Justice League of America #107 (September-October, 1973)
“Crisis on Earth-X!”
Writer – Len Wein
Pencils – Dick Dillin
Inks – Dick Giordano
Editor – Julius Schwartz
Cover Price: $0.20
Been in a bit of a Crisis-y mood the past couple of days… so, let’s go even further back in the annuls of the Justice League/Justice Society team-ups… and meet us some Quality characters while we’re at it!
We open with members of the Justice Society getting ready to load into the Transmatter Machine in order to perform a little interdimensional travel… nothing bad could come of this, right? I mean, the Transmatter Machine almost never goes wonky… right? Ahem. At that moment, in the JLA Satellite hovering over Earth-1, they too are preparing to load into their Transmatter Machine. Not sure why both teams need to get in, if they’re planning to have their get-together on Earth-2… but, whattayagonnado?
Red Tornado, originally from Earth-2, expresses interest in returning there alongside the Justice League. Green Lantern puts the kibosh on that, because the Transmatter Machine has only been tested thus far using inanimate object and live subjects. I guess a robot is somewhere in between? Okey doke. Anyhoo, Batman, Elongated Man, and Green Arrow file into the Machine… and Ollie mentions that he feels a bit of a draft in the box.
Then, simultaneously on both Earths… the Flashes of their respective teams press a button, sending their teammates… somewhere. Again, not sure why the Earth-2 heroes (which included the Golden-Age Superman, Sandman, and Dr. Fate) needed to get in the box to begin with… but, not much we can do about that now! Was this just supposed to be a trade? Maybe it was just a test.
Anyhoo, the dimensionally-lost heroes wind up arriving on an Earth none of them recognize. We learn straight away that this was likely Red Tornado’s fault. Ya see, he stowed away in the JLA’s Transmatter Machine (which explains the breeze Ollie felt). This threw everything outta whack and sent the heroes to… a world where Nazi tanks roam American streets?!
Superman is almost giddy at the prospect of wackin’ some Ratzis… and hops right into the fray! Everything looks to be going swell, until one of Dr. Fate’s “enchantments” is deflected by the baddies, and winds up walloping Superman!
Then, one of the Nazi tanks emits a high frequency sound, which boggles the heroes’ minds and bodies enough to temporarily take ’em out.
Before the Nazis can swarm, they are cut off by… Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters! They make short-work of the tanks (and men in ’em) which makes me wonder why they just haven’t taken down the Reich themselves? They certainly seem up for the job! Once the dust settles, they carry the heroes of Earths 1 and 2 back to their secret hideout, located behind a propaganda poster of The Fuhrer.
Here, it’s explained that on this Earth, the Axis Powers won World War II. Evidently, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt succumbed to a fatal heart attack in 1944… and the government kinda fell into disarray… delaying several “projects”. For example, by the time American nukes were completed… Germany also had ’em, leaving the world in a stalemate… and so, the war rolled on for decades! Then, at some point in the late 1960’s… it all ended. Ya see, Hitler’s “brain boys” concocted a mind-control ray to make everyone fall in line. Everyone, except the Freedom Fighters, that is. They have an “immunity” to the ray… which I gotta assume came in the form of a funky flu shot.
He then introduces us to the members of his team… which is a good thing, since this is their first DC Comics appearance (and perhaps their first appearance anywhere in over a decade)! The team consists of the Human Bomb, Doll Man, The Ray, Phantom Lady, Black Condor, and of course, Uncle Sam.
Ollie interrupts the introduction and asks why the Freedom Fighters just haven’t destroyed all the mind-control devices. Sam explains that they’re hidden via a “mental block”, meaning… they could be just about anywhere, and nobody would be any the wiser. I guess that immunity-inoculation only goes so far then? Dr. Fate digs a crystal ball outta… well, outta a pile of refuse from the looks of it, and figures he might be able to hoo-doo up the location.
Black Condor isn’t sure they should trust these gaudily-dressed interlopers, but Uncle Sam puts him in his place with the quickness. Now, this is a team-up issue… so, you might know where this is headed. Dr. Fate deduces that the mind-control devices are in three different locations (Eiffel Tower, Mt. Rushmore, and Mount Fujiyama)… which means, it’s time to split up! The heroes (sans Red Tornado) blink outta sight.
We pick up with the team of Batman (Earth-1), Dr. Fate (Earth-2) and The Ray and Human Bomb (Earth-X) as they’re stood before the Eiffel Tower. The Ray decides to take point, and head up to the top of the Tower… where he is greeted by, you guessed it, Nazis! After kayoing a lot of ’em, one manages to trigger an alarm… which causes a whole lot more to come pouring out from a nearby door. I’ve never been to Paris, but I didn’t realize there was so much room atop the Eiffel Tower!
By now, Batman has… get this… climbed the entire height of the Eiffel Tower. The Nazis, who have kayoed the Ray, unload their rifles in Batman’s direction. Lucky for him, they’re pretty bad at this, and only wind up shooting through his cape. Batman seems, perhaps a bit too relaxed during this situation. With the Nazis distracted, Dr. Fate and Human Bomb arrive to take care of business.
When the final Ratzi is knocked out, the heroes turn their attention to those doors the baddies came pouring out of. They’re insanely thick, and would take forever to bust through… that is, if you’re anyone but the Human Bomb! Bomb punches right through the wall with an explosive right.
Inside, they find themselves stood before the mind-control device… and it’s massive! Surely, there’s some sort of physical sleight of hand at play.
The machine whirs to life, and after scanning the fellows stood before it, creates humanoid life-forms to take ’em out. If you look quickly, you’d swear this machine just created the Metal Men!
We get a few pages of the heroes fighting the synthezoid baddies… it’s a stalemate until they realize (by accident) that each bot is tailored to its target… and so, the heroes just shift from battling one bot to another, and it’s academic from there.
With the synthezoids taken out, the machine… does what it should’ve done in the first place… it attempts to control the heroes’ minds! And it works!
Well… sorta. The heroes walk in lock-step toward the machine… and, all at once, karate-chop the thing to pieces! The hell did we just witness?
Well, Batman explains that while they were mind-controlled, they still completed their mission via “reflex action”. Ya kidding me with this? Oh well… it’s a moot point anyway, because we learn that the heroes’ Mind-Control Machine was in another castle.
We wrap up back on Earth-1. Jay Garrick is communicating to Hal Jordan, who by now realizes that the missing heroes aren’t on either Earth. He fears they might be dead… which is a really lame cliffhanger, since we already know they’re not!
I’m usually kind of a sucker for the “break into groups and seek out the MacGuffin” type of story… but, this… ehh, maybe it’s just my own fatigue, but this just didn’t do it for me. Just didn’t feel any urgency… maybe it’s the inactivity of the Freedom Fighters… maybe it’s the ease with which Dr. Fate was able to triangulate the locations. I dunno.
I am still a sucker for introducing new/existing characters into the mainstream. Part of me wishes DC did something similar to this upon acquiring the WildStorm characters. I think that would’ve been a lot cooler than what wound up happening… and might’ve opened up some fun possibilities.
Now, Earth-X… always a weird one. Many folks know that this was originally going to be called “Earth-Swastika” (DC actually already established an “Earth-X” in the pages of a Jimmy Olsen comic (above) a few years prior), which… I mean, would be considered “edgy” today, but I wonder how that would have been received back in the early 1970’s? I mean, we’d only be a few decades removed from World War II at that point. I suppose we’ll never know! And, ya know… that might not be a bad thing.
The Freedom Fighters characters, not the most exciting group’a folks… but, still neat to see them. It’s funny seeing the Golden-Age Superman take part in this adventure… he’s a bit more “froggy” than his Silver-Age counterpart… and really seemed to be stompin’ for a fight with the Nazis!
Overall… decent-enough story, but the prospect of watching another couple of teams face off with Mind-Control machines over the next issue or two, just doesn’t do it for me. Also, what a lame cliffhanger… oh no, Hal thinks the heroes (who we spent the entire issue with) are dead! Yawn. This issue is available digitally, and has been collected as part of Crisis on Multiple Earths, Volume 3.
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