BHOC: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #136

The next issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA that arrived in my mailbox continued that year’s regular team-up between the JLA and their historic fore bearers in the Justice Society of America. And this time, as had become the pattern, a third group of heroes was also in the mix. This unnamed band was comprised of the super heroes published in the 1940s by Fawcett Comics, original publishers of Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family, who were also on hand in spirit. That’s the Earth-2 Batman slugging the Joker on this cover, his oval-less chest insignia giving the game away

This particular chapter focused on four pairs of partners working in tandem: Hawkman and Hawkgirl of the JLA (the League’s nonsensical regulation preventing Hawkgirl from joining the team suspended for the duration), the older Batman and Robin of Earth-2′s Justice Society, and both Bulletman and Bulletgirl and Mister Scarlet and Pinky from Earth-S, the world of Captain Marvel named after his benefactor, Shazam. I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a fondness for Bulletman and Bulletgirl. When the G.I.Joe line of action figures came out with their own version of the character as their entry into the super hero doll derby, he became a prized possession (until his leg broke off at the knee–a career-ending tragedy!)

King Kull has already been hard at work, causing volcanic eruptions that are not only causing citizens of Earth-S to flee in panic, but which are also petrifying them remotely somehow. Hawkman gets a taste of this as he soars too close to the volcano and his shoulder begins to turn to stone. Elsewhere, other bizarre phenomena are causing similar disasters, which reporter Billy Batson reports on. But he is helpless to intervene, his magic word no longer functioning. He’s also drawn in a bit of an odd middle stage between his typical cartoony appearance and something more in line with the other characters in this story. It doesn’t really work at all.

Acting as the on-site talent of King Kull are one of Bulletman’s old foes, the Weeper, who has been teamed up with Earth-2′s Joker to cause mayhem. Mr. Scarlet and Batman and Robin give chase, finding the pair’s victims horrifyingly transformed into diamond, and so the vengeful quartet takes the fight to their foes. But even defeating them and analyzing a sample of the gas that they’ve been spreading gives them a clue as to how to prevent these incredible transformations. Now, batman’s jaw has turned to steel, and Pinky’s hair has become diamond.

Turns out that there are other minion villains at work: the darkness-loving Shade of Earth-2 and his opposite number from Earth-1, Doctor Light. The four flying heroes race across the world to engage these new enemies while the four earthbound crusaders continue their investigations. Hawkman and Bulletman battle the Shade at the Louvre where people are being transformed into living paintings–and Bulletman gets a taste of the experience himself.

And in Yellowstone National Park, in a bit of prophetic casting, Bulletgirl and Hawkgirl go after Doctor Light (in his pre-rapist days–here, he’s simply a colorful super-villain.) In the same way that the Shade has created a zone of perpetual darkness, Dr. Light has set up an area of 24-Hour daylight. Hawkgirl and Bulletgirl evade destruction, but before they can capture Light, he himself is petrified–and the quartet is no closer to coming up with an answer.

It’s clear that the two giant satellites the villains have set up to create night and day are the source of the transformative radiations–so Hawkman and Bulletman divert them towards each other, causing them to collide and destroy one another. And so, Earth-S is saved, and the various heroes regain the use of their altered body parts. But King Kull isn’t finished yet–he’s failed to destroy two Earths, but there’s still Earth-1 left. And in the very final frames, in a bit of foreshadowing that was even too obvious for me as a 9-year-old, the Marvel Family kids are startled by the appearance of Johnny Thunder, who knows the secret of their magic transformations! Now, why do you think Johnny’s been sent to them on Earth-S, do you suppose? Whatever your thoughts, they’ll have to wait until the final chapter!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s