it’s pretty academic. They heroes burst into the bunker… beat up the Degateam… and nyoink Per Degaton out by his collar. Anticlimactic? Kinda… but, really… it’s not like li’l Per (great rap name, if anyone wants it) was ever going to go toe to toe with Superman and Co.
What the heroes weren’t expecting was for… Owlman to be lurking nearby! He gets into a tussle with Huntress… which is fitting… and she whups his butt. Good showing for Helena during this arc… taking out both Power Ring and Owlman!
Meanwhile, back on Earth-Prime… the heroes and the Crime Syndicate start scrappin’. The heroes win quite decisively… and Zatanna manages to snag Per Degaton before he can hop back into his time machine.
And now… everything can go back to normal. The heroes and villains on Earth-Prime begin to fade away, because they were never really there to begin with! The same thing happens with the heroes on Earth-Two. As they fade out, Huntress comments that she can already feel her memories fading as well. None of them want to forget this outing… but, ya know… it never happened, so there’s really nothing to remember.
We rejoin the All-Star Squadron (Earth-Two/1942)as they are returning to New York from San Francisco… this time, however, they aren’t attacked by Nuclear the Magnetic Misfit, or whoever that was. Before entering their headquarters, Liberty Belle pauses… as though she remembers something… but it’s only an echo of a memory. Also, I’m gonna assume that’s just a coloring error, and she’s not seductively licking her lips.
Also in 1942, Per Degaton is working for Professor Zee. He tells him of the dream he had about ruling the world… and Zee tells him to shaddup and get back to work.
Next stop… Limbo! The Crime Syndicate is never freed by Per Degaton, and so… they remain trapped in that construct bubble. They’re discussing whether or not the JLA and JSA intend to keep them there forever… which, I imagine, must be the usual (only?) topic of conversation in there.
Finally, we head back to the JLA Satellite on Earth-One (1982). The League and Society are preparing for their annual get-together… only this time, it goes off without a hitch!
We wrap up this Crisis, with the heroes celebrating their good fortune… after all, every time they get together, something bad seems to happen. Not this time though… right? (this is where I’d wink to the camera… but, you already knew that.)
Okay… a little bit to unpack here.
First, the “mind-wipe” ending. I think this works, for the most part. It would stand to reason that if the story we just read never actually happened… nobody ought to remember it, right? I’m okay with that… it fits within the “rules” of time-travel… kinda… I guess.
I mean, time-travel is such a sticky-wicket, innit? The rules are written in Jell-O, and can change to suit whatever the story calls for. With that understood… this “forgotten” ending fits. I think. Don’t hold me to it. It’s kind of a shame that there’s no memory of the All-Star Squadron and Justice League working side by side… but, whattayagonnado?
Where I’m kinda stuck is… how come Per Degaton doesn’t remember? When this started, he had that dream where he ruled the world… which somehow triggered his memory of his battles with the heroes. Why didn’t that happen during the “Animal House” segment at the end? Professor Zee just tells him to shaddup, and that’s the end of it.
Why doesn’t he remember?! Far as I can tell, his mind didn’t get screwed with… did it? Did we just “get lucky” this time around that he didn’t make the connection? Does this mean that any day down the line he might wake up from that same “world ruling dream” and get his memory back? That doesn’t seem like too conclusive an ending, does it? There’s really nothing stopping him from doing the thing all over again… right? Unless I’m missing something… which certainly is possible.
There’s a fair amount of lauding Franklin Roosevelt here. There’s a deliberate attempt to distance him from the Manhattan Project here… likely to assuage him of any connection to the event at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This might make him appear innocent, but also pretty foolish. To sign off on the Manhattan Project, and not really pay attention to exactly what they’re doing? That’s pretty lousy leadership. It’s clear that Conway and Thomas are fans, and want to portray him in the most favorable light possible… but, making him ignorant to the potentiality of nuclear armament… ehh… not a great look.
Overall… despite a few “ehh” thoughts about how this all wrapped up, I had a really good time with this. I mean, the ending was a bit anticlimactic, but… how else could this have ended? Crisis (the big one) is still a few years away, so it’s not like they were going to take one of the Infinite Earths off the table “for good” here. This event needed to be “swept under the rug”, and I feel like they did a great job of that… while giving us a really fun story to boot. This issue, like all the rest, is available digitally.