...for all my kvetching about Jason Todd being brought back to life. Seriously.
I mean, I still think it was incredibly lame to revive him by having Superboy-Prime punch the universe. I mean, that is galactic-level stupid.
But it's not the stupidest. Join me, my friends, for the comic that put the deus in deus ex machina, JLA #124.
My main man Mark already covered this one in his excellent series on JLA/JSA team-ups, but I think this particular plot twist deserves a teensy bit more attention.
The fun began in JLA #123, and while you might want to test my urine, I promise this plot description is NOT an acid flashback. An accident with one of Flash's spare cosmic treadmills sends Earth-Prime comic book writer Cary Bates to Earth-2...OK, to fill in our younger readers, Earth-Prime was our Earth, the real world, where all the DC heroes (and presumably Marvel heroes, too) are just comic book characters. Barry Allen/Flash visited there a few times--not coincidentally in issues which Cary Bates wrote, and he just also happened to appear in. Uhh...ego much, Cary?
Anyhoo, Bates ended up transported to Earth-2, where the Wizard and the Injustice Society of America enact a typically over-complicated and Rube Goldberg-like plan. He zaps Bates with a spell that A) turned him evil, and B) gave him reality-altering mental powers. He then uses those powers to easily defeat the JSA. (Question from the audience: why go to all that trouble and not zap yourself or one of your cohorts with that spell? A: Who knows??) They then disguise & brainwash the JSA to act and dress like the Injustice Society. The JLA, who have come to Earth-2 along with Earth-Prime writer Elliot S! Maggin to find Bates, then proceed to kill the JSA.
No, it's not a dream, not a hoax, not an imaginary story. In a pretty tepid battle, a couple of light punches from the Justice Leaguers is enough to kill the disguised Justice Society members (well, they are old, I guess...). Dead. Really, really dead. Don't believe me? Check out these panels:
Told you. Dead dead dead. Which leads us to #124, and one of my favorite covers of all time (even with the gigantically terrible BAtRobin costume featured so prominently):
So now the JSA is hanging around Earth-2 fighting disasters because they feel guilty about killing the JSA. Hawkman tries to make them feel better, declaring, "We may have delivered the blows that actually destroyed them--But it was the villainy of a yet unknown enemy that tricked us into it. (Question from the audience: So it was OK when you thought it was villains you had killed? A: Shut up.)
The Injustice League finally attacks the JLA, and thanks to the tremendous guilt they feel over killing the JSAers who looked like the villains, they're completely unable to fight effectively. Plus, the fantastically super-powered and evil Cary Bates, in a contemptible under use of his abilities, makes the JLAers see ghosts of the departed heroes. Boo hoo.
Fortunately, despite the inability of Earth-1's greatest super-heroes to deal with the likes of the Gambler and the Sportsmaster, there's one JSA member left to make it all better:
Well, apparently the Spectre's pleas worked with the Big Guy, because just when things seem darkest:
Yup...no digging our way out of coffins or Lazarus pits or rituals or anything. Just poof, they appear out of thin air, ready to rumble, no questions asked. Now that's service!! And after they vanquish the really stupid bad guys, Spectre leaves us with this thought:
Oh, heavens-to-Betsy, Spectre, why not let them remember? When word of this got out, it would have to mean the total triumph of the Earth-2 God over other religions, right? "God Resurrects Justice Society" headlines would pretty much guarantee 100% attendance next Sunday, don't you think?
Of course, in a dramatic sense, having God make it all better has got to be the worst solution ever, right? Besides, since our heroes don't do anything special to earn this, you have to wonder about the theological can of worms opened here:
*Why doesn't the Spectre pray to revive every fallen hero? Like Wing or Mr. Terrific? Or every policeman or fireman or kid with cancer? Was this a one time only offer? (Two time only, if you count the Spectre himself?)
*Would God have brought them back if the Spectre hadn't prayed for it?
*Do Earth-1 and Earth-2 have the same God? And what about Earth-Prime?
*Since the JSA, post-Crisis I, were sent off to fight Ragnarok, does that mean the Spectre works for Odin???
It's pretty amazing...Maggin and Bates spend two issues complimenting themselves (via their Earth-Prime characters) about what master plotters they are, and the best they can come up with is "God made it all better???" Really??
So let's make it official...Superboy-Prime punching the universe is now only the SECOND stupidest way of reviving a dead character ever. Congratulations, guys.
The first set of panels is from JLA #123, the cover and the rest of the shots are from #124. If I went to Earth-2, would I have super-powers??