Category Archives: Day Entries

Day 101: Miss Laura Conway!

Miss Laura Conway is Galaxy Broadcasting CEO Morgan Edge’s personal secretary and she formerly served as the enigmatic Dabney Donovan’s “most trusted employee,” a fact revealed during the “Transilvane” storyline, where she was a more active player in the storyline than previously.

Just before Inter-Gang orders Morgan Edge out of his office and to escape Metropolis because the Four-Armed Terror was about to set off a nuclear chain reaction that would destroy the city, we catch the executive in a mundane situation with his new secretary. Barking orders from his desk, Edge says, “I want three copies made of these letters, Miss Conway!” To which a young, slender and attractive woman replies, “Yes, sir!” As she closes his door, he adds, “Oh, Miss Conway! I’d appreciate it — if your typing ability would begin to catch up with your devastating charm!” Her retort: “I never intended to be anything but efficient, sir!” As he attends to his Inter-Gang communication, Morgan Edge thinks, “The little snip! She’s as good as fired!

Later, after Metropolis was not vaporized in an atomic explosion and Miss Conway was not relieved of her duties, Morgan Edge returns to his office. As he enters the door…

Morgan Edge: Well, everything seems just as it did before I left! Any messages, Miss Conway?

Miss Conway: Mister Edge! I didn’t expect you back so soon — you did leave rather hurriedly, sir!

Morgan Edge: Well, you see, I learned that Metropolis would suffer an atomic explosion!

Miss Conway: Oh, er — Clark Kent called! He said that Jimmy Olsen is back — and they both want to see you!

Morgan Edge: [Thinking] I’d have favored the atomic explosion! [Out loud] Miss Conway! If Kent or young Olsen calls again — tell them I’m still out! They can wait! I’ve got bigger fish to fry! How are we progressing on those contracts for Don Rickles?

Miss Conway: Oh, Mister Edge! I just hope Don signs with us! He’s such a funny man!

Morgan Edge: Never fear! I’ll reel him in!

Miss Conway: That’s wonderful! We’ll have two of them now! Don — and his “look-alike!”

Morgan Edge: Look-alike?

Miss Conway: Yes! Goody Rickels! He’s on our research staff — a sweet, lovable soul —

Later, Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen ask Miss Conway some questions. Says Clark, “Is Mister Edge back yet, Miss Conway? Jimmy and I must see him!” Jimmy leans on her desk with a warning, “And don’t con us, Miss Conway! Some of the staff have seen Edge return!” Miss Conway is unfazed. “Then those same busybodies should have told you he went out again! However — Mister Edge left this for you both!” She hands Clark a small piece of paper. Jimmy says, “That looks suspiciously like an assignment slip!” And the boys are sent off to check a possible U.F.O. landing in Cronin Park.

Next, Miss Conway interrupts her boss. “Yes, Miss Conway! What is it now?” The secretary responds, “Oh, Mister Edge! You have been busy! Don Rickles just phoned to say he’ll be here soon! It’s so exciting! Oh — er — there’s been no calls from Goody Rickels! I do hope he can be of some help on that UFO story!” Taking a drag off his ever-present cigarette, Morgan Edge says, “Miss Conway, I’m extremely confident that Goody Rickels will fare no better or worse than the others!

A short time later: “Meanwhile, in the sumptuous office of Morgan Edge, the chief executive of the Galaxy Broadcasting System…” Miss Conway bursts in on her boss. “He’s coming, Mister Edge! He’s on his way up in one of the elevators now!” Morgan Edge replies brusquely. “Contain yourself, Miss Conway! After all, this network does business with many stars!” But the woman continues to gush. “Oh, but Don Rickles is such a treat!! I just can’t wait to get insulted by him!” Lighting a smoke, Morgan Edge says, “Yes! I’m anticipating something like that myself!” Miss Conway adds, “Wouldn’t it be just immense if Goody Rickels would return from his assignment to confront Don!?”

After the real Don Rickles is mobbed in the Galaxy offices — Miss Conway laments, “OH! Poor Mister Rickles” she and her boss help the comedian into the executive’s office, “There, there, Mister Rickles! You’ll mend rapidly in here!” Don gives her a look. “Who’s this broad? What is she playing? — “Nursey-nursey”? Morgan Edge offers, “That’s Miss Conway, my secretary!” Then, in a classic panel, while the curvaceous young lady walks out of the room, the comedian’s eyes glued to her sash-shaying figure in a form-fitting dress, Don quips, “You’re great, honey! You’re wasted here! You deserve something better than a typewriter and this sneaky crumb! Get yourself a bikini and start a chain of heart attacks at a garden party!” Miss Conways beams and replies, “Will do, Mister Rickles! I’m so thrilled!” She leaves and Don tells Morgan Edge, “‘I’m so thrilled,’ she says! Working for a guy like you — Morgan ‘Watch the Small Print’ Edge!!”

The beginning of Jimmy Olsen #142 begins ominously. “Amid the strange sounds at midnight, this classic horror figure never fails to emerge and haunt our dreams with terrible effectiveness! So here he is again — But wait!!!! — Your writer advises you to expect something more than the same old routine from The Man from Transilvane!” A sinister looking fellow and his werewolf companion look into the moonlit night. “The night is the same on any world, eh, Lupek?!! Ahead lies the city — and the one we seek!!” Mouth agape, fangs are revealed, and eyes glowing with no pupils, the vampire is ravenous. “Ahh! I sense her! I’ve found her! I call her name!! Laura! Laura Conway!! — Even as you sleep — you can hear my call!”

Like some sinister instrument locked on its invisible target, the man from Transilvane stands rigid!! Then–!!

Rays emanating skyward from his eyes, the monster boasts, “From my eyes soars the power!! It will reach her — and create the mark which will make us — as one!!

The power knows no distance! It projects for miles — to the city! To a building — to a window!! And beyond the window is Laura Conway — sleeping — sleeping — as the mark appears on her neck — to change her body chemistry! What has been done — is now done!! The reults of it will rival the most awesome events ever recorded!! When Laura Conway takes up the threads of her life the next day, at the offices of Galaxy Broadcasting System, her transformation is not ignored by Jimmy Olsen and his super-sonic sidekick, Superman, seen here in his other identity — Clark Kent!

Laura Conway is staring intensely at her desk , phone in one hand, pencil in the other. The reporters are looking at her with concern. Clark says, “You look a bit peaked this morning, Miss Conway! So we’ll try to make it short! –“” Jimmy adds, “Yes! When do we get to see Morgan Edge? He’s put us off long enough! We’ve got to talk to him!” Laura says, “Boys — boys — give me a moment–!”

Jimmy is annoyed, telling the secretary, “If Morgan Edge is dodging us, I can tell you it’s for a darn good reason!” Adds Clark, “That’s true! We’ve got questions to ask him that could put Mister Edge in a very embarrassing position!” Looking demur, Miss Conway responds, “Perhaps that’s why he’s out! Oh, I don’t know! At any rate, he isn’t here!” Then, in a startling moment, Miss Conway gives an open-mouthed smile that reveals — gulp! — prominent fangs! “And that, boys, could mean minutes, hours, days — You name it! Mister Edge left no departing word!” Jimmy blurts out, “Miss Conway! Y-your face –! I-I mean — are you okay??” Clark brushes past his pal to take charge. “One side, diplomat! Don’t you see she needs help?!” Jimmy leans forward on her desk as the veteran Daily Planet reporter takes the woman in his arms. Jimmy says, “She needs sorcery prevention, if you ask me — did you see –??” Clark responds, “I saw! I saw! But I can’t believe it! Easy, Miss Conway –” and he picks her up, carrying her. “What do you make of it, Clark?” asks Jimmy. “This is no ‘put-on,’ Jimmy!! She’s doing the vampire bit — down to the very ‘marks on the neck’!!

And the power — when it has fully taken hold — controls the body chemistry — controls the very body atoms — so that a pattern is followed — a complete and total pattern!

Hold her curvy and unconscious body before the office mirror, Clark exclaims, “Oh, my God! The mirror! Jimmy! Look in that mirror and tell me if what I see — is so! I mean — tell me, if what I don’t see is so! No! I — mean –” Replies the cub reporter, “I know what you mean! Miss Conway casts no reflection! And you know what that means!” Clark places the unfortunate woman on a couch. “Shouldn’t we call a doctor or something, Clark?” asks Jimmy. “Of course! Only here, in Morgan Edge’s empty office, we can at least make her comfortable!” Jimmy is incredulous, “Make her comfortable? Make a real vampire comfortable? Clark, she’s liable to get up and bite us both on the neck!” Clark is searching for a pulse and dismisses his comrade. “Oh, quiet! Let’s get our bearings!”

The next caption reads, “And the total pattern must remain fixed!! And nothing that belongs to it must ever be excluded!” A small mammal suddenly flies through the room. “A bat!!” says a shocked Olsen. “Here in the city — in the office!! Don’t tell me what happens next!!” Clark is stoic, adding, “Yeah! I saw the movie, too! Keep your cool, Jim!” Reads the caption, “–Even into the final materialization!” A new voice: “Good afternoon, gentlemen!!” A new figure in the room: “Allow me to introduce myself! Count Dragorin of Transilvane!” (Jimmy mutters, “It figures!”) The caped, pale-faced intruder continues, “I regret the intrusion upon your many activities in this place!! However, I am pressed to carry out my own, you see!!” Retorts Clark, “If your business is with Miss Conway, I suggest that you talk to us about it!” Jimmy steps in to wag a forefinger at the Count. “I second Clark’s motion! Now, what’s this all about? How do you work this gimmick — and why?” The newcomer is momentarily bemused. “You do have a certain charm, young man! But you try Dragorin’s patience!” Jimmy is pugnacious: “Oh, yeah? Well, why don’t you drop the act and help Miss Conway? It was probably you who caused her illness!!” Clark resumes his diplomatic stance, “Er — All we’re trying to say, Count, is — that we’re concerned! We’re friends of Miss Conway!”

But the white-visaged creature is on a mission and, giving the boys a nasty glare, tells them, “I said that I’m pressed by urgent action! And so it must be!! Behold the Evil Eye, gentlemen! It’s not a myth! For in it is power! And in the power there is irresistible force!” His right eye increasingly radiates until a burst of energy explodes from his pupil and there’s a giant ZZAPP! and the fellows are knocked off their feet.

The next sequence in this episode is captioned: “And back in Morgan Edge’s office, the power of the Evil Eye has taken its toll!!” Jimmy and Clark are sprawled on the floor, and the Man of Steel’s alter ego ponders, “The Count’s strange power sure packs a potent punch! Jimmy is completely stunned! But I have more effective protection! It’s called Superman! Now to see what the Count is up to –” Dragorin is advancing towards the woman. “Laura! Laura Conway!” Clark is ready to spring, as the interloper raises his arms in the air in a classic vampire pose. “If he tries to harm that girl –” thinks the reporter. “Rise, Laura! You have — the power!” And Miss Laura Conway rises off the couch. The Count is ever so slowly enveloping the secretary into the folds of his cape. “It is I, Laura! Dragorin! I’ve come because you are ready! You and I, Laura — we share the same power!” Miss Conway agrees, “Yes, Dragorin! We share the power! We share every secret within us!”

And now, we finally begin to understand the vampire’s singular pursuit of the female, as Dragorin reveals, “All but one, Laura! Where is Dabney Donovan, Laura!? Where is he? Where?” The secretary replies, “I-I don’t know! nobody ever knows where Dabney Donovan is!!” His hot breath on her neck, the Count replies, “But you were once his personal secretary! His most trusted employee! I’m listening for your answer!” Clark sneaks up behind the pair, thinking, “She’s angering him! I think it’s time to act!” Dragorin is insistent: “Don’t defy me, Laura! Answer!” Miss Conway blurts out, “Science Research Center –”

A wave of relief washes over the vampire. “Of course! The NASA Science Research Center! Dabney must have left records, files — a trail!! Donovan is an evil, clever one! But I’ll hunt him down!” Miss Conway explains, “I worked there for Donovan! But knew him only as a voice — dictating note from a tape recorder!” Then Clark springs at the vampire, thinking, “Here goes! –” Dragorin turns to exclaim, “Demons! This man has withstood the power!! incredible!” Clark retorts, “I’ll tell you more about it, Dragorin! When I have you subdued!”

But Count Dragorin vanishes in a vaporous puff — as Clark Kent seizes a handful of air — and loses his balance!!

Gone!” says Clark. “That Dragorin is as slippery as the man he’s hunting!” Sudeenly, Miss Conway comes to her senses. “What’s happened? What am I doing here? I-I feel so — weak–” Jimmy is also coming to, telling her, “Exactly my thoughts, Miss Conway!” Clark thinks, “Miss Conway’s face! — It’s losing the vampire characteristics! Dragorin’s power over her is fading!

Subsequently we learn, as Jimmy and Clark drive to the research center, that Miss Conway “snugly relaxes for a few days at the clinic.” And, the last we hear of Morgan Edge’s erstwhile and loyal employee, she’s still stationed outside the CEO’s office, as the “smiling cobra” tells Jimmy to report to her for details on the Scotland trip. “See my secretary, Miss Conway, on your way out, Olsen! She’ll brief you on the details!”

Yeah, there’s a ridiculous amount written here on her albeit few appearances in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, but there’s not a whole lot to actually say about the character herself. She’s pretty but relatively nondescript, seemingly lives alone and appears devoted to her job and her current boss (even if he confesses though he heard the city was going to be disintegrated, she apparently wasn’t worthy enough to be privy to that knowledge… that “Oh, er –” response from her is precious!). Her old boss? She sells him down the river to a blood-sucking vampire pretty quick, don’tcha think?

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…

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!!!

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???!!!)

Day 92: Granny Goodness!

The first glimpse we get of the powerful Apokolips personality Granny Goodness is when she is sitting before a vidi-screen console communicating with her beloved Overlord, which is reporting its failed assassination of Scott Free, a.k.a. Mister Miracle. After beating her “pouting, jealous soldier boys,” we learn Overlord has created the X-Pit to eliminate Mister Miracle for his matron. Speaking in the third person, Granny explains to her guards, “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!” She orders that he be captured and brought before her. Her peons seize a Follower, thinking it is the actual escape artist, along with the “sawed-off” assistant, and the real Scott Free suits up and puts on his Aero-Discs to rescue Oberon.

Granny greets the kidnappers, telling them, “My soldier boys never fail their Granny! My soldier boys are the best!” Denying her sycophantic servants the right to watch her punish Scott and, in response to a bowed soldier telling her, “We love you, Granny! We serve you!” she indicates a bust of the Master of the Holocaust and orders, “Love him! Serve great Darkseid! Wear your pointed helmets proudly where he leads! die for him — and reward Granny!” But the gray-haired villain recognizes the prize is a phony and suddenly the real thing flies in to rescue an acquaintance. “I’m here, Granny! But I can’t stay long! Just to pick up a friend!” But Granny retorts, as she pushes buttons on the Overlord control panel, “You’ll stay! You’ll stay for eternity!” and she traps Mister Miracle and Oberon in the X-Pit.

We’ll discuss this particular death machination in an entry to follow, but it’s important to note that Scott Free figured out the trap by focusing on Granny herself. As the plummet to the bottom of the X-Pit, Mister Miracle and his diminutive pal discuss the predicament:

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

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

Scott Free: I’ve got to think! I’ve got to remember all I know about Granny Goodness!

Oberon: Under other conditions, I’d be glad to forget about her!

Scott Free: Beneath her iron facade lies a hidden fear! I’ve seen it!

Oberon: She’s no youngster! Perhaps it’s just the simple fear of old age — and its insecurities!

Scott Free: Yes! She’ll sacrifice anyone and anything — for gifts — rewards!

And, put a plan into action “on that premise” Mister Miracle tackles the lethal puzzle before him and his friend. Meanwhile, on her rocking chair and sniffling into her hanky, Granny is weeping crocodile tears. “Poor Scott Free! How he must be suffering! It’s too bad he couldn’tlearn to see things Granny’s way!” Her attendant tells her, “don’t weep over that coward, Granny! You must need comfort…” Caressing the cheek of the servant, Granny says, “My soldier boys are so understanding! That’s why Granny trains soldier boys!” Her boy responds with a grin, “Granny helped me earn my pointed helmet!” Turning to the Overlord container delivered before her, she says, “Granny has earned her rewards too! She’s worked hard! Done all the right things! That’s why great Darkseid gave her this wonderful gift!” A present which promptly explodes before her. “My guards — struck down! Attacked –!! No! No!” Standing before her is Scott Free and Oberon.

Granny Goodness: Scott Free! Only a miracle could have gotten you out of the X-Pit!

Scott Free: Not a miracle, Granny! — A memory!! The memory of a gift you once received! A gift for your old age — A gift named Overlord! — the gift that creates and destroys!

Scott explains how he and Oberon escaped the X-Pit and Granny laments the destruction of her beloved Overlord. “Granny is hurt! Granny is ruined! Overlord is gone –” and while she claws her fingers near his face, Granny threatens, “You — you’ll pay dearly for this!” Replies Scott, “And that brings me to my parting words!!! Dry up and blow away, Granny Goodness!” Later, as he and his small friend fly off, Scott confesses, “Oberon — it took a lot of nerve to say that to a terror like Granny!” The assistant replies, “Fly faster, Scott! I’ve got an eerie feeling that she’s warming up for the second round!”

The next we hear of the gray-haired harpy, it’s when Big Barda visits Earth for the first time. After Oberon asks her why the denizens of Apokolips are so mean, she replies “Fool! We serve only Darkseid! — And Darkseid serves conflict! Aaaghh!! You’re making me repeat the phrases taught by Granny Goodness!” The dwarft responds, “Oh, I met that old horror!”

Later in that same adventure, when Barda and Scott meet again and admire one another, she remarks, “Yes, this is a far cry from our days as pupils of Granny Goodness!” Scott replies, “You should have gone with me — when I escaped from her institution, Barda!” Barda agrees, “Yes — Perhaps I should have… But I stayed! Stayed — to become… what I am!

During “Doctor Vundadar and His “Murder Machine,'” the little fake Prussian speaks to the ether, “Forgive the flaws in the things that serve me, Granny Goodness! They may fail you, but never your very own Virman Vundabar! My master machine is ready and waiting to carry out your dearest wish! Mister Miracle shall die!” While preparing for the Civil War cannon trick, Oberon and Scott discuss the escape artist’s background:

Oberon: What is it like — where you come from, Scott–? You said it was a sort of orphanage — run by this old harpy — Granny Goodness!!

Scott Free: You saw her, Oberon… I’m certain you found her quite impressive! Well, she’s in charge of one of many institutions where the young of Apokolips are raised and trained to develop their inherent powers!!

Oberon: I’ve seen some of those powers, too! It can shake a man to his bones!!

Scott Free: You’d find the orphanage a nightmarish place!! Barda and I were raised there! When I’d had enough, it was she who helped me escape! I suppose that’s what I’ve been doing ever since!!

After the rehearsal and Scott says he and Oberon have created a sensational act, he adds, “That’s unless Granny Goodness decides to pursue her traditional taste for vengeance!” Oberon asks, “You mean she might come back and dismantle us — or something–?” Scott answers, “–Or send someone! Perhaps an orphanage alumnus like capable Virman Vundabar!” A little bit later, Scott thinks, “If I remember correctly, Vundabar loves military precision and efficiency! In fact, he patterned his lifestyle along old Earth-Prussian lines!!! When Granny Goodness gave him his name, the fool took it seriously! He literally acts out the fantasies he built up around it!!”

Virman screams at his captive, Barda: “You traitress!!! Granny Goodness will deal with you!!” And, in a classic moment, when Klepp, Virman and a minion, all sporting wide-mouthed grins, believe Scott Free is dead when our hero is, in fact, standing behind the trio, also smiling from ear to ear, the minion says, “How Granny Goodness will beam when we return!!!”

Just before the attack of the Female Furies, Barda muses, “Apokolips always reclaims its own!! And the arm of ruling Darkseid is long! So far his hunters have been kept at bay!! Granny Goodness! — Virman Vundabar!! — I wonder who’s crawling out of the woodwork now!?”

During the opening of “The Apokolips Trap,” one of the transport attendants tells the Harassers, “Lick your chops, you land-rats! These new orphans for the Granny Goodness Finishing School are a shaking mass of gooseflesh. As the handlers beat the tar out of the young and fearful new arrivals, Granny shows up with her huge mastiffs and beckons to Hoogin, one of the “brutal, relentless, and efficient” Harassers. “I have a rough one here, Granny Goodness!!” says Hoogin. “He shows signs of becoming a trouble maker!!” Granny interrupts, “– Or a warrior!! Discipline will do the job!!! Lots of Granny’s discipline” Granny has a few words for the young “worm” who gave lip to Hoogin.

Granny: You must learn to understand and love Hoogin, young one! He’s teaching you how to treat the lowest form of life!

Hoogin: And that’s what you are!!! — worm!!

Granny: All my new boys have that status!! But with time and patience, Hoogin will help to raise you a few notches!! You’ll become a rat! Then a wolf! And who can tell? — You may get to be one of Granny’s fine young tigers! Won’t that be a glorious day!! All praise to Darkseid!! Boot him on his way, Hoogin!!!

Hoogin: You heard Granny, worm!! Follow your friends — and don’t stop!!!

Granny: Good work, Hoogin!! You’re like a big, firm brother to my little charges! Of course, this isn’t the job you once enjoyed!! But I had to break you in rank when Scott Free made his escape to Earth!!

Hoogin: I was the officer in charge of his unit! — I accepted the responsibility for his escape!!

Granny: For reasons of my own, I’ve been trying to recapture him, Hoogin! And I’ve got a hunch that Scott will volunteer — to come back!!

Hoogin: I can’t wait — Granny!

When Scott and Barda prepare their return to Apokolips, Oberon pleads, “Why must you leave!? Why!? You escaped from Apokolips once! Do you think that Granny Goodness and her creepy pets will let you do an encore??” After Oberon departs the room, Scott tells Barda to stay on Earth. “I still insist that you remain here, Barda!! I’m the dish that Granny hungers for!!” But Barda is firm, telling her friend, “No deal, Mister Miracle! We’ll go down that old shark’s mouth together!! — Then I’ll beat her to death from the inside!!

In Jack’s vivid description of Apokolips, he writes, “The new gods are power beings — But on Apokolips their power is maintained by lesser entities! And from these emerge interesting personalities!! Like Granny Goodness, Virman Vundabar, Doctor Bedlam!!” After their encounter Kanto the Assassin bid Scott Free adieu handing our hero a Mega-Rod, saying, “Use this on yourself and the female — now!! Death at Kanto’s hand may be cleaner than death fashioned by Granny Goodness!!

A little later, Scott knocks Hoogin on his butt and orders, “Tell Granny that I’m back!! Tell Granny I claim freedom — by right of combat!!” Hoogin fiddles with his wrist communicator and retorts, “You’ll get combat, all right!! But freedom never!! Hoogin to Granny! Answer — please!!” Granny’s face appears on the tiny video screen. “Make it short, Hoogin! Poor Granny is ailing — and taking her medicine!!” Hoogin says, “Set your trap, Granny! Scott Free is back — with Barda!!”

Next we are witness to a precious scene with Granny reclining with a libation, decked in Victorian sleeping garments (though underneath still wearing her steel and mail uniform!). “See that they’re not harmed!! Barda is to be returned to the female barracks! Scott Free goes to Section Zero!!” Hoogin answers, “Section Zero, eh? I suppose that’s the last I’ll see of him!! Signing off, Granny!!” Granny then speaks to herself, “Hmmff! Those who enter Section Zero — never do come out!! At any rate — who would recognize them — if they did!!!? No — they stay in that house of horrors!! They choose to!!! Granny’s been waiting for this day, Scott Free!! — The day you would march back here and flaunt your impudence!! Well, you forget, sir!! — A trap made by Granny — is a trap of the gods!!!

An introductory caption in “The Battle of the Id” reads:

Section Zero!! In the grim world of the Granny Goodness orphanage, these words alone conjure up the deep, underlying fear and secrecy that shroud a function of Granny’s operation which is never talked about! Those who vanish into Section Zero are never seen again!! But their cries are heard! — And what is done to their bodies — is hidden by seething gases!! — Unidentified vapor rising from deep pits — crossing spiny catwalks — assaulting the senses of Scott Free — Mister Miracle!

Dragging a tranquilized Mister Miracle to the “Psycho-Merge” table, one of the attendants orders, “This way! Quickly! Quickly! Granny Goodness is growing impatient! She is anxious to see this show!” The combatants strapped to the table, Granny, decked out in fancy, ceremonial regalia, bangs her scepter on the window of the viewing room. “You, in there!! Get on with it! My guests and I can’t spend eternity waiting for Scott Free to get his ‘lumps!’ Hahah!!” Turning to her guests, Virman and Kanto, she says with a flourish, “Our little psycho-drama’s only moments away, good friends! Section Zero never fails to provide us with an endless variety of entertainment!!” Virman replies, “One cannot help but envy the facilities at your beck and call, Granny!”

Granny: Clever mechanisms are scarcely adequate against clever enemies, dear boy! — As you must have learned from Scott Free!

Kanto: I heard about your unfortunate encounter, Virman!

Virman: I was dropped into a deep pit!! But Virman Vundabar, with proper tools, was out of there in record time, Granny!

Granny: Marvelous! Aren’t my boys marvelous! — And you, Kanto! — Are you too left undaunted by humiliation? Scott Free was at your mercy — yet, you too failed to kill him!

Kanto: I never fail, Granny! In his case — I merely decided not to succeed! I knew Scott was headed here! — To this!!

Granny: Bully for you! All right, you technical wonders in that room! Get this show on the road!!!

After the “Non-Being” guest (Tigra, mother of Orion and husband of Darkseid) is seated, the caption reads: “Ignoring her notorious prisoner, Granny Goodness champs at the bit!!”

Kanto: Your technicians seem ready, Granny! Whatever they’ve been doing appears to have been completed!

Granny: Fumble-fingered sloths! Deadheads! Lower the energy screen!!

During the action between The Lump and Mister Miracle: “Meantime, the watchers in Granny’s mini-theatre are involved in the scene!”

Kanto: Of course! If Mister Miracle can function in that strange realm — so can his antigrav gimmicks!

Granny: Do I detect a note of professional admiration, Kanto?

Kanto: Perhaps, madam! We are — what we are

Granny: You’re an assassin, Kanto! You kill on order! For reward!

Kanto: — For Darkseid, dear lady! Because I’m very good at my trade!

Granny: I dare say! If the fates decree it, I suppose your talents could be utilized against poor Granny herself!

Kanto takes Granny’s hand to his lips and, bowing, he says:

Kanto: It would fill me with infinite sadness, sweet Granny!! — Still, I should be discreetly silent, — respectful — thorough!

Granny: You charming swine!! On such a day, beware! The pupil shall face — his teacher!!

Later, when all looks lost for Scott Free in the hands of The Lump, Granny rises to leave her mini-theatre, telling her guests, “That’s enough! The show’s over! It always ends this way — on a happy note for Granny!” But the Female Furies break in and Barda confronts her old instructor. “And now for you, you grungy old harridan! Hand over Scott!” Granny retorts, “I should’ve known you’d break the rules again! — For him! Well — you’re too late this time, Barda! Scott Free is dead! Unlike yourself, he understood the rules laid down by Granny — and died an honorable death!! As for you, traitor –” Barda is livid and lunges at Granny, screaming, “Traitor? You dare call me a traitor? Why, I’m the purest, most superior product you ever turned out!” Holding Granny in her clenched fist, Barda promises, “When they find Scott [dead] — I’m going to kill you — Granny!”

Granny: Y-you’re – mad! Defy me — and – you – defy — Darkseid!

Barda: I’m doing it! With Scott dead — I’m going to destroy everything that killed him!!

Granny: Urrrghh–

Barda: Hag!! You taught me how to hate! But you couldn’t teach me whom to hate!!

In the nick of time, Granny is spared with the live appearance of Scott Free.

In the flashback story “Himon!” though the spirit of mean ol’ Granny permeates the tale, she makes no actual appearance. But she is mentioned a couple of times, First, when Himon caresses sweet Auralie: “Poor, brave Auralie! — Trying to survive with her inner beauty — in that grim house of horrors Granny Goodness calls an ‘orphanage!!'” Later, when Scott Free grows some hair, Barda is startled and remarks, “Wha-! Hair! You broke one of Granny’s rules for male troopers!”

Granny also appears in the flashback vignettes titled “Young Scott Free.” In the first, escorted by her two giant mastiffs, she walks in on an orphanage ritual: Young Scott Free is standing, rigid at attention, on the Punishment Block. Cadets greet her with cries of “Heads up to Darkseid!!” and “Hearts out to Granny Goodness!

Granny: What else, boys!? Tell Granny the rest!!

First cadet: The Punishment Block is the throne of truth!

Second cadet: Scott Free must be freed of lies!!

Third cadet: I’LL take your darling demon-dogs, Granny!

Granny: Be careful, dear boy! Their teeth have been newly filed!! Report, Scott!

Scott Free: I was derelict in duty and a traitor to the tradition! When I was given living specimens for my lesson in prisoner interrogation, I allowed them to overcome me and escape!!

Granny: Lies! Lies! The truth is — that you’re jelly-bellied, weak-kneed!! Spineless! Gutless — and generally soft! Those living specimens populate Apokolips to breed for Darkseid! [takes out her baton] To work for Darkseid! [strikes Scott in the belly] — To be killed for Darkseid!! [strikes Scott in the chest]

Scott Free: B-but they look like us! They’re weaponless!! They cry under torment!

Granny: And that’s the truth of it!! All of my words on this Chest Recorder have gone unabsorbed! Unabsorbed!!

Scott Free: No, Granny! Don’t take my Recorder! I love your voice!! It gives me comfort!!

Granny: [ripping the Chest Recorder off of Scott] You’ve denied me! You’ve rejected Granny!!

The next caption reads, “On Apokolips — to disobey a master indoctrinator is close to a capital crime!! But Granny chooses to be merciful!!” The future escape artist is marched away as Granny orders, “Run him through the gantlet three times!” And, after that severe beating, guards throw him in a cell, as a guard barks, “You’re in here until Granny says you’re out!!”

In the next vignette, set in “the iron institution run by Granny Goodness!!,” Granny appears on a video screen in the mess hall where Scott Free and his peers are about to eat. She says, “And now, by the numbers, Granny’s deadly little darlings will eat their ‘Energy-Blocks!!’ — Or I’ll ram it down your darling throats!!”

Granny Goodness only appears once outside of Mister Miracle in the initial Fourth World run, but it’s a vital role in The New Gods #7, “The Pact.” Granny presents the Master of the Holocaust with a bundle, Izaya’s part of the bargain:

Granny: Hail, great Darkseid! See what I hold!! See what so gently nudged through the dimension threshold — from New Genesis!!

Darkseid: Izaya’s whelp, eh? This will hurt him!! He’s surrendered his prize lamb — for a tiger!!

A young, sleeping boy is in Granny’s arms.

Granny: He’s been given some mild sedative, I think!! There is a serene and fragile quality to his features!!

Darkseid: We’ll stamp that out, won’t we, Granny!!? We’ll jam him into that clanking mechanism you call an orphanage!! All the rigors and trials heaped upon the training warrior shall be doubled for him!! His spirit will flag and his bones will ache!! — Until —

Granny: Until — sire??

Darkseid: He may conveniently decide to escape from Apokolips, Granny! Of course, on that day — the Pact I agreed to — will be broken!!

Granny: That fine day will be dear to your heart, sire! Therefore, in its honor, I shall name the lad — Scott Free!!! Ha ha hah –“

Interestingly, this is the only time we see Granny in the presence of Darkseid. And after Mister Miracle effectively becomes a non-Fourth World title for a spell, Granny makes a return in “Wild Wild Wedding Guests,” the last issue of Jack’s run. When Scott Free bests Virman Vundabar, he boasts, “You forget, Virman! I’m still the fastest moving target there is!” The a familiar voice interrupts. “– And you forget that you have more than one enemy on Apokolips!”

Scott Free: Granny Goodness!! You armored old war-wagon!

Granny: You’ll regret those unkind words. Granny will punish you for that!

Minions: Let us handle him, Granny!

Suddenly a gravitation pull is overwhelming our hero.

Scott Free: W-what’s happening? I’m growing heavy — heavy!

Granny: Stand back, my soldier boys. An invisible mass gravity beam has locked onto him! Granny has arranged a proper reception for her defiant enemy! You should’ve been more polite to Granny!

Scott Free: Blast you, you mean old hag! Why don’t you kill me and get this over with?

Granny: You shall die, dear boy — but only when Granny decides to give the order!

But Kanto intervenes and cuts off the gravity beam. “So — you’re turning into a chicken, are you?!” sneers Granny. “I agreed to help you trap him, Granny,” says Kanto. “But I didn’t promise to take part in torture!” Scott exclaims, “Kanto! — The master assassin!” Granny scoffs, “Kanto, the lily-livered, is more like it! Bah!

Kanto: Rewards will buy my loyalty, Granny — but my code of conduct is my own!

Granny: Blast your assassin’s code of honor, Kanto! Just remember that this prize belongs to Granny! [To Scott] Does that please you, dear boy?

Scott Free: It’s as pleasing as falling in a snake pit!

Virman Vundabar: Insolent swine! Let me finish him, Granny! Your own Virman shall still his tongue!

Granny: [to Virman] Shut up!

Virman: [wielding a pistol] No! No! This pig has escaped me once too often!

Granny: Put that thing down! Pompous little egotist! Granny give the orders here! You’ll do as I say!

Virman: Y-yes, Granny! Your authority remains unchallenged!

Kanto: Hah! I’m paid to obey that old monster, Virman — but you shake whenever she barks!

Virman: For all your boasting, Kanto — I’ve yet to see you defy her!

Granny: Silence, buffoons! We’ll dispose of the prisoner as I planned! He must join his friends on the “Bomb-Clock!

Scott Free is placed on the Magna-Wall with his comrades Barda, Shilo Norman and Oberon, and bidding the quartet off, Granny says, “Farewell, Scott Free! Your friends die with you! Hahahahahah! We’ve done it at last! Scott Free is finished!

Suddenly, chaos breaks loose among the evil-doers!!

Minion: Stop him! He attacks without mercy!

Granny: Who dares spoil this moment of triumph!?

A rampaging interloper attacks Granny’s beloved henchmen. Kanto observes, “Your soldier boys are going down like ten-pins, Granny!” Virman exclaims, “Their weapons are useless!” And Granny hollers, “Incredible! Such ferocity has no equal! — Even on Apokolips! There is only one who is driven by such violence! — Orion of New Genesis!

Orion: Stay where you are! — Or feel the wrath of Orion!

Doctor Bedlam: If you came to save Scott Free and his friends — you’re too late!

Virman: Think well before you attack us! — We represent the hierarchy of Apokolips!

Granny: Injure us — and draw the wrath of all Apokolips!

We then learn Granny and her cohorts were tricked into believing Scott and his friends were killed, that a wedding is to take place, and after Orion tells the villains that Darkseid will appear, Granny shakes her fist, berating Orion, “Fool! Lamebrain! We shall all suffer! Darkseid will punish us for failing — and you for succeeding!” Orion replies, “Maggots! You cringe at your master’s name!” Granny is near hysterics. “We are not your match! As you are total destruction — Darkseid is total power –! He can strike us down or toy with us at will! We cannot change his moods –!”

Granny is seen briefly in “Even Gods Must Die!” where she is reduced to a role as manager of the Female Furies, who themselves are subversive machine operators in the Apokolips of Darkseid’s new policy of universal automation. When a monitor device is destroyed by Stompa, Granny appears to lament its demise. “Poor, poor little monitor… Did big bad Stompa mistreat you? I — I can’t believe it! A monitor is a valuable little toy! He tells us all about those zany ones who fritter away their efficiency when Darkseid has need of it.” Stompa retorts, “Don’t call me ‘zany,’ Granny Goodness,.. or I’ll stomp your guts to bits! Until you look like cute little ‘monitor’ there!” The Furies are in all-out rebellion and Granny retreats, calling for guards. A brouhaha ensues and controllers press the discipline button, which zaps the Furies and Granny, as well. One controller says, “Too bad we’ve got to jolt that old warhorse Granny Goodness! Her military school made tigers out of babbling infants!” Another controller replies, “Well, she’s a lousy ‘Compu-Team Supervisor’! She’ll take her jolts with the rest!”

And this is the last we hear of the legendary Granny Goodness…

Day 91: Overlord!

Like a high-tech ticker-tape we see Overlord’s communication with its mistress when the “X-Pit” adventure begins. “–I–AM– OVERLORD — I–CREATE–I DESTROY — NOW — I — DESTROY–! — SCOTT–FREE–DIES! OVERLORD–IN–READINESS–TO KILL! CLOSING-ON-VICTIM — ADJUSTING–SIGHTS RANGE–OF–FIRE–UNLIMITED — OVERLORD AWAITS COMMAND!!! –” Overlord looks mighty big on page four of Mister Miracle #2 after tracking Scott Free as the super escape artist assembles a follower with assistant Oberon. Thank Highfather the bizarre robot-looking device mistakenly targets the Follower in place of the real Mister Miracle (after receiving orders to “Strike, Overlord! Obey!”) and that “stand-in” takes the brunt of a destructive ray shooting from Overlord’s forehead. Scott and Oberon survive the “Explosion! Shock! Flame!” and his Mother Box takes a beating in the attack, prompting Scott to pour out his love and belief to revive the beloved protective device.

We see that at the control of Overlord is a new Fourth World villain, Granny “to know her is to hate her” Goodness, who purrs sweet compliments to her underlings while meting out discipline on their pointed helmets with her truncheon. “Granny communicates with Overlord, boys! Granny must read his words.” Overlord appears on a vidi-screen before her and the read-out reports: “RESULT: NEGATIVE! — VICTIM – LIVES —” One of her boys eagerly asks, “Overlord couldn’t kill Scott Free, Granny! Will you punish Overlord?” Standing up, she begins to unbutton her housecoat. “No! Because Overlord has made up for his failure! He has special gifts.” One of her henchmen notes, “Overlord is Granny’s pet! She keeps him in a warm, safe vault!” Granny throws off her robe to reveal her steel and mail uniform, complete with baton weapon, barking, “Yes, and we talk by vidi-screen! He’s too precious to be exposed to the world!” Whacking the Darkseid out of her boys, she continues to praise Overlord, “He needs no discipline, like my pouting, jealous soldier boys! Overlord is also creative! He makes things for Granny Goodness!”

Granny then tells us about Overlord’s creation of the X-Pit trap and her hatred of Scott Free, ordering her soldiers to kidnap the Happiness Home escapee. Her boys snatch Oberon and the Mister Miracle-adorned Follower, and arriving to rescue his assistant, Scott and Oberon plunge into the X-Pit, where Granny believes the two are destroyed. Granny orders a small box delivered from the vault and it appears to be connected to Overlord, who can grant her wishes. “Granny has earned her rewards too! She’s worked hard! Done all the right things! That’s why great Darkseid gave her this wonderful gift! It reacts to Granny’s every wish!” Suddenly a gemstone suddenly appears from the ether. “I ask it to create a valuable jewel — and behold!” Suddenly the box explodes and before her appear Mister Miracle and his erstwhile companion. Scott reminds her of a gift she once received, “a gift for your old age — A gift named Overlord! — The gift that creates and destroys!

In alternating moods of despair and rage, Granny is beside herself. “You vicious, young savage!” she screams at Scott. “Look! See what you’ve done! Oh — my heart — I’ll kill you with my bare hands! How did you do this? How?” As is his habit, Scott then explains, “Once I knew that Overlord created the X-Pit, I knew the make-up of its structure! Every atom of the X-Pit was linked to Overlord himself!” and, after torturing the pair with one trap, the device would transform “its atoms into another form of torment!” In the flashback episode we see an exhausted Oberon imploring, “W-what next, Scott? What next?” Revealing his shoulder-holstered Mother Box, Scott exclaims, “Mother Box signals — radiation! And that makes her strong! Strong!” Then, jamming his shoulder into the X-Pit control studs, our hero orders, “Strike at the enemy, Mother Box!” Continuing his explanation before Granny, Scott relates, “I jammed Mother Box into the torment-circuits — felt he power race with vengeance toward their insidious source!” The visual becomes a screaming, agonized Overlord. “Somewhere, I could feel the power strike Overlord! Somewhere, I could hear his silent scream — somewhere, I felt him — die!

Distraught, Granny tells Scott, “You killed Overlord! You had him killed by a damnable Mother Box!” As Scott opens a smoking box on Granny’s table, she continues, “Granny is hurt! Granny is ruined! Overlord is gone –” Mister Miracle scoffs, “He was an evil fraud! — like you, Granny Goodness!” And, in a startling moment, we see the contents of the smoldering box: a teeny, tiny ashen shell of Overlord. “Little worms can look like sea serpents when cast on a vidi-screen!” Scott says, “This is Overlord! — shorn of power and life!”

It’s interesting to view the life and death of Overlord as a deadly competition with Mother Box — “her power race with vengeance” — revenge for being almost fried at the beginning of this story. Curious, too, how Overlord resembles an infant robot — giant head and all… this is Granny’s baby? Or is Overlord to grow…? A particularly creepy and effective villain, I say!