So the second time he changed history, that Earth should have been Earth-AA.

§ August 19th, 2022 § Filed under multiverse talk § 20 Comments

So a comic that’s sorta half-intrigued me for years (and I last mentioned here) is this one, Justice League of America #38 (1965), featuring Coming-to-Theaters-Near-You Dr. Fate giving a blonde-haired Superman a mystical knuckle sandwich:


The cover mentions “Earth A,” which wasn’t one of the many parallel-universe Earths with which I was mainly familiar, and didn’t recall it ever popping up in any later multi-Earth adventures in those wild and carefree pre-Crisis days.

Well, this is actually a two-parter, beginning in issue #37, where Earth-2’s Johnny Thunder idly asks his magical Thunderbolt to bring him to Earh-1’s Johnny Thunder for a little meet ‘n’ greet. And as it turns out, this other Johnny is…not quite as dignified as Earth-2 Johnny:


…and eventually Earth-1 Johnny realizes, since he’s basically the same guy as Earth-2 Johnny, he can just take over commanding the Thunderbolt, after, you know, trying to figure out what the magic word is (with some commentary from the T-bolt about his high opinion of both Johnnys):

…and then he proceeds to go on his merry way to cause menace and mayhem.

Long story short (and this story is long and a tad convoluted), Johnny’s Evil Twin Johnny decides that his attempted crime spree on Earth-1 being halted by the Justice League was a pain, so he commanded the thunderbolt to go back in time and prevent all the Justice Leaguers from ever becoming superheroes. Like so:

Eventually, the Thunderbolt’s sad tasks are completed, some off-panel:

As a result, we get a modern Earth with a changed history in which the Justice League never existed and I’m going to guess never got in the way of Evil Johnny’s crime plans in the first place thus never requiring him to send the Thunderbolt back in time…but anyway, comic book magic, everyone! Regardless of any implicit paradoxes, Evil Johnny dubs the resultant Earth-1 as “Earth-A,” with A standing for…

So, as Brad noted in his comment last week with NO SPOILER WARNING WHATSOEVER for this 60-year-old comical book, this ain’t your garden-variety parallel Earth as suggested by the familiar nomenclature. It’s just Earth-1 with a magical coat of paint slapped on it, which addresses my previous wonderings as to why it was never revisited in future multi-Earth events at DC. I mean, one could make the argument that an alternate timeline by its very nature creates a parallel reality, and some might even exclaim “Hypertime!” before they’re escorted out of the auditorium, but things are already complicated enough, I think.

So now that mystery is solved for yours truly, the fella what never read this story prior to this past week. But still remains the question: what’s up with that blonde Superman and the rest of that scraggly new JLA?

Well, as it turns out, Earth-2’s Justice Society eventually twigs onto what’s going on, since this is, after all, one of the annual team-ups between Earths 1 and 2. To protect himself, Evil Johnny commands the T-bolt to take some of his gang of thugs, go back in time, and insert them into the moments in which they would have their “origins” or otherwise get their powers. Look, see, here’s Thundie taking off to do the deed right now:

For example, we see one of the gang take the place of Ray Palmer in his origin as the Atom:


…and I hope you enjoyed that example, because that’s all the book’s giving you since in the very next panel, the deed is done:


Not sure what exactly T-bolt did to get that one blonde guy to replace Superman in his origin, aside from 1) turning him into a baby, 2) putting him on Krypton, 3) literally making him Kryptonian, and 4) ensuring that Jor-El would send Ugly-El to Earth, eventually. Or else that guy was just magically given Superman’s powers. At any rate, don’t get me started on that Martian Manhunter substitute and however that worked.

Anyway, here’s another look at ’em:

Please sign my petition to make the Flash look like this from now on:

To wrap this up quickly, the Lawless League is defeated, the regular Justice League returns, Evil Johnny commands the Thunderbolt to fight Doctor Fate:


…and he’s overwhelmed by the results of this mighty battle, of which we only really see the one panel, the rest being devoted to Evil Johnny being smacked around by the terrible magic forces thus unleashed. In the end, there’s a wish that “none of this ever happened,” and one magical reset button later, the proper JLA/JSA meeting can commence.

And that’s it for the Johnny Thunder of Earth-1 until 1983, when he shows up in the next-to-last of the long-standing JLA/JSA team-up traditions. But I can always cover that later if needs warrant. And I hope they don’t because this turns into kind of a regrettable Black Canary story what we can just kind of pretend didn’t happen.

So that’s The Horrifying Secret of Earth-A, my friends. Not a parallel Earth, maybe, but close enough for our purposes here, I guess. Thanks to all your interaction and support on this recent series of posts, and I’ll be reacting to more of your comments soon…usually with outright fear.

20 Responses to “So the second time he changed history, that Earth should have been Earth-AA.”

  • Sean Mageean says:

    I own a copy of JLA no. 37, but still need to acquire JLA no. 38. I think these two issues mark the Silver Age debut of Mr. Terrific I (Terry Sloane), who had previously only appeared as a member of the JSA in one Golden Age JSA adventures in All-Star Comics no. 24. I guess Gardner Fox or Julius Schwartz liked the character, as he appears in more Silver Age JLA/JSA annual team ups than one would think…and somebody at DC really liked Wildcat, as he had also only appeared as a JSA member twice in Golden Age All-Star Comics (no.24, no.27),but he became featured quite heavily in the Silver and Bronze Ages –with some of Ted Grant’s Bob Haney-scripted Brave & the Bold Batman team-up
    adventures maybe occurring on “Earth-B”…???
    The Flash of “Earth-A” looks like Alfred Pennyworth cosplaying as The Flash. I will say that I was happy that Dick Dillin eventually became the definitive JLA artist at the end of the Silver Age going into the Bronze Age–Mike Sekowsky’s art I’ve always found to be clunky and unappealing…
    Going on a tangent here, but I’m curious to know if the medieval iteration of the JLA (Knight of the Bat; Duke of the Galaxies; Lord of Lightning; and Thane of the Bow) that was featured in Teen Titans vol. 1, no. 32 & 33 in “A Mystical Realm…A World Gone Mad” ever made another appearance in a Grant Morrison or Neil Gaiman comic? Technically, I don’t think it was another Earth in the multiverse but an alternate reality due to Kid Flash (Wally West) and Mal Duncan time travelling that
    the medieval iteration of the JLA was inhabiting.

  • Why do I have absolutely zero memory of this?

  • ArghSims says:

    Bet this was the story that made Marv think he needed to “fix” the DC cosmology.

  • Daniel says:

    Re: Flash with mustache. Ezra Miller had a mustache in their brief time travel cameo as Flash in BvS.

  • This is the book I mentioned the other day, I had forgotten Dr. Fate was so prominent on the cover. My thoughts were always that it was designated Earth-A because it would never be seen again. Dc stopped with Earth-3 as evil JLA and called it quits. It is a crazy story.

    And you can find the two issues in one of the trades of CRISIS ON MULTIPLE EARTHS Team-Ups. Read those and you’ll see where Jay Garrick gets inhabitated by Spirit King and kills Mr. Terrific.

  • Thom H. says:

    I love how “extra big jaw” equals bad guy in old comics. It makes me think of the word “palooka.”

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Wayne Allen Sallee, I remember when I was a kid reading the JLA/JSA story (JLA no. 171-172) where Spirit King inhabited Jay Garrick and killed poor Mr. Terrific…at the time it didn’t sit right with me that Jay Garrick wasn’t really shown to feel any sense of guilt or remorse over what happened…I guess Gerry Conway only had so many pages to tell his story in–and, if memory serves, Paul Levitz killed off the original, Golden Age Earth-2 Batman earlier that same year(1979) in Adventure Comics no. 462. So,1979 was not a good year for the old school JSA! At least, later on, James Robinson or some other writer touched on Garrick having remorse for the whole Mr. Terrific death–even though it wasn’t really his fault.

    Speaking of Batman — I find it a bit odd that in Gardener Fox’s JLA “Earth-A” story when the Thunderbolt prevents Earth-1 Silver Age Batman from remaining a superhero, the flashback depicts Silver Age Batman dressed up like Golden Age Earth-2 Batman–in the original Bob Kane & Bill Finger bat-suit from Detective Comics no. 27. I guess we were still in early days of the whole Earth-1/Earth-2 concept, but I find it curious that Sekowsky wasn’t told to modernize the bat-suit a bit to the late ’50s Dick Sprang look for the flashback sequence. At least we know that both Earth-1 and Earth-2 Batmans/Batmen had their own iterations of “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate” — ripped off from The Shadow!

    Also funny that Earth-A Batman appears to be the first stubble Batman — and with Sekowsky’s clunky art and Miller’s chunky art, perhaps Frank drew visual inspiration from Sekowsky’s Earth-A Batman for his fifty-something-year-old over the top Batman in The Dark Knight Returns…

  • I haven’t looked at those issues in years, but I just think of Earth-A as having hobo analogues to some of the heroes.

    It was an issue of THE SPECTRE by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake.I was very happy with that issue, I always was angry (as one can be at comics) that the team-up ended that way, as after Hourman, Mr. Terrific was my favorite Golden Age hero. I was left with the assumption that Flash tracked Spirit King on Earth-2. And Ostrander addresses that quite good. That was mid-90s,.

    Re: the flashback art, I always wonder (in general) if the writer is giving the artist the pages and so he (in this case, Sekowsky) just got to that page in the script and realized he had to just get through it.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Thanks for he info. on The Spectre–I’ve heard that’s a great run (although can anybody really top the Fleisher/Aparo The Spectre stories in Adventure Comics for sheer brilliance and a retro Pulp panache?). I always like Ostrander on Starslayer and Grimjack.

    Good question regarding Sekowsky — maybe by this point in his career he was just cranking it out. Even when reading old T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents comics, it always seems odd that Wally Wood had Sekowsky draw Lightning or ,sometimes, Dynamo. Almost all of the other T-Agents art was great: Wood, Ditko, Reed Crandall, Ogden Whitney, John Giunta, George Tuska, Gil Kane. Imagine if Gil Kane, Nick Cardy, or Murphy Anderson (who at least inked a lot of JLA covers) had been the JLA artist for the early run instead of Sekowsky. To be fair, when Sid Greene took over as inker from Bernard Sachs, Sekowsky’s JLA art started to look better–so maybe Sachs just
    wasn’t a great inker. At least we got Cardy on JLA cover art duties in the early Bronze Age.

    I do think it is cool that Gardner Fox had Earth-2 Robin join the JSA as shown in JLA no. 55. I wonder who designed his Batman-esque costume? I know Neal Adams designed the second grown up Robin costume.

    Re: Ezra Miller Flash with mustache—that can be the DC Cinematic Universe’s out for recasting the role at the end of The Flash film—Ezra Miller was actually The Flash from Earth-A all along–Earth-2 Johnny Thunder and T-Bolt can appear at the end of the film and make things right. Or, JLA Dark can show up and John Constantine, Zatanna, or Madame Xanadu can fix things in a flash. I always thought the actor who played Eddie Thawne on the CW Flash show (Rick Cosnett) looked like Barry Allen.

  • I confess to not watching the CW Flash. I’m an old old man, and I was brought up believing that most of the JLA were between 25-30. So the characters on the show just seem way too young. But then, being 63 in a few weeks, maybe I’m just watching it wrong.

    I sent Mike Sterling Esq a shot from my cell phone, in one of those Spectre issues, there was a room with a Swamp Thing poster on the wall. The 90s run was good because Ostrander had Mandrake on the art for the entire run.

    Gil Kane on anything, put him with Sekowsky on the last issues of (The new, HUNTED) METAL MEN.

    Paul Gulacy was great on anything, but I always wanted to see Russ Manning do some work for DC.No idea on the Earth-2 Robin costume, Carmine Infantino might have described the look to someone who then sketched it.

  • Brad Walker says:

    Gee, Wayne, if I get chided for not putting a SPOILER ALERT on a 60-year-old story that gives no plot details, what’ll happen to you and your “Spirit King”?

  • Brad Walker says:

    “[T]his turns into kind of a regrettable Black Canary story what we can just kind of pretend didn’t happen.”

    Still not as bad as giving birth to her own groomer…

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Good point that Infantino probably was tasked with designing the first grown-up Earth-2 Robin costume…unless Schwartz and Fox just told Sekowsky to make it look a lot like Batman’s costume.

    I’ve been getting into reading Russ Manning’s Magnus, Robot Fighter comics recently, so, yeah, Manning on JLA would have been amazing! At least some of his Tarzan work did eventually get reprinted at DC. Also, speaking of top artists, it is great that Wally Wood did a run on All-Star Comics…his Power Girl remains the definitive version and it was fun to see Wood draw a Shuster-esque Golden Age Earth-2 Superman.

    I’ve never gotten around to buying or reading those last issues of the Silver Age Metal Men run so far…they look a bit dicey!

    Re: Gulacy–yes, I’ve got most of his MOKF run–amazing stuff…his early stuff was definitely in the Steranko school of page layouts and design. I enjoyed all of the film photo-referenced supporting characters as well. And Gulacy and McGregor’s Sabre is top notch–it should be adapted to a film or a Netflix-type series.

    Tangent question which Mike or somebody might know: pre-COIE were the original Inferior Five’s Silver Age adventures set on Earth-1 or, if not, where were they set? And in the most recent iteration of the DC Multiverse where does the original Inferior Five exist?
    It might be fun to see The Vendetta (The Avengers parody); Man-Mountain (The Hulk parody)The Kookie Quartet (Fantastic Four parody); etc. crop up again if the original Inferior Five–as opposed to the Giffen reboot– were ever to get a limited series or anything.
    Actually, since DC currently owns MAD magazine, it could be fun to see The Inferior Five pop up there from time to time in short pieces satirizing films or pop culture…or seeing them in gag cartoons drawn by Sergio
    Aragonés.

    Back to the JSA — it looks like Geoff Johns will be back at the helm with some JSA and Stargirl comics in November–now if only DC would let Roy Thomas (who just wrote a X-Men Legends issue with Wolverine and The Hulk)
    do an All-Star Squadron series…

  • Somewhere in the past, before Multiversity, Grant Morrison implied that the Inferior 5 and a few other characters like Brother Power and presumably other oddball one- or-two issue characters like The Maniaks singing group are on what is now the same Earth as Sunshine Superman and his group from the end of Morrison’s ANIMAL MAN. We saw Merry Man in limbo there, but in the Multiversity guidebook, Morrison was able to add characters to Earths, so Prez was around with Sunshine Superman. I suppose if one would take it further, the IF fought the ones you mentioned while that Eartth’s JLA analogue were out in space or something. Like a Legion of Substitute Heroes.

    As far as I know, the middle issues of SHOWCASE (where IF were introduced) was a random set of characters. Windy & Willy were just redone issues of unpublished issues of Dobie Gillis. That’s why I like the guidebook, Morrison finds a way not to discard obscure characters, there were enough to get their own Earth.

    Re: Power Girl. I remember reading in the 80s, maybe ALTER-EGO, where every issue, Wally Wood made the hole in PG’s chest bigger and finally was told to cut it out.The comic was bi-monthly almost right away, and it might have been true, but I could never tell. If you have the books collected, there’s a bit of that but it was more likely editorial just found out.

    Johns introduced a legacy Crimson Avenger in the last JSA and when he did things like that, or have an original villain (created by him) like Johnny Sorrow, he was doing his best.

  • Squints says:

    Didn’t that goofy alternate GL floating head become the floating head DC used for a while for these team-ups.

    Holy Middle-Aged man, Batman.

  • Mikester says:

    WAYNE, BRAD, WHAT’S ALL THIS SPOILER TALK

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Thanks for The Inferior Five info.

    I think re: the Wally Wood story, first Ric Estrada, and then young Keith Giffen were doing pencils or breakdowns for All-Star Comics no. 58-63–with Wally Wood inking. But it definitely seems that in All-Star Comics no. 64-65–where Wood took over the complete art chores–Power Girl is drawn more buxom. But Wally Wood was always down to draw zaftig women.

    It would be great if Warner Bros. would produce a live action JSA or All-Star Squadron film or streaming series set during WWII. If done right, it could be a lot of fun with meta references to old genre films and homages to the classics. There could be Indiana Jones adventure type sequences with Kent Nelson, Carter Hall and Shiera Sanders on an archaeological dig in Egypt; The Shadow type Pulp mystery men sequences with Golden Age Sandman, Mr. Terrific, Dr. Mid-Nite, and Batman; horror/supernatural sequences with The Spectre (and possibly Dr. Occult, Zatara, or Sargon) ; mysticism tropes with Alan Scott/Green Lantern; science-hero stuff with The G.A. Flash. Hourman, and Starman; a mythological aspect with Wonder Woman (also, imagine a cool “Rosie the Riveter” sequence where Wonder Woman is touring the shipyards and meets a legion of women working in the defense industry); comic relief with Johnny Thunder; Rocky tropes with Ted Grant/Wildcat and Al Pratt /Atom (maybe Stallone could play their trainer); and then you would have your Stranger in a Strange Land sci-fi sequences meets the archetypal Frank Capra-esque everyman for G.A.Superman/Clark Kent–maybe some sequences drawing inspiration from aspects of Philip Wylie’s novel Gladiator could be thrown into the mix for G.A. Superman’s backstory. The supporting cast could include Slam Bradley, Hop Harrigan, and Lois Lane investigating the mystery men and science-heroes. Beyond the whole Spear of Destiny plotline, there could be great episodes with Per Degaton or the Ultra-Humanite as the main villains. And if they really got into it, we could see a 1940s Multiverse, where the Quality Comics characters are on a separate Earth (for Plastic Man, Blackhawks and Freedom Fighters cameos), and the Fawcett Comics characters on yet another Earth (and instead of “Shazam,” they could rename him “Captain Thunder” or “Captain Wonder” or “Captain Miracle” and likewise alter Mary Marvel and Capt. Marvel, Jr.’s names). The JSA could also time travel to possible futures in pursuit of Per Degaton and meet Gary Concord The Ultra-Man in the year 2174 or an Earth-2 iteration of The Legion of Super-Heroes…maybe with similar names to their Earth-1 counterparts but with retro-future Flash Gordon-esque costumes similar those on the covers of old 1930s-’40s pulp magazines…

  • Brad Walker says:

    At the end of the “Oz-Wonderland War,” the kicker is the appearance of the I-5, looking for Earth-12. Many commenters took that to be their home dimension, but I think they just had a case that took them there.

    The last appearance (as of this writing) of the inferior Five would be in Scooby-Doo Team Up, alongside Stanley and his Monster, Windy and Willy — also Binky, Debbi and Scooter –and Angel and the Ape. But SDTU played host to practically everyone in the DC Extended Universe as well as Hanna-Barbera.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Dick Sprang”

    He sure did!

    “Power Girl. I remember reading in the 80s, maybe ALTER-EGO, where every issue, Wally Wood made the hole in PG’s chest bigger and finally was told to cut it out.”

    BWA-HA-HA!

  • Bully says:

    Amazing how scraggly unshaven Batman *feels* like a villain, which is why I don’t like it when modern Batman is shown unshaven. “Well, this guy just doesn’t even care about his appearance, why should I accept his views on law and order?,” I say to myself.

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