austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Old Johnny vowed that he would never, ever end up like the rest

As though I needed night-table reading, I picked up Crisis on Multiple Earths, a collection of Silver Age crossovers between Earth-One and many alternate worlds. I'd never read them as comic books, since I only collected for a couple years in the mid-80s and made an eclectic set mostly of Marvel's New Universe books, which is the comic book guy equivalent of logging your multiple Yugo purchases on both your Coleco Adams.

Anyway, the first story, Crisis On Earth-One/Crisis On Earth-Two, has already thrown me for a loop. Yeah, in this era scripts were being written far too fast for anyone to worry about them making sense, and a lot of stuff seems to be weird mental flickerings of Julius Schwartz which we're blessed to see acted out on paper to the point that it's almost impossible to parody, only lovingly mimic (``For you see, dear reader, the vibration levels of Earth-81-Q are such that super-scientist Leander Brent of this Earth has the power to put any article of clothing on any person he sees -- but that outfit will last only five minutes!'') but I thought I had picked up most of the basics from watching the cartoons and absorbing general pop culture references. So what throws me for a loop is in the first story -- where (simplifying) supervillains from Earth-One and from Earth-Two find a way to swap earths, so they can commit crimes and then go to the other world, where they're not wanted for anything, to spend their loot; Earth-Two's villains figure to top this successful scam by disguising themselves as Earth-One villains, and then capturing the Justice League.

Now, in the process of catching the Justice League, the Wizard, Icicle, and Fiddler (sic) lure the Justice League to Casino City, USA (Atlantic City was booked?), where they ... trap Superman by making him slip on hard rubber betting chips, Green Arrow by getting him to touch a wooden roulette wheel, Aquaman by making him fall in the sand, Wonder Woman by making her get hit by a taxidermied moose head ... altogether, huh? Are these hidden weaknesses I never heard of before? Batman's felled by Chronos's magic flying time numerals (I swear), and Green Lantern by running into a big yellow mirror; those seem at least least reasonably standard superhero weaknesses. Granted, superhero vulnerabilities was a particularly eclectic field even by the bizarre standards already in place (``As Temporary Pants Man Brent is invulnerable to everything except bakelite!'') but ... sheesh, sand? I like Aquaman, but he's got enough dignity problems to start with, he doesn't need to be hassled with elemental vulnerabilities too.

On a side note, I had always assumed the Justice League episode where they crossed over to the Justice Guild of America universe (their best episode) was pulling out one of the many alternate Earths; I was pleasantly surprised to learn they'd made up a new one. (In doing an homage it's almost always best to do as much original work as you can; I've made the mistake of writing homages that are spot-the-original-quote events a few times.) Justice League's Music Maestro, though ... I mean, here in the book, is The Fiddler, who plays an evil superpowered violin of doom (I swear). Music Maestro's evil superpowered accordion of doom is quite reasonable. I think we all know people who play superpowered accordions of doom. But a violin of doom? I'm so thrown off by all this.

Trivia: The correspondence school art instruction course Charles Schulz took cost approximately $170. Source: Peanuts Jubilee: My Life and Art with Charlie Brown and Others, Charles M Schulz.

Currently Reading: The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick: How a Spectacular Hoax Became History, Peter Lamont. The history turns out to be ridiculous in key parts, with a lot of support for the claims of existence of the Rope Trick given by the British, which kept making me think of Tom Servo's riff in one of those depressing British movies they kept getting for a while there, ``India must be so embarrassed to have been ruled by these guys.'' The endnotes quote a comment from Robert Benchley, though oddly not from his marvelous little essay, ``The Rope Trick Explained''. This is the only trick that everyone explains, as well as the only trick that no one has ever seen. (Now don't write in and say that you have a friend who has seen it. I know your friend and he drinks.) It'd have been rather appropriate.


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