Monday, May 30, 2011

"Abbott & Costello Meet the Justice Society of America" By Jim Beard

This was written back when DC Comics was publishing a series called Starman, in which a young man named Jack Knight was learning to cope with the legacy of his father, Ted, who ran around in the 1940s as the super-hero Starman. Jack was a dealer in pop culture and Ted, well, Ted was aging more and more every day...
 "These old movie posters bring back a lot of memories..." Ted Knight, former costumed adventurer, dedicated astronomer and scientist.

"Do they?" Jack, his son.

Ted straightened up from leaning over his son’s work, watched as Jack bagged and boarded the past. He cocked his thumb at one of the posters. “’Mark of Zorro.' I suppose that one might have inspired a lot of people what we did. But I never heard of that happening."

His son smiled, pulled tape from a rubber-bottomed dispenser. "You'd probably be surprised..."

"We were in a movie once. When I say 'we,' I mean the JSA, of course…" Ted's eyes suddenly widened, looking around his son's antique shop as if to find his old comrades standing there next to him.

"I know, Dad."

"We weren't in it much, the film, after all was said and done..."

"Yeah, I know, Dad. We've..."

 Ted's attention wandered around the room, floor to walls to ceiling. "Heh, silly thing, to be sure. They called it—“

Jack picked up and slammed down the tape dispenser. "Dad, I KNOW!  'Abbott and Costello Meet the Justice Society of America,’ 1947, directed by Charles Barton...err, Lamont - he did two of the best A&Cs in my humble opinion - starred Alan Ladd as GL, no surprise, Evelyn Ankers as Black Canary, go figure, Michael Ansara as Vandal Savage..."

"Our Alan didn't want to be in it. He had his eye on television, didn't want to be recognized...I suppose my own role in it was considered pretty minor, hmmm?"

"Dad, Evelyn Ankers kissed you, on the mouth. For that, I should kiss you on the mouth..."


Animation flooded Jack's frame, waved his arms, made him pace the wood slat floor, ticking off fingers. "I've got the one-sheet, three half-sheets, four of the six lobby cards, a freakin' beautiful publicity kit. Maltin's gives it a break, uh...two and a half stars? Video Hound craps on it..."

"There were little...statuettes of us all, given away at the New York premiere." Ted murmured, paused, his attention off the leash. "Got a whole box of them...somewhere..."


Eyes met, young and old, as if for the first time ever. The older man sighed.

"Yes, Jack. I didn't know what to do with them, I..."

"No, no, no, no, Dad. PLEASE don't tell me you...I thought they were just another collector's rumor, like Doom Patrol Megos, or Opal City Viewmasters..."

"They're in the..."

"Warehouse. They're in the warehouse. I should've known...That goddamned warehouse of yours."

Moving to his son, stopping short of touching his shoulder, Ted's face became a mask of confusion. "Your mother understood these times better than I. I...I can't grasp these...forces that come over you."

Jack sat down heavily on a stool, faux sobs mock-wracking his body.

"It's not a bad story, you know."


Ted scooted a wooden crate over to Jack, bumping through tape, sheets of cardboard, plastic bags, and old movie barkers. "About how we filmed it. How it ended up just being myself, Al, Rex Tyler, and I think Terry...after an initial meeting with Lou Costello went very, very badly. Do you want to hear this, Jack?"

Jack managed a smile. "Tell me."

"Well, Barton took Lou..."


"Yes, Lamont! He took Lou aside and...Jack? If I...if I give you the wouldn't sell them, would you?"

Another managed smile. "Tell me the story, Dad."


Characters (c) DC Comics. Story (c) Jim Beard.

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