Moth's Cosmic Hop

This is going to be pretty random, but I thought it might be fun to exhibit my favorite way to read comics. This is a method I came up with when I worked at a comic shop and was surrounded by a lot of cheap back issues that I could also use my employee discount on. Now that there are great digital services like DCUI, this method is even easier (not to mention cheaper) to implement. I’ll keep this journey relatively short (around 5 issues, but maybe more or maybe less) and if it goes well then maybe I’ll do it again. To begin, though, I need a starting point. If someone would be so kind, would you please give me an issue that can be read on DCUI (it can be Ultra)? The first person to respond with an issue will give me my starting point. I’ll then tell you what I think of the issue and will let you know where I’m going from there based on what happens in the comic.

It goes without saying, but spoilers for any issue I journey to ahead…

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Does it have to be superhero related?

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Nope. I just have to be able to find it on DCUI and it just needs to be a single issue. It can be an issue in the middle of a storyline, but no entire trades please.

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Awesome! Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1. One of my favorite stories DC has put out.

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Thank you kindly, @UltimateSupes ! This will be my starting point. Be back soon to summarize the first stop on this trip.

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Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1:

Where are we in the Multiverse? I’ll start each journey log with this question. However, in this case, there’s not a clear answer to that. Since the resurrection of the Infinite Earths in Dark Crisis, Snagglepuss’ world could be part of the greater DC Multiverse, but, if it is, it hasn’t been catalogued or given a designation yet (though I could be wrong there, so please let me know if I am).

Anyway, I really liked this issue a lot. I’ve read Mark Russell’s work before and have particularly enjoyed his takes on Prez and Superman: Space Age. This also gave me the chance to read a comic that I normally wouldn’t have. I knew that these alternate takes on the Hana-Barbera characters existed, but I just don’t have enough interest in the characters themselves to seek them out on my own. This was a reminder to me that you shouldn’t always be so limiting as you can miss out on some interesting things like Snagglepuss reimagined as Tennessee Williams during the Red Scare.

Snagglepuss

At least, I believe that Snagglepuss most closely resembles Tennessee Williams in this series. I see a lot of parallels between the talking, pink cat and the legendary playwright: Roots in the south, secretly homosexual, and experiencing the height of their popularity around the Red Scare. For those that don’t know, the Red Scare lasted from about 1947 until about 1957 and involved the US House Un-American Activities Committee hunting down and often ruining the careers of suspected communists and, mostly, targeted those in show business or had some other claim to fame. This IRL rampage of paranoia didn’t just stop at suspected communists, though, and branched out into other parallel witch hunts like the Lavender Scare that sought to root out suspected homosexuals in society. The issue ended with the suggestion that things would be headed that way for poor Snagglepuss.

I enjoyed how the story utilized these real life events and alluded to the things that helped bring them about. I also really, really enjoyed the parallels set up between the Red Scare hearings and entertainment. The issue begins with a couple who may have lost a pair of tickets. At first, you believe they’re tickets for Snagglepuss’ play, but, later on, we find out that they are tickets to watch the execution of the Rosenbergs, a real life couple who were convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and executed (I should note that the guilt of Ethel Rosenberg is, to this day, being debated). This is Russell pointing to the real reason the Red Scare and its parallel witch hunts were able to thrive for so long: People found it entertaining. As terrible and barbaric as it seems, people were willing to cheer on as Congress ruined the lives and careers of famous people because it was something to watch and be invested in. This issue was amazing. It could send me off on a million different rants regarding the history and politics, but this is only the first stop on my journey, so I’ll leave it there… for now.

Next Stop:

So, I would love to read more of Exit Stage Left, and maybe I will someday. But, that’s not how this method works. The point of this method is to hop around different DC titles to uncover continuity mysteries or to find similar plot threads or even just to learn about a new series. So, the next leg of this journey can’t be Exit stage Left #2, it needs to be a different series that Exit Stage Left leads me to in some way.

Now, there’s not an obvious jumping off point in Exit Stage Left #1. An obvious jumping off point would be something like an editor’s note referring me to a specific issue to read. That’s okay, though. We can just stream of consciousness this. In that regard, my mind can see two potential branching points for what to read next. The one I’ve decided to stick with is the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Snagglepuss is far from the only famous character the Committee has tried to mess with. Famously, they also went after the Justice Society of America in Adventure Comics #466 in the story titled “The Defeat of the Justice Society!” That will be my next stop and I’ll return once I’ve taken it. In the meantime, please feel free to share your own thoughts on Exit Stage Left or any of the themes it explores.

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“The Defeat of the Justice Society!” from Adventure Comics #466:

Where are we in the Multiverse? Earth-Two (Pre-COIE), “a world much like our own, yet slightly different.”

I will admit that I’ve read this story before, but that’s okay. Not every stop on our journey needs to be a brand new one. The point of this story was to bridge the gap between the Justice Society of America’s last Golden Age appearance in All-Star Comics #57 (from March, 1951) and their reemergence about twelve years later in The Flash #137 (from June, 1963). To answer the question of why the JSA were dormant for so long, Paul Levitz cleverly latched on to the fact that the Red Scare was running riot in the United States throughout most of those years and uses that real life history to construct his story.

We start with two of the younger Justice Society members, Power Girl and Huntress. Power Girl asks why the JSA were inactive for so long, and Huntress, being Batman’s daughter, knows the answer and tells her the story. It begins with a shadowy man who proports himself as representing an organization called Eliminations Inc. This man approaches “the nation’s top crime lords” and offers to get rid of the Justice Society for a million dollars up front and then a 10% cut of all their future earnings, if successful. “The nation’s top crime lords” accept his sales pitch, but, to be fair, they probably aren’t that clever since they’ve all decided to meet in the same place at the same time which… will hurt them later. The Eliminations Inc. sales rep then launches his evil scheme by luring the JSA into space and to a satellite that he claims will act as their new headquarters. This, of course, is very reminiscent of the satellite headquarters the Justice League of America used at the time of publication.

Of course, this is a trap, and, once the JSA are inside the satellite, they are subdued by robots, locked in cells, and then launched into deep space. This reminded me of the plot to All-Star Comics #13 where the Nazis hatched a similar plot to deal with the JSA to similar results. The Society inevitably escape thanks to a corrosive acid that Black Canary was carrying in her Canary Amulet (a good callback to the Golden Age Black Canary stories from Flash Comics). The JSA returns to Earth and captures the man from Eliminations Inc. and “the nation’s top crime lords.” It’s when they bring them into custody that the JSA are hit with a subpoena from the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

Turns out that the dude from Eliminations Inc. is actually an agent of “a hostile foreign power.” “A hostile foreign power” is usually a catch-all term for any foreign nation that a comic wants to villainize, but won’t name for political reasons. Prior to the US entering WWII, it usually referred to Nazi Germany. During the Cold War, it usually referred to the Soviet Union which it obviously is here. Even though the Justice Society were bringing this man into custody, the fact they were seen with him at all makes the Committee uneasy, so they demand that the members of the Justice Society unmask so they can be cleared if they wish to continue their crime-fighting operations in the United States. The JSA refuses to give their identities up to the committee and choose to go dormant instead. They stay inactive until the political climate cools down by 1963. This issue is a milestone in JSA lore and shows that the witch hunts of the 1950’s weren’t about communism or homosexuality so much as targeting anyone who broke from the norm of homogenized American society. If everyone is the same, they are easier to control. The events of this story are expanded upon in the mini-series titled America vs. Justice Society.

Next Stop:

I actually have a ton of options here, but I will boringly reach for the most obvious as an editor’s note in the story directs us to the Justice Society’s final Golden Age case in All-Star Comics #57. Since I started using this method using the editor’s notes, I’ll follow it for now. I will return after I eat something and read that story…

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I never knew it was actually based on a real life playwright, that’s pretty cool.

as much as things right now are far from perfect for gay people when I read about struggles gay people had to face in the past like this it does make happy that we’ve come such a long way.

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when i see an animal character i either cringe or wish it was tawky tawny (or captain carrot)
this guy looks like if pink panther was a dc character

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It’s Snagglepuss.


but to be fair he does look a lot like Pink Panther

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Eh. Outside of Super Friends, I’m not much of a Hanna-Barbera guy. But Snagglepuss was alright…

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The Super Friends, Fantastic Four and the Quest family (and maybe the Galaxy Trio and The Pirates of Dark Water) would like a word.

Are you up for a new hop?

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Isn’t Scooby Doo also Hanna-Barbera?

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'Tis.

Hanna-Barbera has a huge library, and as such, I wasn’t going to list their entire catalog in my last post. Just the Best of the Best of the Best.

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Dang I just looked at the wiki. You weren’t kidding. I only knew a handful of them were Hanna-Barbera

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I know my Hanna-Barbera. :superman_hv_4:

I also know Wait Till Your Father Gets Home is a load in their otherwise clean pants (sure, HB had other messes of course, but WTYFGH is, in my four eyes, the foulest).

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There was a Hanna-Barbera land theme park in Houston in the 80s. Unfortunately it closed after only a year but I freaking loved that place. My older sister was a huge Smurfs fan and I loved Scooby Doo. We were too far to ever go to Disney theme parks so this was the closest thing we had.

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Wait you are not a hardcore Tom and Jerry fan?

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Holy potatoes, a HB theme park? That is too cool!

If only it was open when The Pirates of Dark Water was in-production and an employee dressed as Tula was about…

Anywho, I’ve a hop for @TheCosmicMoth and its a good 'un that is not superhero-related.

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I wish it would have been open longer but I guess it was competing with Six flags Astroworld and lost.

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