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- Assemblers JLA (first series) #87 (February 1971)
- Extremists JLE #15 (June 1990)
- Justifiers JL Quarterly #3 (Summer 1991)
THANKS: Thankyou to John Mason and others for the IDs of the Marvel counterparts to Dreamslayer and Carny.
All most every long term fan of comics has heard about the Squadron Supreme, the Marvel homage to the Justice League that existed on a parallel Earth as allies to the Avengers. Introduced in Avengers #85, cover dated February 1971, the Squadron would star in their own mini-series by Mark Gruenwald in 1985. Slowly they moved away from being carbon copies of the JLA to become a complex and well developed group in their own right. The homage was even repaid in the 1992 "Destiny's Hand" arc by Dan Jurgens in JLA (Vol 2) #72-75 that propelled the modern League into a dream reality that was a bizarre blend of Conway-era JLA and Gruenwald Squadron Supreme. However there had been a previous and more tongue-in-cheek parallel to the Squadron Supreme in JLA (Vol 1) #87. Cover dated the very same month as the first appearance of the Squadron this was the debut of the Champions of Angor.
In a story written by Mike Friedrich and the legendary Julius Schwartz we learn of the distant world Can-Nam-Loo which has sent robots to two worlds to plunder their natural resources. Those worlds were unsurprisingly Earth and Angor. The heroes of each world, namely the JLA and the Assemblers (later called the Justifiers but I'll get on to that one) defeated the robots and tracked them down to the sourse. Upon arriving both sets of heroes mistakenly assumed the others were the senders of the threats and promptly indulged in the ubiquitous hero versus hero battle. Peace eventually broke out when Zatanna healed the injured Blue Jay.
The four heroes from the planet Angor were clear homage's to the Avengers. A fact that was made implicit when Keith Giffen and Gerard Jones gave then the team name of the Assemblers after the Avengers battle cry of "Avengers Assemble." The leader of the group was Wandjina who was patterned after Marvel's Thor. The rest of the group was made up of Jack B. Quick (Quicksilver), Silver Sorceress (Scarlet Witch) and the aforementioned Blue Jay (Yellowjacket/the Wasp). The Assemblers would have remained a minor footnote in League history until Giffen reintroduced them in the 1980's.
The Assemblers next appeared in JLA (Vol 2) #2 where we find Wandjina and co. assaulting a Bialyian nuclear missile base. They are quickly introduced to Rumaan Harjavti who bumblingly tries to sweet talk them around to his side. It turns out that Angor has suffered an undisclosed nuclear disaster wiping out the entire population including Jack B. Quick. Quick here is given the name Harry Christos, "the fastest man on two legs" and strangely the new alias of Captain Speed.
More of the personalities of the remaining three Assemblers are revealed. Wandjina is seemingly the most powerful and the leader, easy to anger and to an extent rash. He is balanced by the calm advise of the Silver Sorceress. We see Wandjina show abilities in parallel with Thor as a Thunder God, i.e. weather control, lightning, super strength, flight, etc. Of the other two Blue Jay is the least developed, he grows wings as he shrinks and the Mayfair Justice League Sourcebook suggests that he has some technical ability. That same book also lists the Sorceress power as some form of probability/luck manipulation while later interpretations of her seem to favour more traditional mystical powers.
The trio had come to Earth to rid it of nuclear weapons and to stop what happened to Angor happening ever again. It is however not clear if Earth is the first planet that they have visited since they left Angor. Ultimately Wandjina gives his life to stop a nuclear meltdown at a power station in Russia. The remaining two Assemblers were captured by the Russian forces. We see Wandjina one last time when the Queen Bee II used his reanimated corpse to take control of Bailya before being destroyed permanently by Captain Atom.
The nature of the nuclear disaster that befell Angor and the fate of the final two Assemblers is fully fleshed out by the five part "Extremist Vector." Blue Jay and the Silver Sorceress had been held for months in a Russian laboratory complex until they managed to escape. The Silver Sorceress returned to Angor while Blue Jay sought diplomatic asylum from the Justice League International.
The back history of Angor is revealed. It was a planet much like the DC Earth, full of heroes and villains. The inhabitants saw it as more peaceful and innocent that other worlds. The main hero group, the Assemblers, would round up the bad guys and spent the rest of their time posing for the media. Comprised of Wandjina, the Bowman, Johnny Quick (alias Captain Speed alias Jack B. Quick - what is it with this guy and codenames?), Silver Sorceress and Blue Jay. Bowman is a new character, he seems to be a cross between Hawkeye and Hercules.
While the heroes were consorting with the media, the villains ,led by a core group called the Extremists, took control of Angor's nuclear stockpile. They offered the choice "Surrender or Die!" In a major ret-conning of the Assembler's first appearance it is suggested that they were actually looking for help from the JLA. However there was a misunderstanding and they returned alone to Angor to discover the entire civilisation destroyed. This would seem to imply that the JLA was responsible for the destruction of Angor due to lack of understanding. Captain Speed eventually died of radiation and the remaining three Assemblers left Angor to seek other worlds which leads us back to their JLA (Vol 2) #2 appearance. Meanwhile on Angor only the Extremists survived.
The Extremists, like most Angor characters, are homage's to Marvel characters. The leader Lord Havok I is a highly intelligent man in an advanced suit of armour (Dr Doom). Doctor Diehard (Magneto) is a master of magnetism, incredibly powerful it was he who magnetically took control of the nukes. Gorgon (Doctor Octopus) is a hideous mutant with tentacles growing from behind his head. Tracer (Sabertooth) is a savage, blood sensing animal who has blades attached to his forearms. It was Tracer that killed the last living human on Angor (it has been conjectured that this was the Bowman, the fifth Assembler). The final Extremist is Dreamslayer (Dormammu) is a strange sorcerer with a cloud of energy where his head should be. There is an "unofficial" sixth Extremist seen later in the story called Carny, in appearance he could be the King Pin while other elements point to the X-men villain Arcade.
The "Extremist Vector" revolves around the Extremists capturing the Silver Sorceress and using her to gain access to Earth. Once here they pull the same stunt as they did on Angor by taking control of all nuclear missiles. Along the way the European branch of the JLI gets exiled by Dreamslayer to Angor. The JLE discover that the only structure standing on the planet is an amusement park called Wackyworld run and maintained by human like robots. The entire scenario plays out like the film "West World", but on a larger scale.
The robot systems had maintained their original programming after the nuclear conflagration. They had even devised and created new rides. One of these rides was the Assemblers Vs. the Extremists ride (from which I pick up the group name of the heroes), but the android reconstruction's had been too perfect. The Extremist robots destroyed the others and went on the rampage. It turns out that the real Extremists were killed in the nuclear holocaust they caused. It is their robotic dopplegangers that were holding Earth to ransom.
If the twist about the robot Extremists was not enough the final twist in their down fall is even stranger. The creator of Wackyworld, the inventor and entertainer "Uncle Mitch" Wacky was actually still alive. He was frozen in cryogenic storage under Wackyworld. This is based on an old urban myth that Walt Disney has been cryogenically frozen beneath the Magic Kingdom. Wacky ends up defeating his creations by just pressing the off button. It was left to the Silver Sorceress to dispatch Dreamslayer who was the only real Extremist left. He survived the holocaust because he wasn't human.
As a note of interest Mitch Wacky was suffering from influenza which was considered terminal by doctors on Angor necessitating him being cryogenically frozen to save his life. Once on Earth he was cured by our own doctors. As for the deactivated Extremist robots they were put on display at Madam Clouseau's Wax Museum (with a security force field just in case).
With the conclusion of the "Extremist Vector", Silver Sorceress and Blue Jay joined the JLE seemingly tying up all loose ends with relation to Angor. Apart from the name of Captain Speed there seemed to be no major holes in the history of Angor. That was until Justice League Quarterly #3 by the same writers that brought us the "Extremist Vector." Entitled "When you wish..." the story is a morality play on trying to change the past and an expansion of the Extremist's origin. However during the course of the story more homage characters are cameoed including Spiderman, the Punisher and Cyclops.
The story revolves around Mitch Wacky and Kilowog using a time machine to go into the past of Angor. They try and stop the creation of the Extremists and therefore the nuclear holocaust that destroyed that world. Along the way they blunder through super-battles, more Avenger jokes and a new team called the Justifiers. While the underlying story is serious much of the detail, and the homage for that matter, is definitely tongue-in-cheek.
Throughout this story the superteam from Angor is called the Justifiers which brings up the question: are the Assembers and the Justifiers really different superhero teams?
- We know that main group was the Justifiers initially and then at the time of the nuclear holocaust it was the Assemblers.
- Under DC's ten year continuity the could only have been four years (allowing one year for them to help survivors and then another year until they reached Earth) between the two groups.
- Wandjina seems to be the leader of both groups.
- Captain Speed and the Bowman were also members of both teams.
Conclusion: the Justifiers were actually an earlier incarnation of the Assemblers, so I'll stick to the name of the Assemblers (partially because it sounds better than the Justifiers).
Of this earlier version of the Assemblers we find the team comprising the familiar Wandjina (looking more relaxed having not encountered the Extremists yet), Captain Speed (a repeated use of the same identity for this character, a first) and Bowman (here seen looking more like Hawkeye than the bare chested version that cameoed before). The three new team members are a woman only known by the initials T.A. (seems to have metal wings, A. could stand for angel), an unnamed Giant Man clone and an Ironman clone called the Tin Man. This group even have their own English butler.
In this story the time travelling Mitch and Kilowog try and enlist the help of the Justifiers in stopping the theft of a nuclear devise by a criminal gang. When the device accidentally exploded that criminal gang was transformed into the Extremists. The laboratory where the device was developed was called the Timely Research Facility. Timely was one of the Golden Age names used by the publisher that was later known as Marvel Comics. Due to the rather "jumpy" nature of the Justifiers they destroy the robot Mitch had sent to recruit them before it can get their help. The duo then steal a rocket powered boot as transport (they were only an inch high due to a malfunction with the time machine) to the bomb site.
At the site Mitch accidentally falls on the remote detonate button of the bomb, setting it off just as the criminal gangs tries to steal it. By his actions Mitch had created a circular time paradox. The Extremists existed so he went back in time to stop them, he created the Extremists therefore they exist, ergo later he goes back in time to stop/create them, etc., etc. The JLI task force eventually catches up with the duo and find that Kilowog did not create a way back, he figured that if they succeeded then there would be no need to go back in time and therefore they wouldn't have come back in time in the first place. The team manage to return home by transferring to Earth and then using parts from the Secret Sanctuary (time for an original JLA cameo) to build a new time machine.
The later appearances of Silver Sorceress, Blue Jay and the Extremists more or less dealt with them as normal characters and any further references to Angor or Marvel were generally ignored or down played. The last major involvement of the JLA with the Assemblers was when Maxwell Lord was shot out side the New York embassy. The new JLI head (a Queen Bee plant) put Blue Jay as head of the JLE and fired Captain Atom. Eventually Maxwell Lord returned but it was revealed that it was actually Dreamslayer controlling Max's body. Dreamslayer kidnapped Mitch and forced him to repair the Extremist robots, the Lord Havok robot was seeming destroyed by the Blue Beetle using the back wash from the JLI shuttle. Later the Silver Sorceress gave her life to seemingly destroy Dreamslayer and freeing Max. With the JLI disbanding Blue Jay just flew off into the sun set and has not been scene since.
Dreamslayer would reappear as the controller of a cult in the run up to the Judgement Day saga, he was rejected by the Overmaster as a member of the Cadre because he was too power hungry. The Extremist robots have recently guess starred in an issue of SUPERGIRL and Lord Havok II (actually Maxwell Lord working for the Kil%gre) was introduced in the final issues of Gerard Jones run on JLA before it was cancelled.
BLUEJAY (the Wasp) - First seen in JLA (Vol 1) #87. He was a member of the Assemblers and at current is the only surviving hero from Angor. It has been stated in a letter column that he was gay. He served with the JLE and replaced Captain Atom as leader for a time. He has not been seen since the events of Breakdowns.
BOWMAN (Hawkeye) - First seen in the "Extremist Vector" he was introduced as the fifth Assembler. Previous to that he seems to have been a member of the Justifiers. Initially he seems a very insecure man who relies on his analysis for support. Later he seems to have under gone a "rebirth" becoming a more macho Hercules looking archer. He was the prisoner of the Extremist robots and was accidentally killed by Tracer while under torture.
CAPTAIN SPEED / Johnny Quick/ Jack B. Quick (Quicksilver) - Harry Christos, "the fastest man on two legs." First seen in JLA (Vol 1) #87. Originally we are told him name is Jack B. Quick but by the time of JLQ #3 the writers seem to have settled on Captain Speed. He was a member of the Assemblers and the Justifiers. A copy of Quicksilver due to the fact that Marvel seems to only have one speedster. He was killed by the radiation absorbed by his hyperfast metabolism after the nuclear holocaust.
CARNEY (King Pin/Arcade) - The forgotten Extremist. He ruled Wacky World until the JLE showed up. It seems that he was a King Pin style villain but his robotic double lacked the powers of the true Extremists. They turned him into an object of ridicule, dressed him in clown clothes and kept him around as a "pet."
DOCTOR DIEHARD (Magneto) - It was Diehard that used his magnetic powers to control the nukes on Angor. His robotic duplicate did the same on Earth. The nature of the magnetic powers invites the comparison with Magneto.
DREAMSLAYER (Dormammu) - The most powerful of the Extremists. When the bomb detonated creating the Extremists he was catapulted into other dimensions and transformed into an inhuman sorcerer. When the other Extremists were resurrected as robots he stuck around for the company. On Earth he tried to take revenge on the JLI and it took the sacrifice of the Silver Sorceress to stop him. Dreamslayer is a good villain and always pops up again, while definitely more powerful than his comrades he seems little match for any truly powerful being such as the Overmaster.
GORGON (Dr Octopus) - A hideous warped being with five tentacles growing from the back of his neck. Single handed he almost decimated the Rocket Red Brigade.
LORD HAVOK I (Dr Doom) - The leader of the Criminal Gang that tried to steal the experimental nuclear device on Angor which turned him and his comrades into the Extremists. This robotic version was also the leader for that incarnation of the Extremists and even Dreamslayer deferred to him. Highly intelligent and powerful his armour was needed to contain his rapidly expanding mind and body. He was seemingly destroyed by the Blue Beetle using the backwash from the JLI cruiser but later resurfaced with the other Extremists to fight Supergirl.
MITCH WACKY (Walt Disney) - He was the creator of the robotic amusement park, Wackyworld that would create the Assemblers Vs Extremists ride from where the robotic Extremists escaped When he later tried time travelling back to stop the nuclear accident that created the Extremists he found that it was he who created the accident.
SILVER SORCERESS (Scarlet Witch) - First seen in JLA (Vol 1) #87. A sorceress she initially use technology and magic to create the dimensional doorways between Earth and Angor that she later learned to create on her own. She was Wandjina's right hand tempering him anger with her advise. When the Extremists were defeated she joined the JLE and gave her life to defeat Dreamslayer. She is buried on the island of Kooey Kooey Kooey.
TIN MAN (Ironman) - First seen on page 28 of JLQ #3. He seems to a copy of the early Ironman. References are made to him having to wear a chest plate all the time, this would correspond to the younger Tony Stark that needed to wear his armour to keep his heart alive. The miniaturised Kilowog and Mitch Wacky stole one of his rocket boots to get to the nuclear test site.
TRACER (Sabertooth) - This savage animal had the ability to sense blood from extreme distances. His robotic double was responsible for accidentally killing Bowman while he was torturing him.
WANDJINA (Thor) - The leader of the Assemblers and the Justifiers as first seen in JLA (Vol 1) #87. A passionate man he found the easy life of the Justifiers dull and was transformed fully into a warrior by the nuclear holocaust. It was his driving personality that kept the Assemblers together as they wandered dimensions seeking to rid worlds of nuclear weapons. His anger and emotion was only kept in check by the compassion and advice of the Silver Sorceress. He died saving a large part of Russian from the nuclear melt down in Russian but his body was later animated by the Queen Bee. It was finally destroyed in a mercy killing by Captain Atom.
Unofficial (those that appeared in JLQ #3 but were given no names).
Eagle (the Punisher) - seen posing on page 18 of JLQ #3. The name of the Eagle is suggested from the red chest logo. This is clearly the Punisher due to the guns, hand grenades and general look of the character.
Herakles (Hercules) - seen posing on page 18 of JLQ #3. The name of Herakles is suggested because it was the Greek name for the Roman god Hercules.
Massive Man (Giant Man) - first seen on page 28 of JLQ #3. An obvious mutant in a world of normals. He had to live with the mental agony of growing to over twenty feet tall. A member of the Justifiers.
Q-Spider (Spiderman) - seen posing on page 18 of JLQ #3. As shown appears to have a costume with a Q motif were the body of the spider should be.
The Rat (Wolverine) - seen battling an unnamed supervillain on page 15 of JLQ #3. A Wolverine clone because of the claws, the name of the Rat suggested because of his Micky Mouse like ears.
T. Angel (?) - first seen posing on page 18 of JLQ #3. A member of the Justifiers who seems to have metallic wings allowing her to fly.
Uni-beam (Cyclops) - seen posing on page 18 of JLQ #3. The name of Uni-beam suggested because of the similarities to Cyclops and the number one on his uniform.
unnamed superhero (?) - flies past Kilowog and Mitch on page 16 of JLQ #3.
unnamed supervillain (?) - seen battling the Rat on page 15 of JLQ #3.
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