Monday, November 21, 2022

Per Degaton, Part 1: "It's Macedonian, Dumbass."

It begins as all Justice Society stories should: with someone saying, "Say...".

Naturally the shield sticks out because THERE ARE NO TROPHIES in JSA headquarters, as everyone knows

In a nice touch, Wonder Woman is able to identify the "ancient Greek symbols" as Macedonian (a dialect of Ancient Greek).  Being Wonder Woman, she's already on the case (which she believes they've all forgotten!), and has pulled a magical device out of her cultural *** that can play the shield's past like it's a DVD, because that's just the kind of thing she does, casually but unintentionally making everyone else look stupid. "Um, it's Macedonian, DUMBASS. Can you READ?"

I hope she has an easier time navigating comixology than I do.

Turns out that recently a Wave of Change started reversing all technological advancements. 

Not pictured: two screaming people falling 3K ft. to their pulpy deaths and the NTSB blaming FAA for it.

Even books with scientific knowledge were disappearing.

"Fortunately, "said the Librarian, "I am immune to the effect, since I pre-date Knowledge."

Turns out, just like a JSA-version of a Super-Friends episode, a scientist friend of theirs is inadvertently to blame.

How DOES one become friends with the entire Justice Society, anyway?
It's not the JLA; you can't just throw some lime on your lawn and automatically become their friend for life that way. 

Zee, you see, invented a time travel device (as scientists often do), then foolishly explained causality to his really ugly and disturbed lab assistant, who shot the fool (as disturbed lab assistants often do) and is using the device to try to conquer the world by means of causality.

SCARY ugly.

The Change. It's what they call it.

Apparently, Per Degaton did something in the past that had the domino effect of eliminating all modern tech (except for whatever he's stashed away for himself somehow).  That will give him the military edge he needs to take over the world. Because who doesn't want to do that?

This is...a very strange interpretation of the possible effects of time travel. Very Marty McFly. But such is the logic of the Golden Age.  Luckily, all Golden Age heroes have the special power of Rolling with the Premise of the story. 

But it's all good, since Zee knows the secret of time travel PLUS is smart enough to have deduced what  Degaton changed about history, so that the JSA can go back and fix it. It's the b....

JUST like poor Salome Otterbourne.

"There's no one out here dressed like a gunman!"
I miss the days when ugly smart guys with no powers used to run RINGS about entire squadrons of super-beings.  

Uh-oh. That's bad news. The good news is that, although Per Degaton is a pretty smart guy, he's a lousy shot. After two attempts, Professor Zee, who's gotta be pushing 80, is STILL not dead.


It takes about seven days to make new penicillin even if you have mold on hand, by the way. Also note how Wonder Woman is really in charge although Hawkman is the JSA chair.

Well, unlike the JSA, it's obvious to you and me what the event was, right? Because we have a clue that they don't. And you'd have to be a DUMBASS not to be able to interpret it!

Anyway, when WW says, "We've all got our work cut out for us!" them's the magic words that initiate that most sacred of all JSA story rituals: THE ASSIGNING OF THE ASSIGNMENTS.  

Jay; you're a chemist; figure it out.
Also, "all the diabolical forces at his command" are, as far as you know, a pistol with only four bullets remaining and really poor aim.

This is how the prologue of every JSA story ends. Once The Premise has been set up and The Scope of the Problem established, the Assigning of the Assignments decides who goes off to tackle what part of the problem. To wit:

"I, a near-dwarf wrestler, will wander the streets in this German climbing outfit, assuming I'll run into our foe!"

"Even though there's next to no rationale for my assumption that the mayor will be a target, I will of course be correct!"

"I sure hope all the Scientists of the World are all conveniently gathered in one place for me!"

"The three of us will surely succeed in protecting the professor when seven of us just failed spectacularly!"

TOMORROW: We join The Flash in his race against time to save the life of Professor Zee!


Anonymous said...

I read this story in a reprint back in, I would guess, 1979. I probably got my books dumped for knowing what the Battle of Arbela was. Thanks, Per Degaton!

I never could buy how The Change worked though. How did the people board the never-invented airplane and get airborne so that it could be yoinked out of existence around them? Maybe I should just quit daydreaming and wash those test tubes like a good fellow.

CobraMisfit said...

The fact that Alan Scott says, "Great Scott" and not "Great Me" feels like a major miss on the part of the Golden Age writers.


Also, this tale is GLORIOUSLY ridiculous and I love every panel of it.

Redforce said...

OK, I have never read a JSA story, much less an original one.
I'm ready for my learnin', Professor G!

Bryan L said...

One of the things that always amazed me about JSA stories is that each hero is utterly interchangeable, like they don't even have powers at all. So you have Mid-nite, who's basically an doctor/athlete that can see in the dark, guarding multiple scientists. And you have Hawkman, who is the most mobile other than Flash or GL, guarding one dude. Flash, of course, is after penicillin when by all rights you should put the actual doctor on that chore. And of course Green Lantern doesn't just slap a green bubble around Professor Zee, no, no. He's going to stand around like a bouncer at a nightclub along with the other two.

It's almost like the writers just put situations on index cards and heroes on index cards and pulled them out of hats to randomly match them up. Probably while drinking martinis.

Scipio said...

Actually, Bryan, I go out of my way to show that there IS a method to who is chosen for which task. The "logic" isn't anything like we would use, certainly, but there's definitely an attempt to custom-fit the deed to the doer. For example, Dr. Mid-Nite isn't put on the pencillin task because what is need isn't expertise, it's speed; they don't need someone who can make some, just someone who can FIND some and get it to Professor Zee fast enough.

" Green Lantern doesn't just slap a green bubble around Professor Zee". As I recall Alan's ring doesn't really work that way; he can't really just "make a solid construct" and set it on 'auto'. That would be like seeing how long you can continually blow out your breath; eventually, you're going to run out, have to stop, recoup, and start again away. I think that's part of why it's always drawn as fire rather than as "hard light".