Author Archives: Jon B. Cooke

Day 100: Terry Dean, Disco Queen!

Terry Dean, proprietor of the Metropolis discotheque Cosmic Carousel and chum of Jimmy Olsen, is a friendly, vivacious and beautiful young lady who, for a brief spell, assists Superman and the D.N.Alien Dubbilex investigating the mystery of a underground tunnel beneath her dance club. In the Fourth World epic, we first meet the twenty-something woman (perpetually dressed in red blouses with black stripes of varying necklines) when Terry enters the newspaper environs of The Daily Planet, where she has been summoned by editor-in-chief Perry White. As she enters the legendary journalist’s office we hear him on the phone: “Stay on it! Follow up all leads! It’s an order!” Hanging up, Perry turns to the woman, who is taking a seat. “You’re Terry Dean!” says Perry, “I’m glad you answered my call! Sit down, honey!” She looks at him with a wary eye, replying, “So you’re Perry White!” Holding his ever-present cigar, the newspaperman nods. “Yes! The Daily Planet‘s body now belongs to Galaxy Broadcasting! But I still operate its soul!

Terry Dean: You’re a great editor! Jimmy Olsen told me all about you!

Perry White: Yeah — you two became real chummy during his assignment to the “slum” story! What else did Jimmy tell you? — Did he drop any hints about a new, exciting story?

Terry Dean: Well — he did mention a Mister Edge!Morgan Edge!

Perry White: Galaxy’s own “smiling cobra!” I was afraid of that! So he assigned Jimmy to drop out of sight! But why? Where?

Terry Dean: You look kinda worried, sir! Do you think Jimmy’s in trouble?

Perry White: I don’t know! But I do know that Edge is ruthless! And he’s not above gambling with human life!

Terry Dean is actually a character first introduced in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen prior to Jack Kirby’s tenure as editor, in the “socially relevant” story “The Secret Slumlord of Metropolis” in #127, credited to Leo Dorfman, writer; Curt Swan, penciller; George Roussos, inker; Mort Weisinger and E. Nelson Bridwell, editors (, and while it’s tough to argue her personality was expanded much by Jack since this debut, Terry’s presence is sufficient enough, I reckon, to warrant a “Kirby version”… Though I must confess her red with black stripes shirt and white slacks ensemble was first seen in that March 1970 issue! (Perry’s emphasis on “slum” and a vague recollection of that story prompted me to check…)

This one-pager feels dropped-in, so to speak, included maybe at the request of the DC offices to remind us that Perry White is still in the series and to give us a regular female character in the series. Maybe, maybe not.

The young woman is much more involved in the plot when next she appears, JO #144, upon Superman and the Guardian traveling to “Suicide Slum” by invitation. “Imagine those kids!” says Superman, “Putting an ad in a newspaper — inviting us to their discotheque!” The Guardian responds, “If it’ll help their attendance, I don’t see the harm in going!” The pair arrive at the entrance to the dance club. “The ‘Cosmic Carousel!’” exclaims the Guardian. “These young people are as colorful with their language — as with their dress!” Superman replies, “With our costumes, we should blend in well with this crowd!”

But Superman forgets his public identity!! Both he and the Guardian are besieged by autograph seekers!

The pair sign autographs and answer questions when a beautiful face appears. Superman greets her with, “Terry Dean to the rescue, I presume!” The smiling young lady responds, “Oh, I’m so glad you came!! When Jimmy Olsen suggested I contact you, I never dreamed that you’d really respond!!” After the super-heroes check out the dance floor, a caption reads: “Terry Dean fusses excitedly over her guests!! She points out everything that might interest them!! That’s how the strangely garbed entertainers gain their attention!!” A group of odd-looking guys are playing bizarre instruments. “This is the San Diego Five String Mob!” says Terry to Superman and the Guardian, who are now seated in the nightclub. “They’re our very own discovery!!! They just showed up one day and offered to perform!!! Dig those weird instruments they play!! Each one has a freaky wound-up string! The sounds are new — but great!” Superman mutters, “I-I guess –” Terry then dives in for the kill. “Come on, Superman!” she urges, taking his hands in an attempt to drag him on the dance floor. “Don’t cop out on your reputation as an activist! Follow the music’s beat — and me!” The Man of Steel is reluctant. “Terry, I-I think I could do a better public relations job — just sitting here!!

Suddenly the general clamor fades to confused whispers, as a bizarre figure confronts and surprises Superman!!

Terry Dean: Hey! We’ve got a “U.F.O.” on the guest list! Far out! Who is he??

Superman: Galloping Krypton!! Dubbilex!!!

Bystander: Man! This guy is weirder than moon rocks!

Dubbilex, the Superman’s favorite D.N.Alien, has arrived and he informs Superman of a nearby mystery. “Train your X-ray vision on the floor at your feet!!! … Your X-ray vision will reveal how I got here, Superman!” Superman replies, “I see it, Dubbilex!” Terry is startled, telling them, “B-but that floor is solid! We have no basement!!” Superman corrects his new friend. “Not a basement, Terry!! — A tunnel! It’s been shored up! But it still exists!” The Sand Diego Five String Mob,” sensing their cover is blown, call forth their “sixth string,” Barriboy, and their instruments become weapons that make a shambles out of the Cosmic Carousel!

In the next issue, Terry and Superman cautiously walking down the secret tunnel. “Superman!!” exclaims Terry, “Do you see what I see??” Her friend concurs, “Yes, Terry!! I sure do!” Dubbilex has captured the San Diego Five String Mob, who are now levitating in the air. “Like wow, Mister Dubbilex!! How did you get them up there — and keep them up!??” Dubbilex answers, “Well, I-I don’t know — yet!! But it did give me a slight jolt!!” Superman thinks, “Terry doesn’t know Dubbilex is a D.N.Alien!” The horned friend suddenly frees the captives with a burst of telepathic energy, knocking Dubbilex to the floor. Helping him up, Terry notes (in an endearing exchange), “Mister Dubbilex!! You’re weird!!” Dubbilex responds, “It seems you’re correct, Miss Dean!” The Apokolips gang escape via Boom Tube which elicits this response from Terry: “Far out!! That big tube is fading! — and that rock group’s fading with it!!! Talk about wild doings!!!” Thinks Superman to himself, “I’d be as flabbergasted as Terry — if I hadn’t met the young Forever People — and learned about the Boom Tube — and the war with Apokolips!!!” A few moments later, Dubbliex asks, “Who — What — were those kids!!?” Terry shares the D.N.Alien’s puzzlement. “Yes, I’d like to know, too!! I hired them to play in my discotheque!” Superman replies, “That’s not important! I want to know why they came here!! And why they sought this tunnel beneath your club, Terry!”

When next we see the trio, Dubbliex is using his telekinetic powers to levitate Terry Dean in the air. “It’s amazing, Dubbilex!!” marvels Superman. “Your developing powers are beginning to actively manifest themselves!” Dubbilex answers, “With a beautiful volunteer like Miss Terry Dean — who knows what wonders I could perform?!” Terry is astonished, exclaiming, “I-I’m rising into the air — lifted by some unseen force!!” She is turned upside down and says, “Oh, wow!! This experience has some scary angles!” Dubbilex replies, “Be calm, Miss Dean!! I’ll let you down as easily as I can!!” Superman urges caution, saying, “Careful! Careful — Here she comes! good work, Dubbilex!! You’re able to control a most interesting faculty!!” Terry lands on her feat, gushing, “Gosh! That was exciting!! If I told my friends about it, they’d laugh me out of town!! Mister Dubbilex, you’re weird and wonderful!!!” But Dubbilex is concerned. ” “By your standards, Miss Dean!! But what are mine? What is emerging from this brain of mine??”

The final appearance of Terry Dean — and of The Guardian, for that matter — is in the panel where the resurrected Golden Age super-hero notes that the tunnel goes on for miles.”Gosh! Who built it?? Why??” We’ll learn that a Boom Tube frequents that tunnel and the Man of Steel is soon off to visit Supertown, leaving his new friends behind… forever…

Terry Dean is an eminently pleasant and attractive character in the series, and you can almost imagine a burgeoning relationship developing between her and Dubbilex given their mutual admiration society and the D.N.Alien’s comment — “who knows what wonders I could perform” on or with Terry — can be taken as a bit risque, don’tcha think? Whatever. She was a fun addition…

The Forever People #3

Cooke Look: “Life vs. Anti-Life!”

A few of my insights about this issue are featured in the “‘S’ is for Scapegoat” entry but allow me to again marvel at what a turning point this was for the Fourth World and for me, as a young reader experiencing the comics as they appeared on the stands. Jack Kirby has this incredible ability to not only convincingly depict the most cosmic, outer-worldly and fantastical happenings but to simultaneously convey them as relevant and pertinent to real life. His and Stan’s use of New York City as a setting for the Marvel super-heroes was a stunning development connecting not only The Mighty Thor and Ben Grimm together, but it linked we, the readers, with the characters as well. And while he and Joe Simon were likely not the first to use the real-world menace of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime as foils for costumed characters, the Fuhrer’s villainy in Captain America Comics gave the character and his exploits an invigorating urgency in a worldwide battle we were a part of as well. But starting here, in The Forever People, Jack was bringing relevancy to an entirely new level, giving us a profound statement, in the guise of “good” New Genesis and “bad” Apokolips, the yin and yang of human nature writ large, with direct allusions to the horror of the real Holocaust, the threat of technology in dehumanizing us, and how we all can fall victim to our prejudices and selfishness.

There’s also a statement here not only about fascism and race-hatred, but about the risks posed by silky smooth evangelists selling a gospel of death… I mean, there’s a lot going on in this issue, even if a few plot threads here and there seem to evaporate (though I’m confident had the series continued to its rightful ending, some matters would be cleared up). Among the unanswered questions that arise: How precisely did Godfrey attract the discontented recruits and what was his specific criteria? Who were the persecuted folk being captured and what set them apart from the Justifier recruits? Why were they kidnapped and — maybe I’m missing something — what use did they have for Desaad in locating the Anti-Life Equation? Their cries of despair are filtered into peals of laughter… is this just a sick amusement for Desaad?

Frankly, these questions only make the Fourth World all that more appealing — alluring, if you will! And the only negative comments I can conjure are simply a couple of disappointments: The disappearance of The Infinity Man for the duration of the series, except for the last issue; and the relative vanishing of Glorious Godfrey, hand’s down my favorite of Darkseid’s elite. Of all the villains populating the court of Apokolips, Godfrey knows human beings and is potentially the greatest threat short of Darkseid himself, as he wields a marketing savvy and psychological insight that rivals Madison Avenue!

Simply a profoundly great issue! And, believe it or don’t, The Forever People even gets better as we enter the “Happyland Affair”!

Day 99: The “Demon’s Organ”!

We’re not exactly privy as to how exactly the musical instrument influences those exposed to its sound, but The Infinity Man’s destruction of the “Demon’s Organ” confirms the device’s sinister intent! After basking in the sound of his hypnotized audience members at the start of “Life vs. Anti-Life,” Glorious Godfrey tells his flock, “I hear you, right thinkers! You’re shouting Anti-Life — the positive belief!” Behind him we see a fellow playing a high-tech organ bellowing out monstrous notes. “Listen,” the preacher beckons, “as the great organ catches your words and finds the wonderful music in them! And what am I, Glorious Godfrey, but another poor instrument that vibrates to your message? And I say, come to me! And I shall give you the power to wield death!

Later, when The Infinity Man infiltrates the next revival gathering in Godfrey’s big tent, the hero focuses on the musical device. As Godfrey berates him with “You fool! Do you think your spectacular gimmickry can stop this operation? The forces of Apokolips are many! — And mighty!” Replies The Infinity Man, “You secret is wind, Godfrey! An evil wind that rushes from your throat — and this Demon’s Organ! Which must be destroyed!” The amalgamated character’s hand begins a Kirby sizzle as the organist flees and Godfrey protests, “No! No! You can’t!” But, yes, yes, with a “ZZZOWWSSHHH,” he does and the musical instrument is destroyed, as IM tells us, “Its sonic chords will no longer stimulate the brute instincts that drive men into your service!”

I’m betting it’s safe to assume the translated sounds of the “Demon’s Organ” — the rantings of the converted are filtered in and some kind of controlling power comes out of the instrument — are what makes the Justifiers such zealots, though the recruits do appear predisposed to persecuting those they hate…

Day 98: S is for Scapegoat!

This entry is a slight departure in that rather than simply replicate Jack Kirby’s captions and dialogue on a given subject, I’d like to editorialize a bit and simply expound on what an innovative and daring aspect the Glorious Godfrey affair was to mainstream culture and perhaps why it’s concepts like this which sets the Fourth World apart from super-hero comics of that era and today. You might think this better included in the “Cooke Look” issue review, but I insist this is a bona fide Kirby concept and quite worthy of its own entry. So there.

For my 12-year-old mind, reading “Life vs. Anti-Life” was a combustive experience, igniting synapses throughout a tender brain and motivating me to start thinking about mainstream comics as containing concepts deeper, more resonate, vital even than usually seen. As a youth I certainly was familiar with the underpinnings of this particularly dark aspect of the Fourth World — the persecution of innocents en masse to serve the whims of a death-worshipping tyrant — as an extrapolation of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich and its war against the Jews and other “undesirables.” That, in itself, was nothing new in comics, where Fuhrer-esque villains and Nazi-like regimes abound, the savagery of World War Two reduced to pulpish melodrama (though the harsh reality of the Holocaust was rarely even hinted at other than depictions of victms being rounded up into concentration camps). But here, with the character of slick, handsome and vainglorious Godfrey, with all his oozing charm, and promotion of an elixir that will solve all of our discontents — Anti-Life, the “Happiness Package” — and the decidedly unpretty implementation of his flowery rhetoric… here Jack was talking about much deeper stuff, things that spoke to his own heritage, his own blood and his own experience.

And today, as a 52-year-old reader, poring over the story again and again, I derive even more nuance, much of it unintentional I’m sure. I note today’s discontent in the American electorate, a good portion being swayed by promises, homilies and affirmations of being told they are “special” and “deserving” — those folks afraid of change and fearful of an unknown fate — and how this story speaks to that contingent. And then there’s the prescient use of a suicide bomber, a fanatical scourge the world now deals with on a daily basis though virtually unknown in the early 1970s…

When we first view the Justifiers descending upon city rooftops, an Aero-Van pilot explains, “This is the part of town we want! The people we’ve chosen as targets live here!” The vehicle unloads its occupants, one ordering the troopers, “Move in swiftly! Before the swine realize what’s happening!” The pilot adds, “Seize as any as you can!” Another says, “Don’t bother to discriminate! The women and children are as hated as the men!” Surging down the building stairwell, one yells, “Break in the doors!” and still another, “Waste no time on mercy! Drag them out! Treat them rough!” Dragging a hapless victim from his apartment — who pleads, “Help! Help! Stop this!” — one armed thug boasts, “Listen to their cries! I’ve been waiting to do this for years!” And his comrade adds, “Get going! We’ll show what we do with your kind!”

Who are the people “chosen as targets” and “your kind”? They all apparently live in a specific neighborhood in the city and, given the women and children comment, seem to share more an ethnic or racial rather than an ideological distinction. As the unfortunates are loaded into the Aero-Vans (with one pleading, “Help! Where are you taking us?” and a Justifier replying, “Shut up! You’re nothing but animals! Get in that van! Stop shouting and get IN!”), we see a bad guy with clipboard and list telling his comrade, “We’ve got all on this list!” What is the common connection of those being rounded up? As the Aero-Van flies off to Happyland, a Justifier says, “Anti-Life works! We’re justified in ridding the city of this human trash! The city should thank us!” Certainly this indicates that a specific minority is being persecuted.

Then there’s the book-burning incident, when a flamethrower-wielding Justifier bursts into a library to order, “Put down those decadent books! Get out of the library! The nonsense stored in this place shall never pollute another mind! You need know no more than the proper things! Who but myself is justified in burning down this library!” Now, becoming a Justifier gives one that “Cosmic Hunting License,” so maybe this ignoramus is just acting on a personal vendetta against literature, but since it’s the second in a series of Justifier acts in the city focused on by Jack, I’m sure it’s an act sanctioned by Apokolips (albeit perhaps to mollify reactionaries in the ranks, which I suspect would be most of ’em!).

Especially mind-blowing is to see Glorious Godfrey, sitting in his hairdresser’s chair, being delicately attended to as the preacher, holding a hand mirror, watches a video screen showing his Justifiers wrecking havoc on city business establishments. “My little legion is doing well, too! There’s one of them defacing a store with an ‘S’ for scapegoat!” Weirdly un-ironic choice of nomenclature, given a scapegoat is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as: “2. A person or group bearing blame for others,” and if your intent is to blame a group, you’d hardly want to advertise the persecuted are stand-ins for the real culprits and themselves not guilty. But though slightly clumsy (and everyone in earshot could possibly be Apokolips denizens who are “in” on the whole scheme, so maybe I’m wrong), we do get Jack’s point and the startling direct allusion to a notorious evening in the late 1930s.

If people had any doubt about Nazi Germany’s intentions regarding the “Jewish Question” before World War Two, when, as cited in The Holocaust Chronicle (Louis Weber, publisher; 2002 Publications International, Ltd.):

November 9-10, 1938: Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) occurs across Germany and Austria. Ninety-one Jews are killed; others are beaten. Thirty thousand male Jews are sent to concentration camps, though most will be released in a few weeks. 267 synagogues are desecrated and destroyed (almost all of the synagogues of Germany and Austria). SS Security Service chief Reinhard Heydrich instructs security agencies to burn the synagogues unless German lives or property are endangered. Jewish businesses are looted and destroyed.

Painted on Jewish businesses were the Star of David and the word “JUD,” German for Jew. One estimate had Nazis and sympathizers shattering 7,500 storefronts — hence “crystal night,” for the glass shards littering the pavement — and we, indeed see a Justifier, breaking a window with a brick. Some 2,000 synagogues were damaged, many destroyed, in the “spontaneous” persecution, and yet it was a relatively mild precursor for the horrors perpetrated against the Jews which was to come…

There’s absolutely no doubt that Jack, himself of Jewish heritage, was making a not-so oblique reference to Kristallnacht with his “‘S’ is for Scapegoat” incident, astonishing for a mainstream comic book and an inclusion that still floors me.

Day 97: Aero-Vans!

The best way for Apokolips invaders to transport dozens of Earth prisoners quickly and under the radar of local authorities? Why, the flying Aero-Van, of course! Sporting a roomy, box-like interior for maximum people-packing and flanked on each side with jet propulsion engines, there’s also an exterior cockpit for the pilot’s maximum visibility of 360 degrees! Its hovercraft vertical take-off and landing capability and design to ride the Electron Stream make it perfect not only for transporting undesirables but for traveling dignitaries, as well! Even great Darkseid has used an Aero-Van during his visit to Happyland!

The Aero-Van is primarily used by Glorious Godfrey’s Justifiers and we first see its usage during the “targets round-up” in “Life vs. Anti-Life,” when, “swooping down upon the unsuspecting city –” an Aero-Van is landing on an apartment house rooftop. The pilot explains, “This is the part of town we want! The people we’ve chosen as targets live here!” Armed Justifiers, wielding Apokolips-made rifles, swarm out of the cabin doors, raid the dwellings and drag the victims into the vehicle to cart off to Desaad’s Happyland. A little later, the captured Forever People are also kidnapped via Aero-Van to suffer the attention of the Apokolips great tormentor.

Not long thereafter, “One of the strange hovercraft that service ‘Happyland’ arrives with a cargo of highest priority!” A visitor to the theme park tells his son, “Head’s up, Junior! There’s another one of those aircraft!” The boy says, “I can see the air-jets on the underside of it, Dad! See ’em?” The next caption reads “In a part of ‘Happyland’ reserved for the invisible ‘management,’ the hovercraft descends!!” As the Aero-Van vertically drops into an underground landing area, a controller radios the ship, “All clear for landing! The realm of Desaad hails our leader!” The pilot replies, “Message acknowledged! Stand by for the coming of Darkseid!

Later, when Happyland is devastated, “Air-van ‘shuttles,’ flown by Glorious Godfrey’s ‘Justifiers,’ take off in panic!! The prisoners they brought for Desaad will now set the law on their trail!!” Aero-Vans are flying en masse out of the aera, with one pilot hollering, “Let’s get out of here!”

But one of the “Justifiers” is delayed from leaving the secret landing strip!

Big Bear is restraining the Aero-Van from departing by his own power! “Hey! Cut that out!” orders the pilot, whose helmet has come off because of the Super-Kid’s action, “I’m trying to get this Aero-Van off the ground!!” But Big Bear implores the fellow to lend an ear. “Oh, please, sir!! I’m seeking transportation for myself and my friends! Please listen!” The pilot is outraged and powerless, “Mad-dog hippie!! You’re holding back this tonnage with your bare hands!! You must be stronger than a bull elephant!!” Big Bear is balancing the huge vehicle with a single hand and, with characteristic good manners, he replies, “My stars, sir!! Can it be that high density atoms flow through, and reinforce my own atomic structure?” Suddenly the pilot screams, “You moving mattress!! You’re from New Genesis!” and he pulls out a pistol and fires at point-blank range to the back of Big Bear’s head, who is startled but apparently uninjured as he replies, “Oops!! Well, Big Bear is the name, sir! — and power is my game!! That’s my bag, sir!!” explains Big Bear. “I store an excess of free atoms and send them where they’re needed!! Here, perhaps!!!” With that, Big Bear punches the underside of the exterior cockpit and the impact sends the pilot flying skyward.

After his fellow Forever People are consigned to different time zones courtesy of Darkseid’s Omega Effect, Serifan is bowed in the Aero-Van terminal when police officers arrive on the scene. The Super-Kid jumps into action, climbs into a damaged Aero-Van’s cockpit and applies one of his Cosmic Cartridges to “atune itself to the principle that powers this vehicle!!” Just as the cops burst in with guns drawn, Serifan is successful and the Aero-Van has a vertical lift-off! “Hold it! Come back or –” says one policeman. “We’ll stop him!! We’ve got helicopters in the area!” says another.

But no flying vehicle made on Earth can overtake an object that speeds in the Electron Stream! — Still undiscovered — and never traveled — here!!

Serifan’s flies toward the Super-Cycle, which takes defensive measures and the copycat cowboy leaps from the Aero-Van to join the Forever People vehicle.

In other Fourth World tales we see vehicles that are similar to the Aero-Van but not identical. Darkseid and Uncle Steppenwolf use a hovercraft, albeit one that travels between planets, for their fateful hunting trip to New Genesis in “The Pact.” The Magna-Lift is more like a helicopter, which we see dropping off a bunch of minions who are stalking Big Barda in “Doctor Vundabar and His Murder Machine.” We also see some AntigravShips in “The Apokolips Trap” and “Himon” used for transporting troops and Granny Goodness Finishing School recruits.

It appears that Aero-Vans are specifically constructed for Glorious Godfrey, as the Magna-Lifts are manufactured especially for Virman Vundabar and no doubt the entire Granny Goodness contingent. The ability to fly the “Electron Stream” certainly indicates Apokolips design but were they assembled here, on Earth? They surely look too big to be transported via Boom Tube (unless one can summon an inter-dimensional bridge of varying width!)…

Day 96: Justifiers!

The Justifiers are the zealots commanded by Glorious Godfrey and his lieutenants, crusading on our planet to do the ultimate bidding of Darkseid. They are recruited on Earth through Godfrey’s big tent revival meetings, mesmerized by the preacher’s rhetoric and hypnotized by the “Demon’s Organ,” the musical instrument which has some power over human minds. We first encounter Godfrey’s soldiers as attendants during a sermon — some holding up placards, others singing in the chorus, one playing the sinister organ, and another displaying the Justifier masks, telling the captivated audience, “Wield death! Wield oain! You can be justified — if you wear one of these!” The masks and accompanying Justifier costume have a medieval vibe to the fashion — think Boris Karloff’s Mord in Tower of London, only with revved-up Kirby panache — and they’re quite effective in conveying their fanaticism and executioner ambiance.

The recruits appear to be generally bitter, disaffected people who see themselves as victims and that others as taking what said “victims” deserve. Big Bear calls them discontents. Godfrey appeals to those who feel threatened by change and “outsiders.” Audience members appeal to the preacher: “Tell it, Godfrey! Tell us how our pride is being attacked and dragged in the dust!” And another: “It’s the others, Godfrey! Those who don’t think right!” And a third: “This is our world! Our world! They have no right to meddle with it!”

Who “they” are is not immediately recognizable, but Godfrey promises the sun and the moon to his converts — the right to kill any perceived enemy! “Yes, friends! Though Life is ever filled with those who threaten us, it is Anti-Life which gives us the power to eliminte them! The holocaust is coming! The day of Apokolips on Earth! The Day of Darkseid, who brings this power for only us to use! Yes, it is his gift to us, friends! The Cosmic Hunting LIcense! The right to point the finger or the gun!” Godfrey holds forth a Justifier accoutrement. “When we wear this helmet, we feel unified! Glorified! Justified! Step up, friends! Take your helmet! Be superior! Be fierce! Be a justifier!

One wonders if the helmet contains a device that keeps a Justifier on-mission as immediately after the sermon we are witness to the hell one of these zealots can unleash on any of us. In the middle of Uncle Willie and Donnie’s apartment stands a thuggish Justifier, his hands grabbing hold of the young cripple’s shirt.”Where are your friends, boy? Tell me, you little garbage! — Or I’ll kill you!” Holding the kid up in the air, the zealot demands, “Where are the Forever People, little swine? Tell me! Tell me!” Beautiful Dreamer creates the illusion all of her teammates are on Glorious Godfrey’s side. “Wha-? Who are you? Where did you get those Justifier helmets?” Suddenly the Super-Kids grab Donnie and bolt out of the apartment, with Big Bear explaining their panic: “If that Justifier was sent here to destroy us — there is only one way he can get us all in one stroke! He’s wired to explode! The Justifier is a human bomb!” Adds Serifan as they all run in the street, “Yes! He must die — in order to destroy all of us!” Beautiful Dream says, “There is no stopping a Justifier! He can justify his own death!” Mark Moonrider carries Donnie and says, “The Anti-Life principle is now part of him!”

Coming outside, through the apartment window, is the zealot. “You tricky, young dogs! You won’t get far! When I jerk this igniter you die! The bomb I carry was not made on Earth! What is conceived on Apokolips can eliminate those from New Genesis! Die!” With that, the Justifier pulls his ignitor chord and sacrifices his life for Glorious Godfrey’s nefarious plan… The kids survive and Mark comments, “The Justifier died willingly — but in vain!” Vykin recognizes the touch of one of Darkseid’s elite: “And the one who sent the Justifier to kill us — can only be — Glorious Godfrey!” The Forever People prepare to engage Godfrey with their sentient computer as navigator: “Wherever Glorious Godfrey and his Justifiers are — Mother Box will reach out and find them!” says Beautiful Dreamer.

As the team travels the Electron Road, Aero-Vans descend on the city rooftops. “This is the part of town we want! The people we’ve chosen as targets live here!” says the pilot. Landing on an apartment roof, the back door of the transport opens to reveal armed Justifiers. Barks a leader, “Move in swiftly! Before the swine realize what’s happening!” The pilot instructs, “Seize as many as you can!” Another Justifier adds, “Don’t bother to discriminate! The women and children are as hated as the men!” The Justifiers flood down the stairwell, smashing into apartments. “Break in the doors!” scream one. Another, “Waste no time on mercy! Drag them out! Treat them rough!” Dragging occupants out of their homes, one Justifier gloats, “Listen to their cries! I’ve been waiting to do this for years!” As a victim pleads, “Help! Help! Stop this!” his capture yells, “Get going! We’ll show what we do with your kind!”

The unfortunate souls are being herded into the Justifier Aero-Van. Screams a woman, “Help! Where are you taking us?” A Justifier responds, “Shut up! You’re nothing but animals! Get in that van! Stop shouting and get in!” A Justifier with a clipboard confers with a comrade, saying, “”We’ve got all on this list! Now, take off, before the police interfere!” The Aero-Van takes to the skies and we hear an interesting comment: “Anti-Life works! We’re jsutified in ridding the city of this human trash! The city should thank us!” Up to now we are lead to believe Justifiers are humans doing tasks for Darkseid, but this comment may indicate that at least some are originally from non-human Apokolips.

Then a Justifier, wielding a weapon, enters a library. “Put down those decadent books! Get out of this library! The nonsense stored in this place shall never pollute another mind!” Suddenly we realize his device is a flamethrower, which the zealot ignites and fires into the stacks. “You need know no more than the proper things! Who but myself is justified in burning down this library?” A bystander exclaims, “Call the police! This guy is a dangerous nut!”

Glorious Godfrey, receiving a trimming, is viewing the goings-on via video screen. “My little legion is doing well, too! There’s one of them defacing a store with an ‘S’ for scapegoat!” One of his underlings says, “Anti-Life is a heady, exhilarating experience, Godfrey! They’re in ecstasy.” Glorious Godfrey replies, “Yes, they no longer think! They revel in emotion! They will do anything I say — in order to feed their emotion! They are now no more than zombies in my control!” Godfrey then learns the suicide bomber has failed to eliminate The Forever People, who swap places with The Infinity Man and advance into Godfrey’s revival meeting. (The caption reads: “The grim, silent crowd, ever seeking the answers to its discontent, enters the giant tent of Glorious Godfrey! — And so does The Infinity Man!” But after the defeat of The Infinity Man and the Super-Kids, Justifiers load the unconscious new-agers onto an Aero-Van. “Open those doors!” says one. “Load these enemies of Apokolips aboard one of our departing Aero-Vans! No need to treat them gently!” Another explains, “We’re taking them where we took the others! To the Camp of the Damned!” The pilot says, “It is not the first of its kind seen on Earth! But Desaad is the master of this one! Even as Justifiers make a mockery of life — Desaad plays with death as if it were a fine art!” The Justifier carrying Mark Moonrider (one-handed!) says, “I wonder what sort of masterpieces he’ll make of these brats!”

Next comes the Justifiers tussle with the Super-Cycle. At the onset of “The Omega Effect,” a Justifier security patrol, flying courtesy of their “Flight-Shoes,” happens upon the parked Forever People transport. “It’s the vehicle left behind by those New Genesis brats we captured!” Orders another, “Destroy it! Where they are — they won’t need it anymore!!” The hapless Justifier assigned to attend to the Super-Cycle whines, “Huh! I get all the ridiculous chores!!” while the others fly down to Godfrey’s encampment. “Turn down the noise on your ‘Flight-Shoes!‘ Glorious Godfrey is still receiving recruits in his great tent!” The lone sentry wields a threatening device, telling us, “This Apokolips weapon should do a thorough wrecking job on that thing!!!” But the Super-Cycle start to make unusual noises. “Strange! The darn thing is makin’ sounds — like it was alive!! Wha-?! It’s moving!!Changing!! — The handle-bars — The cabs — The wheels –!” And then the Super-Cycles fires upon the Justifier, paralyzing him! The security patrol returns to investigate. “That spooky vehicle — it’s turned into some kind of weapon!!” Another says, “Careful! It’s already scored!

The caption reads: “Then — more shots — more stiffened, falling figures!!! All in full view of Glorious Godfrey down below!!!” Godfrey orders his Justifiers to “Destroy that abomination!!” and a crew of newbies steps forward. “We’ll volunteer for the job, Glorious Godfrey!! Give us the chance to serve you!!” Godfrey asks his first lieutenant, “These are new recruits!! Can they do it??” The officer is enthusiastic, “Zealots will do anything!! Just point them in the proper direction, Godfrey!” The leader turns and raises his arms above the fresh soldiers as if in benediction. “You Earthmen are the shining embodiment of ‘Anti-Life!’ You leap at the throat of death — because you’re transformed!!” Volunteers one, “Belief in Anti-Life makes all Justifiable! Belief in you, Glorious Godfrey, makes us — ‘Justifiers!’” A jubilant Godfrey sends them off. “Then, ‘To arms!!’ Get to your weapons and instructions!! — And finish that job!!!” The Justifiers are ecstatic, one yapping, “Yahooo! We’ll blast that thing into twisted junk!!!” Godfrey’s number one gushes, “They’re really eager to destroy! What’s the secret, Godfrey? The helmet? The uniform? The creed?”” Godfrey beams and answers, “Earthmen are given all those things at birth!! I merely justify their readiness to use them!! That’s why they love me!!!”

Next we see a zillion — or thereabouts — Justifiers swarming up the incline to lay final siege on Serifan and the Super-Cycle. Godfrey says, “My followers are ready! My Justifiers champ at the bit!! — In one moment they’ll surge over that hill! — Weapons blazing!! — Shouting with the joy that comes in the release of destruction!! Kill, men, kill!! Darkseid absolves you of all guilt!!” But the Super-Cycle riddles the Justifiers with its paralyzer gun, yet the fanatics keep up the onslaught despite their losses. “They’re still coming!” Serifan thinks, “Like all zealots, Justifiers never give up! The Super-Cycle is defending itself magnificently!! But some attackers are bound to break through!!” Choosing a capsule from his headwear, the cowboy muses, “It’s best that I choose the correct Cosmic Cartridge from my hat-band — and hold it in readiness for instant activation!!” A Justifier rushes the youngest Forever Person, screaming, “Die!! — You New Genesis whelp!!” and fires his weapon. The following caption reads: “Even as the Justifier’s weapon fires, the Cosmic Cartridge generates a shield of atoms — strong enough to repel the shot and cause it to rebound on the attacker!” Serifan is determined to hold out until death takes him. Godfrey is happy to comply and says to a minion, “I’ve wasted enough zealots!! Use the Induction Rifle!!” Its wielder says, “It’ll pressurize the ground above the brat — and bring the cliff down on him!” Is this the end of Serifan and the Super-Cycle? We’ll see, but we do know this is the finale of the Justifiers, who depart after this scene!

Day 95: Glorious Godfrey!

An audience filled with zombified-faces, pupil-less eyes, gaping mouths. The caption, a quote by Adolf Hitler — “That is the great thing about our movement — that these members are uniform not only in ideas, but, even, the facial expression is almost the same!” — Voices speak out:

Yessir! It’s the truth! Glorious Godfrey is speaking the truth!

He’s voicing what’s in our hearts!

Tell it, Godfrey! Tell us how our pride is being attacked and dragged in the dust!

It’s the others, Godfrey! Those who don’t think right!

This is our world! Our world! They have no right to meddle with it!

The one who seeks believers must be a believer himself! And such a striking and vigorous dynamo of belief is Glorious Godfrey! In a troubled, fearful world he faces his audience with his truth and fire! — Which is magnified by an awe-inspiring setting!

Yes, this is the arena of the vainglorious Godfrey, agent of Apokolips and auburn-haired Adonis who is on Earth to recruit an army of Earthlings in service to the great Darkseid’s cause. In the tradition of television evangelists, his sermons are at once honey-sweet and silky smooth and then sizzling with hellfire and brimstone, always asking his captivated audience to contribute. But this master of the Justifiers, this preacher of eternal death, isn’t asking for mere money from his flock; Glorious Godfrey wants his “friends” to give up their lives for the Master of the Holocaust!

A smile of benevolence spread across his handsome, almost beautiful face, Godfrey’s arms are stretched open in welcome to the congregation. The setting is a tent revival meeting, with hundreds in attendance, spotlights shining on the audience. A super-scientific organ is being played behind Godfrey and innumerable servants — a chorus, believers holding placards (reading LIFE HAS ITS PRATFALLS! ANTI-LIFE IS PROTECTION; LIFE WILL MAKE YOU DOUBT! ANTI-LIFE WILL MAKE YOU RIGHT!; YOU CAN JUSTIFY ANYTHING WITH ANTI-LIFE!; and JUDGE OTHERS! ENSLAVE OTHERS! KILL OTHERS! ANTI-LIFE WILL GIVE YOU THE RIGHT!) — and a beady-eyed fellow wielding Justifier helmets. Godfrey, decked out in a white, Romanesque tunic, begins his oration:

I hear you, right thinkers! You’re shouting Anti-Life — the positive belief! Listen, as the great organ catches your words and finds the wonderful music in them! And what am I, Glorious Godfrey, but another poor instrument that vibrates to your message? And I say, come to me! And I shall give you the power to wield death!

The minion holding Justifier helmets, says, “Wield death! Wield pain! You can be justified — if you wear one of these!” A giant image of Darkseid is transmitted on a video screen behind Godfrey as he continues:

Yes, friends! Though Life is ever filled with those who threaten us, it is Anti-Life which gives us the power to eliminate them! The holocaust is coming! The day of Apokolips on Earth! The Day of Darkseid, who brings this power for only us to use! Yes, it is his gift to us, friends! The Cosmic Hunting License! The right to point the finger or the gun! Who can stand against us, friends? Certainly not the others! They can be recognized for what they are! But not us, friends, Not us! When we wear this helmet, we feel unified! Glorified! Justified! Step up, friends! Take your helmet! Be superior! Be fierce! Be a Justifier! It’s Darkseid’s gift of Anti-Life — It’s the “Happiness Package!

The scene cuts to Uncle Willie and young Donnie’s apartment, where a gargantuan Justifier has the invalid child in his grip. The opening caption reads:

Thus, Apokolips makes contact with Earth! Thus, the harbingers of holocaust link up with the human minds and hearts that wait to act in chaos! Like the ancient witchdoctors of old, Glorious Godfrey sounds the clarion call and begins the dance of death in modern times! The message of Anti-Life is powerful! — And its disciples must strike first at the Forever People

After that Justifier — in actuality, a suicide bomber — almost obliterates Donnie and the Super-Kids, Mark Moonrider contemplates the fanatic. “The Justifier died willingly — but in vain! But his death tells us many things! All from New Genesis, who have come to Earth — are being sought out — for death!” Vykin the Black observes, “And the one who sent the Justifier to kill us — can only be — Glorious Godfrey!” The team springs into action, bids Donnie farewell and jump aboard the Super-Cycle. Beautiful Dreamer notes, “Wherever Glorious Godfrey and his Justifiers are — Mother Box will reach out and find them!” The beloved Forever People device is pinging excitedly as Vykin adds, “It’s coming! Revelationists like Godfrey have strong emotion flows! Mother Box is picking his up!”

Then we see what Glorious Godfrey has wrought on our planet as Justifiers swarm over the city performing a litany of horrors: rounding up innocent citizens to serve as tormented playthings of the malevolent Desaad; entering libraries and while decrying the “decadent” books, using a flamethrower to destroy the contents; and targeting specific merchants by painting giant “S’s” on their storefronts.

This new Apokolips villain is next seen getting his splendid head of hair attended to as his lieutenants report and technicians work the video-screen controls, which depicts Justifiers smashing store windows and painting “S’s.” The caption states: “From his headquarters, Glorious Godfrey watches his Justifiers in action as he prepares for a new audience!” And then his hairdresser gushes to the preacher, “You look wonderful, Godfrey! You’ll sweep your new audience off its feet!” Gazing at his face in a hand mirror, Godfrey agrees, “My little legion is doing well, too! There’s one of them defacing a store with an ‘S’ for scapegoat!”

Lieutenant: Anti-Life is a heady, exhilarating experience, Godfrey! They’re in ecstasy!

Godfrey: Yes, they no longer think! They revel in violent emotion! They will do anything I say — in order to feed their emotion! They are now no more than zombies in my control!

Video-screen Technician: Godfrey! The screen image is gone –! It now registers a moving blip!

Godfrey: It can only be a phasing vehicle! We’ve got visitors not native to Earth! It seems that one of our Justifiers has failed in his mission to kill some of our opposition! I suppose they’re welcome to die here, if they wish! Our Justifiers will see to that — won’t they?

Second lieutenant: As long as I command them, the Justifiers will do their duty, Godfrey!

Placing an assuring hand on the second lieutenant’s shoulder, Godfrey says will a broad smile, “I knew I picked the right man for the job! You were a nobody before Anti-Life gave you power!” The underling replies, “No harm shall come to you, Godfrey! I am tireless in your service!”

The Super-Cycle phases in near the Godfrey encampment — “There it is,” says Serifan, “A giant tent — the traditional setting for Glorious Godfrey’s revelations!” Adds Big Bear, “And there below are the busloads of discontents arriving to hear those revelations!” Beautiful Dreamer and Mother Box sense the tent is heavily guarded, so the group combines to become The Infinity Man, who travels through the ground itself to confront Godfrey and his Justifiers. As our amalgamated hero lifts from the very stage itself, a Justifier blurts, “Wha–! A ghost — rising from the ground!” Godfrey, in the middle of another sermon, says “Hold, friends! One moment!”

Justifiers, flanking Godfrey (looking terrified with arms stretched high), fire into the form of The Infinity Man. Says one, “The intruder grows solid! Omega shots can get him now!” The evangelist screams, “Blast him! Blast him! Protect Glorious Godfrey!” After IM turns back the bullets on the perpetrators, Godfrey rants, “You fool! Do you think your spectacular gimmickry can stop this operation? The forces of Apokolips are many! — And mighty!

The Infinity Man takes notice of the giant, high-tech organ and retorts to the villain, “Your secret is wind, Godfrey! An evil wind that rushes from your throat — and this demon’s organ! Which must be destroyed!” And, despite Godfrey’s plea — “No! No! You can’t!” — blast rays from The Infinity Man’s hand destroys the musical instrument. “Its sonic chords will no longer stimulate the brute instincts that drive men into your service!” Still, Godfrey in undaunted, telling his attacker, “You control the natural forces as one would instruments! But you still cannot stop me!” Then, turning as if to initiate a final confrontation — “We shall find out, Godfrey — right now!” — a cold hand drops on the space warrior’s shoulder. It is Darkseid, who tells the hero, “This is not Godfrey you face, but great, consummate power — so devastating — that it rocks even one such as yourself!” The Infinity Man is zapped into oblivion (or at least into its vicinity) and The Forever People return, only to be rendered unconscious for the pleasure of Desaad. As the new-agers are being loaded into an Aero-Van, Godfrey senses his influence rapidly eroding with the Master of the Holocaust. As Darkseid and Desaad discuss the purpose of the “Camp of the Damned” — extracting the Anti-Life Equation — Godfrey’s instinct for self-preservation come into play. “But surely you can’t mean — Surely not even the great Darkseid believes in the existence of the Anti-Life Equation! Why, if one could master such an equation — he could control the minds of all living things in the universe — with a mere word! I-I believe in Anti-Life, great Darkseid — but it can only be induced in others by the means of inventive selling!

Darkseid nods to his resident preacher and proceeds to rebuke him. “I like you, Glorious Godfrey! You’re a shallow, precious child — the Revelationist — happy with the sweeping sound of words! But I am the Revelation! The Tiger-Force at the core of all things! When you cry out in your dreams — it is Darkseid that you see! The Anti-Life Equation exists! Locked in the mind of someone here on Earth! — And only I dare reach for it! I shall create chaos here! Shake up the planet! — Shake up that mind! I have many servitors to help me do that! Each with his own methods, eh, Desaad?’ Godfrey objects as would a petulant sibling, “You favor him always, great Darkseid! Think of what my Justifiers do in your cause!”

Desaad bows to leave but not without throwing a slight to the humiliated preacher. “I beg to depart from this petty situation, sire!” Turning to Godfrey, the tormentor smiles wickedly and says, “You’re a loud, petulant bumpkin, Godfrey! Like all Revelationists, you’ve got imagination, but not finesse! But I, Good Godfrey, have both! I leave now for my ‘camp,’ which Darkseid knows is terror, refined to perfection!

We don’t see Glorious Godfrey until the tail-end of the “Happyland” saga. “The Omega Effect” opens as Justifiers, aloft on their nifty Flight Shoes buzz by the stationary Super-Cycle and one of them orders the Forever People mode of transportation destroyed. “Turn down the noise on your ‘Flight Shoes!’ Glorious Godfrey is still receiving recruits in his great tent!” The battle of the Super-Cycle begins and, standing regally before his tent, a Justifier on one knee with head down below the preacher’s patting hand, Godfrey is concerned with the altercation. “What’s going on up there!!!” A Justifier reports, “That infernal ‘New Genesis’ gadget parked on that hill — it just picked off our security patrol!!”

Godfrey: Well, we can’t have that sort of thing going on!! Destroy that abomination!!

Justifier: We’ll volunteer for the job, Glorious Godfrey!! Give us the chance to serve you!!

Godfrey: These are new recruits!! Can they do it??

Justifier: Zealots will do anything!! Just point them in the proper direction, Godfrey!

Godfrey: You Earthmen are the shining embodiment of “Anti-Life!” You leap at the throat of death — because you’re transformed!!

Justifier: Belief in Anti-Life makes all justifiable! Belief in you, Glorious Godfrey, makes us “Justifiers!

Godfrey: Then, “To arms!!” Get your weapons and instructions!! — And finish that job!!!

Justifier: Yahooo!! We’ll blast that thing into twisted junk!!!

Lieutenant: They’re really eager to destroy! What’s the secret, Godfrey? The helmet? The uniform? The creed??

Godfrey: Earthmen are given all these things at birth!! I merely justify their readiness to use them!! That’s why they love me!!!

We last see Godfrey in the series at the conclusion of the Battle for the Super-Cycle. As a scene of the big Roman “pull-out” from ancient Britain shifts to a majestic-looking Godfrey, the caption reads:

Strength is also the creed of Glorious Godfrey, who preaches Darkseid’s Revelation of Conflict!! Godfrey is neither lost in time nor space!! He is where he must be!! — At the point of conflict!!

Godfrey: My followers are ready!! My Justifiers champ at the bit!! — In one moment they’ll surge over that hill! — Weapons blazing!! — Shouting with the joy that comes in the release of destruction!! Kill, men, kill!! Darkseid absolves you of all guilt!!”

Serifan and the Super-Cycle hold their own and Godfrey becomes impatient, ordering his men, “I’ve wasted enough zealots!! Use the Induction Rifle!!” The device seems to destroy the cycle and copy-cat cowboy. A Justifier revels, “It’s done with, Glorious Godfrey!! But just before the stone struck — I thought I saw — some strange phenomenon!” Godfrey says, “I saw it, too! A thin flash of light!! It was probably friction caused by colliding rock!! And, so, we shall leave that mound as it is!! A monument to Darkseid’s power!! Break tents!! It’s time we moved elsewhere!

Godfrey is a captivating and particularly vile bad guy in the Fourth World and we certainly see quite a few humans of his type here on real Earth. Self-important, grandiose, vain to a fault, and believing he has so many virtues he does not, in fact, possess — humility, compassion, empathy — Glorious Godfrey has no true convictions other than in himself and his ability as a salesman, seeing the quest for the Anti-Life Equation — Darkseid’s search to control all life in the universe — as merely a marketing challenge… I’m just flabbergasted and suspect strongly there’s never been a comic book villain quite like him. All hail Godfrey!!!

Mister Miracle #2

Cooke Look: “X-Pit!”

You just gotta love the cover copy on this issue of Mister Miracle: “What is a Follower? Ever wear Aero-Discs? Who is Overlord? Just a few questions on his road to sudden death! Electric tensions means Mister Miracle” and “Also — meet Granny Goodness… she reaches out of this world to make deadly little things like the… X-Pit!

While the interior story is mildly formulaic, Granny Goodness proves an awesome villain (and so is the freakish Overlord despite the one-shot appearance), and I believe the issue is, overall, a vast improvement over #1. Granny is shallow, vain, greedy and even needy, yet always impressive, and researching her entry, it’s obvious she is as much the quintessential nemesis in this title as Desaad is to The Forever People. Her obsession with Scott Free is all-consuming and, as becomes obvious, she refuses to get over his escape from Apokolips and that will doubtless be the cause of her eventual downfall.

There are a couple of other delightful touches in this story, as well, including the bonding of Oberon and Scott Free — particularly when they shake hands after the assistant plies for background information and Oberon notes, “There’s a haunting look of fear in your eyes — and pain! Say no more! I know you as a brave and sincere, young friend!” Replies Scott, “Thank you, Oberon! You’re a big man — the kind one looks up to!”; and when Mister Miracle holds his pal over his head when the mud rises in the X-Pit. The other moment is when Scott revives his Mother Box who has suffered an attack of Overlord. “I haven’t explained Mother Box to you, Oberon — but she is dear to me — and I must help her!” Scott tells his friend. Oberon retorts, “Y-you mean that thing — is alive?” Scott puts his hands to his forehead and concentrates on his sentient computer: “In a way, she is! But, now, she’s hurt — weak — I must pour out my love — my belief — to make her respond!” Great stuff!

Day 94: The X-Pit!

The ill-fated Overlord created the X-Pit, a trap to ensnare and punish Scott Free, at the behest of Granny Goodness. “[Overlord] needs no discipline like my pouting, jealous soldier boys! Overlord is also creative! He makes things for Granny Goodness! That’s why Granny asked him to build the X-Pit! She has lost her patience with rebellious boys! Granny Goodness wants to kill Scott Free! He was the first to run away from her institution!”

Granny threatens her underlings: retrieve Mister Miracle or else… “But we know where he is now, don’t we?” screams the old battle-ax. “Get him! Get Scott Free! Bring him to Granny! — Or take his place in the X-Pit!” The minions kidnap Oberon and what they think is Scott Free (it’s just a Follower) and deliver to Granny, and when the real Mister Miracle comes by to rescue his assistant, Granny springs the trap. “I’m here, Granny! But I can’t stay long! Just to pick up a friend!” Granny demurs, “You’ll stay! You’ll stay for eternity! Open the X-Pit, Overlord!” She then pushes a button and Scott and Oberon plunge into the X-Pit!

There is an ominous humming sound! — An eerie flash — as invisible forces rush from a widening gap in the floor!!

Granny: Ha ha ha ha ha –! I’ve got you, Mister Miracle!

Scott Free: My Aero-Discs have been neutralized! I’m falling!

It is a long fall, because the pit is deep! But the mad downward flight of its trapped victims is slowed as they near the bottom!

Scott Free: Don’t panic, Oberon! We won’t be crushed! The hidden force-poles are reversing from attraction to repelling!

At the bottom of the X-Pit is a transparent cage of unknown substance! Its doors close on its hapless prey as they drift within its confines!!!

Scott Free: We’re still alive, Oberon! But prisoners of Granny! And, believe me — this is no ordinary prison!

Oberon: That shouldn’t stop you, Scott! Not you — Mister Miracle!

The pair then brainstorm and Scott ponders what he knows about Granny Goodness and concludes, “She’ll sacrifice anyone and anything — for gifts — rewards! On that premise — and with these studs — we must stake our lives!”

There appear to be 15 tiny buttons — five rows of three — in the transparent container and Scott pushes one.

Oberon: You pressed one of those buttons — and, now, we’re frying!

Scott Free:
Hang on, Oberon! I know this for what it is — a Torment-Circuit! Made by the creator of this pit for Granny’s pleasure! [Pushes another button] Steel yourself, Oberon! This is the Electro-Shock Cycle!

Oberon: I feel like I’ve swallowed a thousand hot needles!

Pressing yet another stud, Scott and Oberon are suddenly engulfed in muck.

Scott Free: I must continue the cycle! I must press another of the studs!

Oberon: Do it! No matter what happens next — It’ll be better than this! Whew! This is a welcome break! But I don’t suppose Granny rigged this to last too long!

Scott Free: No! Look about you, Oberon! Look at the quickly-rising mud!

Oberon: Scott! Do something! Before this mud covers us!

Scott Free: It will smother you first! This way, friend!

Using his right hand, Scott lifts Oberon above his head, keeping him out of the rising mud.

It won’t help, Scott! Try to press the next cycle!

Scott Free: Can’t — The mud is hardening! Tough to move —

At this point, like Granny, readers think Mister Miracle and his assistant are doomed… but, taa-dah! The Super Escape Artist reappears to explain to Granny how the two got out of the X-Pit! After Granny threatens to kill Scott with her bare hands, she demands, “How did you do this? How?

Scott Free:
Fair enough! Once I knew the Overlord created the X-Pit, I knew the make-up of its structure! Every atom of the X-Pit was linked to Overlord himself! Even the studs of the Torment-Circuit! I activated each terrible cycle —

We see Scott pushing a new stud, telling us, “The mud is hardening fastholding my arm — but my finger is free — touching the next stud –”

Scott Free: Then the mud was gone — as if it had never been there — because Overlord was transforming its atoms into another form of torment!

Oberon struggles to his feet and asks, “W-what next, Scott? What next?” Scott opens his shoulder access to Mother Box, replying, “Mother Box signals — radiation!” Then, jamming his shoulder into the studs, he declares, “And that makes her strong! Strong! Strike at the enemy, Mother Box!”

Scott Free: I jammed Mother Box into the Torment-Circuits — felt her power race with vengeance toward their insidious source! Somewhere, I could feel the power strike Overlord! Somewhere, I could hear his silent scream — somewhere, I felt him — die!

Granny: You killed Overlord! You had him killed by a damnable Mother Box!

Scott Free: I earned many things when I left your institution — like these Aero-Discs — on which Oberon and I rose from that now useless pit!

And so the demise of Overlord’s malevolent trap, the ex-X-Pit!

Day 93: Aero-Discs!

Who can argue that Mister Miracle’s Aero-Discs aren’t the absolute coolest “gettin’ around town” devices ever created? Earned by Scott during his training as an Aero-Trooper on Apokolips (“As a FORMER candidate for Granny’s flight troops, I EARNED these!”), these nondescript metallic cylinders, each a fraction of an inch thick, give the hero the ability to fly through the air standing up, a graceful and imposing sight, each foot placed atop a disc. It’s obvious, in “Himon,” that Scott took the transport mechanisms with him when he escaped via Boom Tube to Earth — you can see him grasping the devices to his bosom during the arduous exit from Slum Area 10 and into the Boom Tube to Earth. But late in the series, in #15, Mister Miracle makes a curious comment when flying with Barda, she on her own pair:

Barda: There’s more than one way to follow a quarry –! These AERO-DISCS are PERFECT for the job, Mister Miracle!

Mister Miracle: I built these for the act, Barda. Where WE grew up, the Anti-Grav vehicle is as COMMON as an Earth automobile.

What’s THAT all about? (And what’s with the use of the lowly period punctuation instead of multiple exclamation points, eh???!!!)