Thursday, July 10, 2008

On the pummelling of Hal Jordan (Justice League #56, 1967)

Sally over at Green Lantern Butts Forever! recently posted a series of panels showing Wildcat and the original Mr. Terrific pounding Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan in the head with wooden sticks. The people who want to know about the original home of those panels need look no further than Justice League of America #56 (1967), featuring a Justice League–Justice Society team-up back when the JLA was on “Earth 1” and the JSA was on “Earth 2”. Yep, this is a pre-Crisis tale, folks. Brace yourselves for some Silver Age nuttiness.

The story actually starts in issue #55, but issue #56 offers a handy-dandy update. Maestro! Cue the Star Wars music!

”On Earth-Two, mysterious black spheres have been absorbed into the bodies of How Chu, a Chinese Bandit -- Claire Morton, a gem-loving girl -- British businessman Horace Rowland -- and sportsman Marty Baxter -- turning these four innocent victims into super-villains!

"Attempting to stop their criminal activity, the Justice Society of America suffers a crushing defeat! When Johnny Thunder sends his magic-powered Thunderbolt to capture the black-sphered four, he meets a humiliating defeat!

"In desperation, Johnny summons members of the Justice League of America from Earth-One to stop the threat -- only to learn that they too have just failed against an identical villain-quartet on their own Earth!

"When the Thunderbolt reveals that the spheres are living creatures from a negative universe and that they will soon be in full control of their human-host bodies -- making them absolutely invulnerable -- the problem of stopping them becomes doubly hopeless!"

Well, gasparoony. Everyone get all that?

Okay, here’s the lineup: On the JSA side are Hawkman, Wildcat, Mr. Terrific, Hourman, Wonder Woman, Robin, and Johnny Thunder and Thunderbolt.

On the JLA side are Superman, Green Arrow, Barry (Flash) Allen, and Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan. Yeah, the JSA members outnumber the JLA members in this tale, but with Superman and Hal on the JLA side, who cares, right? Hmmmmm …

The heroes decide that the first thing they need to do is go find the spheres that haven’t already been absorbed by somebody. As it turns out, the unabsorbed spheres are dead. However, the JLA and JSA come up with the absolutely brilliant idea of having some of the heroes absorb the leftover “negative radiation” from the dead spheres, in order to protect themselves from the four infected people AND give themselves an added power boost for stopping the infected people. Never mind that the negative radiation just might turn the heroes into villains, too -- and make ‘em that much harder to fight.

The heroes decide to pick two members of each team (gotta keep things even!) to absorb the radiation. The four they pick? Wonder Woman, Hourman, Barry, and Hal.

(Now, if it had been up to me, I think I would’ve volunteered four of the WUSSIER heroes, but what do I know?)

Oh, and just for good measure, “Superman would have been chosen -- but his body is immune to radiation!”

(What, you mean there’s no chance of making Superman even MORE powerful, and EVIL to boot? Well, DARN!)

Boy, do these heroes love living on the edge. Anyway …

The heroes all split up into teams, with each negative-energy-infected hero accompanied by two unaffected heroes, in the hopes that the unaffected heroes will be able to keep the infected heroes in line.

The first group consists of Hourman, Superman, and Robin. They head out to find Marty Baxter, but before they can stop him, Hourman turns on Supes and Robin. He actually gets the drop on Superman by digging a rock of kryptonite out of the ground. When Hourman tries to drown Robin in the Tiber river, Superman gets an idea of how to stop him:

Yeah, that’s it -- Let’s DROWN everyone! That’ll solve the problem!

(Or, ya could just give everyone a lousy drink of water. Sheesh!)

Meanwhile, Barry, Green Arrow, and Hawkman (yes, that’s right -- Ollie and Hawkman) are out looking for How Chu. Of course, Barry goes bad and tries to attack everyone. So, how do they take out the Flash? Well, Ollie fires an exploding arrow at a patch of flowers, AND …

So, Ollie and Hawkman bury Barry in wisterias and determine that they can also use flowers to defeat How Chu. Uh, HUH.

Next up are Wildcat, Mr. Terrific, and Hal (in a little more detail than the others since this scene involves the panels that brought up this whole article in the first place).

The three heroes are out searching for Horace Rowland when, you guessed it, Hal goes BAD and tries to smush Wildcat and Terrific. However, Wildcat and Terrific are NOT pushovers (and one definitely gets the impression that they don’t much like Hal, anyway). First, Wildcat gives Hal an uppercut:

Next, Terrific kicks Hal:

And then Hal falls on his head:

(Hey, I don’t care how much Hal’s ring is protecting him, or how much extra power that negative energy has given him. The man’s skull MUST be made of adamantium.)

Hal is down, but not out. He pummells Wildcat and Terrific with ring constructs and REALLY starts pissing them off:

How terribly convenient.

Oh, jeez, it’s the Big Green Boxing Glove.

Oh, SURE, Hal. Blame it on the negative radiation.

Finally, Hal gets whacked in the head but GOOD:

Let the beating commence!

Yeah! Let’s shut Hal in a box and go beat the crap out of the others with wooden sticks!

Last, but not least, of the teams heading out to stop the negative-energy people are Wonder Woman, Johnny Thunder, and Thunderbolt. Yep, you guessed it -- Wonder Woman goes bad (“Sheer evil!”) and pummells them. How do they stop her? Brace yourselves for this one, folks: They stop Wonder Woman by telling REALLY BAD JOKES:

And that, ultimately, is how ALL of the people affected by the black spheres and negative energy are stopped. Not by drowning ‘em, or burying them in wisteria, or beating the hell out of them with wooden sticks. Nope, everyone is brought back to normal by having Thunderbolt make ‘em laugh at really stupid jokes. Or is that REALLY how it was done?

Ya see, the formerly-affected heroes ARE (perhaps) in a bit of denial, claiming that they were actually HELPING bring about their own defeats by clueing in the others to their own vulnerabilities:

Yeah. Right. You guys just go on believing that.


Written by Gardner Fox, drawn by Mike Sekowsky.


SallyP said...

Oh for Pete's Sake! That...that's just ridiculous! Which, I suppose is part of its charm. Boy, Wildcat and Mr. Terrific DO seem to be beating up Hal with a peculiar amount of gusto.

And Barry is allergic to Wisteria? JUST Wisteria, or all flowers? This could come in handy for a supervillain one of these days.

If telling bad jokes is what broke the "curse", then they should have had Hal slip on a yellow banana peel. EVERYONE would have been cured, and they would have had the added advantage of seeing Hal hit his head once again.

Sea_of_Green said...

Yeah, I know -- Isn't this awful? Hilarious, but awful. :-) It also makes ya wonder how many other heroes (FORGET the villains!) who would just love to try bashing in Hal's skull!