"To Slay The Body Electric!": On January 25, 1942: Five All-Stars (Cdr Steel, Firebrand, Johnny Quick, Liberty Belle, and Robotman) catch a ride on Wonder Woman's Invisible Plane, from Virginia to New York City, where she drops them off, literally, at Robert Crane's laboratory, in Queens.
- Good night, Officer. Don't forget to put out the clock and wind the cat.
- -- Paul Dennis
Appearing in "To Slay The Body Electric!"
- Mr. Vincent
- Jefferson Smith
- Crane & Grayson's laboratory
- a courthouse
Synopsis for "To Slay The Body Electric!"
On January 25, 1942: Five All-Stars (Cdr Steel, Firebrand, Johnny Quick, Liberty Belle, and Robotman) catch a ride on Wonder Woman's Invisible Plane, from Virginia to New York City, where she drops them off, literally, at Robert Crane's laboratory, in Queens. Diana then flies back to Washington DC to visit Steve Trevor at a military hospital there. At Crane's lab, the team meets Dr. Bob Grayson and his fiancée Joan Carter. Joan considers Robotman a hero, because of an earlier rescue; Joan is also formerly the fiancée of the late Dr. Robert Crane, and does not know his secret identity.
Their get-together is interrupted by an arriving platoon of police, and Robotman is arrested, at the behest of shady lawyer Sam Slattery, who is claiming to represent the heirs of the late Dr. Crane, and according to whom, Robotman is the property of Robert Crane's estate. The other four All-Stars have followed Robotman out to confront the police; Johnny and Brandy both start fighting the police, and Liberty Belle has to pull rank on them to restore order. Robotman trades his cooperation for a free pass for Firebrand and Quick, but at this point the cops are really mad and none too fond of the All-Stars. Robotman is wrapped in chains and marched away. The All-Stars bicker about what to do next, and Johnny Quick zooms away in a huff. Also in the background, Joan seems to be getting some glimmering of an inking of an idea about who Robotman reminds her of.
The next day, public opinion is widely divided about Robotman's status and nature. Sam Slattery meanwhile is hiring sleazy witnesses, cash up front, to do some slanderous perjury at the upcoming trial.
That night in his jail cell, Robotman pulls his “Paul Dennis” disguise out of his chest cavity, puts it on, bends some cell bars, and casually walks out of the cell block. He sprints across town and meets with Chuck Grayson, his attorney Jefferson Smith, and three All-Stars (Brandy, Libby, and Steel). Everybody here now knows his secret identity, and Smith is preparing a defense, including a parade of character witnesses: Capt. Trevor, Prof. Napier, Libby Lawrence, etc. Robotman makes a few strong suggestions, then surreptitiously returns to his cell.
At least another day goes by. On the night before the trial opens, Johnny Chambers and Tubby Watts are in a bar, hearing Libby Lawrence on the radio, making her pitch for Robotman's case. Some robot-hating laborers are in the bar; remarks get made; a very quick brawl ensues. Afterward, Johnny makes a decision: he'll go to the trial after all, and if it doesn't go well, he'll personally abduct Robotman himself!
On 4 Feb 1942 (at the earliest), the trial begins. Firebrand, Liberty Belle, and Cdr. Steel testify in person, and affidavits are presented from Superman, Hawkman, Wonder Woman, and many costumed adventurers. All of their testimony is ruled inadmissible, due to the anonymity of the heroes. Johnny Chambers sits there the whole time, doing a slow boil. Eventually Chuck Grayson takes the stand and tells the complete story of Robotman's origin, revealing Crane's real identity in the process. After that, the judge has Robotman sworn in, and listens to his eloquent testimony, while Johnny Quick quietly slips out of the courtroom.
At that moment, as fate would have it, the overcrowded courthouse shakes and starts to collapse, Cdr. Steel gets knocked out by a random falling object, and Robotman snaps his chains then rescues everyone, including Slattery, who has a heart attack right in the middle of all this. Robotman whisks him to a hospital in time to save his life, then returns to the shattered courthouse. Soon they're in another courtroom, and the judge rules Robotman to be human.
A post-trial conversation among the All-Stars reveals that Liberty Belle has deduced that Johnny Quick, acting at invisible speed, was behind the courtroom's sudden and very convenient collapse. As the team adjourns itself, the Squadron is approached by Dr Henry King, the Brain Wave, who secretly intends the kill them all, along with the JSA. They curtly brush him off, and he doesn't take it well.
- This book was first published on October 28, 1982.
- This story is loosely based on the Robotman story in Star-Spangled Comics Vol 1 15 (Dec 1942). The sleazy attorney's name has been changed from Sam Slugg in the original version to Sam Slattery in this one.
- On their trip to Queens, Cdr Steel helped jerry-rig Robotman's right arm back into working order.
- The events of Robotman's arrest take place on 25 January, according to the 26 January edition of the New York Chronicle, on page 8 panel 6.
- The date for Robotman's trial, 4 February, is based on the abdication of King Farouk of Egypt, on that day, as referenced in the caption on page 14 panel 2. The trial could begin later, but not earlier, than then.
- According to Roy Thomas:
- “To repeat and expand: All DC characters existing in the early 1940's are considered a part of ALL-STAR SQUADRON continuity … and that goes as well for all Quality characters owned by DC, which is most of ‘em.”
- Reprinted in Showcase Presents: All-Star Squadron Vol. 1.
- According to Wonder Woman, Amazons never drink coffee.
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- Discuss All-Star Squadron Vol 1 17 on the forums
- Cover gallery for the All-Star Squadron series
- Images from All-Star Squadron Vol 1 17
Links and References
- Justice Society of America article at Wikipedia
- JSA Checklist
- JSA Chronology page
- JSA series index at DCU Guide
- JSA series index at Comicbookdb.com
- JSA series index at the Grand Comics Database Project
- Justice Society Fact File
- Justice Society Index at Dark Mark's Indexing Domain
- Justice Society of America at TV Tropes