Tuesday, November 19, 2013
The team-up that never was
One of the great annual events for DC Comics readers in the '60s and '70s was the JLA-JSA team up.
These issues were historically the best selling of the year. Furthermore, the parallel earths concept intrigued DC readers to no end and left a limitless source of ideas for the writers (Power Girl! Robin as an adult! Huntress! Infinity Inc,! Earth 3 villains, etc.). This idea was so popular with the readers that DC of course had to sh!# on it. So they gave us the Crisis on Infinite Earths, better known as the Continuity Disaster that Keeps Giving.
Anyway, as the years went on, the writers wanted to bring in more super teams. DC had been on a buying spree as other comic book companies went out of business, so there were plenty of characters to go around.
But just like the original JLA-JSA team-up, they needed a reason why the characters hadn't run into each other earlier
For Gardner Fox and Julius Schwartz, this wasn't a crisis (excuse the pun), it was an opportunity! The answer: Parallel universes. Brilliant!
Len Wein teamed up the JLA, JSA, and the National Comics heroes who'd pretty much been in limbo: The Seven Soldiers of Victory (Shining Knight, Vigilante, Crimson Avenger)
Their absentee excuse: They were said to have been stuck in a time loop for years (when in reality, they were pretty lame).
For another year, someone remembered that DC owned the rights to the Quality Comics characters, of which only Plastic Man and The Blackhawks were used. This left Doll Man, The Ray, Black Condor, Phantom Lady, and one of the lamest ideas for a super hero, Uncle Sam.
Their story: They were on Earth Q, where they lost World War II. Roy Thomas would later ret-con this to make them originally inhabitants of Earth 2, who moved to Earth Q to help the war effort. They failed. (He even killed Plastic Man, which really didn't make any sense, because he had his own DC titles off and on in the 60s and 70s which took place on Earth 1…which means, was a Quality Comics character from the 1940s the first DC Comics Earth 1 character?)
After decades, DC finally got ownership of the Fawcett characters, so they were put in the rotation. Where had they been? Earth S (for Shazam, of course.)
By the 80s, this left one set of characters DC had recently purchased: The Charlton "Action Heroes." (Charlton, like National Comics were somehow opposed to super-powered super heroes. They were also opposed to team books. Any 8-year-old comic book reader can pretty much tell you his favorite books are superhero books, and super team books. The Charlton guys never grasped this. This is probably two of the reasons we don't have Charlton Comics today).
Unfortunatley, the purchase of these characters came too close to the "Crisis on Infinite Earths." As a result, we never saw the JLA-Action Heroes team up. We saw the Charlton characters integrated in the new merged DC universe after the Crisis, but no team-up beforehand.
I'm throwing the idea out there to either a DC Comics pro, or a fan fiction writer: The unbefore-told tale of the JLA-JSA-Earth C Action Hero team up.
Run with it!