Well, apparently, for once in my life ...
|Looks like Hellam to me. Peter's been to Hellam and back.|
I can finally identify with Peter Parker.
My guess is he ordered the scrapple at the 'Round the Clock Diner.
The key to our previous story (Per Degaton's first story, The Day That Dropped Out Of Time), was that Alexander the Great was the great defender of Western Civilization whose victory over the Persian forces of King Darius III at the Battle of Arbela had to be preserved by the JSA, lest all of the world's modern inventions and technological wonders (like pavement, I say with great sarcasm) start to disappear.
|Would it have killed them to call it, |
"The Day That Time Forgot"?
The great Alexander, defender of Greek ideals like democracy and The Single Most Important Man In History, was very grateful for the JSA's assistance and gave them a nifty keepsake of his gratitude.
"Alex, when you say 'you', is that a singular 'you', or a plural 'you'?
It's ambiguous in English, you see..."
Which they couldn't store at JSA HQ, since that has NO trophies, as everyone knows, so Alan hung it at home. In his bedroom.
So, there are obvious problems with this rose-colored view of Alexander, a Macedonian king (highly hellenized through his tutoring by Aristotle) who conquered Greece because, you know, he loved it so, and who used that love as an excuse to punch Persia in the nose repeatedly as revenge for its having tried to conquer Greece a century and a half earlier, Persia's King Darius all the while begging to be left alone. I mean; Alex stole Darius's MOM, even.
But we'll waive that, since this is Golden Age JSA, not a Marvel Comic where heroes have to be shown to have feet of clay. No, the real issue here is writer John Broome's portrayal of Alexander as a hero at all when ALEXANDER THE GREAT IS PART OF GREEN ARROW'S ROGUE'S GALLERY.
Five years before the the Justice Society faced off against Per Degaton in All Star Comics #35 (1947), the Soldiers of Victory went up against Dr. Wilfred Doome in Leading Comics #3 (1942).
|We're just gonna call that "Jupiter" thing a Google Translate issue.|
I mean: even in the Golden Age, how could anyone take a villain with a ridiculous name like "Dr. Doome" seriously?
|Because "Long Island", "New York" and "1942" are concepts you will understand, along with English.|
Wilfred was yer basic Ugly Mad Scientist With A Time Machine, except his was a temporal fishing rod, with which he grabbed historical world-conquerors to join him in conquering the present.
Writer Whitney Ellsworth made no bones about it: Nero, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Julius Caesar, and Alexander the Great were SUPERVILLAINS of history.
|Hey, Gaius; when you wrote De Bello Gallico, you lost the right to criticize anything as BORING.|
I REALLY appreciate Ellsworth's refreshing moral clarity here. These were not Great Unifiers or Complicated Figures; there were Military Conquerors of Every-Effing-thing They Could Find and we call those people supervillains, period.
|Kang The Complicated Figure|
And, in the long run, what's the SUREST way to stop ANY supervillain, past or present?
|SPEEDY, THE ROY WONDER|
Boy, is that one red foot of Roy's in that final panel the best detail or what?
The key to ruining any supervillain is: pitting them against Speedy and Green Arrow. Not because Speedy and Green Arrow are that GOOD, mind you. Rather, because Green Arrow villains are immediately damned to forgotten obscurity, no matter how much of the planet they may have conquered at some point in history.
|"I WOULD RATHER RATHER LIVE A SHORT LIFE OF GLORY |
THAN A LONG ONE OF OBSCURITY!"
said the man who's about to become a Green Arrow villain.
I am NOT going to replay this story; it's exactly what you'd expect from a Soldiers of Victory story. Or a Golden Age JSA story. Or even most Silver Age JLA stories. Each of the mastermind's surrogates is dispatched on an Evil Task, is defeated one by one by a different hero, then activates their recall buttons to return to History where they belong. Alex The Gee is assigned to get radium from the Florida Everglades and Green Arrow to stop him.
|Points to Ollie for knowing that Alexander employed archers (mostly Cretans), to greater degree and effect than previous Greek forces, but it's still a stretch. Given his uses of the sarissa and hypaspists, the Shining Knight would be more on point. Ollie, like a dog, just hears what interests him.|
|I bet you think "Alexander The Great fighting Green Arrow for Radium in the Florida Everglades" can't get any more absurd as a premise. |
It can. Do not underestimate the Golden Age.
If you are wondering why there is a bunch of radium to be stolen in the Florida Everglades, it's because that's where Prof. Geppetto the Little Old Scientist is making radium-powered robots.
|Like ya do.|
How Roy Thomas never got his hands on Leo Starr to make him founder of STAR Labs, I will never know. Anyway, the robots are all strictly mindless automata, except for one, who thanks to some unexplained imperfections, is sentient, speaks, and has a wacky sense of humor, which is treated as a mere comic relief annoyance rather than science's greatest breakthrough (other than Dr. Doome's Time Grapple).
|From the makers of "Holmes and Yo-Yo", "Living Doll", and "Small Wonder", |
it's "That's Our Oscar!", Fridays at 7 on ABC.
|Alexander The Great (tm) MEGO Action Figure (catapult sold separately)|
|"Sex and sleep alone make me conscious that I am mortal."--Alex T.G.|
Lest you think that Alexander was not as much of a pompous ass as he is being portrayed here.
|OMG THE CATAPULT|
|THE ARROWCAR CATAPULT!|
|"Toil and risk are the price of glory." Alex T.G.|
|Alex should be glad this isn't first-season Ollie:|
"YOU HAVE FAILED THIS CITY-STATE!"
|"I do not steal victory." Alex T.G.|
|Add "radium-powered robots" to the list of 1001 Ways to Defeat Green Arrow.|
|"The end and object of conquest is to avoid doing the same thing as the conquered." Alex T.G.|
|"People are like snakes! You can give love, affection, affection even feed them, but at a certain moment they will end up biting you, because it is their nature." Alex T.G.|
|“Every light is not the sun.” Alex T.G.|
|“When we give someone our time, we actually give a portion of our life that we will never take back.” Alex T.G.|
|"Roy, can you reset the atapultc-ay everl-ay...?"|
In dystopian 1957, Per Degaton and Kale RULE. Literally.
|Not metaphorically. Only Kale rules metaphorically.|
But as you can see, there's trouble in dictatorial paradise. The Change is become unchanged, and any MINUTE now that phone could ring to announce the launching of SPUTNIK. Degaton's in deep kimchi, because something must have gone wrong (or, from our perspective, RIGHT) back at the Battle of Arbela in 331 BCE.
|Not SULTAN, you hick. Try "Khshayathiya Vazraka," or just "Shah" if you're pressed for time. I mean, I ASSUME you're speaking Ancient Persian that's being translated for the readers' sake, cuz I know Darius didn't speak English.|
|Hey, YER MAJESTY, you may wanna ixnay on the emocracies-day, seeing as how you got rid of all that when you subjected Greece to Macedon. Just ask the Thebans! Oh, that's right; you killed them all and burnt the city to the ground.|
But then the JSA show up to un-ruin everything!
|Assignments. Of course. The JSA is never too disheveled to omit the assignment process.|
|Sure, Johnny Thunder may be a moron. But he's still a man of his time and knows to SHAVE and fix your BOWTIE before going into battle.|
Then comes the moment that nowadays would launch a thousand fanfics.
|Naturally, Alex is INSTANTLY SMITTEN by Alan. |
Don't weep, Alex; looks like there's a world left to conquer after all!
I give a lot of credit to Golden Age writers, seriously, for knowing that the value of heroes is inspirational. The JSA don't win the battle simply with superpowers (it's why Jay was de-powered first, you'll notice); their heroism inspires Alexander's troops and THAT is what turns the tide of battle.
|I'll concede that Atom's a small target but how it's harder to hit hulking HAWKMAN than a clay pigeon I cannot imagine. The element of surprise is more powerful than Special Metal.|
The Macedonian forces win the battle and Alexander summons the JSAers to his tent to thank them properly.
|"Oh. Alan. All your friends came, too. |
Here he engraves and signs the shield with his thanks; the very shield they are playing back this entire story on like a DVD thanks to Wonder Woman's magical past-o-meter.
|"In fact, I'll keep it under my pillow. Alex. |
And think of you every night I look at it."
THEN THEY DISAPPEAR. But you can probably guess why, because you are a modern person who has read time travel stories before.
|Explanatory Floating Head of Wonder Woman would be a great meme.|
Once they're back, Wonder Woman hits the Google Translate button on her Magic Sphere.
|"Are you SURE it didn't say, 'Love, Alex'?"|
So Per Degaton, in classic comic book irony, is back to square one, as a harmless dishwashing lab assistant.
|I like to imagine that, à la Pinky & The Brain, this happens every night for Degaton, and that every time we see him is just his next work day, so that from his perspective, even though it's 80 years later, he's still only worked for Professor Zee for a week or so. That's why he's always the same age.|
Which leaves us with the real question:
WHAT HAPPENED TO KALE?!?!?!
P.S. Yes, I am aware that there is a SERIOUS CONTINUITY CONTRADICTION between this story and CRITICAL HISTORY OF AN ICONIC DC HERO who does not appear in this story. I want to assure my readers that not only I am aware of this issue, I will soon bravely tackle it, with a hot take that will split the internet, and possibly the membership of the Classical Association of New England of which I am an alumnus, asunder. Prepare yourselves accordingly.
Green Lantern arrives at Per Degaton's Colossal Caves hideout on his stealth mission to steal the Time Machine back so the JSA can reverse the damage P.D. did at the Battle of Arbela, which will then reverse The Change (which has been causing technology to vanish).
|Alan's "ninja mission outfit" has a matte lining cape, rather than sateen.|
|"Just like at The Crew Club (a men's private health facility)!"|
|Did he... phase through the mountainside? Who knows? The Golden Age operates on the Principle of Inverse Explainability: the Less Something Requires Explanation, the More It Is Discussed; the More Something Requires Explanation, the More We Pretend That It's All Perfectly Obviously And Nothing Needs To Be Said.|
Note that, due to the Principle of Inverse Explainability, Alan continues to be dumbfounded by the concept of 'echoes', while unblinkingly nodding about time-travel and disappearing technology. And what is that echo he hears? It is the voice of reason!
|And the voice of reason belongs, of course, to KALE.|
Kale is trying to convince his shallow, short-sighted boss not to destroy the Time Machine, Humanity's Greatest Invention. I'm not sure why Kale is surprised: Per Degaton's destroyed EVERY OTHER INVENTION (including pavement) . He's not a scientist; he's just a brute.
OH MY GOD IT'S, IT'S SOME KIND OF ECHO, IT'S LIKE MAGIC
|IT'S LIKE A HALL OF MIRRORS BUT MADE OF SOUND I FEEL LIKE I'M GOING MAD!|
|NO EVIL SHALL ESCAPE MY SIGHT.|
So many things to say, but I'm just gonna go with:
DANG, Kale is FINE.
|YES, Alan, I see, you found the Time Machine. Now, stop playing with your placemat and eat your French toast before it gets cold.|
|Ladies and gentlemen: Alan Scott, Master of Stealth|
|Like machine-gunning people to death.|
|Hal Jordan did not start the fire, people.|
|"WE'RE running this city from now on." |
Okay, P.D. can definitely be verbally abusive but... as a couple they are WAY more functional and mutually supportive than, say, Wind Pirate and Bosun.
|"Dazed But Still Intact"-- The Green Lantern Motto|
|"Your costumes look as though they haven't been dry-cleaned in YEARS!"|
|But Johnny did NOT lose that bowtie.|
|DANG: ten years and Kale STILL looks that good, |
just like Anthony Carrigan.
Oh, Per; did you ever realize, on your mad path to global domination,
that you had the whole world all long...?
|No more evidence, your honor; I rest my case.|
|Of COURSE you can, Wonder Woman!|
|"SAY, YOU have a magical genie that can whisk us back to the Battle of Arbela, don't you, Johnny?"|
Green Lantern rings, past and present, may be directed by willpower, but they are fueled by temporarily burning I.Q. points. It explains much about GL behavior and why the more powerful they get, the stupider they seem to be. Their oath is the Guardians' litmus test: if you're stupid enough to recite that oath aloud, then there's no chance you're going to be generate enough power to be a threat.