Saturday, May 24, 2014

JL#34 "Cross-Cultural Crisis Exchange!" Afterwards

So what did you think? As I mentioned in the Forward, of the three *new* adventures I have shared so far, this one is my favorite. This might be because I love the Justice Society so much, but I think it's also because it's the best plotted of the three. I sat down and thought about the JLA and JSA as if they were similar to two companies. I work for a company that has offices in other parts of the world, and we often have "guest" engineers or auditors come, or we go someplace else. So I tried to think what really would happen if they had an exchange program or a business trip between "sites." And the story went from there.

Originally, I was only going to follow one group of heroes. Then I couldn't decide which group to use, as I wanted to use The Horned Owl Gang on the JSA world, but also liked the idea of visiting Atlantis with Star Girl and Aquaman. So then I decided to split this into a two-parter. THEN as I plotted it I realized that the action didn't really warrant two full issues. So I combined them again, deciding to go back-and-forth within the issue. Let me know if the juggling of plots worked or not.

If you are a long-time reader, you may notice that this issue starts in the exact same way as my first JLA-JSA team-up in Number 21, except from the JSA point-of-view instead of the JLA. I actually went back to Number 21 and wrote this opening sequence based off of the first one.


In lieu of "roll call portraits" I showcased the three new members, with some extra time devoted to each...
As I had already established that Black Canary was originally from the Justice Society world and went back to visit each time the groups met, I thought it would be nice to establish that some JSA members  would not ever go the JLA world. Chief amongst these members would be Wildcat, who would always want to see Black Canary.

In the original comics, Red Tornado leaves the JSA world and relocates to the JLA world. Only once does he try to return to his old life; after that he is never even shown teaming up with his previous team-mates. So there is never any scene such as this as the JSA learns that he is not dead. I would have liked to have seen this scene.
When I decided to include new JSA members Mr. Terrific, Star Girl, and Obsidian, I decided I would naturally have to include their origins. Going back to my initial thesis that if these were real people, the JLAers upon meeting them would just naturally ask, "What do you do? How did you happen to join the Justice Society?" etcetera. So I had to have them answer those questions! And within one of those answers is the only appearance you will ever get of the original Mr. Terrific in my universe. So enjoy him while you can.

Speaking of guest-appearances in origin stories, I also decided to include The Spectre, who, even more so that Superman or Thor, should never have been a member of any group. If The Spectre can't solve whatever the problem is by himself, characters like Mr. Terrific or Black Canary aren't going to be able to help him! I did always like that The Spectre was instrumental in the creation of the new Mr. Terrific, though.

One of my favorite "new" characters over the past 20 or so years has been the new Star Spangled Kid. She was created by writer Geoff Johns as the step-daughter of Stripesy (from The Seven Soldiers of Victory) after the original kid was murdered by Solomon Grundy. I always thought she was a great character and couldn't wait to use her. And as an extra-added bonus I got to include The Seven Soldiers of Victory!
Courtney originally disliked and resented her step-father, but after being a super-heroine for some time and maturing some (and meeting her biological father) she now loves him as if he were her father. I wanted to include that character bit in my story.
More recently, Courtney changed her name from Star-Spangled Kid to Stargirl. I am not really a fan of that name, but I did like the reasoning behind it: as a continuation of the Star MAN legacy.  When or if I do another JSA story, I promise to re-visit this idea.

As I mentioned earlier, I originally was going to have the JLA-JSA team-up to fight a new and improved Horned Owl Gang. I even did research on owls and came up with new character names and looks for characters like Great Horned Owl, Snowy Owl, and Barn Owl. However, that seemed like a lot of work for characters that will never be seen I decided to "dumb" them back down to more closely match their "true" appearance, from JUSTICE LEAGUE 113 (Oct 1974). Check out my version, and my inspiration (by Dick Dillin and Dick Giordano): 

Northwind is probably one of my least-favorite "new" generational characters. In original DC Comics continuity he is the god-son of the Earth-2 (JSA) Hawkman and Hawkwoman. As a non-white character, I *want* to like him. In actuality, however, he's dull and he's complicated. And he has a stupid costume (I gave him pants in my version). You will probably not see him again....
No real reason to include this panel other than that I liked how it turned out, both in terms of color and in terms of personality. Visiting Atlantis for the first time ever *should* be exciting!

Actually drawing Atlantis, however, is NOT exciting. I based my illustrations off of the drawings by Marshall Rogers in the original WHO'S WHO IN THE DC UNIVERSE book.
And while I was visiting Atlantis (the first time I had ever been there in *my* universe), I wanted to establish that there were two cities in the continent, and that Lori Lemaris was from one and Aquaman was from the other. I doubt we'll ever see Lori again, but it's nice to to know she's there if we ever need her.
I had already introduced Mera and Aqualad and the Teen Titans into my universe, but this is the first time they appear in the revival. Say HI to the folks, Garth. I wasn't sure how Aquaman would introduce Aqualad to the Justice Society..."son" seemed wrong, "friend" seemed insufficient...let me know if you disagree with my word choice.

This panel tells you about Obsidian and how he and Star Girl relate more easily and naturally than anything I would have had to force into the dialogue. I liked how I handled this.
I don't know if Black Canary would visit her parents' graves EVERY time she went back to her home dimension, but I figured she would at least TRY to... And I liked how Power Girl, the Huntress, the Sandman, and Hourman all credit her with being the "first of the second generation heroes." All of those "new" versions appeared several years after Black Canary (II) did, so it seems natural that they would look at her as something akin to an elder sister. Or is that just me?

I included this flash-back to remind the readers that my JLA-JSA history is basically the same as that  established in the comics. Trivia freaks, can YOU spot the two continuity errors in these two panels?
1. The Flash did not appear in the "seance" sequence; both Jay and Barry had been kidnapped by the Crime Champions before that; 2. Alan Scott has his ring on his right hand. It had been established that Alan's ring is on his LEFT hand (as I draw it throughout this story). However, this panel is based off the actual panel by Mike Sekowsky in JLA #22 in 1963. I didn't realize that it was wrong until it was too late.

The Wizard attacking with flying monkeys is a direct plot assist from my friend Terry Castle. When I told him I needed the Wizard to do something to keep our heroes occupied, he came up with the idea of turning people into flying monkeys. Thanks, Terry! 
I love that The Huntress is such a bad-ass here that she'd shoot the flying monkeys in their wings. Ouch!

And lastly, I wanted to include some Aquaman foe at the end to disrupt the visit to Atlantis. With the newer versions of Ocean Master he is a would-be sorcerer, so him wanting Dr. Fate's helmet or Green Lantern's ring made sense to me. Of course, even with all of his super friends around, Aquaman had to be the guy to take Ocean Master down.

That's all for now. Next time: the story I actually re-started this series to tell! Be there, aloha!

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