Justice Society Presents – Crisis! #4


Shag and Rob take a break from the annual JSA/JLA team-ups to discuss “Smell of Brimstone, Stench of Death” by Mike W Barr, Dave Gibbons, and Gary Martin from BRAVE AND THE BOLD #200, starring Batman and...Batman! Plus Listener Feedback!

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24 responses to “Justice Society Presents – Crisis! #4

  1. Indeed, Joan Lincoln was a doctor on Earth-Two and a reporter on Earth-One. And the reporter became a minor recurring character in Batman and the Outsiders as well. https://earth-one-earth-two.blogspot.com/2021/04/twin-tales-of-joan-lincoln-reporter.html

    As for Brimstone, it has been suggested in some reference material somewhere that he may have been inspired by or one-in-the-same as the golden age Batman villian known as the Blaze. They definitely look like the same person, and Blaze was organizing criminals into a gang much like he did at the beginning of this tale. https://comicvine.gamespot.com/a/uploads/original/11115/111159892/4207168-blaze%201.jpg

    Oh, and Shag, I trying to track down that Brave and the Bold with Blue Devil in it? Found the Firestorm issue though. 🙂

    Oh, and Rob, this episode’s fact file was about the “only” Justice Society member in this issue? Sigh, on poor Robin, who doesn’t even qualify for mention alongside the “FOUR cosmic legends of the universe… and Wendy and Marvin and Wonder Dog”! Actually the Ex-Boy Wonder was in more JSA tales than his mentor. 🙂

  2. Indeed Joan Lincoln was a doctor on Earth-Two and reporter on Earth-One, and the reporter Joan was a minor recurring character in Batman and the Outsiders. https://earth-one-earth-two.blogspot.com/2021/04/twin-tales-of-joan-lincoln-reporter.html

    Oh, and Shag, I’m having difficulty tracking down the Brave and the Bold issue with Blue Devil in it… found the Firestorm teamup though. 🙂

    Oh, and Rob, for the JSA Fact File…. you guys highlighted the ONLY Justice Society member in this issue? Sigh, oh poor Robin, never catches a break. Always overshadowed by the Four Cosmic Legends of the Universe, along with those Junior Super Friends, Marvin, Wendi and Wonder Dog!

    It has been suggested elsewhere that Brimstone was, if not the same person, at least inspired by the Golden Age Batman foe the Blaze who battled the Dynamic Duo in Detective Comics #85. https://comicvine.gamespot.com/a/uploads/original/11115/111159892/4207168-blaze%201.jpg

  3. Great issue to recap and great episode!

    I bought this one off the rack. Anything emblazoned with the gold ink Anniversary got my attention and my money if I had enough. Lucky to get this one signed by Barr at a recent convention.

    I love the cover for all the things you said. But what I really like is that the current Batman is looking over the images of the older version. So often in images like this (take for example the last page of this very story), it is the older, ghostly previous version looking over the current mantle holder. So nice inverse here. Of course, the Batman from Earth-2 was the bigger novelty in this story and so I am glad he (and robin) dominated the page.

    As for the E2 Batman appearing in Superman Family, it was in the Mr. And Mrs. Superman feature which was Earth-2 Clark/Lois tales. No flashbacks there.

    I loved Brave and the Bold as team-up books were sort of the poor person’s Who’s Who before that book came out. I can’t tell you how many DC characters I first met in B&B and DCCP. I wish team-up one-and-done books like these could survive today.

    Thanks again for the great recap!

  4. Another great episode gentlemen, thanks or introducing yet another fun story. I don’t have much to add other than, is it possible Brimstone crossed over to other universes? Dr. Faustus in the Marvel universe seems like a likely variant.

  5. Thanks for the fine episode. I started buying comics right about this time & Batman and the Outsiders was the first series I ever began purchasing from the first issue. I recently bought the 3rd Brave & the Bold Omnibus, which concludes with this issue. The older I get, the more I miss this era of DC Comics when the dark and gritty specter of Frank Miller didn’t pervade every series. It was through Brave & Bold back issues that I was first exposed to the larger DCU. I know Bob Haney is criticized by some for his lack of continuity with the other DC titles, but his stories are complete fun.

    On a side note, I do wish someone would begin a Brave & the Bold podcast covering the Aparo years or the wonderful animated series (pure joy).

  6. Thanks for another great show. I’ve been meaning to say, but fear being pegged as an annoying pedant (insert your own joke!)… the opening legend, with Rob saying ‘meanwhile on Earth 1’ – shouldn’t that be ‘’20 years later’?

    I have such mixed feelings about this issue – it’s brilliant, one to treasure… but it’s the end of the era. I much preferred B&B after the Haney/Aparo team weren’t doing every issue (I’m not saying I didn’t love those, I have all three omnibuses) because of the variety of approaches from the rotating creators, but here was the end! And after such a run of great stories.

    This is a really clever entry from Barr, and the art! Dave Gibbons’ attention to detail even extended to the lettering, doing it himself on the Earth 2 chapter so that we get the old-style drop caps and wobbly bubble shapes. That man is so good, and yes, kudos to Gary Martin, Adrienne Roy and Gaspar Saladino too.

    Because I’m so ancient. I remember that we had seen an aged Joker prior to this issue. I don’t know how many times, but there was Batman #145, a tale of the future Batman and Robin team Alfred used to imagine. I’ve tweeted an image to your timeline, I wouldn’t be surprised if Gibbons had been given reference. Mind, he could certainly have extrapolated out himself. It’s probably on the DC app, if not, there’s the second volume of DC’s Greatest Imaginary Stories Ever Told, which was all-Batman’s (of course it was!).

    Every time you say ’Black Adam movie’ I hear ‘Blackadder movie’. I’m down for a Rowan Atkinson/Rock blockbuster.

    DC Through the Eighties has intros to each section putting the reprints into context, great recommendation; the second volume, The Experiments, is a winner too, though there are a couple of weird inclusions and omissions.

  7. Bravo gentleman! It’s always fun to revisit the Pre-Crisis Multiverse, especially when it involves Earth-2. The Earth where no one was safe!
    This is one of my top ten all time favorite comics books and is a great companion piece to DC Comics Presents Annual #1.
    The fact the two Batmans (always feels odd to say it that way) don’t team up makes the story all the more unique. I’m glad they didn’t resort to Batman having to travel back in time to meet Earth-2 Batman before his death. It would have just lead to one of those convoluted scenes where Earth-1 Batman has to explain the whole Multiverse situation to the Golden Age Batman and the overused trope of Earth 1 Batman trying to avoid letting slip his knowledge of his Golden Age counterparts future.
    Looking forward to the next installment.

  8. While I have only been able to watch only a couple of episodes of season 2 of Stargirl I find it great that they are going with the Jack Knight version of the Shade. Which that version of the Shade is one of my favorite characters. Really bought that run of Starman more for the Shade than Starman (even if he is the best version)

  9. I love this comic. One of my favorite of all time. I loved it so much as a kid, I handed it to my Mom and asked her to make my homemade Batman Halloween Costume look like Dave Gibbons’ interpretation, particularly the more-rounded Bat-symbol. Ate up his Golden/early Silver Age pastiche with a spoon. And of course this is why Dave Gibbons drew the Earth-Two Batman’s entry in the original Who’s Who.

    Brimstone recognizing he had a doppelganger made me wonder if I had one on some parallel world. It honestly blew my mind. THIS is what Crisis robbed us of, and for that, I’ll never fully embrace it, or forgive Marv Wolfman. I was only 8 years old when this comic came out, and I got THIS aspect of Earth-Two, never before explored.

    I loved this episode…except for not being invited on to it. Was the Bat-Signal broken guys? Do I have to ammend my contract or something? EARTH-2 Chris…remember guys? Batman nut? I mean, c’mon. I know Ryan hates Batman now, but I don’t!


  10. One thing I wonder… how was the Earth 2 version of the villain strong enough mentally to cross worlds, but his Earth 1 counterpart not strong enough to resist?

  11. “Did you think about Power Girl today?” I’m in this comment and I don’t like it! 😀

    Earth-2 Batman might have retired but up to his death, he was a regular in All-Star Comics as a foil for the JSA being influenced to believe they were more a menace than a help. He even fires the shot that means Power Girl gets her sudden costume change out of her classic Boob Window costume. (You knew I’d work in a PG reference somewhere right?).

    Adventure comics actually open on the death of Batman story (#461-462) which looks like it was written for All-Star before it was cancelled, I’ve covered that one but I wouldn’t say it’s one of my best. Still, the whole run is pretty fun and worth checking out if you’re so inclined. In one of those ironies, I’ve just covered the infamous Thunderbolt stories, though it won’t be out till the end of this year, and knowing the twist already it wasn’t a terrible story. It’s a terrible JSA/JLA team-up story though with the whole team stuff tacked on as an almost afterthought.

    Anyway enough of my babbling, this was a fun ‘cast and comic and I look forward to the next one!

  12. Thanks for introducing me to this issue!

    An oddity of parallel Earth relations that I’m surprised no one commented on in regard to this issue. Generally speaking, the Earth-2 heroes who have counterparts on Earth-1 are significantly older than those Earth-1 heroes. Yet, in the case of Nicholas Lucien, the story goes out of its way to say that both Luciens are born on the same date in the 1930s. This isn’t too much of a big deal (indeed, we might infer that the same could be said of Joan Lincoln), but the story then tells us that Earth-2 Lucien is old and decrepit when he awakes from his coma in the 1980s, but his Earth-1 counterpart is never suggested to be similarly old! Indeed, Earth-1 Lucien in the 1980s looks to be the same age as Earth-2 Lucien was in the 1950s, despite also having been born in the 1930s! The hardly detracts from the story, but I still thought it an oddity worth mentioning.

    Now, to minor nit-pick mode. I don’t get the impression that Earth-2 Lucien (Brimstone) was *comatose* after his tussle with Earth-1 Batman. Merely that he’s now completely paralyzed! Indeed, that single tear we see falling from his face at the end suggested to me that he was fully conscious, but now trapped in his paralyzed body. Truly a horrific fate for anyone!

  13. Impressive podcast most impressive.This is Liz Anne Oswalt. That had to be weird, happy anniversary issue guys oh by the way your comic is canceled..

    The cover is pretty cool. Though it is Jim Aparo so that makes sense. The splash page is pretty cool where it looks like that made of earth what is going to fight Batman and earth to. With brimstone doing the big head maaawwaaha ha bit. Gibbons drawing Batman looks great. Sadly he didn’t do a regular run on the character. Weird I know a guy named Lucian. Though he spells it differently than the guy in the book. That’s his first name out of last. And he had no Nicholas in his name. Though weirdly his middle name was black. And we both worked in retail. He was my department head. We did kind of refer to the store as hell. But, as far as I know he’s never become a crime boss. Though he does work in management….. Also he has a normal haircut and facial hair. He doesn’t walk around with the pain from House of mystery haircut. Why was that anything in the 70s? I think Wolverine’s only person who still sports that haircut. I think even timber Wolf stopped wearing it. I wonder if it makes a doctor with your face of this universe. Since we all know that made of this universe is dead. And Chris Franklin is of course the Robin of this universe. He had married a librarian. As for the science bit. Come on folks somehow this guy is dumping in lava with normal pipes in the city limit. With no problem. Batman ripped off the pipe that can somehow hold lava with his bare hands.

    And all are worried about the science of him creating an explosive because there’s lava nearby? If 50s comics science just let it go. And sorry shag, but I don’t think this is the first appearance of old joker. Since any huntress comic he first appeared an issue that was titled lion Bay. Just briefly. And then in a three issue arc of that book. Titled first issue always leave them laughing. Second issue first laugh and 3rd issue last laugh. A pretty good run for Paul Levitz storyline as seen in the back of old wonder woman issues. There’s even a point where the huntress teams up with Dick Grayson. Though he doesn’t interfere in the fight. He just dresses up as Batman to distract the Joker. Though in those issue the Joker doesn’t lease Batman is dead.

    So I have to presume that happened first. Though I’m not certain. But, it would be weird for the Joker to be pointing out to brimstone that Batman is dead and then later he goes to try and prove he’s not so he can fight him again. Gordon working with Batman is pretty cool. I like this version of Gordon and Batman. Is not Mr. know it all, but is not incompetent either. This to work well together. In escaping the deathtrap i.e. Batman by ripping up the wall probably would work either. But, I’ll leave it alone. Let’s remember Batman used to travel through time through hypnosis. So I will let go of the fact that brimstone can take over his doppelgängers body through meditation. Though I think the Lucian guy have our world. If he’s a lawyer may want to think about getting a haircut. Not the most trustworthy look for a guy to have. The ending image of the two Batman looks very cool. And will drawn. At any rate can’t wait to hear the next episode.

    Oh I remember Mark Waid bringing B&B back. Not sure how well it did , but at lest it had a second run.

    1. Er… note the last store I worked at with luican was he** the one I work at now is pretty cool. Just thrrw that in cause it fit the bit.

  14. Great show as usual, gentlemen – I don’t really have much to say about it or the issue in question, but I have to say your conversation did get me thinking about something I’d never considered before: to wit, wouldn’t it have been wonderful if it actually featured a genuine team-up between the two Batmen? I keep thinking how cool it would have been to see the two of them in action together, solving some mystery that crosses over into both universes. I particularly think it would have been cool to see the younger Earth-1 Bruce sitting down over dinner and/or drinks with Earth-2 Bruce and his wife, Selina. I’m sure Barr – one of my favorite Bat scribes – would have been up to the task (although my dream writer for that story would be Alan Brennert – now I’m hoping something like that still happens…)

  15. I was under the impression that, during this publishing time period, Earth-One effectively had a sliding timeline while Earth-Two had a fixed one. And that one of the things readers particularly liked about Earth-Two was the opportunity for character growth as the heroes were allowed to lead more plausible lives since they naturally matured with time. Yet, in 1955, the Earth-Two Robin looks and acts no different than if this had been set in 1942 or so. OK, so do we just chalk that up to the artifice of the comic format and say that in-universe this is really a Dick in his mid-late 20s? I wish I could, but the story seems to go out of its way to have multiple mentions of “the boy”, “da kid,” “the boy wonder” in dialogue, reinforced by captions and the big Page 4 logo saying “the Boy Wonder” as well. Presumably the overriding concern was that Barr and Gibbons wanted Batman and Robin to seem like their iconic versions for this adventure, but still.

    Perhaps I have to take the following year’s All-Star Squadron Annual as a headcanon explanation for the above. Ian Karkull got blowed up real good and his splatter ended up extending the lifespans of Robin among other figures. Karkull must have also lengthened Dick’s period of apparent adolescence by a good decade at least. Presumably Dick had some bat-baloney explanation always handy to explain away his slow growth when questioned about it by his Gothamite peers.

  16. Hi Shag & Rob — I was happy to see a new installment and was ready to pick it up on Comixology to read before listening.

    But when I checked out the artwork posted, i realized that I actually had picked this up when it came out. This story was pretty memorable for me, because it was one of the times that I (a) was reminded about the existence and differences between Earths 01 and 02; (b) was reminded that Bats was actually dead already on Earth 02; and (c) was thrilled by the narrative structure and the change in art styles and tone between the two worlds.

    And it’s sad that I learned only today that it was Dave Gibbons’s art all through out — what an artist. Of course, he really burst into my awareness during the Watchmen era, but — damn — this was always one of my faves in the Brave and the Bold series.

    By the way, like Rob, Brave & the Bold was one of my “must buy” comics, but because of some of the unusual supply chain and intellectual property issues in the Philippines in the 70s & 80s, I realized I’d actually ready WAAAAAY more of them. Our local barber shop had tons of Brave & the Bold reprints by National Bookstore, and semi-hidden stores in malls sold grey market news stand copies of DC & Marvel comics.

    This was also a great return to the time when Batman was certainly at the pinnacle of physical & mental human development, but was nowhere near Bat-God status, and I miss these types of stories.

    Thanks for this trip down memory lane! Looking forward to the next installment!

  17. I share the outlook of many respondents here regarding The Brave & The Bold. Great book, introduction to many characters, etc. I was disappointed to see it go. This is a terrific swan song song for the title, but the method of Earth-hopping employed by the villain always rankled me. (Most every Mike W. Barr story I’ve read has something that rankles me.) I had read many stories about Earth-1 and Earth-2 crossovers and for a long time, unless one had super-speed (and the ability to control it), going from one to another was difficult, even seasonal! The way that devil-man does it seems much too easy.
    Thank you for the kind words, gentlemen! However, when Shag said we disagreed about everything, he was wrong. I’ll let the logicians work on that!

  18. What a great story! I remember really enjoying this issue when it was released. Dave Gibbons made a great substitute artist for the legendary Jim Aparo. Gibbons was really great at emulating that classic Silver Age look and then switching to a more modern storytelling style. And Mike W. Barr crafted a great gem of a story. Solid and enjoyable work, all around!

    Listening to the listener feedback, I have to chime in and give my affection for the JLA/JSA crossover which retconned what we knew about Black Canary. I remember reading the stories as they were released and, while I agree they took the most convoluted explanation to reveal what happened, I also happened to enjoy it because of its “Because… Comics!” approach. I think this is a story where picking up each issue monthly helped me to mentally digest the insanity better than if I were binge-reading it in a collection. Sometimes I imagine that Roy Thomas must’ve had a binder full of retcons and explanations for DC continuity gaffes, which I further imagine didn’t endear him among the rest of the editorial staff. It’s the sort of professional fanfic that might’ve appealed to Mark Gruenwald and E. Nelson Bridwell, but which might’ve elicited unseen eyerolls if one wasn’t already invested. I offer my services to pinch-hit for Shagg if the story is too painful for him to discuss.

    Quarantine has really messed up my podcast listening routines, but this podcast, with its shorter list of shows and separate feed, has been one I’ve been able to catch up with relatively quickly. Thank you for feeding the need and sharing the joy!

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