A Tribute to the of
Long before it became the norm, the wizards at DC tried a different story-telling technique in the midst of the Silver Age. The fertile imagination of Gardner Fox came through once again with a series of stories that spanned a 4 year period and crossed 5 different Julius Schwartz edited titles. He also managed to have several month gaps between each installation, which of course tells you up front that while each tale had a common link, they also were stand alone features that could be read independently of one another. You could almost call it a time-delayed serial. Overall it was quite an amazing undertaking and I'm going to devote this and the following 5 editions of the Silver Age Sage to examining each one, both on its own merits and from the standpoint of the collective nature of the stories. Along the way we'll meet up with some characters we haven't yet explored here at the Silver Lantern, one of which goes way, way back in DC history. Just about as far as you can go, in fact. So without further ado, let's look at the first comic in the series that explores the search for the Golden Age magician Zatara by his daughter, Zatanna in Hawkman #4, the October/November edition from 1964. I already gave you the author. Art, cover and interior, is provided by Murphy Anderson and the story is entitled, "The Girl Who Split in Two!"
The splash page is divided into two parts, one side shows Hawkman in action against what appears to be a Mongol horde. In the right panel, his wife and fellow crimefighter, Hawkgirl is engaging some more garden variety thugs at a different location. Between the two panels is a full sized illustration of Zatanna, dressed in the garb of self-respecting magician's the world over: Top hat, tails, fish net stockings and heels. On to our story.
The setting is the Midway City Museum, where curator Carter (Hawkman) Hall is speaking with one of his guides who has just discovered an undocumented artifact in the Oriental wing of the museum. Curious, Hall investigates and is flabbergasted that this piece from the lost Chinese city of Yin has seemingly appeared from nowhere. Moments later another find in the form of an ancient ceremonial Celtic cup. Quickly consulting with his secretary/wife Shiera, the couple decide to don their Thanagarian Police uniforms so that Hawkman and Hawkgirl can investigate matters. Carter decides to go to China, while Shiera's destination is the Hill of Tara in Ireland.
Hawkman isn't in China 5 minutes before trouble erupts. As he's flying over the Great Wall, he is spotted by Mongolian bandits who immediately fire upon him for fear that he's going to pick them up for looting. Using a 17th century grenade thrower that he's brought along, Hawkman loads it with stones and fires it at his antagonists to sting and distract them while he uses his mighty wings to stir up a miniature sand and dust storm. Attacking through the blinding dust, the man from Thanagar makes short work of several of the mob. A few do escape, however and blockade themselves into a nearby ruin. Scooping up a nearby stone statue, the Winged Warrior smashes down the door and then the remaining bandits also fall under it's weight. Hawkman comes in for a landing and then is startled to see a figure by the wall, standing rigid and speaking in a strange way: "I A ZAT DAUGH O ZAT! I MU B P TOGE WI M OT HA BO T B NOR!"
Lifting the woman into his arms, Hawkman again takes flight.
Meanwhile, we fade to the Emerald Isle, where Hawkgirl has arrived in County Meath at the ruins of an ancient Abbey where some shady characters open fire on her. Grabbing a nearby paving stone, Hawkgirl blocks the shots and much like her husband, uses the stone to take out her assailants. Coincidentally, the same rigid figure is in this structure and she speaks to Hawkgirl: "M ANNA TER F ARA ST E UT THER TH Y HER LF DY O E MAL!" Detecting a faint heartbeat, Hawkgirl spirits the figure up to their Thanagarian space ship which orbits high above Midway City. She begins to run a battery of tests on the girl when Hawkman enters with the duplicate figure. Hawkman then describes the strange tongue he heard his figure utter and he writes it down. Hawkgirl then adds what she heard and they discover that together they form a message: "I am Zatanna, daughter of Zatara. I must be put together with my other half body to be normal." The next panel has our heroes placing the figures together where the restored Zatanna offers her grateful thanks. She explains that she'd placed the Shang Statue and the Celtic Cup as a way to get them to save her. Hawkman mentions that through the power of the Absorbascon, the electronic device they use to gain all knowledge known on Earth, they've learned that Zatara was a famous magician who fought crime more than a decade ago. Zatanna then fills in the gaps about her search.
Apparently Zatara disappeared several years prior and she has been trying to discover what's happened to him. In the course of her search, she's followed her father's footsteps and has fought criminals between engagements on stage. Operating in secret, she uses her magic to try and locate Zatanna through the power of putting herself into trances periodically. "By speaking words backwards, the secret of my father's magic, I attempt to "see" and "hear" him with my mind." During her last trance she spotted her father in both the lost city of Yin and the Hill of Tara. Remembering her father's mention of two evil figures, an oriental lama and a sinister being called The Druid, Zatanna hastily split herself magically so she could simultaneously visit both locations. Unfortunately, her mastery of magic is not yet complete, so each half arrived immobile and unable to complete the search. Calling upon the tiny amount of magic in each weakened body half, she transported the artifacts to the museum in Midway City and awaited the arrival of the husband and wife team of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Fearing that their cover has been blown, Hawkman asks the lady magician point blank whether she's aware of their other identities. A mischievous smile crosses Zatana's lips and she replies that she'll go on searching for Zatara while they continue their crimefighting crusade. Hawkman then suggests that perhaps they can help with the power of the Absorbascon. Unfortunately the device reveals no knowledge of the magician. Zatanna fears that he must be dead, but Hawkman suggests that her father could be suffering amnesia. He then offers their assistance in her future searches. Zatanna then takes her leave, vanishing in a magical spell and vowing to continue her quest. The final panel in this story shows the Winged Wonders on their way to the museum to pick up the artifacts for return to their rightful places on Earth. The short introductory story then ends.
Seven of this tale's 13 pages were later reprinted as a back-up in Supergirl #5.
The second story in this issue, "The Machine That Magnetized Men!," is also by Gardner Fox with art by Murphy Anderson and it opens with a disembodied hand, seemingly appearing out of another realm making a grab for an 1822 gold piece being examined by a coin collector. An editor's note informs us that this "King of Coins" is so dubbed due to it's extreme rarity. The US five dollar gold piece is valued in excess of $50,000.00 dollars in 1964 and only three are known to exist, one of which sits in the Smithsonian. When the highly discerning hand tries to exit, however, the coin falls to the desk, unable to make the trip. Elsewhere in Midway City, the scene repeats itself as Shiera finds herself in a tug of war with another hand over a Greek Rhyton in the museum. Carter comes to aid her just in time to see the hand disappear and the Rhyton fall into his hands. Soon the phone rings and Police Commissioner Emmett, who knows the dual identities of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, calls to report the coin incident. The Aerial Aces soon fly to meet him in his office, where he abruptly receives an emergency alert signal.
The scene fades to another part of town where the source of the alert is making itself manifest in the form of an armored, futuristic vehicle that appears from nowhere. It soon emits a dome around itself and the people nearby are drawn to the dome and stuck fast, magnetically. Strangely garbed passengers soon disembark, wearing purple uniforms that obscure their faces and bodies completely. They purposefully head for an art gallery and begin helping themselves to the treasures within. As they go back to their vehicle, they spot Hawkman and Hawkgirl flying toward them. Confident in the power of the Human Magnetor, they pay little attention, but they fail to take into account the powerful wings on the duo, allowing them to resist the pull of the device. The pair is next seen knocking some of the gang into la la land while successfully dodging ray blasts by the perpetrators. Depositing the felled villains on a nearby roof, the Thanagarians are next taken by surprise when the magnetic power surges, pulling them down to the dome and immobilizing them along with the other bystanders. The vehicle then breaches the unseen barrier and disappears, back to a subterranean vault under a 120th century art gallery. We then learn that the thieves are time traveling art dealers who are using an Army surplus vehicle to pull their job. By taking artifacts from the 20th century, they are hand picking items of nearly incalculable value back to their time 100 centuries later. The only drawbacks are the fact that the vehicle can make only two trips and that the mechanism is jammed in such a way that they can only travel to that particular time and place. They have also discovered, of course, that no tangible object from the past can be drawn into the future, thus the need to place the objects inside the car. Their ingenious alibi should they be questioned about their booty is that they found the articles in a 20th century time capsule.
Back in the 20th century, the newly freed crimefighters are laying plans for the potential return of the malefactors. Hawkgirl suspects they hail from the future and they head for their airborne laboratory aboard their orbiting ship. Shiera is soon putting her police training to work by busily extracting minute fibers from her husband's uniform for analysis in order to find out how the crooks were able to pass through the force field and be impervious to the magnetic field. It isn't long until she's created a synthetic chemical duplicate to treat themselves with. This is fortunate as a few short hours later, the vehicle from the future reappears and a small winged sentinel quickly reports to the Thanagarians. After a quick application of the chemical spray and arming themselves, they take to the skies.
Initially the Winged Wonders drop some decoy stones toward the thieves to see what sort of counter measures they use. Observing their use of ray guns to deflect the projectiles and disintegrate them, Hawkman detects a pattern that he soon exploits. Dropping a specially prepared "bomb," he watches in satisfaction as it's deflected directly over their vehicle, where it immediately showers it with paint, which prevents it from returning to the future, ala the coin and Rhython that was observed before. Following up on this initiative, Hawkman attacks the vehicle with his battle-mace and with the help of his winged companion apprehends the gang and brings them to justice. Hawkgirl comments in the final panel that the criminals will remain incarcerated in the 20th century for the rest of their lives, meaning they'll live and die before they were ever born.
Two good action-packed stories from the Silver Age are contained in this magazine. The first gets things off to a good start on the Zatanna saga and the second employs both the brains and brawn of a great team. I'm going to hold up judgment on the series until it's concluded in a few issues, but I give the overall mag a solid 8 on my scale. The art is above reproach, the stories imaginative and well thought out and I enjoyed the time spent.
Remember to come back and visit for the next installment of the series, where we'll see how one of Hawkman's fellow partners in the Justice League of America handles the next part of the series. Meanwhile, write me with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Long live the Silver Age!
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