Multi-Masterpieces! Part Three

Crisis on Multiple Earths, Volume 3
Writers: Mike Friedrich, Len Wein
Artist: Dick Dillin

May 6, 2006

By Avi Green

The third collection of DC’s Justice League/Society adventures between worlds so far brings us into the Bronze Age. And with that, we also see a return to more traditional adventure after the character-driven stories that came in the previous volume. Let’s take a look here and see what we’ve got.

The first story in this collection is written by Mike Friedrich, who’d worked for DC in the late 60s-early-70s and later published Star Reach, and features a story in which a trio of young aliens and their pet alien dogs, who’d taken a spacecraft for joy-riding between the dimensions of Earth-1 and Earth-2, and one duo of these alien protagonists accidentally got separated from each other, the alien boy landing on Earth-2, and the pet dog on Earth-1. The problem? On the world they come from, the aliens (most oddly referred to here as humans) need more than just oxygen to survive: they also need to have a special pet companion to help them out as well. Without these pets, they can perish from despair of loneliness. Being separated from his own pet dog Teppy, the alien youth A-rym ends up lost in an outrage and causes a ruckus in his own despair, while even his own pet is having something of an outburst too. A-rym’s also got limited telepathic abilities, which tell him that Green Lantern Alan Scott’s power ring can help him locate his pet, and steals the ring from him in hopes that it’ll help him out. But beyond that, he has no idea how to use it himself, and is still as lost as ever. The superheroes of both earths join forces to investigate, and in doing so, the Robins of both earths join in. Not only that, Solomon Grundy also pops in to menace our heroes!

Most interesting about this story is how it gave the two Robins a chance to get to know each other at the time, and their understanding that, after almost botching an attempt to figure out what’s wrong with the alien youth, they would have to prove themselves to the Hawkmen of both earths, who were the main team leaders of the JLA and JSA at the time. And not only that, the Robin of Earth-2 gave the Robin of Earth-1 whom we know today a special extra costume he’d once put together as a possible change for himself. DC was offering readers at the time the chance to opine on if they would like to see the already maturing Dick Grayson take up a new costume design, as a footnote at the end of the story pointed out. Apparently, nothing changed then, though since then, with Dick’s transformation to Nightwing, he’s long cast away his acrobatic outfit and replaced it with the blue-colored one.

The next story, and a three-parter at that, saw Len Wein, one of the most popular writers/editors in comics of the times come on board to helm the JLA’s adventures. And for his debut, with the 100th issue, he wrote a very engaging story in which the superheroes of both earths teamed together to search through the pathways of the past in time for the Seven Soldiers of Victory, those being the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy, the Shining Knight, the Vigilante, Crimson Avenger, and the Golden Age Green Arrow and Speedy, and must locate them in time before a giant mechanical hand built by a criminal mastermind originally just known as the Hand, but now as the Iron Hand, destroys Earth-2 in its crushing grip. The cast of characters even includes Metamorpho, who wasn’t a member at the time despite having some notable guest appearances then, and also Zatanna, a favorite of writers like Wein, and who certainly became a charter member of the JLA around that time. With the help of a mystical being who preceded Babs Gordon in the role of the Oracle, the heroes travel to several different eras in the past to find the Seven Soldiers. The encounters they have are both thrilling and funny, as all the heroes work to find the missing heroes to help come up with the answer for stopping the master criminal before he destroys the earth.

Then, there’s “Crisis on Earth-X!” and “Thirteen Against the Earth!” in which several heroes from both worlds, while testing a teleportation device that can be used to trip between the two, are accidentally transported to “Earth-X” a world in which the tyranny of Nazism is still reigning and the world still at war, in 1973, and fighting to put and end to the nightmare are the Freedom Fighters of the late Quality Comics, who later became the property of DC: Uncle Sam, Phantom Lady, the Human Bomb, Doll Man, and the Black Condor. The earth is mind-controlled by supercomputers, and it’s up to the heroes of Earths 1 and 2 and also X to destroy them in order to defeat the Nazi tyranny eating away at the planet.

The last story, which is just one issue, features a character we’ve come to know again today: Sandy Hawkins, the original Sandman’s sidekick, who has since taken up the role left behind by his predecessor. And, we also get to find out what really happened to the Golden Boy whom his mentor had once told his fellow crimefighters had left hometown York City (I would assume it to be the stand-in for someplace like New Haven, Connecticut, but not NEW York City, to be sure) years before: because of an accident while experimenting with a new form of sand-gun, the chemicals had gone awry and caused Sandy to mutate into a giant sand-like creature, whom Wesley Dodds had kept secretly stored in suspended animation for many years in a special chamber in his mansion’s basement. An earthquake however jarred everything loose, and with that, Sandy broke out, and started roaming around town causing a ruckus. Or is that really his intention? The superheroes of two earths try to find out at the same time as they try to stop him from causing any damage.

Sandy was eventually cured of his being a monstrous figure, though his now being a sand-based entity, as seen today in JSA, remained. But this is where everything was first revealed about what had happened to him over the years, and how it became a very embarrassing moment in life for millionaire inventor Wesley Dodds, the original Sandman, who took responsibility for the accident.

Copyright 2006 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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