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Crisis on Multiple Earths, Volume One by…
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With the door between Earths-One and -Two having been opened by the Flash, not only did characters start crossing between Earths, but whole groups of them-- the annual team-up of the Justice League and the Justice Society quickly becoming a staple of the comics of the 1960s and 1970s.

There's a lot of fun to be had, of course, and Gardner Fox has it, though two teams of six-plus characters means that the characterization often has to be put on the back burner to the punching and the shouting and the improbable twists. Why do villains who can transmute elements need to rob banks? Fox never stops getting creative with the characters' powers and abilities, though-- there are some great, odd fight scenes here. "Crisis on Earth-One!" and "Crisis on Earth-Two!" are pretty typical team-up stories once you subtract the alternate Earth element.

"Crisis on Earth-Three!" introduces the first alternate Earth that did not derive from a previous comic book: Earth-Three, the home of the evil Crime Syndicate of America, evil versions of the Justice League. It's a weird story-- Power Ring's power ring is so powerful as to beggar belief. At first he uses it to put vibrational energies into the Crime Syndicate so that when they touch someone and say a certain word, they'll be vibrated into Earth-Three. I can just about buy that. But then he rigs things so that when the Justice Society says that they've won a fight, they'll be vibrated away. What the--!? If it can do something so powerful and specific, then surely it can do all things! How can you ever beat someone with a power ring? I did like the idea put forth in this story, though, that one's home Earth is intrinsically biased towards one. Thus, a fight between the Justice League and the Crime Syndicate will be won by the League on Earth-One and the Syndicate on Earth-Three-- it can only be neutral on Earth-Two!

"Earth-- without a Justice League!" introduces some interesting ideas that it doesn't quite play through. The evil Earth-One version of Johnny Thunder (the first time we've seen the exact same person on both Earths, actually) uses Johnny's Thunderbolt to rid history of the Justice League, creating a new Earth which he dubs Earth-A. Unfortunately, the implications aren't really thought through, as Johnny has to tell his gang that the Justice League doesn't exist anymore... but surely they would have never even heard of it? The idea of Earth-A isn't really explored, though, as all Johnny does in this new timeline is rob banks. Then, when the Justice Society crosses over to Earth-A, Johnny has the Thunderbolt substitute his crooks in the past for the Justice League members, turning them into replacement Justice League members... the evil Lawless League. But how does this actually work? We see one thug get hit by the lightning bolt that gave Barry Allen his Flash powers, and another surrounded by atomic energy becoming the Atom, but Superman's powers derive from him being a Kryptonian-- there's no place you could substitute a human for him to make that human into Superman! Similar problems exist for the Martian Manhunter, the Green Lantern, and (worst of all!) Batman. An attractive idea, perhaps, but sheer nonsense as executed.

The last story, "Crisis between Earth-One and Earth-Two!" is perhaps the most barmy one yet. In addition to people randomly popping between Earths, the Spectre discovers that Earth-One and Earth-Two are going to crash into each other. This is no mean feat, given that Earth-One and Earth-Two actually exist in the same physical space, but vibrate at different rates. One could take this as symbolic... only the Spectre grows to enormous physical size to hold the Earths apart! And then, the Anti-Matter Man begins walking down the Spectre to one of the Earths! I guess it could all still be symbolic-- the Atom mentions that all of the events are happening in "warp space," not physical space. Anti-Matter Man is actually a great "villain"-- a silent, eerie explorer from the anti-matter universe (which I suppose is the same universe that the Anti-Monitor and the Weaponers of Qward come from) who doesn't know (or maybe doesn't care) that stepping foot on a planet of matter will cause massive destruction. (He can walk on the Spectre because the Spectre isn't made of matter, but it's not really explained how the Justice League and Justice Society fight him without exploding.) This story gets pretty nuts, but so much so that I felt I had to like it.

DC Comics Crises: « Previous in sequence | Next in sequence »
  Stevil2001 | Jul 3, 2013 |
If you've forgotten how incredibly awful comics were in the early-to-mid 1960s, this is the book for you! It's like a steaming turd, carefully gift-wrapped in shiny new paper so you'll open it not realizing just how painfully bad it really is.

Stupid minor characters who are so awful that it's actually hard to believe that anyone human actually made them up (like "The Fiddler", for example). No logic at all, no real stories in any sense of the word, just one pointless, stupid event after another. And the dialog...that painful, torturous dialog. Dick Cheney would love this book.

One thing that stuck in my mind was Dr. Fate trying magical atomic explosions on a colossal anti-matter creature. They didn't work, so Batman ran around it in a circle, Bat-punching it. Yes, many of the classic DC heroes are here, but they're warped out of all resemblance to the archetypes we know and love.

DC thoughtfully put a modern-looking cover on this collection, presumably so that some poor idiots would buy it without realizing that the contents suck in every way imaginable (including, of course, the art).

The stories were originally published from 1963-1966. The Code was in full flower. But even under the Code, it wasn't necessary to produce such utter and absolute crap. ( )
  PMaranci | Apr 3, 2013 |
I didn't really become a big fan of the Justice Society of America until the 80s, but my first encounter with the group was way back in my childhood. For my generation, the JSA were annual guest stars in the old Justice League of America comics. I recall having read a number of stories where my stalwart super-heroes made a visit to Earth-2 to foil some dastardly plot. Unfortunately, I either never owned those particular comics, or my mom made me toss them when they got too ratty. So when I really got into the JSA, I was forced to prowl the comic shops, looking for those back issues that weren't too expensive. And wouldn't you know it, after I had bought a handful of issues, but before I had purchased them all, DC Comics put out a trade paperback containing all of the JLA/JSA team-ups of yore. I don't know if I saved money or wasted it, but I ended up buying this, the first volume of the reprints. The book reprints the annual team-ups from 1963 through 1966. The 1963 tale features the two teams working together to thwart a gathering of villains from both Earths. In 1964, Mr. Fox introduced Earth-3, the parallel world where all the good guys are bad. 1965's entry revisits the theme on a smaller scale, where only one of the venerable heroes has an evil twin. And then in 1966... well, that one was rather odd. As he proved back in the 40s, not everything Mr. Fox writes is golden. Still, it's a collection worth checking out, even if your not the fan-boy that I am. ( )
  Hamburgerclan | Jul 11, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gardner Foxprimary authorall editionscalculated
Sekowsky, MikePencillermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Greene, SidInkersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sachs, BernardInkersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Waid, MarkIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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The first collection of the annual 2-part collaboration issues which brought the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America together to defend Earth. Originally published in 1963 through 1966.

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