Justice League of America #219 (October, 1983)
“Crisis in the Thunderbolt Dimension, Part One”
Writers – Roy Thomas & Gerry Conway
Pencils – Chuck Patton
Inks – Romeo Tanghal
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Gene D’Angelo
Editor – Len Wein
Cover Price: $0.60
Today we’re going to look at a story I’ve been meaning to cover here for like a year and a half. I was reminded of this one while Reggie and I were putting together our five/six-part Crisis on Infinite Earths special during the Summer of 2017 to commemorate the 50th Episode of the Cosmic Treadmill.
Up until then, I’d forgotten several of the particulars of Black Canary’s move from Earth-2 to Earth-1. Heck, I still probably couldn’t speak on it with any authority… which is why we’re going to take a closer look at this arc over the next couple of days!
We open with a gaggle of gaudy terrorists making, ya know terroristic threats. They want ten million bucks in a Swiss Bank Account, or else a five-block radius will go boom. Unfortunately for them… it’s that time of year where the Justice League and Society have their annual get-together!
Barry and Jay make short work of the geeks… and even cap off the “battle” with a bit of a flourish. Jay makes all of the bullets ricochet away and form the letters J-S-A on a nearby wall. Barry gets a dig in by corrected the “S” to an “L”. The Police all recognize the “tin hat” Flash as the one from the old comic books… and don’t seem all that weirded out by the fact that he’s standing before them, drawing breath.
As the Flashes head off, we get a quick and dirty regarding the multiple Earths, with Jay suggesting it’s a matter of chauvinism that relegated the Golden-Age Earth as “Earth-2” instead of “Earth-1”.
The Speedsters rush off to a transport capsule atop a tall building in the city so they can return to the JLA Satellite. Before they can enter, however, they find themselves attacked by a bolt of lightning! Turns out, this is Johnny Thunder’s T-Bolt Genie… who goes right after Barry, leaving him kayoed and comatose.
Aboard the Satellite, the heroes hang out. Firestorm is off to the side wondering why Power Girl is “blanking” him. Guess the poor kid doesn’t own a mirror. After some prodding from Hourman and Elongated Man, Ronnie decides to give it another go. Unfortunately, before he can, the Satellite is attacked by T-Bolt!
The Genie immediately attends to the Earth-1 heroes (minus Red Tornado and Black Canary… for reasons we’ll discuss in a sec), leaving them all just like Barry Allen… kayoed and comatose. It isn’t until Dinah lets loose with a Canary Cry that T-Bolt vanishes.
Moments later, Jay arrives with Barry. The remaining “awake” heroes fill each other in about what they’d just experienced. Huntress informs the team that the Transmatter Machine they use to jump between Earths has been destroyed… and they all try and figure out just what’s going on. It seems as though T-Bolt only attacked people who were born on Earth-1. Dinah grew up on Earth-2, and Reddy was built there (though, he’s also a robot… so that might have something to do with it). Dinah shares a bit of her origin, just in case we’re not familiar with it.
She would join up with the Justice Society during their run-in with a goofy-looking sonuvagun called Aquarius. During the fight, Dinah is very nearly killed… until her husband, Larry Lance jumped in front of a blast meant for her! After this, Dinah would relocate to Earth-1… and also, discover that she had the “Canary Cry” power!
Back in the present, the heroes suggest calling in some reinforcements… however, it would appear as though they’re all kayoed and comatose as well! Well, except for Batman… gotta keep him strong (or maybe he’s just an Outsider at this point).
Suddenly news from around the world pours in to the Satellite. It seems that villains from Earth-1 are teaming up with villains from Earth-2 to cause all sorts of mischief! The heroes rush off to attend to these threats, leaving Black Canary and Starman behind to look after the Justice Leaguers.
Once they’re all gone, however, Starman has a suggestion on how they might better help out… they could… head into the Thunderbolt Dimension and try and confront T-Bolt head on! It doesn’t take much convincing… and before we know it, they do just that.
Also, before we know it, the heroes are attacked by T-Bolt… and Johnny Thunder himself!
With the heroes now captive of T-Bolt, Johnny decides to introduce them to a pair of guests… Larry and Dinah Lance… under glass?!
I tell ya what… where were Roy and Gerry when DC was getting ready to launch The New-52!? I swear, these might’ve been the fellas to actually make it all fit/work. Then again, I suppose if DC wanted The New-52! to “work” long-term, they probably would’ve used more than a packet of Jell-O Pudding to lay the initial foundation.
This was a really good issue… which, isn’t much of a surprise. The JLA/JSA team-ups are usually a fun diversion chock full of historical nods to continuity and what-not. This issue/arc is no different. Seeing the characters catch-up… especially Dinah, since she originated on Earth-2, was a treat. Even when Dinah was explaining the length and girth of Ollie’s arrow… and by “arrow”, I mean… well, arrow… getchure minds outta the gutter.
The art by Chuck Patton is pretty great. He does a wonderful job on the heroes, again… particularly Black Canary. Feel like Patton’s one of those artists who doesn’t get mentioned as much as he ought to.
Not much more to say about this issue without reflecting on how it all winds up… it really is a set-up for what’s to come. I had a really good time with it, and would bet many’a DC fan would too! This issue is available digitally.
Letters Page (featuring current Sr. VP of Vertigo Comics, Hank Kanalz):