"Justice Society of America: "5 Drowned Men!"": An alumni reunion turns into a strange tragedy when six ex-fraternity brothers go camping on an old riverbed. To their surprise, the river floods the riverbed in the middle of the night, immersing five of them in the waters of [[Koehaha River|Koeha


Quote1.png But those five men are at the very top of their professions! Why would they turn to crime? Quote2.png
Superman

All-Star Comics #36 is an issue of the series All-Star Comics (Volume 1) with a cover date of August, 1947.

Appearing in Justice Society of America: "5 Drowned Men!"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

  • Calvin Stymes (Only appearance; dies) (Flashback and main story)
    • Mister X (Mat Matwell) (Single appearance) (Flashback and main story)
    • Professor Saul Philpotts (Single appearance) (Flashback and main story)
    • The Black Rider (Archie Ernder) (Single appearance) (Flashback and main story)
    • The Grim Marauder (Ed Findley) (Single appearance) (Flashback and main story)
    • The Wrecker (Ben Stanley) (Single appearance) (Flashback and main story)

Other Characters:

  • Hanson Laping (Single appearance)
  • Luke Gale (Single appearance) (Dies in flashback)
  • Mr. and Mrs. Ardman (Single appearance)
  • Professor Alvin Doty (Single appearance)
  • Rex Gardin (Single appearance)

Locations:

Items:

Synopsis for Justice Society of America: "5 Drowned Men!"

An alumni reunion turns into a strange tragedy when six ex-fraternity brothers go camping on an old riverbed. To their surprise, the river floods the riverbed in the middle of the night, immersing five of them in the waters of Koehaha. The river does not drown its victims, but washes away their consciences. Five brand new master criminals emerge. The sixth ex-frat brother, Calvin Stymes, who lured them all there in the first place, goes missing.

At an emergency meeting of the Justice Society of America, the members read in the newspaper that the Atom and Johnny Thunder won't be able to make the meeting due to an injury and illness, respectively. Honorary members Superman and Batman, also having read this news, arrive to fill in for Johnny and the Atom. Curiously, Batman arrives in his civilian identity, Bruce Wayne, offering to find a superhero replacement for the Atom and then ducks into a nearby closet to change into Batman.

Wonder Woman presents an anonymous letter, naming the five drowned men as master criminals running amok across the country. Hawkman presents a newspaper clipping, naming the same five men as having come back to life after being drowned in Koehaha. The clipping also mentions that a sixth frat brother, Calvin Stymes, is missing. Wonder Woman equips each of the JSA members with mental radios and the team splits up to track down each of the master criminals while Green Lantern hunts down Calvin Stymes.

Batman confronts the Grim Marauder, whom he suspects is Ed Findley, a detective. When the Marauder steals a million-dollar set of pearls, Batman goes to Findley's office and catches him red handed. The Marauder manages to trap Batman, though, and ties him with a noose in his basement. A stuttering mystery man appears long enough to cut one of Batman's bonds and flee. Batman apprehends Findley, but Wonder Woman sends Batman a message that there has been a change of plans.

The Flash hears the story of a political candidate disappearing before an election and looks into it. He tracks down the candidate and finds him being attacked by Mr. X, a blackmailer. When Flash removes X's gun and unmasks him, he is revealed to be Mat Matwell, a reporter and another of the drowned men. Flash gets a message from Wonder Woman to bring Matwell to Headquarters.

Hawkman is en route to check out Archie Erdner, an archeologist in New Mexico. But he stops to help out another archeologist being attacked by a criminal called Black Rider. Hawkman trails the Rider, first to a temple, and then to Erdner's tent, where Erdner pulls a gun on him. Two men burst in and tackle Erdner, saying that they were alerted to Hawkman's situation by a man with a severe stutter. With Erdner captured, Hawkman also gets a mental radio message from Wonder Woman.

Doctor Mid-Nite follows the trail of a series of gold robberies in which gold just vanishes from some banks. Using a gold coin as bait, he is drawn to the laboratory of Saul Philpotts, one of the drowned men. Phillpotts covers Dr. Mid-Nite with liquid gold to incapacitate him, but the stuttering man shows up and drops turpentine on the Doctor, allowing him to capture Philpotts. Dr. Mid-Nite is also contacted by Wonder Woman.

Superman arrives in a town where the Wrecker is dynamiting skyscrapers. Superman singlehandedly rebuilds one raized building then gets a tip from the stuttering man which leads him to another skyscraper. There he finds Ben Stanley, the architect, lighting a stack of dynamite. Superman defuses the dynamite and apprehends the Wrecker. While taking Stanley to prison, he gets called back to headquarters by Wonder Woman.

Everybody convenes at JSA headquarters where the Green Lantern tells his story: he allowed himself to be captured by Calvin Stymes, the stuttering man, in order to learn of his plan. Stymes blamed his five fraternity brothers for causing the stutter that has ever after hindered his chances for success in business. To exact revenge, he wanted them all to rot in jail, so he lured them to the riverbed where they were turned evil. Then he tipped off the Justice Society and even helped them out when they were in trouble. But while GL is telling the story, their five captives escape!

The JSA follow their adversaries back to Koehaha, where Stymes is waiting to kill them all in an explosion. The heroes save the men, but Stymes is crushed by falling rock. Afterwards, the Flash anaylzes the stream's water and makes an antidote for the drowned men that restores their consciences. Superman breaks off a mountain and uses it to plug Koehaha, preventing it from ever flowing again.



Notes

  • This is the first published adventure to show Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman working together.
  • The Justice Society members evidently don't know Bruce Wayne is Batman. (Wonder Woman doesn't even recognize Bruce Wayne.) Yet Wayne says he came from Al Pratt's hospital room. Wayne is apparently friends with Pratt and knows his secret identity as Atom, as do the JSA members obviously. It's unclear, but suggested, that the Atom, out of all the JSA members, knows there is some kind of connection between Wayne and Batman. (Superman woudn't even learn Batman's secret identity until Superman Vol 1 76 published in 1952.)
  • This story eventually got a sequel in 'The Generations Saga', which ran in the first ten issues of Infinity Inc. Vol 1. In that story arc, the JSA are tricked into returning to Koehaha and are themselves turned into super menaces due to the machinations of the Ultra-Humanite.
  • Reprinted in DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #3 and All-Star Comics Archives Vol. 8.

Trivia

  • This issue was the first All-Star Comics published following the merger of National Comics and All-American Comics (forming the publishing company that is known today as DC Comics). From issue #24 to 35, the series was being published solely by All-American Comics and hence the JSA was made up exclusively of their own heroes (which is why the Flash and Green Lantern were brought back to replace the National Comics-owned heroes Spectre and Starman.) Superman and Batman's inclusion was likely a nod to the fact that these heroes now all officially belonged to one "canon" universe.
  • There is much speculation from comic book historians that the Superman and Batman chapters of this story were actually originally written for the Atom and Johnny Thunder, but that the chapters wered re-drawn and partially re-written to swap in the two National Comics characters. Similarly, there is speculation (but nothing proven) that this story originated as a script called "the Men of Magnifica", a JSA story that was known to be written by Gardner Fox but (seemingly) never used.
  • The name "Calvin Stymes" is a rather inappropriate joke on the problem of stuttering. Calvin words get "stymied."



See Also

Recommended Reading

Links and References

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