The second half of this year’s annual Justice League/Justice Society team-up story turned up around here. In recent years, apparently not thinking that an absolute mob of super heroes from two worlds was enough, editor Julie Schwartz and his writers had taken to mixing in additional characters and elements from yet others. So different years saw the inclusion of the Seven Soldiers of Victory, the Freedom Fighters, writers Cary Bates and Elliot S! Maggin from Earth-Prime, the Fawcett/Captain Marvel heroes, the Legion of Super-Heroes from the future, and this year an assortment of heroes from Earth’s past. I’m not sure quite what the thinking was, beyond the more, the merrier. But it was a lot of characters to cram into a limited space.

Last issue, we saw the combined Justice League and Justice Society struck down by the quintet of champions from the past, their number all left in comas apart from eight of the heartiest. This was all the plan of the League’s old foe the Lord of Time. He’d created a powerful Eternity Brain that would allow him to stop time and then plunder it, but after activating the Brain, he discovered that, once time was stopped, he wouldn’t be able to start it up again. But even he can’t prevent the Brain from doing what it was meant to do, so he’s set up this byzantine challenge to his old foes in the hopes that they’ll be able to follow the trail back to him and destroy the Brain before the worst happens.

The Lord of Time’s next move is to draw his five catspaws back to the future era in which his citadel stands. having come to the conclusion that they are being used, though none of them possess enough context for these events to truly be able to figure out what is happening, the heroes of the past–Jonah Hex, the Viking Prince, Miss Liberty, Enemy Ace and the Black Pirate–decide that answers most likely lay within the citadel, and move to attack it. As a defensive measure, the Eternity Brain activates its defenses, sending dinosaurs pulled from the past and aliens delivered from the future against them. Despite the fact that they’ve been juiced up to the Nth degree by the Lord of Time’s science, they prove no match for the Brain’s countermoves, and are swiftly laid low.

The ambulatory remnants of the League and the Society, meanwhile, have been following the energy trail left by the time-displaced heroes. Using a massive version of the Flash’s Cosmic Treadmill, they have launched themselves into the timestream in pursuit of their foes. But as they approach the Lord of Time’s stronghold, their way is blocked by a seemingly-impenetrable barrier–one that Superman cannot shatter and against which the Star-Spangled Kid’s cosmic bolts prove fruitless. The barrier is composed of White Dwarf Star material, the same source that powers the Atom’s size-changing abilities. But the Tiny Titan isn’t among the heroes left standing, so his knowledge is of no help to them.

But these are the greatest champions of two worlds, and so of course they remain undaunted. After a brief consultation, they arrive at a plan to combine their powers: the Star-Spangled Kid charges Superman’s body with his cosmic radiations, and the Wonder Woman proceeds to hurl the Man of Steel like a missile at the barrier standing in their way.. This gets the team through the obstacle, but leaves Superman in a coma similar to the one strickening their fellows at home. Thus diminished, the group moves ever forward.

From here, the story becomes a somewhat standard pick-off sequence, as the team overcomes obstacle after obstacle, each time having one of their members knocked down by the effort. In the end, this leaves only the Elongated Man on his feet to face the foe. Ralph Dibny had been lamenting his lack of suitability for this mission earlier in the issue, so it’s really no surprise that the survival of the universe all comes down to him. Though he’s terrified by the enormity of the task ahead of him, the Elongated Man soldiers on, coming upon the Lord of Time as the Eternity Brain’s final countdown is at less than one minute. The Time Lord pleads with his creation to stop, but to no avail.

With no other weapon to use against the Lord of Time and the Eternity Brain, the Elongated Man uses himself. He stretches his body into the Eternity Brain itself and attempts to destroy it from within–which works, sending both himself and the Lord of Time sprawling backwards as the Brain detonates. As the issue wraps up in a hasty epilogue page, we learn that the League and society members had been cured of their comas by Aquaman and Green Lantern, and they came after their fellows a short time later, reviving those who were stricken. By then, the battle was over and only the Elongated Man was still on the injured list. But Ralph Dibny had his old confidence back, having accomplished his impossible mission. And that’s where this story wraps up. It isn’t al that satisfying as a JLA/JSA outing, as the Society members don’t really get a lot of play. And the guest stars from the past all but vanish halfway through the story. It feels like these yearly team-ups are somewhat coasting on past glories by this point–though there were still some good ones waiting in the future, as we will eventually see.


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