Breaching the Vibrational Barrier: 1985


Infinity Inc. 19/Justice League of America 244, “The Final Crisis”. Written by Gerry Conway, art by Joe Staton (pencils) and Mike Machlan (inks), edited by Alan Gold.

Following the events of Infinity Inc. 19, in which Earth-2’s superhero team consisting of the children of various Justice Society of America members arrive in the current Justice League’s headquarters in a Detroit Bunker at the behest of Commander Steel – Hank Heywood senior, the former All-Star Squadron member – summoned to attack an imposter Justice League, namely the Detroit team of Vibe, Steel, Gypsy and Vixen, the defeated team gather to re-plan their strategy. Now read on.
The beaten League make their way to the semi-destroyed Satellite headquarters of the old League, with Elongated Man gaining entrance for them. Vibe is still wingeing and displaying his basic ignorance, starting with the Multiverse. JLA leader J’Onn J’Onnz intends to seek aid from Earth-2 and the Justice Society.
Meanwhile, the Infinitors are growing disquieted over the growing lack of evidence that the ‘fake’ League were planning the insurrection Commander Steel claimed. Fury finds the Commander and Mekanique in a medical bay, carrying out an operation that functions as torture on Hank Jr., the modern day Steel. Fury tries to intervene but is knocked out.
Thanks to Zatanna’s magic, the repaired Transmatter is powered up and takes the League to Earth-2, from where they will return with Hawkman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, Dr Mid-Nite and Dr Fate. Before that, Commander Steel and Mekanique turn on and defeat the rest of Infinity Inc. The Commander rants obsessively about how his generation were forged in War, learning the clear distinction between Right and Wrong, but this generation, not having had that experience, are soft and shallow. The new Justice League let him down by not following his beliefs, but Hank Jr is going to be transformed.
The JSA and the JLA arrive unnoticed in the medical bay to hear this. The JSA attack. Commander Steel runs, shocked at his downfall, leaving the unfathomable Mekanique to defend his back, but runs into the JLA, who have revived Hank Jr and supplied him with his costume. Hank Sr wants to back down, not to fight any more, but Hank Jr wants to fight, to get everything out of his system.
Outside, the Crisis on Infinite Earths is building up to terrible heights. Destruction is approaching. The three teams head outside to help, leaving the two Steels to finish their fight, which Hank Jr wins, brutally, but with tears in his eyes.
* * * * *
That was the last of them. There have been team-ups between League and Society since but as these have all taken place on a unitary Earth where the two teams are heroes of different generations, they do not fall into this category. And even now, after a wait of years to finish this series, it’s still incomplete as the final team-up was a crossover with Infinity Inc., and I do not have that issue nor have I any intention of spending good money on any part of a series that I thought was crap.
So we come in in the middle, and leave without a real ending, everybody rushing off to the overpowering Crisis, which was of greatly more importance than this cliched story about the Generation Gap.
Because that, after all the fuss and bother is stripped away, is all it was. I’ve been critical of Conway who, after his early successes seemed to go to his head, was a very lazy writer, at least in his work on the Justice League. For no apparent reason, Hank Sr develops right-wing tendencies and a grudge against the younger generation, all of which he suddenly forgets when Conway has finished dumping on him: repent, oh repent ye, and don’t bother about plausible characterisation whilst you’re doing it.
Speaking of characterisation, Conway’s Justice League Detroit was a bust from start to finish and showed an astonishing misunderstanding of what DC’s premier team was supposed to be, but it was also rightly criticised in specific for the character of Vibe. Vibe was as obvious as the lights of an oncoming train in a tunnel. He was intended to increase the League’s diversity, be its first Puerto Rican member, which was a laudable ambition, but from the moment it was announced that he would be a break dancer, you knew the point had been lost. Of all the cheap and ignorant cliches that could have been applied to a Puerto Rican, that was the one they’d have all gone for on Family Fortunes.
Just by existing, Vibe was a nightmare – lazy writing personified – but as we’ve seen here, Conway compounded the damage by making him not just ignorant but, in a twisted way, proud of knowing nothing, and suspicious of any attempt to educate him as taking the piss.
On a final note, I bought these team-ups because I loved the Justice Society of America, ever since I first discovered them. Despite many series that have sorely tried my patience I still do, in that ten year old boy’s heart that went out to them. It can’t be denied that a great many of these team-ups, even in the Garner Fox era, demeaned the JSA, more so after 1972, when Len Wein made the team-up into a three-way, squeezing the focus on the world’s oldest superhero team. The originals.
I’m disappointed that there never was a volume 7 of Crisis on Multiple Earths., though if there had been it would have been the weakest volume of the series. At least my take on those tales that, once a year, breached the vibratory barrier for us kids of all ages has finally come to an end.

 

4 thoughts on “Breaching the Vibrational Barrier: 1985

  1. “Crisis of Infinite Retcons” would have been better title (and given punters more of an indication of how violent was, or hopefully wasn’t) related to the Royal Families of the gots

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