Superman Through the Ages! Forum

Superman Comic Books! => Coming Attractions! => Topic started by: Super Monkey on February 15, 2004, 10:31:19 PM

Title: Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 2
Post by: Super Monkey on February 15, 2004, 10:31:19 PM
Has anyone gotten this one?


the press release :

Because you demanded it, we're back with another batch of the historic meetings between the legendary Justice League of America and Justice Society of America, collected in CRISIS ON MULTIPLE EARTHS Volume 2! This trade paperback collects JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #55-56, 64-65, 72-73, and 83-84, with the first two adventures written by Gardner Fox with art by Mike Sekowsky and Sid Greene, and the final two written by Denny O'Neil with art by Dick Dillin and Joe Giella. These stories feature the Earth-2 Robin, the deaths of Larry Lance and the Spectre, and the introduction of the Silver Age Red Tornado! All this, plus an introduction by Martin Pasko and a new cover painting by Jerry Ordway!

SC, Full Color, 208 pages     Retail Price $14.95


Title: Re: Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 2
Post by: Spaceman Spiff on February 16, 2004, 11:36:12 PM
Yes, I got my copy in early December.  As the press release says, this volume collects the JLA/JSA team-ups from 1967 through 1970.  Here's a quick run-down:

JLA #55-56 (1967) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Sid Greene
The grown-up Robin of Earth-Two joins the JSA, and Wonder Woman of Earth-Two returns to active duty in the JSA (she made her Silver Age debut in Flash #137 in 1963, but hadn't appeared in a JLA/JSA team-up until these issues).  The cover of Crisis on Multiple Earths Volume 2 was inspired by the cover of JLA #56.  The two teams battle ordinary people who have gained super-powers after exposure to mysterious black spheres from another dimension. And the heroes battle among themselves!

JLA #64-65 (1968) by Gardner Fox, Dick Dillin, and Sid Greene
A new Red Tornado "returns" to join the JSA.  Interestingly, the JLA and JSA don't really meet in this one, but they fight the same menace.

JLA #73-74 (1969) by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin, and Sid Greene
Superman of Earth-Two returns!  The two Supermen square off against each other as the JLA and JSA fight each other again.  The result of the battle is a real shocker!

JLA #82-83 (1970) by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin, and Joe Giella
Superman of Earth-Two appears again, but only long enough to get kayoed.  Batman of Earth-Two even appears in one panel, but he doesn't do anything.  An alien real-estate developer wants to destroy Earth-One and Earth-Two in order to create a new planet.  Someone must die to set things right.  Will it be Black Canary? Red Tornado? Spectre?

Bonus features: A two-page portrait of the JSA by Murphy Anderson (from JLA #76), a one-page JLA pinup and a one-page JSA pinup by Dick Giordano (both from Ltd Collector's Edition #C-46, and a "JLA MAIL ROOM" page with excerpts from original LoCs about the stories in this volume.

If you're a fan of the Silver/Bronze Age JLA and JSA (like me), and especially if you came along too late to read these stories (again, like me), then you'll probably enjoy this book.  The story pages are reprinted well, although the cover of issue #56 came out grainy.  The two-page portrait of the JSA is downright beautiful, but it would be nicer if it had been a fold-out.  The biggest artwork gripe I had was the "JLA MAIL ROOM" page.  The banner looked like it was scanned from an old comic that had been left out in the rain.  Maybe it was.

As for the stories, the first four are classic Gardner Fox stories similar to those in the first Crisis on Multiple Earths volume.  Denny O'Neil makes a good showing in the fifth and sixth stories, but the last two are pretty weak.  The Spectre's imprisonment in #83 didn't jibe with his appearance at the JSA meeting in #82, but then again, several other JSAers disappeared between #82 and #83, as well.

I'm hoping DC will continue this series, and I'll keep buying them even though I have most of the remaining stories in the original comics.  The third volume should include the JLA/JSA meetings with the Seven Soldiers of Victory and the Freedom Fighters.  And the fourth volume should include Cary Bates and Elliot S! Maggin, the Marvel Family and Shazam's Squadron of Justice, and the Legion of Super-Heroes.  Boy, those were the good ol' days.

Title: Re: Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 2
Post by: nightwing on February 17, 2004, 08:53:51 AM
I second Spiff's stuff.

This book features two stories by Gardner Fox and two by Denny O'Neil, and with all due respect to the great Mr. Fox, I enjoyed Denny's stuff a lot more.

Don't get me wrong, they're all alike in that they have the usual Silver Age blend of the cool and the ridiculous, but where Fox writes all his heroes as generic good guys, Denny begins to introduce a bit of character.  Black Canary suffers personal tragedy, Alan Scott has a crisis of resolve, Dinah and Ollie begin to display an attraction for each other, and so on.  As fans, of course we're curious to know; how, if at all, does Earth-2 differ from Earth-1? How do the older heroes feel about their younger counterparts and vice-versa?  All of this stuff would be mined pretty well in later years, but these are some of the first examples.

There are a few missteps along the way.  Superman of Earth-2 is identical to his Earth-1 counterpart, with the same "S" and no gray hair.  O'Neill's take on the multiple earths concept is at odds with what's later established.  For example:

- Denny says whatever happens on one Earth happens on the other (if so, then why did Earth-1 have to wait 20 years longer than Earth-2 before getting superheroes?)

- He says everyone on Earth-1 has a duplicate on Earth-2 (if so, that would make both Clark Kents, both Bruce Waynes, etc the same age!  And where are Earth-1's Jay Garrick, Alan Scott, Carter Hall, etc and why didn't they become heroes?)

- He says the cross-overs happen due to the "weakened barrier" between worlds once a year.  This was already wrong when he wrote it, since Barry Allen crossed over at all times of the year.

Anyway, it's a lot of fun watching the early days of the multiple Earths concept, and the art is pretty good if not fantastic.  I was never a big fan of Dick Dillin (at least not on superheroes), but he's helped greatly here by Syd Greene's inks.

And yes, some great stories remain to be told. Here's hoping we get at least a Volume 3.  Incidentaly, DC's planning to collect all of George Perez's JLA work in a TPB this year, and that should include his resolution of a JLA/JSA/New Gods cross-over and the terrific JLA/JSA/Secret Society of Super-Villains three-parter.

Title: Re: Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 2
Post by: Brainiac44 on February 17, 2004, 11:48:50 AM
I didn't read your reviews (sorry  :oops: ) but I can say that I have both books.  They both are very good but if you've never read any of these, you'll probably like volume one much more.  For some reason book two has nice ideas but they just don't materialize like you might want them too.  The problem with these is this - when dealing with a group, it's tough to give each character a personality.

Title: Re: Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 2
Post by: nightwing on February 17, 2004, 12:54:26 PM
The problem with these is this - when dealing with a group, it's tough to give each character a personality.

I agree to an extent.  Certainly, the earlier stories by Garnder Fox turned entirely on the strength of their "hooks".  The idea of an Earth with no super-heroes, just super-villains was a successful hook...some of the others weren't good enough, frankly, to make a room full of 20 guys in longjohns interesting.

As I said above, O'Neill makes the first steps toward rectifying this by introducing some character quirks, by making some characters chummy and others at odds, and by making major changes to a character on Earth-2 (since they're not as "unchangeable" as their counterparts), resulting in her relocation to Earth-1.  To me, this is what worked about the best JLA/JSA cross-overs...the exploration of how the earths are similar and different, and how their residents felt upon meeting.

Otherwise, all you've got is a book where instead of 10 guys with different costumes but identical personalities, this month you've got 20 of them.

In fact, it wouldn't be too far off to say these moments are what saved the JLA/JSA tales for me, since the main plots were often too ridiculous for words.

Title: Re: Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 2
Post by: Brainiac44 on February 17, 2004, 01:41:01 PM
A good example of the personality problem is at the burial of Canary's husband - Batman is crying - now that is really ridiculous - there are tears falling thru his mask...  Then you have Superman who's holding a book - we can all guess that's it's a bible (!) and that he doing some sort of rite...  I feel that that too is also out of character.  In many ways Superman is or has been the leader, that he's been brought up by the Kents but wouldn't in pre-crisis Earth religions be a foreign concept for him?   He observes all kinds of Kryptonian birthdays...

Title: Re: Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 2
Post by: nightwing on February 17, 2004, 03:57:15 PM
Well that stuff is kind of hard to explain away, I guess.  Or maybe not...

A lot of late-60s, early-70s JLA stories had the heroes acting out of character, in my opinion. In fact in these early days of forging personalities from previously wooden heroes, there were a lot of false steps and wrong turns.  Batman as portrayed in Brave and the Bold not only cried over the darnedest things, he was prone to fits of temper and fell in love with women who manipulated him, none of which fits his now-established portrayal as a coolly rational, brilliant and emotionally distant character.  In one JLA story, Aquaman went off the deep end (sorry, couldn't resist!) about pollution in the seas, but afterwards it seemed to be a non-issue with him (at least he didn't pursue it like Namor might've).  And so on.  I remember reading Bob Haney's Batman tales as a youngster and being confused on a regular basis.  In one issue, Batman would rub elbows with a character like the Phantom Stranger and dismiss magic and monsters as "supernatural bunk," when a month or two before he'd been fighting demons side-by-side with Dr Fate or talking to the ghost of Boston Brand.  So is Batman a believer or non-believer?  

I think what happened with Larry's funeral is that the artist "hammed it up" more than the script indicated.  The front notes to the book suggest that Denny wrote his stuff "tongue in cheek," and if so, that could be another explanation.  You could try and explain it all, of you say, Superman is the de facto "leader" of the heroes, so it's possible they'd ask him to read a passage from the Bible.  Christianity may mean nothing to him, but if it was Larry's faith, then Supes would honor that, just as a soldier would honor his fallen buddy on the battlefield with a "service" that reflected the dead man's beliefs.  Of course on a battlefield there's no ministers handy sometimes, whereas there really doesn't seem to have been such a pressing need to put Larry in the ground within hours of his passing!  :shock:

I really think Superman's exaggerated pose in that scene, plus all the tears, is just a bit of over-the-top theatrics.

Title: Re: Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 2
Post by: Super Monkey on February 17, 2004, 07:09:14 PM
Wasn't there a story in the 1st book where characters use powers they never had before or since ;)

As you know, I am very slow to get books, so I haven't gotten these two as of yet, but I will, they sound like a lot of fun.

Title: Re: Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 2
Post by: Spaceman Spiff on February 18, 2004, 01:12:51 AM
Quote from: "Super Monkey"
Wasn't there a story in the 1st book where characters use powers they never had before or since

You could be thinking of JLA #46-47 reprinted in the first CoME, where Sandman used a gun that to create glass and cement blocks (!) and Dr. Mid-Nite used a "cyrotuber" to control bad guys' nervous systems.  Thankfully these gadgets didn't last long.  Or maybe you're thinking of JLA #55-56 in CoME v2, where the "black spheres" give Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Hourman extra powers.

The following is somewhat "off-topic", and it could easily fit into several other recent topics about the multiverse, the Earth-Two Superman, and the Earth-Two "Superboy".  However, the (lengthy) item I'm going to quote makes references to stories in CoME v2, so I'm going to ask...

Will the real Golden Age/Earth-Two Superman please stand up?

Quote from: "nightwing"
There are a few missteps along the way. Superman of Earth-2 is identical to his Earth-1 counterpart, with the same "S" and no gray hair.

To my knowledge, the Earth-Two Superman appeared in JLA #73-74, #82-83, #91-92, and #107-108 (with gray hair!) prior to the revival of All-Star Comics in 1976.  In those JLA/JSA team-ups, he appeared to be as powerful as his Earth-One counterpart.  But in All-Star (1970s) Superman (and his newly revealed cousin Power Girl) were shown leaping instead of flying.  This lack of consistency led to questions from readers about the relative powers of the two Supermen.

In Superman Family #191 (Oct 1978), one reader suggested that the Earth-Two Superman only had the powers shown in Action Comics #1 and that when the two Supermen fought in JLA #74, Supes-Two was magically enhanced.  Another reader suggested that when the Earth-Two Superman visited Earth-One, he became as powerful as his Earth-One counterpart.  Editor E. Nelson Bridwell addressed the questions as follows:

Quote from: "ENB in [i
Superman Family[/i] #191 (Oct 1978)"]This is a complicated problem, but it can be worked out.  First, it is obvious that there were two Supermen whose exploits were chronicled in the 1940's.  One worked for the Daily Star, whose editor was George Taylor; the other worked for the Daily Planet, whose editor was Perry White.  It is not always possible to tell which is which, since the name of the paper was changed first in the magazine, and for a time we saw Taylor at the Planet.  Many of the adventures must have happened to both Supermen (and, indeed, to the third Superman--of Earth-One--some years later).  It would be tempting, I know, to say that, since the Earth-Two Superman was the one with the Star, we must accept only those stories in which he had limited powers as involving the Earth-Two hero.  Unfortunately, that means omitting many adventures which clearly involved that Superman--including his one adventure with the Justice Society (All-Star #36).  Since we know that was the Earth-Two Superman, the easy solution cannot be accepted.

But that isn't all.  Let's look at the battle of the Supermen.  True, Supes-Two was under the influence of the magical being called Aquarius.  But there is no evidence that his powers had been beefed up.  Indeed, in the preceding issue (JLA #73) he was shown flying and actually staggering the powerful Aquarius with his punch--on Earth-Two!  Moreover, in JLA #82, this Superman flies Dr. Mid-Nite home, saying, "Your base is only a thousand miles out of my way . . . it'll only take four seconds!"  To which Mid-Nite replies, "And that long because you don't dare go full out with a passenger!"

So how do we resolve the differences between the powers displayed by Superman in the early days and those he used later?  First, his Kryptonians did have some powers--including x-raay vision--on their home planet.  But very early, the differences in the gravities of Krypton and Earth were mentioned.  There is, however, another difference which explains this puzzle.  That Superman was a tiny infant when he was sent to Earth, while his Earth-One counterpart was two years old by Earth's calendar.  Hence, while the Superman of today was accustomed to walking in Krypton's gravity, and so rapidly discovered his powers, the Earth-Two Man of Steel learned to walk on Earth and so only gradually found out he was super.  In fact, he had not learned his full potential when he began his career.  He didn't know he could fly because he had never tried!  Similarly, he was unaware of his super-vision and super-hearing.  He knew nothing short of an exploding shell could harm him--but he had not yet been hit by an exploding shell.  Many of them hit him during World War II without doing any damage.  He may have more vulnerabilities than the Earth-One model--Power Girl's recent injury might suggest that, but we really know little of the weapon that caused it.

I have discussed this with Julie Schwartz, the real expert on Earth-Two, since he edited the first tales of the twin Terras, and he is in complete agreement with me.  Julie ought to know--he's now editing a new series on the early married life of the Earth-Two Supes and Lois--Mr. and Mrs. Superman--debuting this month in Superman.--ENB

I got the impression that Bridwell and Schwartz didn't agree with the All-Star editor's ideas about Supes-Two.  By the way, the battle in JLA #74 took place on Earth-Two, but presumably the second reader's theory causes the Earth-One Superman to become weaker on Earth-Two.

Here are my thoughts:
1) The Golden Age Superman started out with limited powers, but by the end of the 1940s he was quite powerful.  Flying, breaking the time barrier, withstanding nuclear explosions, he did all of this by 1950.  As ENB says, this Superman was the one who appeared with the JSA in All-Star #36, and he is approximately equal in power to the Earth-One Superman of the 1960s and 1970s.
2) The Earth-Two Superman shown in JLA/JSA team-ups was equal in power to the Earth-One Superman.  See ENB's references to JLA #73-74 and #82.  This was also implied in JLA #91, and in JLA #108 he saves Japan by holding up its tectonic plates.  This is consistent with the Golden Age Superman, so the Earth-Two Superman and the Golden Age Superman could be one and the same.
3) The writers and editors of All-Star (1970s) ignored much of the JLA/JSA team-up history.  Several JSAers who had been active in JLA/JSA team-ups were said to be "retired" or "inactive" in All-Star.
4) The writers and editors of All-Star (1970s) also ignored much of Superman's Golden Age history.  They tried to revert him to the Superman of 1938-1940.
5) The writers and editors of JLA also ignored some of Superman's Golden Age history.  For example, in JLA #91, Earth-Two's Clark Kent is said to be editor of the Daily Star.  But the paper's name was changed to the Daily Planet in 1940.  Of course, it could have changed back sometime after the "switchover" to the Earth-One Superman.
6) ENB's theory is at odds with the "Golden Age Superboy was Golden Age Superman as a boy" theory that India Ink suggested in another topic.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Golden Age Superboy display powers greater than the 1938-1940 Superman?

My conclusions:
1) The Earth-Two Superman is the Golden Age Superman and his powers are approximately equal to the Earth-One Superman's.
2) All-Star (1970s) was inconsistent with lots of established continuity from the Golden Age and the JLA/JSA team-ups.
3) The Earth-Two Clark Kent could have changed the newspaper's name back to the Daily Star when he became the editor.  I just don't buy the "two different Supermen in the Golden Age" theory.
4) The Golden Age Superboy could be the Golden Age (and therefore Earth-Two) Superman as a boy if you ignore the limited powers displayed by the 1938-1940 Superman.

I'd like to hear what you guys think about these ideas and ENB's comments.

Title: Re: Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 2
Post by: Just a fan on February 18, 2004, 02:00:06 PM
I think the difference between the power levels of supermen has to do with their thought process. Earth-2 superman came to earth as an infant and was raises as an earthling, who didnít really get the scope of his powers until he got older, so he limited himself to human standards because he just didnít know he could be that powerful thatís why as he became exposed to things like surviving exploding shells he became more powerful because he learned he was and thus became expanding his self imposed limitations. Whereas the Earth-1 superman came to earth as a two or three year old, and had his powers right from the beginning and having the limitless imagination of a child didnít stop to think there were limits to his powers, just stuff he hadnít tried yet. This is shown again in a DC Presents (not sure of the number) where the Earth-1, Earth-2 supermen and Luthor of 3 team up to battle Ultraman.  The Earth-2 superman makes a comment about getting old and his powers diminishing, no matter how much he knows heís not an earthling he still places human limits on himself.

Just my thoughts on the subject, what do you think?

Title: Re: Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 2
Post by: nightwing on February 19, 2004, 06:34:04 AM
I rather like Bridwell's explanation.  Superman in his early days faced decidedly Earth-bound foes like gangsters, spies and two-bit killers.  They all tried to stab, shoot or burn him with no effect -- so he knew he was at least that invulnerable -- but beyond that, who could say?  So he -- or the writers -- said "nothing less than a bursting shell" could hurt him, because that's the worst thing he/they could imagine.  Then came that inevitable day when a shell burst on him harmlessly and he had to up the ante: "okay well nothing less than an A-Bomb, then..."  which held until an A-Bomb hit him!

And so on...

Few of us know what we can do until we try, and this would hold even more true for Superman, who was rarely tested to his limits in the Golden Age.  Why fly into space, for example, if you don't really care what's going on up there? (Unlike the SA version, who seems to feel he's half Earth-citizen and half wandering space orphan).  But when the day came (in "Menace From Space" if not before) he flies into space just fine.

On the other hand weren't there times in the early days when he was overcome by gas, implying he didn't have the super-lungs he later did?  So maybe some of it's just inconsistent writing.

My memory's not what it used to be, but for some reason I'm thinking it was established in later years (like maybe the 80s' JLA/JSA/SSSV crossover drawn by Perez) that Earth-2 Superman got more powerful as he got older.  In fact, it took him until what looks like his 50s or 60s to reach the power levels of Earth-1 Superman at 29/30.  Anyway, he certainly seems to be a match for him in "Crisis".

Title: Re: Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 2
Post by: Rugal 3:16 on February 19, 2004, 10:26:54 PM
some comments about inconsistencies in volume 1 that I cannot find any assumption..

1. Superman is being portrayed as vulnerable to magic AS MUCH as K (This would make those Thor fans happy) and use this moment as a basis of

Magic > Supes

but in his own silver age titles, sure Magic can get through supes' weakness but not as absurd as here..

Well of course, DIFFERENT EDITORS.. but wouldn't schwartz consult with weisinger on these kinds of things?? there's little thing to be assumed of what is supposed to bring out our imagination when inconsistencies like this come very large.

2. Why is the spectre "jobbing" to the anti-matter man? he's supposed to be the "Deus Ex Machina" in uberness to DCU as The Living Tribunal is to Marvel.. does that mean the anti-matter man would kick up ol' shiny naked golden judge with a towel as well?

I have more at the back of my head but that's all I can remember for now.