Charlton vs Mighty MLJ

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

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Team-Up Tuesdays: The "S" Teams of Justice

When you think superheroes you think superteams, which help to define the individual members in the context of their fellow teammates. While there are more prominent teams in the cosmos, for our purposes here today we center on two with significant parallels.

The Squadron of Justice was recruited by Shazam when he and his Marvel Family were left powerless by ancient adversary King Kull. Formed out of sheer necessity, some of these previously joined forces in another team during the 1940's known as the Crime Crusaders Club. Surviving into the modern day thanks to the bumbling machinations of Doctor Sivana, these still youthful heroes joined forces to stem the tide of Kull's villainous hordes on three Earths including their own Earth-S. And then they faded back into retirement.

The Sentinels of Justice formed also on one occasion, although there was a hint during their first appearance that they previously met up, and battled a crime lords super-armored forces to save criticial solar technology. The next appearance of this team was during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, when their initial membership of four expanded to included three more drawn towards the presence of heroes arriving from two other Earths, the same two from whom the Squadron met earlier!

The Squadron's membership constituted Ibis Spy Smasher, Bulletman and Bulletgirl, Mister Scarlet and Pinky, as well as allies Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Junior (and, of course, the team's former Mercury who brought them all together under Shazam's suggestion). The Sentinels membership originally comprised Captain Atom, Nightshade, Blue Beetle and the Question with later allies Peacemaker, Thunderbolt and a time lost Judomaster joining forces with them.

Alas, the history of each was fleeting at best. But the potential for both was sky high!

The natural counterpoint to the Squadron on Earth-MLJ was the Mighty Crusaders, of course. And remarkably, that team had a much more substantial run as a team than either of the Justice teams, despite their own short-lived nature in comics.


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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.

1 comment:

jrasicmark said...

Slight correction; Ibac was a villain and enemy of Captain Marvel (who was on hand to fight with the villains during this first and last case of the Squadron of Justice; he fought Spy Smasher). The sixth member of the Squadron of Justice was actually the magician, Ibis the Invincible.

Some tantalizing trivia about this story; I remember reading E. Nelson Bridwell's comments in the letters pages of JLA about this story where he admitted he wanted to also include Minute Man on the team and have him work with the JSA's Hourman as well as the obscure quality hero, Diamond Jack who would have worked with the Green Lanterns, but there wasn't enough space to include them all.

That summer was a spectacular one for DC fans: while this 3-issue team-up of the JLA, JSA, and SSJ was running in Justice League, the Teen Titans teamed up with the Teen Titans West in 3 issues of their book, and, in 3 issues of the Super Friends, the JLA teamed up with the Global Guardians (although that international team was not named yet) along with the introduction of the Wondertwins.