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  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).   


Bryan L said...

The important thing to note here is that Wonder Woman is still impeccably attired, while the male heroes look like hoboes.

I think I remember the Golden Age Lantern phasing through walls. Not sure what happens if he's trying to get into a cavern and runs into a root in the cave wall. Knocks himself out, I expect.

I actually like the way the Thunderbolt is handled in the Stargirl show. Wishes have to be extremely specific and unambiguous. Failing that, the Thunderbolt is basically a flashlight that provides comic relief.

Scipio said...

" Wonder Woman is still impeccably attired, " Well, she just has to do that spinning costume-change thing, and they're clean again. Also beard stubble ie key to the hobo look.

Genie-danger is the narrative way to hobble the Thunderbolt. The problem arises when the situation is such that the wish is a no-brainer. "Take us to Alexander the Great at the Battle of Arbela" is pretty foolproof. Perhaps the Thunderbolt can't time travel? I don't think that's ever been stated. Other than "no killing" (which comes from the Stargirl show, but which is just implied by Golden Age morals) the only limits I know of are that Johnny only gets access to him for "an hour at a time". Whether that means "per day" I don't know. I find Jambi much easier to understand.

Anonymous said...

Maybe at some point during the ten years, Johnny lost the power to summon the Thunderbolt?

Even when a story's set in the then-present, maybe the other JSAers do everything they can to avoid needing to summon the Thunderbolt because they don't trust Johnny to not pull a monkey's-paw (so to speak) and phrase the wishes badly. Even if they told him EXACTLY what to say, he might still get it wrong. It's AN explanation, anyway. :-|

I started to compile a list of Alan Scott villains, as I did with the Atom's and Doctor Mid-Nite's, then realized there wasn't really any point because, unlike the other two, Alan Scott has plenty of non-obscure enemies, many of whom have appeared in, for lack of a better term, The Modern Era.

I *can* report that Alan Scott encountered three time travelers, one extraterrestrial race, and two extradimensional races (the latter in the same story). At a glance, his conventional criminal enemies still outnumber his super-villain enemies, though. Even the wielder of the most powerful weapon in the universe (more or less) spent more time dealing with ordinary crime than with extraordinary crime.

Anonymous said...

I liked it better when Alan said "HERE I COME, FRUITY!"

About sending the time machine into the future and then a bomb blowing it up, I'm going to give Degaton some credit for that. If the time machine were destroyed in the present, it could conceivably be repaired. If it were sent to the past and destroyed then, its debris could be unearthed. But 10,000 years in the future means there's no chance of the JSA happening upon it and using it. As it works out, they didn't even try to repair it, but even so.

I've read other Golden Age stories and there were things that went unexplained, like how Alan could bank a ring blast off a wooden object, no editorial explanation. In that story anyway, it was up to the reader to understand the weakness and not ask questions. So it's my belief that, in that panel where Alan is making his own entrance, the purple cave wall is now-lost artistic convention that he's turned it immaterial.

Anonymous said...

So Green Lantern can travel in time if he feels like it? But Sportsmaster is a challenge? Willpower: chock full. Imagination: nada.

- Mike Loughlin

Scipio said...

" But Sportsmaster is a challenge? "
Not to Icicle, apparently.

Anonymous said...

Based strictly on number of appearances, Alan Scott's archenemy was apparently the Gambler, who went on to, in All-Star Comics #37, form the Injustice Society of the World alongside Brain Wave, the Thinker (DeVoe), Vandal Savage (meaning that Alan Scott foes made up one-third of the group), the Wizard (Zard), and, of course, Degaton (no word on Kale). The JSA had the same lineup in that issue and, again, Johnny Thunder went without his own chapter/battle.