Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Peter Parker & I

 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.

Monday, November 28, 2022

And the Oscar goes to...

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?


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.

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.

It's all wacky good Golden Age fun! Especially when...

Alexander The Great (tm) MEGO Action Figure (catapult sold separately)

ALEXANDER KILLS GEPETTO WITH A CATAPULT.  Dang.  Leo Starr didn't even LOOK Theban.  Must have registered with the Medizing Party in his youth. Having killed a defenseless old puppetmaker, Alexander works out his comedy routine with Oscar.

"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.

He uses the robots to capture Green Arrow, which he immediate regrets. because who doesn't immediately regret meeting Green Arrow?


THIS is the real reason G.A. was sent to fight Alexander: comic book irony.  Ollie enjoys archery, sure, but nothing but nothing compares to the joy he gets out of using:


Okay, it's not often I root squarely for Ollie, but the only way that could be funnier is if the robot landed on Alex or that were Alexander himself bouncing off the ceiling.  Green Lantern may get hit by ceiling tiles, but Green Arrow hits the ceiling tiles with YOU.

Anyway, then Speedy executes Alexander The Great.

"Toil and risk are the price of glory." Alex T.G.

Nah, Ollie saves Alex's life.

Alex should be glad this isn't first-season Ollie:

There is painful "humorous" badinage between Oscar and the Archers, but then Alex does the ONE thing you NEVER expect from a Green Arrow villain: he returns.

"I do not steal victory." Alex T.G.

Then Alex decides to have the robots REND THE BOWMEN LIMB FROM LIMB.

Add "radium-powered robots" to the list of 1001 Ways to Defeat Green Arrow.

The point I am making here, btw, is: Alexander The Great is a ****.  But Alex gets saucy with Oscar, who, after all, has a mind of his own; Oscar rebels, releases the archers, helps them defeat the mindless robots, and they rout the murderous Macedonian.

"The end and object of conquest is to avoid doing the same thing as the conquered."  Alex T.G.

Alex, tries to escape, but is cornered by swamp critters, cuz this ain't Macedonia.

"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.

Then there's a page worth of Ollie disguised as a robot shooting various swamp reptiles with arrows, just to fool Alex because.... frankly, I think it's just to embarrass him. It was a big tactic in the Golden Age.

“Every light is not the sun.” Alex T.G.

Crestfallen, Alexander presses his recall button and goes back home to 333 B.C.E.  

“When we give someone our time, we actually give a portion of our life that we will never take back.” Alex T.G.

I didn't really want to recount even this part of the story in this much detail. But this all happened, from Alexander's perspective, two years before he met the JSA.  Which leads me to my theory:


When he met Ollie, Alex was a young punk supervillain, who had never known defeat or humiliation. He had never met anyone who was a bigger **** than he was.

Then he met Roy. 
And Ollie. 
And Oscar.  

Like Scrooge meeting the Ghosts of ****ishness Past, Present, and Future.  It was a transformative experience so powerful that it turned him into the gracious champion of Western Civilization whom the JSA meet at the Battle of Arbela.

So, everything is explained except. 

"Roy, can you reset the atapultc-ay everl-ay...?"

What happened to Oscar?  That's the last seen of him. He runs, of his own volition, on radium, which has a half-life of 1600 years.  Oscar should, 80 years later be padding around the Florida Everglades, cracking wise and overthrowing potential world-conquerors.  

My personal theory is that the simplest explanation for why we have heard no mention of a sentient radium-fueled robot living in Florida for the last eighty years should be obvious to any long-time reader of this blog:

Oscar moved to Apex City, where no one gave him a second thought.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Per Degaton, Part 7: "We Are Undone!"

 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.

At first things were going perfectly wrong, with Degaton's Diabolical Forces machine-gunning the Macedonians (who, btw, are already outnumbered five to one). Even Alex The G himself can't rally against that!

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.  
How... nice."

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'?"
"Yes, Alan."

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: 


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.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Per Degaton, Part 6: 1957/"Dazed But Still Intact"

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.



Poor Alan. If only he some non-technological device, immune to The Change, that magically could accomplish whatever he wanted. It might help him defeat the power of the Echo Chamber. It's like a maze on a children's paper restaurant placemat: "Can you help Green Lantern find his way through the Mountain Maze to the Time Machine?"


Are we SURE Dr. Mid-Nite is the blind one?

So many things to say, but I'm just gonna go with:
DANG, Kale is FINE.

Somewhere in the multiverse there is an Earth where Kale just quietly shanked P.D. when no one was looking, and finished taking over the world and the JSA lived out the rest of their days, hunted in the woods and wastelands like an animals, and no more heroes (or villains) were ever born, and Kale led the world --forcibly at first but eventually through gratitude -- to everlasting peace and prosperity and personal fulfillment, and men still wear hats today.  

But, no, I am wrong; on any Earth, Kale is too supporting, too full of love and life, for such a betrayal. 

YES, Alan, I see, you found the Time Machine. Now, stop playing with your placemat and eat your French toast before it gets cold.

Or, Per, you could blow it up...now.  Because if a JSAer just shows up magically when it reappears they could stop it from exploding -- both of which are the kind of improbable things they do in between fistfights with thugs-- they'd have the machine and could come back and kick your butt (or more likely just FIX the Battle of Arbela).  But P.D. is a drama queen, and sending something 10,000 years into the future is more dramatic.  Speaking of drama queens...

Ladies and gentlemen: Alan Scott, Master of Stealth

Per Degaton, who is only good for hurtful things like undoing inventions and tearing down society, has to turn IMMEDIATELY to competent Kale for help when he needs anything constructive done.

Like machine-gunning people to death.

I'm sorry, Alan... did you just call Kale an UNDERLING?!  Look, I realize that you're repressing a lot of feelings in this decade but that's DANGED pompous and dismissive for someone who can fly and yet just TRIPPED ON AIR.

Hal Jordan did not start the fire, people.

Ah, whimsical Professor Zee! Sure, a Time Machine is cool, but he had to add fun, stylish touches like Compressed Air Shoots like a funhouse has and a solid wooden handle, because metal would be just too cold and impersonal.

"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.

Fortunately, Alan's Giant Head shaved 9,990 years off the journey into the future and pops out of the Time Machine 10 years later.  

"Dazed But Still Intact"-- The Green Lantern Motto

In the interest of story efficiency, the JSA are RIGHT there to greet him.  They tell him they defeated Degaton immediately after Alan got out of their way, then hired Kale as their manager, and therefore the world has been crime-free ever since, so he can finally take off that hideous costume.

"Your costumes look as though they haven't been dry-cleaned in YEARS!"


Psych!  Without Alan Scott's absurd good looks (and magical wishing ring), they got their butts kicked and have been hunted, living in the woods and wastelands ever since.

But Johnny did NOT lose that bowtie.

Yes, it's a dystopian heckscape!  The world is completely conquered except for SIX PEOPLE:
  • a chemist who USED to be fast;
  • a guy who flies;
  • Wonder Woman;
  • a 5'1" 20-something with no college degree;
  • a doctor; and
  • a congenital idiot who happens to have a magic genie that could fix everything with one or two wishes, which is the premise for his being in the JSA to begin with, but we must completely ignore that, as we do for ALL stories, because it would end all stories immediately.  

No, really.  Our favorite criminal couple, now FULLY functional and happy as the world's rulers, have been pioneering minimalist decorating and occasionally remembering "heroes" and "opposition".  

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...?

And, sure enough, in 1957 (which would have been the year of Alan's return) there was no JSA and as result the DCU had gone to heck:

No more evidence, your honor; I rest my case.

BUT, with Alan's return of the Time Machine, the JSAers now have the power to fix everything!

Of COURSE you can, Wonder Woman!


Oh. Yeah.  I forgot: the bomb.  And maybe if Alan had been a little more focused, he wouldn't have forgotten. But he's very pretty!  It's good reminder that the real reason we make fun of Hal Jordan so much is because: Alan Scott's not around.

"SAY, YOU have a magical genie that can whisk us back to the Battle of Arbela, don't you, Johnny?"

Remember, it's just like I said; JSA stories are cleverly planned, it's just the way YOU expect.  The three heavy-hitters were saved to the end. Green Lantern, who did get the Time Machine, but to no avail, which gives Johnny Thunder, who can now use the Thunderbolt to take them to the battle of Arbela, where Wonder Woman, being in her element will win the ancient warfare battle. Observe, my insightful analysis of Golden Age plotting logic in action:


Oh. Um. Okay.  So, they... could have done that... from Zee's hospital room?  And just ... didn't try? And the JSAers have been living in a hunted heckscape for a DECADE with the world under Degaton's thumb, because this didn't occur to Alan before?   Well...  that gives me a NEW theory:

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.

Tomorrow (phew): The Battle of Arbela (331 B.C.E).