As my Johns Hopkins summer program teaching stint enters its second week, here is another installment courtesy of my official unofficial researcher, John Wells?


I’ve got two questions to toss your way:

#1: I know that Clark Kent was named for film actors Clark Gable and Kent Taylor; Bruce Wayne for historical figures Robert the Bruce and “Mad” Anthony Wayne; Barry Allen for talk show hosts Barry Gray and Steve Allen; and Ray Palmer for a science fiction magazine editor. But where did the name Hal Jordan come from?

#2: What Silver Age stories outside of the Julie Schwartz titles made use of the Earth-1/Earth-2 concept? The only one that I can think of was the Flash/Spectre team-up in BRAVE & BOLD.

— Bob Buethe (bobbuethe@hotmail.com)

Question # 1) We may never have a definitive answer for the origin of Hal Jordan’s name, according to Rich Morrissey’s article in ALTER EGO [Volume 3] #10 (September, 2001). Julius Schwartz believes that it was “entirely [John] Broome’s creation. Peggy Broome suspects that the surname came from the movie Here Comes Mr. Jordan (about a man returning to Earth as an angel), and the ‘Hal’ may well be derived from Prince Hal in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Parts I and II. She recalls John as being ‘almost a Shakespearean scholar,’ who often read (and, in later life, taught) the Bard’s plays.”

Oddly enough, two more characters would later appear in the DC Universe with the name of Hal Jordan. One was the latter-day Air Wave, cousin of the original Hal Jordan and son of the Golden Age Air Wave. He debuted in 1977’s GREEN LANTERN #100 (by Denny O’Neil, Alex Saviuk and Vince Colletta) and later spun-off into a series in ACTION COMICS, still penciled by Saviuk and written by our own Bob Rozakis.

The other Hal Jordan seems to have been created by a writer for DC’s romance line who was oblivious to its super-hero titles. In “My One and Only Love” (SECRET HEARTS #110: March, 1966), the male lead was famed Broadway producer Hal Jordan. “Don’t get any ideas about Hal Jordan, honey,” remarked one cast member to another. “An actress doesn’t stand a chance with him.” Rumor has it that he liked to dress up in tights and preferred the company of lady executives.

Interestingly, “The Moon in My Arms” (GIRLS’ ROMANCES #75: April, 1961) also featured a DC namesake in the form of blonde Linda Danvers. Astute readers will note, however, that Supergirl was still Linda Lee at this point although her soon-to-be adoptive parents were slated to enter the picture only five months later in ACTION COMICS #279.

Here, for the record, is a list of some of the other Schwartz-edited DC namesakes:

  • Paul Gambi, villainous tailor — named after fan Paul Gambaccini.
  • Gardner Grayle (of the Atomic Knights) — named after writer Gardner Fox.
  • Glenn Merritt, FROM BEYOND THE UNKNOWN #7-8‘s space hero — named after astronaut John Glenn and the Merritt Island launching site; coincidently, Glen Merritt was also the name of Murphy Anderson’s brother-in-law.
  • Guy Gardner (from GREEN LANTERN) — named after fan Guy H. Lillian III and writer Gardner Fox.
  • Edmond “Colonel Future” Hamilton — named after SF writer Edmond Hamilton, whose prolific output included pulp hero Captain Future.
  • William “Black Hand” Hand — named after famed DC writer Bill Finger [Finger, Hand — get it ?].
  • Alpheus V. Hyatt, creator of the Time Pool — named after SF writer Alpheus Hyatt Verrill.
  • Jean Loring, the Atom’s girl friend — named after Julius Schwartz’s wife, Jean Ordwein.
  • Enrichetta Negrini, the Atom’s lab assistant — named after physicist Enrico Fermi.
  • Charley “Golden Eagle” Parker — named after jazz musician Charley “Bird” Parker.
  • Eric and Fran Russell, Iris West Allen’s parents — named after SF author Eric Frank Russell.
  • Jerry Thomas, unseen fan in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #16 — named after ALTER EGO founders Jerry Bails and Roy Thomas.
  • Wally “Kid Flash” West — named after named after SF writer Wallace West.
  • Starzl, a micro-world in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #18 — named after SF writer R.F. Starzl.

Question # 2) The only other example I can find is in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #91 (1970), wherein Black Canary falls in love with the Earth-One counterpart of Larry Lance. Otherwise, B&B #72 and #91 do seem to be the only explicitly Earth-1/Earth-2 stories from the Silver Age that Schwartz didn’t edit. And even Schwartz avoided Earth-Two when using Golden Age heroes who weren’t tied to the Justice Society, as in his editorial revivals of Zatara, Sargon and the Vigilante. Likewise, other editors — Sheldon Mayer (Scribbly), Bob Kanigher (King Faraday), Murray Boltinoff (Plastic Man, Johnny Peril), Joe Orlando (The Phantom Stranger, Dr. Thirteen) — simply brought back Golden-Agers on DC’s mainstream world. And THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, with characters like the Spectre and Wildcat, ignored the subject altogether.

Which isn’t to say that every editor avoided parallel Earths. Schwartz himself published a few such stories unconnected to Earth-Two, one in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #15, another in GREEN LANTERN #32 wherein Hal Jordan met a double who married Carol Ferris, and a third alleged to be our own Earth in THE FLASH #179. Mort Weisinger’s Superman family of titles were littered with undesignated parallel worlds, the earliest that I’ve found appearing in ACTION COMICS #238 (March, 1958). In this one, Tommy Tomorrow visited an Earth that was the mirror reverse (including printed matter) of his own. There would be many more worlds to come in titles such as SUPERBOY #116 & #117, SUPERMAN #146, SUPERMAN’S GIRL FRIEND, LOIS LANE #43 & #57, SUPERMAN’S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN #93 & #117 and WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #136. Both Weisinger and Schwartz ran stories about worlds where the traditional heroes were villains — and vice versa — in WORLD’S FINEST #148 and THE FLASH #174, respectively.

Here’s a line-up of the other non-Schwartz Earth-Two (and Earth-X) crossovers up to the point where Julie was basically only editing the Superman titles. Excluded are stories set on Earth-Two that described the parallel world concept but didn’t actually involve crossovers.

  • FREEDOM FIGHTERS #1 (Freedom Fighters leave Earth-X; March, 1976; Editor: Gerry Conway).
  • WONDER WOMAN #228 (Earth-One/Earth-Two Wonder Woman team-up; Feb., 1977; Editor: Denny O’Neil).
  • ALL-STAR COMICS #68 (Earth-Two’s JSA visits Earth-One; Sept., 1977; Editor: Joe Orlando).
  • THE SUPERMAN FAMILY #186-187 (Earth-One/Earth-Two Superman team-up; Nov., 1977; Editor: E. Nelson Bridwell).
  • FREEDOM FIGHTERS #12 (Firebrand leaves Earth-X; Jan., 1978; Editor: Jack C. Harris).
  • THE SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS #12 (Injustice Society flees Earth-Two; Jan., 1978; Editor: Jack C. Harris).
  • THE SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS #13-14 (Earth-One Captain Comet vs. Earth-Three Crime Syndicate; March, 1978; Editor: Jack C. Harris).
  • THE BATMAN FAMILY #17 (Earth-Two’s Huntress visits Earth-One; April, 1978; Editor: Al Milgrom).
  • WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #250 (Earth-One JLA/Earth-Two Wonder Woman team-up; April, 1978; Editor: Jack C. Harris).
  • WONDER WOMAN #243 (Earth-One/Earth-Two Wonder Woman team-up; May, 1978; Editor: Larry Hama).
  • THE SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS #15 (Earth-One Secret Society vs. Earth-Two Atom and Dr. Mid-Nite; June, 1978; Editor: Jack C. Harris).
  • ADVENTURE COMICS #460 (Earth-One/Earth-Two Flash meeting; Nov., 1978; Editor: Paul Levitz)
  • GREEN LANTERN #111-112 (Earth-One/Earth-Two Green Lantern team-up; Dec., 1978; Editor: Jack C. Harris).

*****

Any known connection (same artist, writer, inspiration, etc.) between Fawcett’s Atom Blake and DC’s Adam (Captain Comet) Blake?

Atom Blake is probably unknown to many message boarders. He was supposedly given amazing powers of the mind and physique by his scientist father who had discovered many of the secrets of the Universe and used a radioactive metal (remember that) to imbue his son with super-strength and resilience as well as a brilliant scientific mind. He also put some of this radioactive metal in a “magic” ring which could be activated only by Atom Blake because only Atom could decipher the complex mathematical formulae on the ring’s surface.

Although he was called a Boy Wizard, Atom’s powers were mostly the result of the radioactive metal and Atom’s own incredible mental control of the ring’s energy. Longtime fans will remember that Adam Blake’s (or Captain Comet’s, if you prefer) amazing mental and physical powers were explained by saying he was a mutant born 100,000 years ahead of his time. No explanation for the mutation was ever given. Sounds almost like a dead-on match doesn’t it? Any validity to the connection?

— Jack Holt

This is a really fascinating question and I wish we could find a definitive answer.

First, though, I don’t think the mere description of both characters as mental and physical marvels is exactly a smoking gun. Lots of characters were described that way both in comics and the pulps, the most prominent of whom was Hugo Danner (complete with scientist father) in Philip Wylie’s GLADIATOR (1930). And the extra details here — the magic ring and the strange metal — were already central to DC’s Green Lantern and Hawkman strips long before Atom Blake debuted. Among 1950s super-heroes, Stan Lee’s Marvel Boy comes far closer to Atom Blake with its hero who’s a mental and physical marvel, scientist father and wrist bracelets.

That said ?

John Broome got his start as a writer at Fawcett (while also selling a number of prose science fiction stories through his agent — and future editor — Julius Schwartz). He started with a Lance O’Casey story and worked his way up to Captain Marvel. Notably, he created Ibac in CAPTAIN MARVEL ADVENTURES #8 (March, 1942). Soon after, however, Broome joined the Army and that ended his Fawcett career. Atom Blake ran from WOW COMICS #1 (Winter, 1940/1941) to 5 (Spring, 1942), roughly corresponding with the period when we know that Broome was there.

When he appeared at the San Diego Comic Convention on August 14, 1998, Broome recalled little of what he worked on at Fawcett or of how he conceived Captain Comet. Julie Schwartz had this to say:

    “We were thinking about coming up with a new character and one of us came up with the idea of a super type of person who would be born 100,000 years ahead of his time. ? I said ‘How would he get his powers ?’ (and ‘I’ could be John or me) What would happen if a comet went through the sky at that point ? ? [It] would give him strange powers [and he] would be called a man 100,000 years ahead of his time. And that was the origin of Captain Comet.”

Let’s assume for a moment that Broome HAD written Atom Blake (and, frankly, I doubt that he’d even have remembered such a minor character if he HADN’T written him). Here’s the scenario:

Julie and John have just conceived a hero who’s the first man of his kind. Since his powers were triggered by a comet, that’ll be his name: Captain Comet. But what will his alter ego be ? First man, Julie says, makes you think of Adam. Not unlike Earl and Otto Binder’s robotic forerunner in prose, Adam Link. And Adam Link, in turn, causes John to recall the sound-alike Atom Blake. End result — Captain Comet a.k.a. Adam Blake.

To sum up, if there’s ANY connection between the characters, it would probably only be in the inspiration for Captain Comet’s last name. And even that isn’t certain. Anyone out there with more definitive evidence?


BobRo may be away, but his daily Anything Goes Trivia doesn’t get any time off. Check it out at http://www.wfcomics.com/trivia.


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Copyright ? 2000 to 2003 by Bob Rozakis. All Rights Reserved.


 

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