A Tribute to the of

Well, here we are, readers. With this installment, it’s officially been 17 years of the Silver Age Sage and I continue to be amazed at how it has unfolded and how it has lasted. For all the side detours and other projects here and there (and make no mistake, I absolutely love my occasional BACK ISSUE gig) this is my home and where my heart lies first and foremost. Thanks for joining the webmaster and I on the journey and Long Live the Silver Age!

Back in 2007 when I was starting to tear it up with interviews, Denny O’Neil shared an interesting tidbit with me: I once asked Julie Schwartz, "How did you get away with doing continued stories in the Justice League when conventional wisdom was that you couldn’t do continued stories in comics?" What he said in effect was, "I did them. I didn't bother to ask anybody."

So, the very first time Julie offered a two-part Justice League story was back in 1962. Probably before, actually, taking into account publishing schedules, but as usual, we’re referencing these issues based on the printed publication dates, so follow us back to a special time in DC Silver Age history, specifically March of 1962 (the webmaster’s birth month and year, by the way) when Justice League of America #10 came out with a great Murphy Anderson cover (which was a reworking of the cover from Sensation Comics #109 from May/June of 1952, also by Murphy) and the classic Ira Schnapp JLA logo. Interior credits include, of course, Julius Schwartz editing a Gardner Fox script, illustrated by Mike Sekowsky and Bernie Sachs with the great Gaspar Saladino on lettering detail. It’s the first appearance of a new villain, whose name graces the story title: "The Fantastic Fingers of Felix Faust!"

Our lineup includes the Flash, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, J’onn J’onzz, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow and Snapper Carr. The tale begins dramatically with the arrival of three beings, rising from the earth in disparate locations, including Antarctica, the Sin-Kiang desert in Western China and the waters of the South Atlantic Ocean. They are Abegazar, Rath and Ghast, demons who ruled the earth a billion years in the past before being imprisoned by the Timeless Ones and they’ve been freed by the magical conjuring of Felix Faust.

He has not, however, brought them back for altruistic reasons. He demands to know the secrets of their powers, but they cannot comply as he’s only managed to call forth their disembodied spirits. Their bodies can only come forth when summoned with the help of three talismans, the red jar of Clythos, the Green bell of Uthool and the silver wheel of Nyorlath. These artifacts are the only way to free them from the binding spell of the Timeless Ones and they’re indestructible. Felix Faust vows to retrieve them, but the demons warn him that they are not only well hidden, but guarded by the supernatural.

Crestfallen, Faust, who takes his name from the Faust who sold his soul to the devil for power, relives his origin as a man who searched and studied for years to become a master of the black arts. There is even a shout-out to H.P. Lovecraft in the text, which must have brought a smile to Julie Schwartz's face, if he, in fact, didn’t suggest it to Gardner Fox.

The demons mention that he’d need superpowers to retrieve the jar, bell and wheel, which gives Felix an idea. The Justice League! When he explains to the spirits what he has in mind, they suggest they can help, but he must come up with some objects first, to which he quickly complies. The next thing he knows, Felix's fingers transform into miniature replicas of the League and he is instructed to touch each one in turn to the objects as named. The Flash to a bat wing, Batman to a sea shell, Superman to the hide of a cat, Snapper Carr to a bit of elephant tusk, Wonder Woman to a pomegranate, J’onn J’onzz to a death’s head, Green Arrow to a goose feather, Aquaman to a mallet and Green Lantern to a sheep. Once the task is complete, the spirits confirm to Felix Faust that the members of the Justice League will soon be in his power, closing out Part I.

Things kick off with the Lord of Time in his first appearance, summoning through his technology, warriors past and present to help him steal, but the JLA is on the job, with Flash and Batman on an intercept course with this new threat. As they try to work their way through a force field, Batman's cape is severed by a sharp metal disc fired at him by the Lord of Time and the bit of cape, or “bat-wing” lands on Flash, causing him to fade away. Batman himself is then flung against a wall and strikes a press-button light switch, whose tip is mother of pearl, or, in other words, a form of sea shell and now the Caped Crusader does a similar fade-out. Now we know what the talisman's are meant to do.

The members of the JLA follow suit as they do battle, each coming into contact with a reasonable facsimile of their respective talismans. Soon each member is in the chambers of Felix Faust and they are in his power. He dispatches them in teams of three to fetch the jar, bell and wheel and Part II ends.

In Part III, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Arrow close in on the jar, hidden deep in a cavern. Superman burrows his way in, but soon is stopped in his tracks by the magical notes of an enchanted horn, wielded by a strange creature. Just before being paralyzed, Superman manages to melt the horn, but another creature with another instrument fills in and sends Wonder Woman into a spin, but she manages to snatch that creature's instrument with her golden lasso, paving the way for Green Arrow, but, you guessed it, there is a third creature with a pan flute and the music is keeping the Emerald Archer from the goal. GA uses a tricky arrow maneuver to relieve the guardian of the pan flute and he instinctively blows into the opposite end of the pan flute to reverse the effects of the magic notes, freeing his comrades and completing their mission.

The team of the Flash, Martian Manhunter and Batman locate the hidden bell, but this time they're slowed up by spirits of fire, water and air with the fire immobilizing J’onn and the water keeping the Flash busy while Batman deals with a miniature whirlwind. Flash is able to use pin-wheeling arms at super speed to use the water to douse the flames while Batman deals with the whirlwind, managing to get it to fly off into space so they can retrieve the bell of Uthool.

Finally, Aquaman, Green Lantern and Snapper Carr seek out the wheel on the ocean’s floor, but it is guarded by a lightning spirit and since it’s yellow, GL's ring is useless, so it’s all on the King of the Sea, who summons an electric eel to keep the creature busy while Aquaman scoops up the wheel. They’re not out of the woods yet, though and the lightning spirit causes an underwater avalanche to stop our hero, but Green Lantern can use his power ring against such and is able to catch the falling debris in a massive green hand. At Snapper's suggestion, GL then uses his ring to open a fissure in the ocean floor, sucking the lightning spirit down into it and sealing it inside.

Back at the lighthouse lair of Felix Faust, the three enchanted objects are gathered together and Faust begins his nefarious work. The JLA is immobilized, but in moments a whale off the shoreline uses its mighty tail to send a formation of flying fish into the lighthouse to strike down the sorcerer. Despite being immobile, Aquaman’s mental commands got through to his allies of the deep, so they are able to capture Faust and isolate the objects, but Felix Faust’s thoughts reveal that things have been set in motion and the three demons will be set loose in due time. The readers are advised to pick up the next issue, so let’s just do that...

JLA #11's credits are identical to the last issue with the exception of the cover, penciled by Mike Sekowsky this time, but inked by Murphy Anderson. The story title is: "One Hour to Doomsday!"

Our heroes have headed back to finish up with the Lord of Time, but they discover that they’re trying to capture a mere image of the fiend, who reveals he is an hour into the future and heading down the corridors of time to both escape and to seize futuristic weapons to bring back and conquer the earth.

The JLA ponders what to do and Flash offers that he recently invented a time machine. Editor Schwartz lets us in on the fact that happened in Flash #125. As they wonder how to find this needle in a haystack, Superman uses his total recall to note that the Lord of Time had a device on his wrist similar to a watch, but actually indicated his destination: The year 3786. So, Supes gins up a time bubble similar to what the Legion of Super-Heroes use and with the exception of Snapper Carr, the League piles in while Superman carries it through space and time.

Once they’ve arrived, they seek out their quarry, who has had a little time to secure one weapon. The Time Lord promptly uses it on Superman, but only magic and Kryptonite can hurt the big guy, so they soon truss up the Lord of Time and load him into the bubble for a trip back to the present. Unfortunately, during the journey, Superman hits a barrier, right about the year 2062, ending Chapter I.

Chapter 2 opens with Abnezegar, Rath and Ghast being restored after their billion year slumber. It just happens to be 2062, 100 years since Felix Faust’s spell that was on a one-century delay as far as the payoff. The three demons now vow to reclaim their ruling of the earth and they intend to reverse things to the way they were one billion years ago. They soon begin their magical maneuvering to make the earth into what they wish and this is precisely what has stopped the JLA in their tracks.

Speaking of our heroes, they are trying to figure out what to do when the Marian Manhunter notes that he’s detected unusual vibrations and suggests they follow them to their source. Leaving the Lord of Time in the bubble, they travel via flight or power ring enclosure to that source and find themselves face to face with Abnezegar, Rath and Ghast. The three demons explain they were freed by Faust’s spell and are about to remove all humans from the earth and the moon from the sky, just as things were a billion years prior, but they need to get rid of these super-powered meddlers, so with the power of their magic, they send the League members into a building from antiquity that serves as the sorcerer’s stronghold. One by one, the JLA members are changed into mist by Ghast and placed into sealed bottles and literally placed on the shelf, closing out Chapter 2.

Chapter 3 starts a few minutes after Ghast has departed and our favorite Amazon Princess has regained her normal form and broken free of the bottle, although she doesn’t know why. She then follows a compulsion to retrieve Green Lantern's power ring from the floor and shine it over the other jars and soon the Justice League of America is restored and free.

Apparently Green Lantern used his power ring in the most subtle fashion available, touching it to Wonder Woman in a concealed way and commanding her to change herself to mist prior to Ghast's spell and in ten minutes to change back and use the ring to free the rest of them.

Okay. Am I the only one who doesn't understand how Wonder Woman could change herself to mist? I gotta do some homework, I guess...

So, in preparation to take on the bad guys, they work out a plan to use the power ring to change identities, much like GL once did with “Pieface” in the pages of Green Lantern #5. They soon hatch a plan and the following switches are made: Flash and Green Arrow change likenesses, while Superman and Aquaman swap. Wonder Woman and the Martian Manhunter trade and finally Green Lantern and Batman.

In classic fashion, they break up into teams to individually tackle the demons with “Batman, J’onn and Green Arrow” taking on Abnegazar, who is flummoxed when his spell is ineffective. They overcome the demon and return the moon to its proper place.

Rath soon finds himself facing “Flash, Aquaman and Wonder Woman” who enjoy similar results, overcoming the magic of the demon, whose efforts, designed to play on the powers of what appear to him are thwarted.

Finally, Ghast is battling “Superman and Green Lantern” and meets a similar fate. After a rendezvous with their three foes at the ancient structure, GL changes each member to their original forms and they begin the process of how to deal with these powerful demons. GL uses his ring to probe their minds and discovers how the Timeless Ones imprisoned them in ice, sand and sea and duplicates the process, confident that the bell, jar and wheel, safely stored in the JLA trophy room, will never be accessible to revive them again.

I’ve raved before about Gardner Fox’s fertile imagination and storytelling capabilities and it’s easy to see why he was so successful and for so long. This is a classic Silver Age story with lots of thought put into it and was the perfect way to mark the 17th anniversary of this feature. I enthusiastically give it a maximum 10 rating on our 10-point scale.

Well, readers, we now begin our 18th year and as always, you’re invited to submit your two cents. If you have a question, comment or idea for a future review, all you have to do is send off a message to my handy e-mail account: professor_the@hotmail.com.

Until next time...

Long live the Silver Age!

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