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.


Anonymous said...

And to this day, the notion looms large in DC Comics that heroes are the problem, and other than occasionally saving the entire cosmos from extinction, what good are they?

Worse than that are the teams that basically exist to fight the villains that exist only to attack them. That's all the Teen Titans do (especially the New Teen Titans), sit around and wait for their traditional foes to attack the city to draw them out. When you could stop virtually all your enemies all at once simply by disbanding, you really need to take a hard look at yourselves.

SallyP said...

Sometimes... sometimes Batman's total smugness just really irritates me.

Andrew said...

Great series, Scipio. I trust you've got an epilogue planned, that sums up the transition between ages, future treatments of Snapper, Denny O'Neil's thoughts about what he was doing in this story, or some such?

I hope you do. Because I'd like to read it...

Scipio said...

Sally; it's okay. He's understands. After all... he's Batman

Andrew; perhaps I should!

Yes! said...

Marvel-izing trends this story embraced
*Why must there be a Justice League? *Snapper Carr no more!
*Super-team vs real estate logistics!

Even so, this remains one of my favorite uses of the Joker! Turning normalcy and the JLA weapon hording into weaponized poetic justice to rub in Batman's face! An absurd false identity used in a plan that was just trying to ruin the heroes' reputation!

I think Joker at the end was thinking "Surely the JLA will stop me, but they can never undo the broken trust! Wait, they have an armory of weapons that can even stun Superman? Ha! I shall extend my scope a little..."