Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Comic That Ended the Silver Age #4: Gettin' Real

And now the shocking conclusion to "Snapper Carr -- Super-Traitor"




Batman (who is the world's greatest detective, after all) has deduced John Dough's ugly secret (as if what we know of him already isn't ugly enough!).  He has also deduced that John Dough will be hiding out in the the JLA's own Secret Sanctuary (the location of and access to he got from dopey dupe Snapper Carr).


"And you know why? Because I'm BATMAN!"


However, the JLA isn't well prepared for the encounter with John Dough.  Using some weapons of the type the JLA stupidly ALWAYS has lying around their HQ, John Dough kayoes Superman and Green Lantern and Flash.


If you'd kept Martian Manhunter around this sort of shit wouldn't happen.  He would have phased in and twirled or exhaled or snapped his fingers or conjured up an ice cream from the atoms of the void, and that would have been that.



With the super-people out of the way, Dough gets ready to simply shoot the 'normal' human members of the League. With a normal gun. Not a zappy gun. A gun gun. A Joe Chill gun.

And he was about to get away with it, apparently. Until Black Canary turned out to be... not so ordinary.  Ironically, Dough is relying on the fact that Black Canary (who, remember, is an unknown because she has only recently immigrated from Earth-2) is a normal person.  But, having acquired a super-power as a side-effect of immigrating, she's got a unique talent she can use to defeat "Mr. Normal".


Most of you won't know or remember that her sonic attack WASN'T something she created with her voice; she generated it with her MIND.  


Yes, this is the first time Black Canary uses her 'canary cry' against a villain.  




And that villain turns out to be...not so ordinary.


Well, at least it explains the green suit.


The clues were there from the beginning.  The seduction of the innocent.  The laughing gas from a bouquet of flowers. Ignoring the Atom in favor of kidnapping Batman.  Keep Batman alive in the world's slowest death-trap so that he can watch society turn against his friends.  The 'trump' satellite (as in playing card trump). 

But even without clues the irony is so so painful.  The Joker, of all people, as the champion of THE NORMAL.  Turning the fact that the JLA accepted a 'normal' person, Snapper Carr, into their ranks against them.  Making Batman suffer for his pretensions of hanging out with the super-crowd.  

Sure, the story is written with Denny O'Neil's heavy hand. But in a way that makes the irony that much more painful.  His Joker isn't just stealing a ruby or shooting a librarian; he's winning the war of ideas, he's perverting the acceptance of diversity at the heart of civilization, and turning people against the heroes trying to protect them.  

Truly, what Denny O'Neil did in this story was shockingly subversive.  There was no fake-out in the title (as was so common in the Silver Age): Snapper Carr DID betray the Justice League.  The JLA's HQ is compromised.  The fragility of their position as 'heroes' is revealed.  

And, Denny, using the brick-wielding writing that I have been making fun of, makes darned sure that you KNOW it...

He gives you the throwaway Silver Age "all's well" ending that you have come to expect:


....only to have his authorial mouthpiece, Green Arrow, clearly call BS on it:




The end, indeed. The end of the Silver Age as we all knew it.  And Denny O'Neil used his painfully heavy style to make darned sure that everyone knew it.  Once Snapper Carr has betrayed the League, we are in new age: the Bronze Age, and nothing will every be the same again.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Comic That Ended the Silver Age #3: Gettin' Crazy


When last we left Snapper Carr and his back-up group, the Justice League of America, 




Batman had inexplicably extricated himself from the death-trap that populist demagogue John Dough had placed him, forgiven Dough and Snapper, and brought invitations to the JLAers to a public debate over abnormal superheroes versus ordinary people.


Do ordinary, average people have death-traps lying around? I guess they do in the DCU.  Probably part of the real estate listings: "good school system, nearby public transportation, with two-person death-trap."


What does it all mean?!?!?


My GOD, John Dough is actually ETHAN HUNT!


Don't believe everything you see on television because that's FAKE NEWS!  That 'Batman' is really John Dough in DISGUISE!  Fortunately Batman is in the slowest-acting death-trap ever, because it's still going on (presumably) hours later when thousands show up for the anti-JLA debate at Golden Stadium.


It's never clear in what city anything is happening in a JLA story, but if that's in Gotham City, I guaranteed the stadium is ACTUALLY made of gold.  And that at some point, the Icicle stole it before the JSA made him put it back.

Just to make sure that crowd is on edge and ready to rumble, John Dough has rented a portable Psycho-Pirate machine to screw with their heads:


That is why you left him with a teevee in the slowest death-trap ever, right, John?


This is where it gets NASTY. Dough has Snapper make the case against the JLA, which is a viciously embarrassing tactic by Dough. If notorious nationally-known super-suck-up Snapper Carr can recognize the danger inherent in the JLA, then, why, shouldn't everyone?!  


Man, dig that damning declamatory discourse!


Then it starts to get skeevy in the stands as palookas enviously ogle Black Canary in the closest late '60s comics can get to portraying sexual harassment:


Is it blaming the victim to note that she IS wearing a cigarette girl outfit and a leather jacket to a public debate?

Black Canary being Black Canary, however, simply beats the snot of out of them in a distinctly unlady-like manner.


"Jeez, lady, all we said was 'you're in great shape'!"

This starts a riot, which the JLA can't stop because Dough's mind-whammy machine rendered them confused and incompetent.


Or, in some cases, MORE confused and incompetent.

The JLA is forced to retreat, police have to stop the unrest, and the Senate calls for hearings on Dough's accusations that the JLA caused the riot.  Phew! A populist demagogue posing as the champion of ordinary people whips up a stadium full of his judgement-impaired followers to the point of violence!  Thank god I live on Earth-Prime where such a thing could never happen. Except during presidential elections.


LOCK. HER. UP!


No wonder Dough got rid of Batman; this is what happens to the JLA when Batman's not around to keep them from stepping on rakes.  

Speaking of Batman, shouldn't he be dead by now? No, of course not; he's had about 127 hours to macguyver his way out of Dough's makeshift deathtrap, which he finally does:


Trump. THERE's a shock.
I guess we now know who build the Golden Stadium.
What better way to broadcast fake news?


Batman goes RIGHT to the Senate hearings (because shit happens FAST in the DCU) and unmasks Joe Dough as an impostor. Dough creates a dangerous diversion so he can escape, which Green Lantern handles in the easiest way possible:  putting the Senate into suspended animation.


In the immortal words of Dorothy Parker: how can you tell?

After Dough has escaped and order is restored, the JLA confronts Snapper and his lame excuses.


If only Snapper had started talking like a normal person WITHOUT having to betray the JLA first.

And then Green Arrow -- dirty stinking pinko commy hippy dumb-ass Green Arrow -- lets fly with the piercing Truth Arrow.


Ollie Queen for Mayor started RIGHT HERE, people.

Tomorrow, Batman and the League confront Dough at the JLA's secret sanctuary, where there are revelations and reckonings.