Welcome back to Strange Times & Places, where we’re gearing up for the Crisis on Infinite Earths by looking back on an early Crisis on Multiple Earths tale – Justice League of America #37-38!
How’s It Different?
This would be a For Want of Nail tale, like most altered present tales. Most of the story takes place on Earth A, which is just Earth 1 altered to remove the Justice League of America (or at least the active members as of #37) and replace them with a group of super-powered thugs known as the Lawless League.
What’s The Story?
Johnny Thunder, the youngest and most impulsive member of the Justice Society of America of Earth 2, uses his magical Thunderbolt to travel to Earth 1. It seems he’s jealous that most of his JSA compatriots have counterparts on that Earth, so he wants to find his. Turns out he does, but he’s a small-time crook and able to quickly wrest control of the Thunderbolt away from his more naïve counterpart. He orders the nigh-omnipotent genie to remove the Justice League of America from the timeline and, when the JSA follows their Johnny, to replace the JLA with members of his gang to battle them.
Best of Differences
- Maybe not “best”, but the weirdly funniest: Thunderbolt goes back in time and prevents most of the JLA’s origins from ever happening. Except Batman, he goes back to his first night as a crime fighter and makes him decide to pack it in. Like…really? That’s the most effective way to prevent Batman from coming into being? There’s not an earlier event you could prevent achieve that goal?
Worst of Differences
- Nitpicking a Silver Age story, especially a DC one, is a quick way to drive oneself mad. That having been said, most of the Lawless League makes sense: Green Lantern, The Atom, and The Flash all have origin stories that could have E1 Johnny Thunder’s gang members swapped in. Heck, even Batman (whose Silver Age mystique was largely gadget-based) makes sense. But these changes are explicitly achieved by slotting the existing gang into heroic origins, making the Lawless League’s Superman and Martian Manhunter confusing to say the least.