Tuesday, September 25, 2012

JL #21 "Crisis on Earth-2!" AFTERWARD

So, what did you think?

When I re-read this issue now, I only find the negatives. Let me see if I can touch on a few things that I did right before heaping on the faults.

I liked how I established the way the JLA and JSA trade members. I would think that by this time, there would be some "rules" for the exchanging of members. And in my opinion Black Canary would want to go back for visits. As a child of several hometowns (and now two countries) I definitely think Dinah would want to go back, at least sometimes. In the "real" comics she only ever went back once, and then it was only mentioned in passing that she was from there. It seemed odd to me, so I corrected that situation here.

Also, it seems logical that the new members would be brought over to Earth-2.Here you are the greatest super-heroes on your world, doesn't it make sense that you would want to introduce your newest member(s) to their Earth-2 counter-parts? As far as I know, this was never done in the comics...although I vaguely recall new-member Firestorm being overwhelmed by the whole concept in his first team-up.

As for the others, I never could understand that characters like Superman, Batman, the Flash, and the Earth-Two Wonder Woman participated in a dis-proportionate number of those team-ups. Wouldn't YOU want to meet heroes from another universe if you had the chance?! "No, thanks, Batman,  I have a date with my wife that night. Give my regards to Dr. Fate and everybody." I mean, come on!

So "pulling straws" seemed like the obvious choice to decide who gets to go. 

Here's a shot of all the Justice Society members (except the Spectre). There are sixteen (count'em, sixteen) heroes here, and my gosh that's about six or eight too many!! I put too many in because I had a few goals with this story. One, I wanted to show that characters like Hawkman, the Atom, Flash, and Green Lantern were on both Earths. I also wanted to stress the "generational" side of the JSA, so I included both Hawkman and Northwind, although I should have included only the younger one. Likewise, I included TWO Wildcats, when only one would have sufficed. I could have had the other role taken by another relatively powerless character like Sandman or Huntress or the Atom. In fact, I included the Atom for a very specific reason, and had no intention of ever using the character again. I'll get to that in a minute. Also, I wanted to include all the JLAers, and to balance them off in a team-up I needed at least as many as them (12). The last thing I had in mind was that I wanted to show that this was a Crisis that actually threatened the whole world. So characters who were nominally retired, like Hawkman and the Atom, would come out to see if they could help. So there was that, too.

You may notice that I kept changing the Huntress' costume. I am a big fan of her original uniform, but by this time she had been re-imagined as a daughter of a crime boss and her Batman connections were played down. I had Skybox trading cards with all of these DC characters so I used the then-current costume but did not like it. You'll see her mask "ears" kept getting longer as the story progresses, haha!

Here is the shot of the group that I actually consider the "main" Justice Society members. If this hadn't been a world-wide crisis, these are the only characters I would have used. When I was thinking of writing another team-up, this is the group that I looked at. Of course, this was in 1999 before Geoff Johns and David Goyer re-created the JSA with awesome characters like the new Dr. Mid-Nite, Mr. Terrific, Star-Spangled Kid, the new Johnny Thunder, etc. So if I was doing this today it would be a bit different looking. 

This is another scene that I think happens every time the JLA and JSA get-together...small talk, gossip, and chatting about what has happened since the last time they all got together. I liked doing this scene.

Now here is a scene I did not like including, but there will be a pay-off next issue. I wanted to show that some racism/sexism/ism still lingers in the world. And I chose the Atom for two reasons: 1) he is an older character, and I found that sometimes older people cling to their out-of-date beliefs instead of changing with society and 2) I wasn't going to use the Atom again, so it was okay to make him somewhat of a less-than likeable character. In my mind, he was a cranky old man. I could see him saying things like "robot heroes? black heroes? girl heroes? bah! In MY day...." and then going off into tales of World War II. Now I know this is probably painting him as being a bit of a bigot, but I did need a little bit of animosity AND I needed somebody to point out that Red Tornado was not human. So the Atom served that role. Thanks, Al!

Speaking of Red Tornado, I decided that I wanted to make Red Tornado's "robotic" status very obvious. So I came up with the visual of him looking more robotic (circa his original 1968 appearance), but using his alter uniform. Also, I decided to type up his words and then cutting and pasting them in instead of actually writing them by hand. It was difficult to fit in his Japanese, to tell you the truth. But it was worth it; I had forgotten I had done it, but when I re-read this issue while posting it and saw it again I thought it was done very, very well. (I actually did it for the first time back in issue # 15 when I had him appear in Black Canary's night-mare and then continued it here.) 

Now, to close this AFTERWARD, I will comment specifically on the stories and characters. First up: Chapter Three. These four characters all actually get to do something, although per my comments earlier I think I could have done it without WILDCAT.

In Chapter Four, you may have noticed that Power Girl did absolutely nothing in this story. She was used as a sounding-board for the other characters but did not actually DO anything! What a waste. She doesn't even know that the Flash can vibrate through objects? Ooops. I like her very much, but I did not do her justice in this story. Sorry, Kara! I did like that sequence when Green Lantern "shoots" the dolphin to show the heroes what he was seeing. I thought that was a good scene. If you look closely, you'll see Aquaman is surprised by this, which I also thought was a nice touch.

Likewise, Chapter Five features the four greatest detectives of two worlds...if you consider Wildcat a detective, which, really....he isn't. He should have stayed at the JSA brownstone while the other three went to handle the menace. Also odd for me now is to see that the Spectre is hanging around portraying the JSA teleporter? I think we could have lost one or two of these characters to make things flow more easily.

Lastly, I want to comment on my choice of villain. When I set up this story, I wasn't sure who I was going to use....I had Brainiac or some of the other more "cosmic" villains in mind. Then suddenly it occurred to me: one of the best Earth-Two villain had already been introduced in "my" universe! Okay, it's a little weird that the JSA doesn't know who Vandal Savage is, but....wow! When I re-read this issue as a I scanned it I thought to myself, "That was right."

Next issue: too many members doing too little, again!  (sigh)

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