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.


Anonymous said...

Cool. :-)

Anonymous said...

Okay, I am astonished at how much fun Oscar is. A "funny" comic book character who isn't merely annoying is rare. Oscar's got style.

I'm not sure what to do with this, but I feel like this whole story is about the villain T. O. Morrow. Morrow not only had a time hook like Dr Doome, but he also created androids, and one of them (the Red Tornado) unexpectedly broke his programming. The Bronze Age explanation is that RT contained the Tornado Champion, and the post-Crisis explanation involved air elementals. How about: T. O. Morrow used his time hook to grab one of Dr Starr's androids, one that hadn't yet broken its programming?

I want to see more Oscar though. Seriously, he rocks.

Scipio said...

Well, I spared you several PAGES of him, which may help your positive impression. But now that you point it out, I have to confess I'm charmed by his lack of EXISTENTIAL ANGST, which seems to bedevil far too many sentient robots. Oscar would make an interesting major domo at JSA HQ, I suppose. Although frankly I can imagine he'd have better things to do with his time. I can imagine him renaming himself "Captain Clown" and going to work for the Joker...

Anonymous said...

Since no one asked, the Vigilante fought Attila the Hun; the Shining Knight fought Genghis Khan; the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy fought Napoleon; and the Crimson Avenger and Wing fought Nero. :-)

Anonymous said...

I can see Oscar getting a job at Ford, where his job is to be a crash test dummy. Really, all he has to do is come up with new and inventive ways to foil a car's safety features. I can totally see him coming home at the end of the day, kissing his robot wife, and the two of them beating the crap out of each other for fun. Oscar is living his best life.

Anonymous said...

The funniest thing in the whole story is Speedy saying, “Time for me to do something!” It’s not often that a script note gets turned into dialogue.

- Mike Loughlin

Scipio said...

It's his signature phrase.
"something" = "smack"

Anonymous said...

Oh, my goodness.

Does Elon Musk know about this?

Is there any way that we could arrange for Green Arrow to *fight* Elon Musk?

Anonymous said...

“something” = “smack”

Good thing I didn’t take a drink right before I read that.

- Mike Loughlin

Bryan L said...

Clearly after living for a time as Oscar, the doughty robot ran into Dr. Will Magnus, who used him to build the Metal Man, Tin. The experience was so traumatic that Tin developed his trademark stammer. The nose is a dead giveaway.

Anonymous said...

"The key to ruining any supervillain is: pitting them against Speedy and Green Arrow...because Green Arrow villains are immediately damned to forgotten obscurity."

"Being humiliated by [REDACTED] ends your criminal career...[No] one wants to go up against [REDACTED] a second time."

"[A] villain is automatically an "old foe" of [REDACTED] the very first time he fights them...That's because...almost no one ever fights [REDACTED] twice."


Scipio said...

Oh, I know; those two had a lot in common back in the day.

Scipio said...

P.S. You have a very good memory.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. The parallels were just...there. :-)

Anonymous said...

Remind me to introduce you to someone on SpaceBattles who doesn't care much for Iskander either one of these days.

Redforce said...

I know this is a fairly old entry, but I have recently been re-watching Deep Space Nine, and a lot of those Alex T.G. quotes remind me of Gul Dukat.