A Tribute to the of

I thought Bernie Wrightston was beloved, but I’m beginning to think that Len Wein was even more so. Since we lost Len on September 10th, my Facebook feed was blown up with tributes to him from so many corners it was nearly incomprehensible. Several were from non-comics type folks as well and they were consistently about his upbeat, generous spirit. One young lady considered him a second father, for example, several talked about enjoying dinner at his home and there were those who worked with him when he was doing acting chores and obviously the many, many people who were collaborators, either as artists working on his scripts or learning from him while he was in the editor’s chair or even when he would submit ideas about art. Paul Levitz ran a “week of Wein” series on his Facebook page sharing choice stories about the man. Len Wein cut a very wide swath and it’s not lost on me that he and Bernie left this mortal coil within months of one another and not that far apart in age, in both cases, far too soon.

Forgive me if I get a little carried away this time around. I wanted to do a proper tribute to Len and many ideas began swirling in my head, some quickly discarded, but they just seemed to keep piling up, so my goal is to keep it down to a respectable level and length, but of course I’m only two paragraphs in right now, so I can’t make any guarantees.

I got to interview Len twice and allow me to say I was gratified that two friends chose to post my original, 2008 interview [Sage #196] with him by way of tribute on their Facebook pages. It was a fun interview. I had plans to include him in my Plastic Man piece for BACK ISSUE #77, and even ginned up some questions, but for whatever reason we weren’t able to connect, which is a shame as he was doing double duty on the Adventure title, editing the Starman stories and initially writing the Plastic Man ones as well and then moving to the editor’s chair on that title. In fact, in issue #469 [March, 1980], there’s a house ad (and I wish I knew who drew it) featuring Len. “Hi, I’m Len Wein, boy editor—and unaccustomed though I am to pitching our pulse-pounding product to you, I still felt obliged to present this special announcement!” It was all about the opportunity to subscribe to Adventure, but I digress.

I got a second bite at the apple in San Diego in 2015. Len was in attendance, as usual and they’d only just announced his upcoming gigs on both Swamp Thing and Metal Men, so I jumped on the chance both to meet him in person and to interview him about the assignments. Here is the transcript:

Bryan Stroud: After how many years now do you get to take another crack at scripting Swamp Thing?

Wein: 40 years! That doesn’t hardly seem possible.

BDS: Absolutely not. I don’t know about you, but I’m still 26.

Wein: I’m 19. (Mutual laughter.) I only wish my body felt that, too.

BDS: There have been a couple of iterations of the character in the past, some very well-known runs. I presume you’re going to take your own direction?

Wein: I am, indeed. I’m wanting to go back to basics. He has evolved so far out of the character that Bernie (Wrightson) and I created, that I want to take just a couple of steps closer to where he started out. In fact, I think the first mini-series we’re doing; the six issues, is basically about the Swamp Thing finding its humanity again.

BDS: Okay, so more back to the essence sort of thing.

Wein: Yes, exactly, although I’m keeping some of the cool powers.

BDS: Sure. Isn’t the conventional wisdom to always take advantage of someone’s good ideas?

Wein: Exactly.

BDS: Has an artist been tapped yet to work on the series with you?

Wein: It hasn’t been announced yet, but we’re hoping Kelly Jones is going to do it again. He did the 3-issue convergence Swamp Thing that I wrote this year and it was just perfect. Thirty years ago when Bernie bailed on the Swamp Thing Project I suggested Kelly Jones to draw the book and it was nixed for reasons that aren’t important now. But I got to prove I was right.

BDS: It’s always nice to be vindicated. It happens so seldom. (chuckle.)

Wein: Yes, it is.

BDS: Is there anything else you can talk about on this particular project?

Wein: It’s very early in the process. They just announced it on Monday (July 6, 2015) and I’m not having my first meetings with my editors until Saturday (July 11th) so it really is very early in the process. We kind of know where we want to go, but beyond the specifics are all very vague.

BDS: Is there a rough timeline of when we can expect to see something in print?

Wein: First quarter of next year.

BDS: It’s remarkable how swiftly they can move on these things.

Wein: You betcha!

BDS: Is that a boon or is it difficult for a creative?

Wein: When I was running Marvel back in the early 70s the executives came down from upstairs and said things like, “The bottom line’s not working out, so you need to add six books to the line.” And I went out with my staff and talked over lunch what could be done and who was available to do what and came up with six books over lunch. Then came back, assigned them all to various writers and artists and within two months they were on the stands.

When I pitched the Nevermore mini-series with Batman and the Edgar Alan Poe crossover I did, three years from the day I pitched it until it was finally given the green light. So it’s a different world entirely.

BDS: It certainly is. Now the Metal Men assignment that was announced concurrently was a bit of a surprise.

Wein: I love those characters more than I can say. That book when I was a kid, the very first issue (Showcase #37) made me cry. It was the first comic book that taught me you can actually work with people’s emotions in these stories. So I’m thrilled to be working with the characters.

BDS: Speaking of that original series, I’ve got a personal love for it myself and it was such a privilege and a delight to talk with Mike Esposito and to learn about the behind the scenes stuff while he and Ross Andru were the artistic team on the book.

Wein: They were some of the most amazing stories in comics. Whoever was supposed to be doing that issue of Showcase and fell behind for reasons that aren’t important now, on Friday afternoon said, “The book isn’t going to be done on time. I don’t have a book.” So Bob Kanigher, God bless him, said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it.” He came in Monday morning with a script for the first Metal Men. He cranked the whole damn thing out on the weekend by himself.

BDS: It’s such an incredible story.

Wein: It is.

BDS: Even though there are a few colorful tales about Kanigher…

Wein: There are many. (chuckle.)

BDS: But he delivered the goods.

Wein: He did. When I list the people who influenced me as a writer, the only comic book writer I list is Kanigher. Because he taught me about emotion. How you can play with people and play with stories. Every single year there was that one Sgt. Rock story that touched me. Every year there were things like the first Metal Men. Like I said, I actually wept at the end when they all died.

BDS: And it was almost treated like a one off. They kept ending up in the smelter or rusting away at the bottom of the ocean or whatever. I’m assuming there was enough of a demand for them. I remember being genuinely surprised when it got canceled.

Wein: A couple of months after the fact, they came back with a few more issues of Showcase and then they ran for about 75 or 80 issues.

BDS: That sounds about right. It just kept going.

Wein: Going and going and then weirder and weirder as it went along. (Mutual laughter.) I couldn’t have cared less. I loved it!

BDS: Sure. They’re iconic characters and I think you nailed it when you said the emotional aspect really carries the day.

Wein: They’re all perfect.

BDS: So I presume maybe that will be some of your inspiration in the original iteration of the characters?

Wein: Oh, God, yes. But this one is all about artificial intelligence and what is it’s place in the DCU.

BDS: Is Doc Magnus still part of it?

Wein: Doc is still part of it. Chemo will be along as well. You’ve got to adore Chemo. One of the great, weird villains of all time.

BDS: Just from dumping a bunch of random chemicals into a gigantic plastic form.

Wein: Nothing ever stopped Bob Kanigher. Ever.

BDS: (Laughter.) No matter how absurd or off the beaten path.

Wein: This is the man who gave us Egg Fu, remember.

BDS: I’d nearly forgotten. (Chuckle.) Len, you sound like a kid in a candy store.

Wein: I’m very happy. I’m very excited about both projects. I’ve got a place to go back to that I haven’t been in 40 years and a place to go that I’ve never been. So I’m looking forward to both of them.

BDS: I was trying to recall. I know Walt Simonson had a run on them at one time. Is that the only other one since the original run?

Wein: There may have been one other, but I’m not sure. I think Walt’s run was written by Marty Pasko.

BDS: I was struggling to remember who the writer was, but I think you’re right.

Wein: And there was the Metal Men strip that came out in the Wednesday’s funnies, too. I think there was also a Metal Men run as a backup in some other book. I don’t remember which one.

BDS: Have you been re-reading in preparation?

Wein: There’s stuff that should be waiting for me when I get home that I’ve asked for, so I start re-reading next week.

BDS: It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

Wein: I know. They pay me for this! Thank God!

Sadly, that was the last time we’d communicate, though I made it a point to say hello the rest of the week when I’d run across him at a panel or if he seemed to be having some slack time at his booth. In fact, one memory I have is noting his minion phone case. He flashed that famous grin, explaining he just got the biggest kick out of them. I can still hear him saying, “Ba-na-na!”

So back here in the present, I struggled a little to decide which issue to highlight. He worked on so much and did it all in a superior fashion. I have one of my most treasured gifts, courtesy of the webmaster, occupying a slot in my spinner rack (eat your hearts out) as a reminder: My own copy of House of Secrets #92 with both Len and Bernie’s signatures on the cover. I’ve already reviewed that original Swamp Thing tale, though.

Then I remembered a 100-page Justice League of America story by Len that might be good. I pulled issue #111 out of the short box, but wouldn’t you know it was a 2-part story and I don’t own #112 and didn’t feel like fooling with an online copy, but then inspiration struck.

I have the set of trade paperbacks with all the JLA/JSA crossover stories and I remembered that Len took over the title with milestone issue #100 (also reviewed in the archives here) and he’d also done one that quickly became a favorite during my childhood. I’ll let him explain the story from a portion of the foreword in “Crisis on Multiple Earths, Volume 3,” and titled “Too Much of a Good Thing?” where he also recalls getting the JLA nod in the first place:

So I stroll into his office one fine day, far too many years ago, and Julius Schwartz, legendary editor and the man pretty much single-handedly responsible for the creation of the Silver Age of Comics, asks me, ‘How’d you like to write the Justice League?’

I – I don’t know,’ I manage to stammer out as I struggle to catch my breath, ‘How many organs do I have to give up to do it?

Now you have to understand, this was rather early in my comics writing career. At that point in time, most of my DC comics work had consisted of short stories for the company’s growing line of horror titles, like HOUSE OF MYSTERY, HOUSE OF SECRETS and THE WITCHING HOUR, some poetry – yes, poetry – intro pages for DC’s various romance comics, the occasional Elongated Man backup story, and a few issues of what would become my first real professional success, THE PHANTOM STRANGER. Things like my runs on SWAMP THING, SUPERMAN, BATMAN and most of the rest of the line were still in the future.

What I’m trying to say, I suppose, is that there was nothing in my body of work at the time to demonstrate to Julie that I was the go-to guy to take over a title that incorporated the cream of DC’s super-hero crop.

And yet, there I was, standing in Julie’s office, being offered one of the brightest jewels in DC’s crown.

Of course I’ll do this. I’d love to do this. Are you sure I can do this?’ I asked Julie. ‘Guess we’ll both find out the hard way,’ he replied. Very reassuring, that man. ‘Oh, and one more thing,’ Julie added, ‘Your first issue? It will be issue #100. It’s the first part of the tenth annual JLA/JSA crossover. You might want to think about doing something special.’

So I thought. Dear God, did I think.

The last few team-ups, written by the venerable Denny O’Neil and young upstart Mike Friedrich, had veered some from the original recipe created by the legendary Gardner Fox. As a reader, I had always loved the mixing and matching of the greatest heroes of two worlds, breaking them up into individual chapters; first and foremost, I wanted to get back to that formula. Still, a story big enough to celebrate this comics milestone needed to be something more. And that’s when I remembered the Seven Soldiers of Victory. I don’t recall at this late date exactly where I had first read about Law’s Legionnaires, as the Seven Soldiers of Victory were sometimes called, though I imagine it was probably Roy Thomas’ seminal fanzine Alter Ego. I did remember that the Seven Soldiers had only appeared together twice, both times in the pages of DC’s now long defunct LEADING COMICS.

There they were, a third super-team, already owned by DC, just waiting for someone to give them their due.

I called Julie and pitched him the idea.

You do realize you’re crazy, don’t you?’ he asked. ‘That’s an awful lot of characters to cram into a two-part story.

Then why don’t we make it a three-parter?’ I suggested.

Julie didn’t have to think about it long. ‘Sure, why don’t we?’

(I’m jumping ahead a bit as this is already getting really long)

I must have been out of my mind.

You see, a year later, I’m still writing the JLA when Julie tells me it’s time for the next JLA/JSA crossover, and wonders who I intend to add to the mix this time.

B-but that was the book’s 100th anniversary issue,” I stammer, ‘It was supposed to be special. I never intended to—“

Sorry,’ says Julie, ‘last year’s cross-over sold like a sunuvagun and the readers loved it. Go top yourself.

I was tempted to tell Julie to go top himself, but he was my boss and I loved him. Besides, I loved a challenge more.

As a collector, I had always been a fan of the old Quality Comics line, publishers of Plastic Man and Blackhawk and G.I. Combat and many other favorites from the 1940s until the early 1950s. When Quality folded, DC had acquired the rights to their titles and continued publishing several of them, especially the ones I just mentioned. The Quality characters seemed the next likely choice for revival.

I went through the list of Quality characters and settled on the six you’re about to meet, including one of my personal favorites, Uncle Sam. But since the Quality characters had known their heyday mostly during the Second World War, I contrived a way to set my story in a world where that war had ended very differently. I titled this year’s extravaganza “Crisis on Earth ((swastika symbol))” and turned the script in to Julie. He loved it…

With one small exception.

Having lived through WWII, Julie had a rightly understandable antipathy toward the symbol of Nazi tyranny.

No story I ever edit will include that symbol in the title,’ he told me, even as he scratched it out.

But after Earth-One, Earth-Two, Earth-Three and all the others, it seemed the perfect choice,’ I argued. ‘If we can’t use the swastika, what do we call the world?

Julie thought about it for a moment, then used his pencil to erase each of the crossbars on the swastika.

There,’ he said proudly. ‘Earth-X is as good a name as any.

The Quality characters I dubbed The Freedom Fighters were so well received, they went on to earn their own title a few years later, a fact of which I’m still humbly proud.

There is more, but that covers what I wanted to share with you, oh patient reader and boy did I love all the behind the scenes information.

Okay, so seven pages later, I’m actually going to get to the review portion of this novella. When I was a kid, I’d never heard of the Human Bomb, the Ray, Uncle Sam, Doll Man, the Black Condor or (hubba, hubba!) the Phantom Lady, but I was immediately intrigued with them and their introduction came to me courtesy of the pages of Justice League of America #107 (+ original art & splash page) from September/October of 1973. You already know that “Crisis on Earth-X!” was written by Len Wein and edited by Julius Schwartz, but the cover art was by Nick Cardy with interiors by Dick Dillin and Dick Giordano with lettering by Ben Oda. Let’s check out this revival that was decades in the making.

Things begin on Earth-two, aka the world of the Justice Society of America, where the Flash, Doctor Fate Hourman, Sandman and Superman are putting the finishing touches on a transmatter device, which will facilitate movement between the two earths for the JSA and the JLA.

Back on Earth-one, the same scenario is taking place, with Green Lantern, the Flash, Batman Green Arrow, Black Canary, the Elongated Man and the Red Tornado in attendance. Red Tornado is all but begging to be allowed to go on the test run, but GL explains that they’ve already run the tests on everything but humans, and he, unfortunately doesn’t qualify, being an android. Silently, the Red Tornado strides off while Batman, GA and the Elongated Man enter the booth. GA complains of a breeze while the Flash suggests he must be sick as there can’t be any breeze in their satellite HQ.

It’s time for the test with counterpart Flash’s minding the controls as Sandman, Doctor Fate and Superman enter the Earth-two booth. Rather than exchanging places, however, both sets of heroes disappear. The sextet finds themselves on another earth altogether, along with an apologetic Red Tornado.

The android explains that he’d stowed away in the transmatter cube by whirling so swiftly he was all but invisible, but obviously his breeze was detected by Green Arrow. Apparently it messed up the mechanism’s delicate balance and they are now in a new place. Dramatically, they spot some tanks heading toward them, each emblazoned with the symbol of Nazi Germany.

The tank personnel inform the heroes of two worlds they’re under arrest and they do not hesitate to go on the offensive. Things begin well enough until Doctor Fate discovers that his magic is not entirely in his control. His conjured battering ram strikes the Man of Steel and since magic is one of Superman’s few weaknesses, it takes him out of play.

The other members of the team are making good progress when the Nazis unleash their tank mounted secret weapon, dubbed a cerebro-gun. (As a loyal DC reader, I’d never heard of Cerebro until it was shown in the X-Men movies. It turns out that it was first seen way back in X-Men #7 in 1964, though of course the term “cerebro” simply means relating to the brain) The cerebro-gun disrupts the members of the JLA and JSA, but before they can be captured, six new colorful characters arrive and attack in a splendidly spectacular fashion. Blinding beams emanate from the man in the yellow costume, while another blows up the tanks with blows from his fists. The tiny man knocks helmets askew while the lovely lady lassos some Nazis. Another uses his ability to fly to disrupt the soldiers while a man who looks very much like the recruiting poster illustrated by James Montgomery Flagg lifts and smashes one of the tanks, swinging it by its gun barrel.

The new heroes then scoop up the other costumed characters and take them to their hidden headquarters. After a debriefing session between the three groups, an incredulous Superman asks how it can be Earth circa 1973 with Nazis running around. Uncle Sam explains that the Third Reich won World War II. He said that many good men died trying to regain America’s freedom, some of them friends, including other Quality characters like the Blackhawks and Plastic Man.

Furthermore, the Nazis have developed a mind control ray to ensure their dominance, but the heroes have developed an immunity to it and have been fighting a guerilla war ever since.

Then, in answer to Doctor Fate’s question as to just who they are, a full page describes each character and their origin, beginning with Roy Lincoln, who …”swallowed a sample of explosive formula 27QRX to keep it out of Nazi control…it’s explosive potency concentrated in his hands, changing a simple chemist into the explosive Human Bomb!

…the incredible willpower of Darrell Dane, power that allows him to compress the atoms of his body—thus turning a six-foot dilettante into the six-inch dynamo—Doll Man!

…the reporter, Happy Terill had been caught in the midst of a strange cosmic storm—a storm that changed him, twisted him, molded him into the glowing gladiator men have called—the Ray!

…a mysterious figure stepped in to impersonate murdered Senator Tom Wright, much to the chagrin of the Third Reich—an ebon-winged figure with no name other than—the Black Condor!

…socialite Sandra Knight, daughter of a crusading senator, decided to do more for her country than talk a good fight—then donned the lemon-lime uniform of—the Phantom Lady!

…and, lastly, of a man who wrote the book on legends—a red, white, and blue-garbed character, who came wandering out of the mists of the past to help his country in her time of greatest need—the spirit of liberty known only as—Uncle Sam!

After that dramatic introduction, Green Arrow asks a simple but profound question: Why haven’t they destroyed the mind control machines run by the Nazis? Uncle Sam explains that they don’t know their location and that part of their power is a second, even stronger beam that creates a world-wide mental block preventing anyone recalling their whereabouts.

Doctor Fate then steps in and with a jury-rigged crystal ball and the linked wills of those present, they use his mystical powers to unlock the undisclosed locations. They turn out to be major world landmarks: Mount Rushmore, the Eiffel Tower and Mount Fujiyama.

In classic fashion, the assembled heroes then break up into three distinct teams to tackle the task at hand, once again using the magic of Doctor Fate to transport them to the three locations, leaving the silent sentinel of the Red Tornado to hold down the fort.

The first stop is Paris where the formidable foursome of the Ray, Batman, Doctor Fate and the Human Bomb are on hand. While the mental block conceals the machine’s location, the team deduces it can only be at the top of the tower for maximum effect. In order to get past the sentries, the Ray kicks things off, using his ability to ride beams of light to quickly ascend the tower, topped with power searchlights and go on the offensive, taking out several soldiers while his comrades swiftly follow.

Unfortunately, one of the felled fiends manages to sound an alert and reinforcement arrive. They overwhelm the Ray and are planning to turn him over to the Gestapo when a batarang knocks one of the Nazis out and the daunting sight of the Batman scaling the tower is met with disbelief: “Lieber Gott! Die fledermaus—the bat!” Momentarily, Fate and the Bomb arrive and the trio make short work of their foes.

Batman observes that the machine is enclosed behind six-inch reinforced steel, but that’s barely a warm-up for the Human Bomb, who removes a protective glove and blasts his way through to a massive chamber containing their objective. The machine is actually more of a robot and its mechanical voice swiftly analyzes and responds to the situation, promptly conjuring up defenses in the form of four humanoid foes for the heroes, each with specific abilities. It doesn’t take long, however, to discover that each opponent was designed to counter the abilities of each hero and soon they systematically take on each other’s antagonist, methodically neutralizing them.

The machine isn’t done yet, however, and uses encephalo waves to bring our heroes to rigidity. The machine drones on about how they’ll be trophies of the mighty third Reich, but somehow, instinctively, the four figures move forward and in perfect synchronization manage to destroy the machine, strictly on reflex action. Unfortunately, the results seem to be negligible.

Meanwhile, the JLA and JSA left behind on their respective Earths are having no luck in finding their teammates and issue #107 draws to a close.

Issue #108’s (+ splash page) credits are identical, so let’s jump right into “Thirteen Against the Earth!” Uncle Sam spends a page bringing us up to speed when it’s off to Japan where an ancient guide is leading another foursome, garbed in heavy gear up the frigid mountainside. They are Superman, Doll Man, the Phantom Lady and Green Arrow.

As the group ascends and reaches the rim of the extinct volcano, the heroes strike, using their unique talents to take down the Nazi sentries. Now it’s down into the crater itself where Superman uses a powerful blow to reveal the hidden machine.

Identical to the one destroyed in Paris, they were apparently linked as this one muses that defense protocol D54N3 and R96E2 failed, so another course must be taken. It then uses it’s mechanical device to warn the heroes that it will destroy the island of Japan, but Superman is having none of it and strikes a mighty blow at the mechanism. Just then, a massive tremblor shakes the ground. Superman flies off to counter the destruction and the machine decides the remaining beings are of little threat. Doll Man has a plan, however and soon GA is assaulting the robotic foe with explosive arrows. It retaliates with a focuses energy beam that Phantom Lady is able to stop with her absorbing black beam.

Then the machine abruptly shuts down. It seems Doll Man took advantage of the external distractions to slip inside and reverse the destruction of the island and then pull the plug on the machine itself. The fruits of their labors are similar, however, as no apparent change in the status of the local citizenry are evident.

Shift scenes now to Mount Rushmore, USA, where the Black Condor, Sandman, Uncle Sam and the Elongated Man are in attendance. They note sentinels on top of each carved head, including a new inclusion of the Fuhrer. The Elongated Man employs his particular talents to sneak up the mountain and ambush some guards. The rest of the team jumps in and it’s lights out for the soldiers.

Just then, they notice a familiar looking robotic machine, who tries some new defensive techniques, beginning with a ring of fire, that is swiftly snuffed courtesy of the Sandman’s multipurpose gas gun. The fire is replaced with an electrical barrier, easily broached by the team. They hit it with all they’ve got, multiple times, but to no apparent effect. Just then, the Elongated Man, detective supreme, puts the pieces together, noting that a bird has been hovering over them and he deduces it’s actually a monitor. They’ve been attacking a mirage while the phony bird has been relaying information to the location of the real machine, which is concealed in the head of Hitler.

Soon, the ductile detective is lowering Uncle Sam to the visage of Hitler where he uses his super-powered fist to reduce it and the concealed machine to rubble. Once again, however, to no apparent effect and soon the 12 figures are materializing back at their headquarters.

Comparing notes, they decide that the machines had an interlinked consciousness and the power was transferred each time a machine was destroyed, but the question now is where did that power go? Suddenly, the JLA/JSA accuse the Freedom Fighters of absconding with it so they can dominate their Earth. Soon the battle is on, but only the Red Tornado seems to be aware that the Nazi mind-control device is now affecting his teammates, but naturally not his android form. He is also able to discern where the impulses are emanating from, so he flies off to find the source.

Following the “scent” up into airless space, the Red Tornado discovers an orbiting Nazi satellite that strangely opens an airlock to allow him passage. Once aboard he is face to face with none other than Adolf himself, who tries to recruit him to the Nazi cause. The android emphatically refuses and lays a left right into the Fuhrer’s kisser, revealing another android.

Just then, the final machine reveals itself, explaining that it now holds the power of all its counterparts that have been destroyed and the machine itself, rather than the Nazi’s holds the power over the earth. It activates the android Nazi guards, but the Red Tornado’s fierce dervish sends their rifle rounds right back at them, resulting in their destruction. Just as he’s about to mop up the machine itself, it exclaims with alarm that the Tornado’s whirling motions have upset the gyroscopic balance of the satellite. Yep. They’re going down. Just beforehand, though, the android scoops up something and observes as the satellite crashes to earth, utterly destroyed.

Heading back to the Freedom Fighter’s HQ, where the mind control device has now lost its power, the Red Tornado brings the heroes up to speed and then reveals his “souvenir,” the mechanism that allowed the machines to be linked. He reasoned that with some modification, it might allow them to contact their respective earths and get home. Soon a channel is opened and coordinates are fixed and after fond farewells, the members of the JLA and JSA are transported back to their respective Earth’s.

Whatta story, huh? Leave it to Len Wein to successfully top himself by rolling out some forgotten heroes from decades prior who still had a lot to offer. My younger self was enthralled with the Freedom Fighters and I was excited when they were given their own magazine shortly after the success of this two-part tale. Sadly, I remember that somehow the magic was gone. I confess I don’t remember much about the storylines, which probably says a lot in and of itself, but the storylines were a disappointment and I must not have been alone as the title was canceled after a 15-issue run in 1978.

Still, I loved their reintroduction and found this triple-team-up combination an irresistible adventure that was a pleasure to explore again.

At the end of my original interview with Len I spontaneously asked, “Is there a legacy you’d like to look back on with particular satisfaction?” His answer was poignant and seems like the perfect ending to this tribute piece:

I’ve always said we don’t get to decide what we’ve done. History decides that for us. Hopefully after I’m gone people will still be reading what I’ve written. That would make me very happy.”

Thanks, Len. I’m sure you’re flashing that amazing grin of yours right now and I’m just as sure that your stories will continue to be enjoyed for a long, long time to come.

October 15th is the date for the next edition of this ongoing feature and as always your input is invided. If you’ve got a comment or question, fire off a message to me at: professor_the@hotmail.com.

In the meantime…

Long live the Silver Age!

© 2000-2017 by B.D.S.

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