The various members of the Justice Society head for Washington D.C. in answer to the request for a meeting by the head of the FBI. He wants them to help deal with spies and saboteurs who are seeking to undermine United States democratic ideals. The Justice Society members are each given sealed orders, and they head out eagerly to carry out their assignments.
- So many of the threats that the FBI director details aren’t all that different from today. Suppression of free speech? College professors hostile to America and democracy? I defy you to read the first chapter of this story and not find plenty of parallels with America in 2015. Seriously, I was amazed at how contemporary this sounded.
- What isn’t contemporary is the automatic trust the superheroes place in the FBI. I suspect that in our cynical days, the whole thing would be a plot by the FBI to gain information on the mystery men, and possibly a trick to get them to take out innocent people that the FBI wanted silenced. But in 1941, the whole thing is refreshingly straightforward.
- I guess the Flash is the de facto chairman of the JSA, or else he’s their pointman since he first made contact with the FBI chief.
The Flash is sent to manufacturing centers in Michigan and Wisconsin where propaganda is being spread. There, the “grey-shirts” are openly speaking out in favor of the totalitarian nations and the benefits of a dictatorship. They sound like union thugs with their attempts to organize labor and cause a strike, but their goals are sabotage rather than the good of the workers. They attack a man who speaks out against them, but the Flash puts a stop to that with some well placed punches. He then heads to the home of the lead grey shirt and finds loads of propoganda as well as posters with swastikas, so there’s little doubt who he’s shilling for. When the man protests about his right to privacy, a fed up Flash socks him.
Flash heads back and proves to the workers who the man is working for. The enraged workers turn on the grey shirts, ending the threat. Or so it seems… at the last minute, the leader brags that a refugee ship on its way to America will be bombed, killing everyone on board. The Flash races out to the ship, finds the bomb, and saves everyone’s lives. He then notes the bomb’s manufacturer as one Fritz Klaver, and he heads to Ohio to confront him.
- The grey shirts couldn’t be more obvious Nazis if they tried. The uniforms, the Hitler moustache on one of them, the talk about the benefits of a dictator, the Nazi symbol in the home of one spy… it’s pretty blatant.
- Jay Garrick is just awesome. I love the way he calls out the spy for his hypocrisy.
- The whole plot with the ship in danger feels tacked on, though it’s a nice action sequence, so I don’t mind. I do wonder how Flash found the ship out in the middle of the Atlantic though. Possibly he spent some time searching, and maybe that’s how he manages not to beat everyone else to Fritz Klaver’s hideout.
Alan’s orders involve investigating poor radio reception across the country. Sabotage is suspected, with the potential result being a communications breakdown during a crucial time. Alan investigates, and uncovers a plot to disrupt America’s communications using a zeppelin that is hidden in an artificially generated cloud. After a few setbacks, including a machine designed to neutralize Green Lantern by the use of electricity, Alan manages to destroy the zeppelin and put an end to the plot, before heading out to confront Klaver.
- Alan is delighted with his assignment since he’s already in the broadcasting business. It’s a nice character beat. I always enjoy it when Jay Garrick gets to use his chemistry skills, and the same is true when other JSA members get to use their civilian identity’s skill set as well.
- Nazis and zeppelins always remind me of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
- This story provides a nice change from gangsters and bank robberies. The vast scale and stakes of the Nazi operation and the large and exotic nature of the threat seem like a plot that’s more in line with Green Lantern’s abilities and more of a challenge for him. I really enjoyed this chapter.
- I appreciate the inclusion of Krapek, the German-American who refuses to go along with the spies. I’m not sure the execution is all that sophisticated, but it’s still an effort to make it clear that not all those of German descent were on the side of Hitler. Of course, it’s also another example of the issue preaching American patriotism, but I’ll take that over anti-Americanism any day.