Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednesday Comics: Conquerors of the Counter-World

"Conquerors of the Counter-World"
The Multiversity: Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1 (November 2014), Written by Grant Morrison; Art by Chris Sprouse & Karl Story & Walden Wong

Last week saw the release of the second part of Morrison's Multiversity storyline. Society of Super-Heroes takes us to the world of Earth-20 where a pulp- and serial-flavored group of heroes is battling for the fate (heh) of their world against an invasion from Earth-40 lead by Vandal Savage and (presumably) a Society of Super-Villains.

Earth-20 first appeared in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1 and its prominent heroes are named in Final Crisis Secret Files #1. Earth-40 is a bit of a puzzle. Comments Dan DiDio made about the Countdown: Arena limited series suggested Earth-40 was the home of the government operative pulp versions of the Golden Age heroes in JSA: The Liberty Files. It's possible the concept of this Earth has changed, but it's also possible that Vandal Savage and his crew took over that world sometime after World War II.

Anyway, here's a scorecard with the prominent players and what you need to know:

Immortal Man (Earth-20) 
First Appearance: Final Crisis Secret Files #1
The Pre-Crisis Immortal Man first appeared in Strange Adventures #165 (1965) and appeared sporadically for two years, then didn't show up again until 1984 when his backstory and link to Vandal Savage were revealed. Then he died in Crisis. This Earth-20 version adds the interesting wrinkle of apparently also being Anthro. Anthro is a Cro-Magnon born to Neanderthal parents and has fairly light-hearted adventures until he settles down and becomes the father of modern humans. He first appeared in Showcase #74 (1968). Pre-Crisis Immortal Man was a different prehistoric guy (Klarn Arg) but he is said to have been from the Bear Tribe, which is the name of Anthro's tribe, too.

Doc Fate (Earth-20)
First Appearance: Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1
Doc Fate is more of a man of action that his Golden Age (and other Earthly) counterparts. He's also a person of color, who tells us he was adopted (both differences from other Kent Nelsons). His helmet is also explicitly tied in to Novu, the Proto-Monitor, not Nabu the Lord of Order. (Unless those are one and the same?)

Mighty Atom
First Appearance: Final Crisis Secret Files #1
The original Al Pratt Atom first appeared in 1940. Like this version, he was a short guy with no super-powers who toughened himself up to fight crime. This version trained using the Arn Munro method. This is a reference to the old Charles Atlas ads and exercise regimen, but also to the pre-Crisis character Arn "Iron" Munro from Young All-Stars. In the series, Munro was the son of Philip Wylie's Hugo Danner from his 1930 novel Gladiator, one of the inspirations for Superman. Interestingly, "Mighty Atom" was the stage name of the strongman Joe Greenstein.

Lady Blackhawk (Earth-20)
First Appearance: Final Crisis Secret Files #1
There have been more than one Lady Blackhawk over the years, but all of them were so named because they were the only female member of the Blackhawks at the time. This Lady Blackhawk appears to be who her all-female team is named for.

Green Lantern (Abin Sur)
First Appearance: Final Crisis Secret Files #1
On Earth-0 ("New Earth"), and on Earth-1 Pre-Crisis, Abin Sur was dying alien Green Lantern that bequeathed his power ring to Hal Jordan. This Abin Sur looks sort of like a demon (or the Demon), which is his reason for keeping his existence secret from humankind, much like the rationale of the Overlords in Clarke's Childhood's End. He wears a costume more reminiscent of the Golden Age Green Lantern than the Silver Age one his origin is taken from.


Aos said...

This is Morrison at his best, imo.

Trey said...

It's good stuff.

Martin R. Thomas said...

I read a few reviewers complaining how this issue didn't tie in enough to the previous issue, and how it's left very open-ended without any sort of resolution. I disagree with that viewpoint myself, and I really liked what Morrison did to give this issue such a pulpy 1930s/1940s feel.

Thanks for this write-up - of all the issues he's doing in this series, this one seemed like it was probably most up your alley.

Tom said...

DC publishing something I want to read? That hasn't happened in a while.

This sounds like a lot of fun.