Charlton vs Mighty MLJ

Two parallel universes from two silver age comic book publishers examined ad naseum!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fawcett Fridays: Goggled Gadgeteers

Another obvious parallel between Earth-S and Earth-Four wherein the Fawcett and Charlton characters resided were this pair of goggle-clad gadget-making geniuses. Not intent to rest on their considerable financial success, Alan Armstrong as a Virginian sportsman/weapons-maker and Ted Kord as a robotics scientist, they decided to do more. As Spy Smasher and Blue Beetle, respectively, they attempted to assert some order in a chaotic world. And wearing a brilliant flue and gorgeous green they stood out from the pack.

Each knew that they needed an edge, beyond their inherent athletic ability and acrobatic agility. So these two built amazing air/sea crafts unmatched by their peers in the superhero set. Spy Smasher's Gyro-Sub was part-airplane, part-auto gyro, part-submarine/speedboat. While Blue Beetle's Bug was either an air or sea vehicle, it had remarkable auto-pilot programming designed by Kord.

One other point of similarity was that both genius good guys were chased by the law. In the Smasher's case, it was due to brainwashing inflicted upon him by arch-foe the Mask turning him into a foreign spy, until Captain Marvel finally shook the influence off his future ally. For the Beetle, it was due to his association in his civilian identity with Dan Garrett aka the original Blue Beetle, who disappeared and was presumed murders by Kord (he was but not by Ted, rather by his uncle Jarvis Kord). After vindicating themselves, they resumed their careers.

On Earth-MLJ,a parallel for Spy Smasher may have been the Comet aka John Dickering, another google wearing warrior in a slick all-environment vehicle. At least during the Comet's power-less phase when he had to rely on gadgets and his wits along, like Armstrong.
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In 1954, aspiring comic book publisher Charlton purchased the rights to several prominent characters from the expiring Fawcett Comics, such as Ibis, Golden Arrow and Lance O'Casey. In 1980 and 1985, DC Comics purchase Fawcett's Marvel Family then Charlton's Action Heroes, and the two were linked once more, now on parallel Earths, Four and Shazam.Now the MLJ has been added to their stable of characters, we examine the parallels in this series.

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